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I’m off to New York, where tomorrow I will be the closing speaker at Nasscom’s inaugaural C-summit

The National Association of Software and Services Companies is a trade association representing the major players in the Indian IT and business process outsourcing industry. The event is taking a look at future trends and opportunities for innovation, and features a wide variety of other fascinating speakers, such as the CIO’s for Johnson and Johnson (also a client of mine), Praxair and Schneider Electric.

Of course, everyone knows that we live in interesting times, and that like many nations and organizations in the world, Nasscom is working hard to align folks to a new world order of crazy twists and turns, often illogical policy directions and massive uncertainty. Such is the world today!

Here’s what I know: every business in every industry is faced with unprecedented change through the next 5 to 10 years as disruption takes hold. Read my 10 Drivers for Disruption, and ask yourself how you will be affected.

Then ask yourself : will you have the skills, agility, strategy and capability to align yourself to a faster future? That’s what I will be covering in my keynote! A key part of that equation involves the skills equation. While there might be wishful thinking in parts of the world as to how to deal with a challenging skills issue, the reality is that having a great skills strategy is a crucial factor for success in the era of disruption.

With that thinking, here’s my keynote description!

Think Big, Start Small, Scale Fast: Innovating in the Era of Disruption

We live in a time of massive challenge, and yet one of fascinating opportunity, as every business, and every industry is  being redefined at blinding speed by technology, globalization, the rapid emergence of new competitors, new forms of collaborative global R&D, and countless other trends.

In this keynote, futurist Jim Carroll outlines the key drivers of disruption, but offers a path forward. Undeniably, we must align ourselves to the realty of multiple trends: hyper-connectivity, the Internet of Things, artificial intelligence, robotics, neural networks, deep analytics, autonomous technologies, self-learning systems. All of these trends and more are merging together,  leading to a massively new, connected, intelligent machine that will transform, change, challenge and disrupt every industry. As this happens….every company becomes a software company, and speed defines success. That’s why the New York Times recently indicated that the methodologies of agile software development are increasingly becoming a key general leadership requirement.

In this new world in which the future belongs to those who are fast, experience is oxygen. There’s no time to learn, to study, to plan. It’s time to figure out what you don’t know, and do the things that are necessary to begin to know about it. Experiential capital is the new capital for the 21st century.

How to cope with accelerating change? In this keynote, Jim outlines his simple but transformative structure : Think big, start small and scale fast! Jim has been working with and studying what makes organizations survive in a fast paced world. His clients include NASA, the PGA of America, the Swiss Innovation, the National Australia Bank, the Wall Street Journal, Disney, and many, many more.

There was an interesting article in the New York Times on Feb 18: “Careers: ‘Board Doctors,’ to Supervise the Supervisors — More companies bring in experts to scrutinize effectiveness of directors, creating a growth business.” (read the article)

board_of_directors

Sadly, with all the current focus on “compliance,” I’ve come to believe that there is a critical lack of future planning on many other corporate boards around the world — Jim Carroll

The article opens with the observation: “Amid unprecedented pressure from investors, more boards are tapping outside experts so they can monitor management better and clean their own house. The legion of advisers — which some dub “board doctors” — scrutinize boards’ inner workings and prescribe cures for such ills as an entrenched chief executive, 800-page briefing books, or even a director who plays Sudoku during management presentations. The experts often enable board members to make tough choices they are too squeamish to do on their own.”

Essentially, the gist of the article boiled down to three key points:

  • boards are becoming less effective at making ‘hard decisions’
  • the result is a trend in which there is more outside (hired) scrutiny of the effectiveness of board performance
  • the scrutiny adds in assessment of the effectiveness of individual board members

In an amusing point, the article comments on one director who was known to regularly play Sudoku during board meetings.

The article is a good read, and a great outline of some of the problems facing the world of corporate governance today. But from my perspective, it missed a key point that I’ve been raising in many of my sessions with Boards through the years — most boards are not structured to deal with issues of future strategic direction.

If you understand how boards work, there are two key issues:

  • it’s a very insular club ; still, globally, very much an ‘old boys network’ (although gender diversity is a key issue that many national Director associations are working hard to solve)
  • the board ‘skills matrix’ — that is, the type of people that boards seek to recruit — generally consists of finance/accounting; legal; executive compensation; IT; human resources; and specific industry experience. Few seem to have expanded their matrix to include “future strategic insight.”

