flowing motion

Posts Tagged ‘careers

That’s what I said.  Government’s cannot promote innovation

Yesterday, I was playing with John Hagel’s list of three features that distinguish fringe/flaky activities from edge, innovative activities and I suddenly realized: governnments cannot promote innovation.

This is why.

3 differences between fringe/flakey and edge/innovative enterprises

John Hagel, famed for his work on the motor cycle industry in China, points out:

#1 Edge activities are scalable

There is a way to bring the critical stakeholders and a  critical mass of people together to make a difference.

#2  Edge activities are ‘life works’

The change brought by edge activities are so compelling that we are willing to back them with everything we have.

#3  Edge activities change the status quo

Edge activities don’t exist as a complement, extension or protest to mainstream activities.  They intend to take over the mainstream.

When we develop a new industry, we curtail, or even displace, other industries.  People are put out of work.  How can a government sponsor that?

QED.  Governments cannot sponsor innovation.

How can governments support innovation?

It seems to me that govenments’ job is to promote social conditions that promote innovation.

#1  Look at employee rights in failing or contracting industries.  I don’t mean employee privileges, I mean rights.  How do their rights stack up with the rights of other stakeholders (who are also losing out).  Bring those into balance in a fair, transparent, agree and comprehensible matrix.

#2  Make it easier for employees to move from one industry to another.  How easy is it to retrain mid-career?  How often does this happen?  How do individuals go about it?  With what success?  What structural changes would make it easier?

#3  What other structural issues make it hard on employees exiting collapsing industries?  How do we treat people who are not in employment?  How does the tax law and the banking law make life difficulty for people who are reinvesting in new industries?

What I learned from Hagel’s points on edge industries

That’s what I learned from thinking through Hagel’s three points about edge industries.  Government has got to make it easier for more edge industries to  succeed.

And that means Governments must make it less painful for old industries to shrink and eventually fade away.

It also follows that a good governments, in this day and age, should be boasting that this is an economy, and society, in which old industries are given and neat, tidy, respectful burial.  And that we are proud of our ability to move on.  Because moving on just got profitable .  .  . for everyone.

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Employers for life

Today, CIPD published a story that we want an employer for life.

Insecurity distracting us from growth

Some people don’t understand the economic numbers and if they don’t, then the responses reported by CIPD spell out for them the meaning of a severe recession.

Employees are grubbing at the bottom of Maslow’s Need Hierarchy.

It’s not much of a life, and we won’t be going any where fast as a country until we reduce the fear and worry about basics.

Employment relations and psychology

We need to get the politics right.  We need to get every one to sit down and see what we can keep stable, and keep it stable.  Give people as much security as they can so they can plan.

But we also have to learn to function in the “whip and crack of the whirlwind.”  Other communities do.  We need to as well.

Careers have changed

CIPD was knocking the ‘free agent’ route.  Well, UK has not had much of tradition of self-employment or entrepreneurship.   We will get panic simply because we don’t have many role models around us.

Let’s take the intrapreneurship route with which we are more familiar.

Before social media

Our CV showed an obedient relationship with authority.

In a social media world

Our CV is our portfolio of original work and our evolving purpose.

What is our evolving purpose?

When we aren’t used to telling our story, explaining our purpose can be the hardest thing in the world.

So often our purpose has been no more than “hitch a ride on a gravy train.”

For too long, we’ve pretended

  • we can drive the train
  • make gravy
  • and that we are welcome on the train.

That is the crisis that we are facing.

But hey, if catching gravy trains is our skill and purpose in life, then at least we can become knowledgeable about gravy trains. When do they come and how do we hop on and hide?

We can write about it.  We might have to be like Banksy and keep our identify quiet. But we can write about it.  And show he evidence.

To carry on the train metaphor, we can show a picture of  us in Edinburgh in the morning and in London in the evening.  Of course, “they” will be looking out for us now.  No problem.  We are the experts.  Another route!

Psychologists reading this know where I am headed .  .  .

Build that portfolio!

You can call your life by any name you choose but there is only one life you can call your own.  Start you blog today!

Don’t do anything indiscrete.  Begin with the small things.  Take a picture of a train.

And then another.  Then another.

It’s a cheap hobby at least.

Bet it becomes lucrative though!

Acknowledgements:

“conduct your blooming in the whip & crack of the whirlwind” : Gwendolyn Brooks

“there is only one life you can call your own” : David Whyte

Dynamic not static portfolios

For some time now, I’ve been interested in creating online portfolios for students. Students could start a blog, they could start a chat room. They could do any number of things.

