continuing from yesterday’s post: The realisation is now
At the same time that our economic engines are faltering, something else is happening. Like all revolutions, it happens in fits and starts, without perfection, but it’s clearly happening.
The mass market is being replaced by multiple micro markets and the long tail of choice.
Google is connecting buyers and sellers over vaster distances, more efficiently and more cheaply than ever before.
Manufacturing is more of a conceptual hurdle than a practical one.
The exchange of information creates ever more value, while commodity products are ever cheaper. It takes fewer employees to generate more value, make more noise and impact more people.
Most of all is this: every individual, self-employed or with a boss, is now more in charge of her destiny than ever before.
The notion of a company, town or a stagnant industry with little choice is fading fast. As the economy changes and people are losing their safety, there are more opportunities emerging. Today anyone can bring change. This has to be the most opportune time.
Right before your eyes, a fundamentally different economy, with different players and different ways to add value is being built. What used to be an essential asset (for a person or for a company) is worth far less, while new attributes are both scarce and valuable.
Are there dislocations? There is no doubt about it. Pain and uncertainty and risk, for sure.
The opportunity, though, is the biggest of our generation (or the last one, for that matter).
The opportunity is there for anyone (with or without a job) smart enough to take it, to develop a best in class skill, to tell a story, to spread the word, to be in demand, to satisfy real needs, to run from the mediocre middle and to change everything.
Note! Like all revolutions, this is an opportunity, not a solution, not a guarantee. It is an opportunity to experiment and fail and discover dead ends on the way to making a difference. The old economy offered a guarantee: time plus education plus obedience = stability. The new one, not so much. The new one offers a chance for you to take a chance and make an impact.
The thing with the new revolution is that there are no maps. Often when I give talks at conferences, people ask me “how to” questions, how do I start this business? I have this idea, how do I go about doing this? The new revolution presents a clean sheet of paper to write your own story.
The new rules presented by the opportunity is that there are no rules, you write your own rules.
The reason people want the “how to,” “a dummies guide,” “a map” is because all our lives we were taught “how to.” We were taught to follow instructions and do as we are told. In today’s opportunity, you write your own rules. People freeze when they have to write their own rules, because they don’t know how to write.
When we were young our parents told us what to do, we go to school so that our teacher can tell us what to do, we get a job so that our boss can tell us what to do, we grow up being told what to do. Now suddenly the opportunity we get is to write our own rules and let other people follow them, instead we freeze and look rules to tell us what to do.
Note! If you are looking for ‘how’, if you are looking for a map, for a way to industrialise the new era, you have totally missed the point and you will end up disappointed. The nature of the last era was that repetition and management of results increased profits.
The nature of this one is the opposite:
If someone can tell you precisely what to do, it’s too late. Art and novelty and innovation cannot be reliably and successfully industrialised.
In 1924, Walt Disney wrote a letter to Ub Iwerks. Walt was already in Hollywood and he wanted his old friend Ubbe to leave Kansas City and come join him to build an animation studio. The last line of the letter said “PS I wouldn’t live in KC now if you gave me the place—yep—you bet—Hooray for Hollywood.” And, just above, in larger letters, he wrote, “Don’t hesitate—Do it now.”
It is not 1924, and this is not Hollywood, but it is a revolution, and there is a spot for you (and your boss if you push) if you realise you are capable of making a difference. Or you could be frustrated. Up to you.
It is the crossroads, you can either say I see all this opportunities mushrooming all over, but I choose to bury my head in the sand and do what I have been doing all along or you can choose to embrace the new opportunities and start writing your own rules.
The CEO of Nokia recently ended his speech saying this “we didn’t do anything wrong, but somehow, we lost.” This sounds like someone who has been following the manual, doing what is expected. In his view he did what they have been doing for years but they lost. Just like 75,000 Anglo American employees who did nothing wrong but they will lose their jobs soon.
The opportunity presented of the new revolution is that if continue to do “nothing wrong” you will lose. Keeping it safe is no longer safe anymore.
Tomorrow: part III — the school and programming revolution