A few years ago, I thought it might be interesting to apply my skill of anticipating and outlining future trends by actively seeking involvement in a few boards. I took a director education course at the University of Rotman. It was a fascinating world to immerse myself in. Sadly, since then, I’ve had few opportunities (probably, to be honest, because I don’t network with the board world as most other folks do.)

What’s the looming crisis? I outlined this back in a post in 2007, “The Future of Governance.” Essentially, there are numerous boards who do not take on the responsibility of actively and regularly assessing trends for future threats and opportunities, and include this assessment in their evaluation of the effectivness of the CEO (which is one of their key responsibilities.)

I’ll repost the 2007 post in fulll below; it still makes what I believe is a useful and powerful read.

I’m not sure much has changed since I wrote it; consider, for example, the recent security/hacking issues with Sony. Should they not have had a high level Board member who would be asking tough questions as to what structure the CEO had in place to deal with an obvious looming security infrastructure challenge. You can lay the Sony debacle at the door of the CEO. You can also lay blame directly against the Board of Directors.

Have a look at the article, and then consider if the Board you participate on has a significant ‘future oriented challenge.’

—–

I was in Colorado Springs yesterday, as the opening keynote of the Leadership Institute for Directors for FCCServices — they’re the business services arm of the US federal Farm Credit System.

In attendance were members of the Boards of Directors for a wide variety of state and community farm credit co-ops; these folks are the backbone of the US farm lending infrastructure. The Directors are local farmers, community leaders and business executives, and hence, need to be aware of the trends impacting the local and global agricultural industries, so that they can plan accordingly, assess risk, and make sound business decisions with respect to their co-ops.

My keynote took a look at “what comes next in the agricultural sector” – it’s one of many talks I do within the industry. And agriculture is certainly subject to high velocity change: there’s rapid evolution in science (bio-crops); new markets (bio-fuel) ; rapidly changing skills; new direct to consumer market opportunities; globalization (current food production must double in the next 30 years to keep up with global population growth.) All of which could spell opportunity if approached correctly — or turmoil and challenge if ignored.

The intent of the talk — and the overall theme of the leadership conference — was to ensure that these folks have the insight to direct their organizations into the future. That’s an important and critical role for Boards; and FCC Services is an example of an organization that has made sure that the “future” is closely linked to the issue of “governance.”

I think there are too many organizations that don’t do this. Sadly, with all the current focus on “compliance,” I’ve come to believe that there is a critical lack of future planning on many other corporate boards around the world. The result is that potential risks are often ignored; then things go wrong; then the company gets sued for significant sums of money. Is this Board negligence? That’s an interesting question, isn’t it!

Here’s an example: years ago, I wrote an article indicating that one of the critical CEO/Board level issues that must be addressed had to do with network security; certainly, everyone knows that organizations should properly secure their information assets. Yet in the article, I suggested that I believe that many Boards aren’t dealing with the issue, and that it was an area ripe for future exposure, noting that: “If I were a tort lawyer, I’d be licking my lips in anticipation of the opportunities to come in the next few years.”

Boards and CEO’s should ensure — as they are required to do with financial controls — that the information assets of the organization are properly locked down. They must understand obvious future trends, and ensure that management has planned accordingly. I strongly believe this to be the next wave in Board responsibility.

Do many Boards of Directors ensure that the organization is properly preparing for the rapidity of trends? Not many. Witness the shenanigans with the TJX Group, which had its corporate network hacked and millions of credit card numbers stolen. (The company runs HomeGoods, Marshalls, A.J. Wright, Bob’s Stores and The Maxx stores; in Canada the chain consists of Winners and HomeSense.) Now comes news that a group of banks want to sue the company with respect to the issue.

I can only imagine the questions that the Board of TJX is now asking!

Currently, much of the focus of board governance has to do with “compliance” — how well are boards, and the companies they are responsible for, dealing with the new realities of the post-Enron era.