In the long run though, they don’t just want a portfolio of who they are. Life isn’t only about ‘stock’, it is about ‘flow’.

We want students who are at ease with the interconnected world and who can get things done when and where they need to get this done. Our portfolios need to be organized dynamically, around ‘doing’ and ‘action’.

Jane McGonigle lists the social characteristics of ‘new’ work.  Adnan Ali has a list of 6 technical skills which we should all be able to do in a rudimentary way.

6 technical skills for getting the internet on your side in the career of your life

I think it would be reasonable for students to have a course where they do a project on each of these 6 skills. Moreover, they should think up experiments to ‘break’ their work ~ that is, to test its limits. In that way, they learn to think analytically rather than subjectively about what they are doing and move from being amateurs to professionals.

1. Market Identification

Understand the structure of the internet as it lies today.

Which keywords do people use to label their work and how do the keywords vary from one group to another?

2. Conversion Model Development

Understand the actions that are taken on the internet.

What action do they want people to take on their page? How is that action depicted? How is it counted? How is it aggregated to have value to the business?

How are various actions connected onwards, for example, through petitions, paypal, etc?

What proportion of visitors are likely to take these actions?

3.  Landing Pages

Understand the ease with which people use the internet

What do visitors see when they arrive and does the page fulfil their needs? What are the different kinds of landing pages (FAQ, blog, profile, etc.) and what solution it is providing? How usable is the page and how does usability affect conversion?

4.  Traffic generation

Understand how people find pages on the internet

How do people find a website through Google? How does a page rise to the top of search? How do advertisements draw traffic? How can we compete for advertising space that draws the best traffic (for us) and how much does it cost?

SEO, Pay per Click, Pay per Acquisition are the technical skills here.

5.  Conversation Management

Understand the 2 way web and our preference for interaction on sites where we control part of the conversation

How can we stimulate conversation between 2 or more people? Why does bringing them together assist them (and us)? What is our role? Should we host the conversation or take part in a hosted conversation? What makes a good conversation?

6.  Analytics Tracking

Understand the mechanics of tracking web traffic and simple experimentation

Track every part of the value chain and run simple experiments to test proposed changes using Google Analytics and other automated tracking mechanism.

Career Psychology and the Internet

One of the principles of career psychology is to train at the ‘level’ that you intend to work.

We want students to manage their entire career, not small parts of it. From the outset then, students should set up a portfolio and ask themselves each week and each month, what did I achieve? How did this portfolio help me achieve and how have I displayed my achievement?

Then each month, they should take one of the six parts and do a focused project to learn more skills. Let’s imagine they have done this 7 times from the beginning of their GSCE curriculum (2 rounds), through university preparation (2 rounds) and through their bachelor’s degree (3 rounds). It is very likely that they will be highly accomplished and goal oriented by the end.

For those of us late to the party, well we can just begin! In a year, we should be as good as a 16 year old! We’ll get there!!

Multiplicator effect

I sat down this morning to ponder the multiplicater effect and what it tells us about management in the new age of knowledge and information.

This is how I look at it.

In the 1900’s

In the olden days, business was like a household budget. Money came in and money went out.

The way to get a bit richer was to take the job you did and get someone to do parts of it more cheaply than you could do yourself.

Let’s imagine I was a cobbler. If I could get you to stand in a line and one of you put on the soles, one thread the laces, and so on.  I could pay you each less than I could pay myself. And I could keep the profit that each would make if he worked for himself.

We used simple arithmetic and success was mainly about keeping the change.

Confusing housekeeping with economics

This business model leads to weird behaviour. Everyone believes that a one pound coin is indivisible. Either I have it, or you have it. And we fight to the death over it.

National wealth does not work like that. Indeed, company wealth doesn’t work like that.

Stock turn is important in shops. I don’t want to buy stock and having it sit on the shelves. I want it in and I want it out and the money banked. Circulation is the key. Not hoarding.

In a town, the same applies. When we fight over the one pound coin, we are wasting time and energy. Let me buy something from you with the coin. Then let you buy something from the next person and they from the next and ultimately someone buys from me. That one pound serves many of us. The more people served by the same one pound coin, the healthier the economy.

Installation art

I keep threatening to put an GPS device in a pound coin to follow it as it moves in the wild. If you would like to collaborate in that project, do get in touch.

