Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Our Gutenberg-Scale Moment

Thomas Friedman may have a New York Times column and three Pulitzer Prizes to his name, but he’s still worried about his 70 million competitors out there on Facebook, Twitter, blog sites, what have you. Despite that, the internationally renowned reporter and author used his speech at SHRM 2014 to offer his competitors some words of advice: average is over. If you want to succeed, you must take advantage of the above-average resources available to you to stand out.

Those resources are the result of the technological shift we are still living through, one that Friedman called a “Gutenberg-scale moment,” akin to the invention of moveable type. The convergence of the PC, the Internet, workflow software and search have given individuals the ability to create their own digital content, distribute it far and wide, and collaborate with others on creating new content. Those shifts have evolved in just the last seven years, from PC to the smartphone and the iPad, from the Internet to high-speed broadband and wireless, from workflow software to crowdsourcing and crowdfunding, and from search to big data and analytics.

These shifts are pulling jobs in three directions, Friedman said. The jobs are being pulled up as they require more and more skill. They are being pulled out as more machines, software, robots and labor compete for them. And they are being pulled down as they are “outsourced to history.”

So for those of us in the workforce, the challenge is to find ways to use those above-average resources to become above average ourselves. We must do so with and through creativity and adaptability. Easier said than done, of course, but Friedman offered some guidance here as well. His five lessons to walk away with were:

  1. Always think like a new immigrant – stay hungry and never think your job can’t disappear.

  2. Think like an artisan – take pride in what you do.

  3. Always be in Beta – never think of yourself as “finished” or you will be truly finished.

  4. PQ+CQ > IQ – a high passion quotient plus a high curiosity quotient always trumps IQ.

  5. Be relentlessly entrepreneurial.

There is a tendency throughout history for people to feel their era is exceptional, but Friedman makes a strong case for our day and age. Living through an extraordinary period such as this can be both scary and exhilarating. I’ve known people who lost their jobs and spent a year or more unemployed, only to reinvent themselves and come out stronger and happier for it. That’s not everybody’s tale, to be sure, but if we follow Friedman’s advice, and we make the most of all the advantages today’s smarter workforce has to offer, we can continue to play our part in this historic moment.

from Social Business Insights Blog


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