I believe that within the next decade, we will see Board responsibility quickly evolve into a new and much more complex era than simply making sure that “i’s are dotted and the t’s are crossed.’ All we need are a few savvy lawyers to launch a few negligence suits against a few public companies, alleging that a Board failed to develop a plan for and respond to obvious future trends.

It’s a trend worth watching.

On March 6, 1994, a little book arrived from the printing company, was sent to our publisher, and but a scant six weeks later, was the #1 best-selling book in Canada.

Handbook-SmallMy co-author, Rick Broadhead and I, went on to write some 34 books together over the next six years, selling more than 1.5 million copies, and our lives were forever changed.

Today, I find myself continuing a fascinating role as a futurist, with clients such as NASA, Disney, The GAP and the PGA of America. I often find myself in shock and awe at how lucky I am to have had a career that has taken such a surprising and unexpected turn.

So it is also with my great and long time friend. Rick is now one of the foremost literary agents in North America — with such deals under his belt as Wheat Belly (98 weeks on the New York Times Bestseller list!); The Disappearing Spoon, and astronaut Rick Hadfield’s An Astronaut’s Guide to Life.

It’s a remarkable story, and if you want to learn more, read on.

Every once in a while, you should reflect on where you are with your life, and be in awe of just how lucky you are.

I certainly do. Today is a milestone.

After the first book, Rick Broadhead and I went on to write 33 more books in the next six years. Life forever changed.

Then, like the Beatles, we had enough. We quit. We moved on, and celebrated our success by establishing ourselves in the world.

20 years on, I find myself spending my time working with fascinating organizations — NASA! The GAP — the PGA! — around the world to help them understand the future. My co-author Rick has gone on to become one of the leading literary agents in North America. He has brought to print some of the most important books of our lifetime.

And it all just happened — just like that!

It’s a remarkable story, and in this day of instant news, celebrity, and instant everything, I am in awe to look back at how it unfolded.

May anyone who ever reads this story find themselves with such luck and coincidence.

Put it in context. It’s 1993. Social media would come 12 years later. The dot.com collapse was not even yet imagined! There was no YouTube, Facebook, Twitter. The World Wide Web was barely existent! It was the time of “Gopher”, “uucp”, “Archie”, and “Telnet”. BBS systems, 300-baud modems, and a mystery to connectivity. You had to be special to even figure out how to get in on the game. How to connect. How to sign in. How to become part of the magic that was to become the global idea-machine known as the Internet.

In that context, there was suddenly, in mid-1993, a sudden hunger by everyone to understand what was going on. Book stores exploded with titles about “The Internet”.

Into this maelstrom and madness I suddenly found myself with my my good friend Rick Broadhead and my wife Christa Carroll.

It’s November 1993. I’m 15 years into the PC revolution at that point. I’m working in a home office, with a nice little business involving consulting around technology, connectivity, email — and writing a regular column for a technology publication about the Internet. Christa is a senior executive at the global powerhouse Unilever. We have a brand new son, Willie Carroll. Life is grand!

And then, three things happened all at once. The Internet exploded into public consciousness — it was all over the media — and books flooded the market: books like The Whole Internet Guide and Catalog by Ed Krohl. With that, an  astute publisher at Prentice Hall Canada named Ken Proctor realized few of them had any Canadian angle, found me, and asked me if I could write that book. And just about then, I got an email from a young fellow named Rick Broadhead.

At the time, Rick was an MBA student at York University. What he told me in his email essentially was that he had gold — a list of organizations that could help you get onto the Internet — in Canada.

You have to realize in the context of the time how valuable this type of list was — this information did not exist anywhere. He also understood the Internet. So did I.

So I called Ken Proctor back, and said we could do the book.

We got an advance of $2,500.

Boom! Within two months, Rick and I wrote the book. Christa took over with a brand new skill of editor, design, constructionist – she worked the layout, made it something that people could read. She and Rick debated for hours over how a particular section would work out – and together, they made it magical! We (they!) used Microsoft Word on Windows for Workgroups! (This was even before Windows 95!)

Christa typeset the thing. No one did this in 1993. No one ever, ever, typeset their own book. We were on a revolution!