In the 2000’s

In the modern business world, few of us are like the cobbler with a skill which can be broken into parts, each of which can be done by someone less skilled than us for less money than we would do it ourselves.

Adam Smith and the division of labor

In this day and age, that model of division of labour is a nonsense. Yes, it made perfect sense in the 1800 hundreds in Scotland when Adam Smith said that we can make more pins when we each made part of the pin. And maybe this rule-of-thumb is still true when we are making pins.

Today’s products are more complicated than pins

But in today’s world, we are often making something a lot more complicated than a pin. We’ve moved on. There isn’t any one person who has made the whole of what we are making. There isn’t any person who knows how to do everything. In truth, if we put a 1000 elves in with Santa we wouldn’t be able to draw or visualize exactly what we are making

We are like the blind men describing the elephant. I think the elephant is his trunk. You think it is his tail.

The elephant knows he is an elephant, of course. But he has no way of communicating with the blind men We have to wait until the blind men get the concept of a possible elephant and start communicating with each other. Then they can work out there is an elephant and what it looks like.

You cannot fool all of the people all of the time but there is no end to the people who will try

Now there are plenty of people out there trying to pretend that they know how to make a pin and hoping to delegate part of it to you. Notice well though, that they will be reluctant to give you a good contract that goes beyond chance.   They have no market for that pin. (Sorry people who make real pins ~ I know you are real.)

Before you part with an hour of your time, ask them for their sales report

The point is not that the heaven has finally fallen on Chicken Licken. The point is that the world is making bigger things than pins. When you hear someone claim that they understand the whole elephant and you should play a small part at the trunk for a pittance, ask sweetly to see the sales reports. They won’t show the report to you because it doesn’t exist.

Listen to those who want genuinely to collaborate

But when someone says, hey, I feel something interesting in front of me. What do you feel? Do you think there is any connection between what you feel and I feel? THEN, we have a show.

When we network our skills together, then we can make something that we cannot see alone.

This is not the age of division of labor

Division of labour aimed to do things faster and cheaper. Today’s world is about networking specialist labour to do something no one person or company can do alone.

This is the age of connecting with other skilled people

This is not the age of division of labour and making smaller and smaller things. This is the age of networking skill and making bigger and bigger things.

To be practical

As a career coach and work psychologist, I put my practical cap on and ask: what does this mean in practice?

  • The essential career tool of today is a set of modular pieces of work which have the potential to link up with others. I say potential because other people may not have work ready to link up.  We do our work anyway but rather than just do it, we do it in a way that has potential to link up with others so they can see where they could join in.
  • The essential career management tool of today is to be adaptable and do whatever work is available without losing sight of our skill base. The test of any task is not whether we are paid for it but whether we are willing to put it on our website for others to link up to.
  • The essential selection criteria for inclusion in a permanent team will be
    • number of modules we have available for others to use
    • the diversity of modules (are we able to clean the floor and do the accounts as readily as paint a Picasso)
    • the readiness at which we create modules in new situations (rate and diversity)
    • the connections we make with the team and importantly are now possible between other team members without our presence!
  • The ethics of selection come down to whether a person’s connections will be richer by working with us (do they become more creative and are they involved in richer sets of connections?)
  • Pay is likely to be more equal with money paid into development funds to pay for capital when it is needed and the opening up new opportunities. Where there are differentials they are likely to come from being central to a network because the pound moves through us more often (we buy and we sell). People who only sell should receive less.
  • Ranks of professions might change. Lets imagine we paid a toll to a receptionist each time we walked through the door. We might be come reluctant to have a receptionist. Indeed, this is a test of a division of labour philosophy operating. We may not need the service if we had to pay more for it. Let’s imagine the hospital workers mentioned in a paper today who create a lot more value than they take home. What if they decided to run a hospital and just hire the doctors and nurses around them. That makes sort of sense to me!
  • In the olden days, training meant starting with a small task and growing into the ‘owner’. Obviously the tasks in our early career will be small.  But what if the goal was to move increasingly into the centre of a network where we are able to work with a wider number of people?  Have the pound coin pass through us more often? What if the goal was to increase whom we are able to work with on a project of value?  What if I took a person into a room and said: take two people, figure out what they can do and figure out, not what you can sell to each of them, but what you can take/buy from one, transform and pass on to the next. It’s what entrepreneurs do, of course. But what if the entire training process was geared to the capacity to detect and executive collaboration?
  • Jane McGonigle lists the qualities of projects that have this magical capacity which I restated here I would look for these multiplicator competencies in someone’s portfolio and help them find opportunities to broaden their experience in new ways of working.

