The world is changing and it’s changing fast. It’s not that hard to spot. Changes and the speed at which they are occurring are in our face, every day. All you have to do is go into your favorite consumer electronic store on a weekend to be amazed by new gadgets, by what they can do and by how fast today’s iPhone will be yesterday’s iPhone. But the world is going thru profound changes as we are mesmerized by the iPad, the Kindle, the 70” LED televisions and the new entry level cars that park themselves while we sort thru your digital music collections on the media screen.
The world is changing and it’s changing fast, in front of our eyes and behind our backs. Most of us see it and feel it but we are rarely aware of the tremendous impact it is having on our lives and how it can change our livelihood in the blink of an eye. If you don’t yet know what I mean, think of auto workers in Detroit impacted by the globalization of manufactured goods. They were so focused on improving their wages and benefits that they were blind sided by factories being picked-up and droped-in southern states and other countries. And that specific scenario could be considered slow moving compared to the blinding speeds the job and talent market is moving at these days.
Broad change used to be a thing of generations, our grand parents telling us about how things were in the old days and how things have changed. Technology, among other things, has served as an accelerator and as the title of Thomas Friedman’s book suggests, the world has gone flat. He describes it as Globalization 3.0 and it will change how you must approach your career. I know what you are thinking. But do you think Detroit felt they could be hit the way they got hit? They are still picking up the pieces.
Friedman describes three major phases of globalization. The first driven by countries and empires (Globalization 1.0); the second driven by global corporations (Globalization 2.0); and the third driven by individuals aided by technology (Globalization 3.0) that has broken down the barriers required to interact and do business globally.
Detroit and many other manufacturing cities in the U.S. were hit by Globalization 2.0. Advancements in transportation and supply chains allowed the manufacture of many goods across the globe. Manual labor became a commodity. Large corporations with deep pockets that could afford global infrastructure dominated Globalization 2.0.
Where we are right now is Globalization 3.0 and it’s not the big that eat the small, it’s the fast that eat the slow. One of the most popular trends today is telecommuting. It’s great. For many knowledge jobs, we know we don’t have to be in the office every day to get things done. Technology allows us to work remote. Employees get flexibility and employers get lower over head costs. Win-win. The downside (or upside, depending on where and who you are) is that there is no difference if you are in California, Alabama, Florida, Mexico, Eastern Europe or India. I know, there are language barrieres and cultural differences, but even those will be smoothed out in the next generations. Ask a teenager in Mexico, India or Japan if they have seen The Hangover 2 and you will be surprised by the answer. The US has been exporting it’s pop culture for many years.
We are now in a world where knowledge has no borders. Knowledge driven jobs can’t be protected by immigration laws. A few years ago the U.S. began to restrict H1 visas in an attempt to prevent knowledge workers from other countries from taking U.S. jobs. As a result companies moved design and engineering centers into Mexico, India and other countries taking other jobs with them. It’s an open market. Ho do you regulte a knowledge worker in Mexico, hired by an company in India doing work for a company in the US?
Competition is now global and it does not matter where you are born or where you live. He/she with the most intelligence, ambition and drive will get farthest.
In his book, Thomas Friedman quotes Bill Gates as saying “Thirty years ago if you had a choice between being born a genius on the outskirts of Bombay or Shanghai or being born an average person in Poughkeepsie, NY, you would take Poughkeepsie, because your chances of thriving and living a decent life there, even with an average talent, were much greater. Now, I would rather be a genius born in China than an average guy born in Poughkeepsie.”
That’s the impact of Globalization 3.0. The talent war is over, talent won and the intense competition is right in our rearview mirror.