And one day, we sent high resolution pages to our publisher. Prentice Hall, ready for print. They really weren’t used to authors sending in type-set ready copy. They worked on a  schedule that would bring books out 9 months later. We had a full book in 8 weeks!!! Concept to print! Folks – just like that! Jeff Bezos hadn’t even invented Amazon.com yet, since there was really no Internet.

The first edition of the Canadian Internet Handbook went to print on February 20th, 1994.

It came back from the printer on March 7, 1994.

And in 6 weeks, it was the number-1 bestselling book on the national book selling lists for the Globe & Mail and the National Post.

And then suddenly, it just got weird. You could not even began to imagine what it is like to have your life go from “normal” to “fast” in an instant.

Screenshot 2014-03-04 14.26.01

Suddenly, it became kind of weird.

What would unfold over the next 5 years, even today seems indescribable. Rick and I were all over the media. National news appearances. Satellite trucks appearing in my driveway. Both of my sons would wake up in the morning, with TV crews tramping down the hallway to get into my home office, which was simply a bedroom upstairs, for a morning interview. Constant, incessant media coverage. Inches, pages, columns of ink. I would go on to have regular news columns with major newspapers, airline magazines …

…. and suddenly both Rick and I found ourselves on stage. Describing to associations, global CEO’s, executives, kids, how this thing known as the Internet would revolutionize the world. We had a national radio show, NetTalk, describing how the Internet would change the world! In 1996, Rick and I were describing where our world would be in 2014. 2020. 2050.

Rick and I went wrote more books. We helped the world to understand how it would change. Wow! We had it nailed!

Then the money flooded into the Internet. I think we both decided we did not want to be a part of it. Greed. Ugliness. Not s.

In March 2000, at the height of the dot.com hysteria, people were suddenly becoming millionaires — billionaires! — from the Internet. I remember the instant it all became clear. I was with Christa, Thomas, Willie … driving to Washington for a vacation. Thomas and Willie were 7 and 5 years old.

I realized then that money didn’t matter – life did.

In 2001. the dot.com collapse happened. My newspaper column at the Globe & Mail was killed, because the publisher decided that was the end of the technology era. Rick and I stopped writing books. We had contract disputes with various publishers. Business models changed. We moved on, and both of us reinvented ourselves.

And 20 years later, all 3 of us are in awe. Magical times. You could not imagine!

Then came the next phase of the Internet….. revolutionizing the world, global politics, friendships, everything.

The point of this story?

Magic might happen in your life.

If it does, roll with it. It could always happen again!

A few weeks ago, I was interviewed by the Membership Management Report about some of the trends and issues that association executives should be thinking about. This came about after their online search discovered the Associations category of my blog. I’ve written a tremendous number of articles about the trends and issues that associations should be addressing as the professions, industries or people they represent under very fast paced changes in terms of skills, knowledge requirements and change. Here’s the article….

MemberManagementReport2013

How Associations Can Keep Up with Change, Change … And More Change By Dawn Wolfe While even the ancient Greek philosopher Heraclitus knew the only thing that is ever constant is change, the fact is, in today’s world, the changes are coming faster and more radically than ever before. What can membership associations do to stay alive and thrive in the midst of these challenges? “If I’m in a career that’s being impacted by huge rates of change, whether through technology or learning how to work with the new generation, I want to know how my association can help me deal with that,” says futurist, author and consultant Jim Carroll. According to Carroll, there are three main things associations need to think about to help their memberships professionally — and thus, stay alive:

  1. “Associations frequently do annual meetings and focus major efforts on them, but what about helping members cope with the changes that occur between meetings? To borrow from the Pink Floyd song, we need ‘short, sharp, shock(s)’ of knowledge,” Carroll advises. He adds it’s a good idea to create smaller, issue- focused events throughout the year. “We still need to do the annual events — for a lot of associations, that’s their bread and butter — but you also have to fill a smaller, more strategic role.”
  2. “The second thing,” Carroll continues, “is the speed at which the knowledge in different industries is changing. If you’re in health care — or think of banking: people’s cell phones are becoming their credit cards. I should be able to look to my professional association or chamber of commerce to help me deal with this new technology. Increasingly, your job should be supporting the generation of knowledge.”
  3. Finally, Carroll says associations should be actively looking at their relevance. “I’ve spoken to conference attendees and asked if their profession will even exist 10 years from now. This is really important — are you evolving to meet what’s coming?”