The beginning is the ability to do modular work that has capacity for collaboration. To be potentiated, so to speak, to collaborate. A change of focus but an important one. Learn to be a multiplier rather than a taker.

New management

When I went to university, we were told that management is the art of getting work done through people.  A passport to laziness and exploitation!

Today, we say management is developing people through work.

Work should be fun.  It is fun for some of us.

And work should be fair.  Not only should we receive a fair day’s pay for a fair days work.  We should be growing as a person and capable of doing more with each hour of work that we put in.

Rewriting the training manuals for jobs and careers

In 20th century management manuals, Stage 1 of work was doing.  For about 10 years, roughly from 16 to 26, we learned a trade and built breadth & depth through education and exposure.  Our job was to cultivate a deep knowledge of our materials and tools, appreciate our customers, and adapt what we did for their needs.  We wanted to learn enough about the wide range of situations that we might encounter in the future so that we could go with the flow and make a living as the years went by.

Sadly, of course, markets change and revolutions happen in technology.  With very little notice, customers defect to other products and markets, competitors outrun us, or the technology changes sufficiently to require another 10 year apprenticeship.

In the ‘olden days’, HR departments were responsible for seeing ahead and retraining staff ahead of any abrupt changes.  By definition, the HR Director’s job was to spot changes on the horizon and get everyone retrained in new ways without disrupting today’s operations.  There was a reason for that high salary!

You are now your own HR Director

Today’s management theorists and leadership coaches counsel another approach.  They recommend that each of us scan the horizon for changes and retrain ourselves in good time.

This is quite hard to do.  As noobes, we barely understand the business.  We don’t have data to see ahead.  Indeed it might be kept from us.  And training tends to focus on skill  rather than the ‘sweet spot’ where are skills are deeply valued by our customers.

The sweet spot where your skills are deeply valued by your customers

I know that there has been a lot of research on how to train people on the sweet spot.

  • I recall attempts to train doctors by introducing them to patients from day one.  The conclusion, I recall, was that the pre-clinical training was necessary to speed up communication between noobes and experienced doctors and the experiment was abandoned.
  • Cognitive psychologists have developed computer games to test whether it is better to learn the market before we learn the underlying technology of our business.  They concluded no.  First, learn the technology, then try to make money.
  • Military psychologists have found that youngsters trained to manage their attention on computer games performed better as fighter pilots.  In the game, the recruits played the part of captains of de-mining vessels.  Each ‘month’, or game cycle, they would concentrate on the overall outcome of running the ship and concentrate on learning one of the functions only ~ navigation, finance, HR, etc.  The limitation known with this approach is that under pressure we often go back to the “level” that we first learned, requiring, once again, that we can see into the future and pick our “level” correctly.

It seems easy to mess up our mental models of the sweet spot and what we need to do to manage it.  We can overemphasize the money end and underemphasize the skill.  We can also learn to manage situations that are too small to sustain a living.

More research needed on managing our own training for 21st century jobs and careers

None of these experiments have focused though on developing a sense of the sweet spot and organizing skills and commercial acumen around a sweet spot that morphs, ebbs and flows.  I know no experiment where “subjects” were explicitly trained to monitor what is happening around them, to think of their own skills (and the skills of their team) and bring those together into a rewarding balance.

I wonder what would happen if we learned to think that way from the get-go?

 

Organize your own thinking about vibrant, interesting & lucrative jobs and careers in the 21st century

If you want to try, to organize your thinking about the sweet spot between your skills and the needs of customers, this is what I recommend.

Pick on anything you did today that you enjoyed and draw out 3 spokes

  • name the key technical skill that you used to provide your customer with value
  • name the customer and describe his or her needs
  • name the sweet spot and try describe it in one sentence

These three spokes correspond logically to three factors associated with successful business teams:

  • The teams ask questions more often than the give answers
  • They concentrate on the outside world a little more than on themselves
  • The look for what is going well and are positive 5x more than they are negative

Become your own HR Director

I think it will take quite a few lots of 10 to 15 minutes jotting down notes for this way of thinking to come easily.  But when it does you will be your own HR Director

  • Looking ahead
  • Retraining on time
  • Finding the sweet spot where you feel vital, involved, entertained, valued AND rewarded!

