Wednesday, March 19, 2008
The world is flat. Who knew?
In case you haven't noticed, the world has been changing in the last 20 years or so. Growing up I never thought anything I wrote would be read by anyone outside my immediate family. Today, literally tens of people will read this post (ignore the fact that they're still all family members). Virtually anyone in the world has access to my biased opinions and mediocre writing skills. All of a sudden, everyone is within my reach, they all live in my hometown. The world is flat again, we've gone back to Pangaea. So, how do we keep from falling off the edge?
Understanding the events, processes, and technologies that have led to our global society is critical to survival in the flat world (Start here). No one ever thrived in an environment they didn't understand. But, just knowing about something about your environment doesn't guarantee success.
You must adapt to the challenges and take advantage of the opportunities in the flat world. Companies like Dell and Wal-Mart are thriving in the new world because they have recognized (and often created) opportunities that have allowed them to break out of traditional business models and do business more efficiently. These businesses also recognize that they must continue to adapt and evolve with the changing world to stay competitive.
Just like companies must adapt and evolve so too must individuals. A lot of people are trying to push you over the edge of the new flat world. You used to have to outperform the guy in the next cubicle over to get the promotion. Now, you have to outperform all of India to keep your job. This is a pretty scary thought (it scares me anyway). Of course, the solution is to stay marketable by continuing to invest in yourself. You should always be progressing and adding to your skill set. There will always be a place for someone who is versatile and competent.
So, the world is flat, but as long as you're willing to adapt, evolve, and innovate you won't fall off. And just in case you're having a hard time seeing how much things have changed in the last 10-15 years here's a little trip down memory lane.