To stay relevant, Carroll advises his clients to, “Challenge yourself to do something different. I go to a lot of association events, and they’re just doing the usual. Are you really thinking through the strategic purpose of your events?” It’s also necessary for associations to rethink everything from the length and frequency of blog posts to how to structure their newsletters. “Everyone is blogging, so associations are blogging. They generally are blogging weekly, but changes are coming on a daily basis. Everything is happening faster, so you have to do things faster,” he says. In addition, Carroll cites the example of his 20-year-old son who “gets his news from Twitter. If you’re thinking the next generation is going to have the attention span to read a 500 to 1,000 word New York Times piece, or even your two-page association newsletter, that just isn’t going to happen.”

One of the biggest challenges in being an innovator is keeping faith in your belief as to where trends are going to take you.

You’ll find no shortage of people who will detract you from your goals, using one of the most effective innovation killer phrases: “that’s the dumbest thing I ever heard.”

Certainly history has taught us this lesson! Consider how some have reacted in the past to what proved to be very significant, transformative developments:

  • There will never be a bigger plane built.” A Boeing engineer, after the first flight of the 247, a twin engine plane that carried ten people.
  • There is not the slightest indication that nuclear energy will ever be obtainable. It would mean that the atom would have to be shattered at will.” – Albert Einstein, 1932
  • Computers may weigh no more than 1.5 tons.” – Popular Mechanics, 1949
  • There is no reason anyone would want a computer in their home.” – Ken Olson, president of Digital Equipment Corp. 1977
  • This telephone’ has too many shortcomings to be seriously considered as a means of communication.” – Western Union memo, 1876
  • No imaginable commercial value. Who would pay for a message sent to nobody in particular?“- David Sarnoff’s associates in response to his urging investment in the radio in the 1920’s.
  • The bomb will never go off. I speak as an expert in explosives.” – Admiral William Leahy, U.S. Atomic Bomb Project.
  • Airplanes are interesting toys, but they are of no military value whatsoever.” – Marechal Ferdinand Fock, Professor of Strategy, Ecole Superieure de Guerre
  • While theoretically and technically television may be feasible, commercially and financially it is an impossibility.”- Lee DeForest, inventor
  • Radio has no future. Heavier-than-air flying machines are impossible. X-rays will prove to be a hoax.” – William Thomson, Lord Kelvin English scientist, 1899
  • Nuclear powered vacuum cleaners will probably be a reality within 10 years.” – Alex Lewyt, quoted in the New York Times, 1955
  • Video won’t be able to hold onto any market it captures after the first six months. People will soon get tired of staring at a plywood box every night.” — Darryl F. Zanuck, Head of 20th Century-Fox Studios, 1946

When in a period of transformative change — as many industries now find themselves – it is all too easy to use disbelief to cling to the past. In order to be innovative, you’ve got to be willing to ignore the naysayers!

This is a long post.

Way back in 1997, I wrote a book called “Surviving the Information Age.” It’s now out of print, but a few copies are still at Amazon.

The book took a long look at the trends that would impact our future. I dug it out again today when CNN ran an article, “Say goodbye to full time jobs without benefits“, decrying the fact that with the recession coming to an end, we were seeing more jobs that were contract oriented rather than full time. Reading the article, it seems they see this as a shocking new trend.

D’uh! What planet are these people on. Countless people have been talking and writing about the significant structural change occurring in hiring practices. I’ve been speaking about it since 1987 when the New York Times wrote an editorial entitled “Tomorrow’s company won’t have walls.”

So in the spirit of going back in time, I offer up an extract from my Surviving the Information Age book, in which I wrote at length about the trend.

I think I’ll re-release the book as an e-Book. It’s uncanny how right it was.

Chapter 5 : From Surviving the Information Age, Jim Carroll, 1997

The world of business is going to be changed by computer technology, not only as a result of the interlinking of business computer systems – but through the emergence of brand new forms of corporate organization that are fuelled by the connections that computers permit between companies and people.

My own career experiences are similar to what many people went through with the recession and business upheaval of the 1980s and 1990s. A lot of people found themselves in circumstances that forced them to re-examine their lives and make some decisions with regard to their careers. Some responded marvelously and others did not.

In my case, I’ve discovered a new flexibility in my attitude towards work: I find that my attitude now is that I have to continually change myself and skills in order to keep one step ahead in the game. Since I don’t have a job, I have to constantly invent one – and make myself available as a temporary worker to any business on the planet.

* * * *

By understanding in general terms what is going to happen in the future in terms of new forms of business organization, you can prepare yourself to maintain your career — and hence your income — through a period of unprecedented change.

One of the most significant changes that is occurring is that the emergence of the wired world will result in a significant change in the relationship between a business organization and its employees.

In the good old days, there was a simple rule that the world of business operated by: people lived close to the place where they worked. Having a job meant that you got up every morning, went to work, put in your seven or eight hours and went back home.

With the wired world, of course, this is no longer true: the matter of location is quickly becoming irrelevant. With the explosion of telecommunication networks, fax machines, voice mail, e-mail and other methods of communication, the fact is that the work that people do is increasingly becoming accessible to the world of business from anywhere. You can expect this trend to continue. For all the hype and hyperbole, business is truly going global and will come to rely on the skills of people wherever they might be on the planet.

* * * *

Back in June of 1989, I read an article in the New York Times entitled “Tomorrow’s Company Won’t Have Walls.” The author did a wonderful job of putting into perspective the fact that traditional forms of business were coming to an end, primarily because of the expansion of global communication capabilities. The author foresaw that the world was already becoming one in which companies were more likely to hire expertise on a part-time, as-needed basis.

His prediction? In the future, because of increasing complexity in the business world, companies would find that they would need a lot of specialized expertise. And with ever-increasing sophistication in communication capabilities, they would find that they would be able to obtain this expertise not by hiring more employees, but by accessing that expertise from contract workers or consultants who happened to make their skills available through sophisticated telecommunications technologies wherever they might be.

Two years after I read that article, which caused me to begin to think about what was happening around me with the recession of 1990–1991, Fortune magazine ran a cover story called “The End of the Job.” The article predicted that we were entering an economy in which “jobs” are disappearing and in which people would make themselves available to companies for short-term assignments.

And by 1996, The End of Work, a book that focuses on the dramatic change occurring in our economy, rocketed to the top of the international best-seller lists. One of the key premises of the book? The economy of the temporary workforce is upon us.

In his book Job Shift, William Bridges (1994) coined the phrase “dejobbing” to describe this trend to non-standard employment. He says that workers are going to be more like independent business people (or one-person businesses) than conventional employees. They are likely to work for more than one client at a time and to move back and forth across organizational boundaries — being employed full-time for a period of time, then hired to do contract work, then hired to consult, and then brought back in-house (perhaps part-time this time) on a long-term assignment. He concludes that, although there will always be enormous amounts of work to do in our economy, the work will not be contained in that old familiar employment form of standard full-time, full-year jobs.

All these articles and books centre on two themes: the ever-increasing reliance on the temporary “workforce for hire” and a reduction in the duplication of skills throughout an organization.

Over time, companies will become leaner and meaner than they are today. They will be built around a small, core group of staff responsible for keeping the business running and will obtain the rest of their needed expertise through an ongoing and ever-growing reliance on contract workers. And specialized expertise need not be duplicated. In the old days, companies may have had a human resource expert for every division and every office location. Today, they can rely on one expert, or perhaps two or three, and make that talent available to the rest of the organization through e-mail and other methods.

These changes are real and aren’t science fiction. Take a look around your world, and I’m sure you can see the signs that it is beginning to happen. Fortune 500 organizations continue to shed staff at alarming rates, as the era of downsizing and rationalization continues unabated. You’ve either been directly affected or will be in the future.

* * * *

If you think about it, the wired world is the grease that is fueling this new type of corporate organization. The reason? With the explosion of communication capabilities, organizations can go out and access the expertise and talent of any number of people around the planet. Why hire staff when you can hire a temp? If you spend a bit of time thinking about the implications of this change, you will see that through the next decade some rather remarkable changes are in store.

  • The Number of Full-time Jobs Will Begin to Shrink Dramatically

The era of the job for life has clearly come to an end, and the concept of the job is becoming irrelevant as well. A new way of thinking is emerging in the corporate world, built upon a reluctance to increase staff levels, with the result that we are becoming an economy of consultants who sell their skills and talents to business on an as-needed basis.

It used to be that companies entered into an employer–employee relationship in order to obtain access to some type of specialized skill or knowledge. If the company needed a new marketing specialist, it went out and hired a marketing specialist. Then came the recession of the early 1990s. With the onslaught of restructuring that occurred, companies came to appreciate that it cost a heck of a lot of money to fire people, since severance packages had become quite expensive.

A new way of thinking began to occur in the corporate world, built on this logic: if we hire staff, we might have to fire them some day, particularly if we have another recession. It costs a lot of money to fire people. So why not hire people, not as staff, but on contract or as temporary workers? The role of the wired world? Guess what. A lot of those contract and temporary workers are found on the end of a telecommunications line.

  • Companies Will Hire the Best Talent They Can, Regardless of Where That Person Might Be

In the wired world, the only thing that counts is knowledge. If the knowledge is accessible from anywhere in the world, then companies will find themselves in the position of being able to choose the best talent and expertise they need to do a particular job from a group of global, skilled consultants.

The impact? A new era of career competitiveness is about to unfold as a number of highly skilled workers sell their capabilities and talents to a global audience of business organizations. The result? Marginal performance is no longer going to be good enough: in the new dog-eat-dog world of networked business, the old rule that those with the best skills and capabilities will be in the greatest demand will be even more true than it is today.

  • Lifestyle Choice Will Come to Dominate Career Decisions

Because they can supply their skills from anywhere through the tools of the wired world, this elite group of individuals will call the shots. They will make lifestyle decisions that will let them service their national and global client base from a rural electronic cottage, thus enjoying the fruits of the wired economy, at the same time watching their children grow up. A new era of career decisions based upon lifestyle choices is upon us. As we enter an economy in which location doesn’t matter, the natural result is that more people will choose to work from the places they want to, rather than where they have to.

  • Our Actual Work Location Won’t Matter

You can enhance your future career and job opportunities by adapting your skills so that they are marketable and accessible via the wired world. That simple rule, people lived close to the place where they worked, that I mentioned earlier is clearly and unequivocally changing as a result of the wired world, since you don’t need to be near your job in order to do the work!

On the other hand, we might consider that the rule hasn’t changed: people who have mastered the technology that lets them provide their skills to others, wherever they might be, live close to the place where they work — online!

The matter of location is quickly becoming irrelevant, with the explosion of telecommunication networks, fax machines, voice mail, e-mail and other methods of communication. The office of the future will look like your bedroom — because it will be.

As companies begin to rely more and more on outside expertise, the number of core employees required will continue to decrease. The impact on downtown urban areas will be dramatic. There will be fewer people working in office towers. The real estate industry has a phrase for this: “see through buildings.” That’s because they will be.

Guess what — the work force of the twenty-first century wears sweatpants, not suits, since they shop at WalMart, not Hugo Boss, for their day-to-day work attire. And while downtown real estate will suffer, the home improvements industry will expand, as people build a more comfortable home office environment.

If you really want to know what is happening in the world around us, talk to your letter carrier. She will tell you that her pack is getting heavier, year after year, because of the number of people working at home. Visit a local photocopy or office supply store at 10 in the morning, and you’ll find a variety of semi-scruffy professionals loading up on supplies or getting some copies made.

Today, 41% of Canadians have home computers, according to Statistics Canada. Not all of them are used solely for games and homework; an increasing number sit in the home office, tools with which the new home-based workforce is meeting the challenge of the changing business world.

You can ensure you are a survivor by understanding what it takes to build, manage and work in a home office and by getting into the wired state of mind.

  • A Generational Battle For Economic Control and Survival Is Upon Us

It won’t be easy. Our economic systems are increasingly characterized by baby boomers and the older generation, comfortable in their unchanging ways and who are now faced with a new, wired and technically sophisticated Generation-X. Increasingly, economic survival is dependent upon mastery of technology, and it should be obvious who has the upper hand in this game!

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