Do let me know how it works out!

#1  my career is a journey to find my people

A good performer jumps on stage, looks out at the audience, and thinks, “Here I am!”
A great performer jumps on stage, looks out at the audience, and thinks, “There you are!”

Steve Rapson from Art of the Solo Performer
contributed by DW from Connecticut, USA

and for #2 thru #1001 visit Music Thoughts

 

Career decisions for young and old

I do a lot of career coaching.  I talk to youngsters of all ability ranges. I talk to MBA student making career changes after a flying start in management.  I talk to people who’ve been unlucky enough to lose their jobs and who looking for an echo career.

Are easy when we know what we want

What all these people have in common ~ those who are happy to get work at the minimum wage and those negotiating banker-size bonuses ~ is that they will not get what they want until they decide what they want.

And tracks are laid out for us by someone else

Many of us ~ particularly the talented, able and lucky ~ go through life on a set of rails. We go from one school to another, on tracks laid down by other people, and decision making has amounted to no more than “this” or “that”.   Both are good and we chose on the basis of the frills ~ which perks were more to our taste.

When the tracks are gone, we have to lay them for selves

Then one day, shock and horror, the tracks are gone. We will have to lay them down ourselves.  Suddenly, we realize that we are “institutionalized”. We haven’t being make decisions for ourselves.  We are capable of rolling down pre-laid tracks without thought, but we are totally incapable of laying the tracks.

Smashing Magazine has a very comprehensive list for finding work

It’s a steep learning curve.  Today Smashing Magazine has a list of “do’s” for free lancers. These “do’s” are the basis for job searches as well. Print them and rate your progress at getting them right.

The trouble is that step one is deciding what you want!

I can tell you right now which steps you will find hard ~ deciding which sector you want to work in and finding out about the companies.  That’s the equivalent of laying the tracks. That is the part that you’ve never done before because you always took for granted that the tracks were there.

How to lay your own tracks

  1. Print out the article from Smashing Magazine
  2. Get a shoebox or box of similar size
  3. Keep your envelopes from junk mail
  4. Take envelopes of one color or size and every day find a website relevant to the industry that enchants you.  Read and take notes.
  5. Take envelopes of another color or size and every day find a firm in your industry that sparks your curiosity.  Read and take notes.
  6. Every month sort through. Keep the ten best firms and make notes on questions you want to answer about the industry.
  7. Also sort through and look at the people you would love to meet and learn a little about them

I can be sure that in 1-2 months of doing a little work every night, the industry will come alive.  Smashing Magazine’s list will begin to be easy.  Indeed, I strongly recommend that you start a blog.  Get a Posterous account, which is easy to manage, and start “Expeditions into the Publishing Industry”, or whatever.   In time you will be an acclaimed expert ~ and you will have got there by the first step that you took today.

Stop daydreaming about step 53 ~ take the 1st step

Indeed, if you don’t take the first step, if you keep telling me about step 7 or step 10 or step 53, then I know you are not serious.  Step 1: print out Smashing Magazine’s article. Step Two get a shoebox. Step Three get a junk mail envelope and make your first notes.

And sigh with relief that you live in days of the internet!

And stop whinging!  This is easy in the days of the internet.  Just 10 years ago, this was almost impossible to do!

My grand-mother had a clear ‘rule’ – none of us should work for a family-business. We should all go out and work in another business or organization.  My grandmother was obviously fed up with family businesses. She had been burned by them a few times. And I think she made the right call.

I think we should go further though. We should all aim to have our own business.

Is it the Talmud where we are advised to join an established business? That is good advice. We should acknowledge what works in the world and work with it.

But I think we should also aspire to autonomy. Many organizations work on a tournament system. You have to start in round one and work your way up. Should you want to move to another organization, you cannot carry credits from the previous rounds with you!

We need a way to aggregate our experience into a stronger and stronger portfolio.

Online portfolios are a good start. Planning our careers as if they are a business is another.

But as employment law is very clumsy and big organizations are more interested in subordination than developing your ongoing value, isn’t it a good idea to register yourself as a company, employ yourself, and develop alliances with others from day one?

Who is doing this? Who is making sure their youngsters go on to independent careers after an apprenticeship with some one else?

As a relative “noobe” in the UK, I’ve been frustrated in my search for data about the economy. It is incredibly difficult to get information from the National Statistics Office that in the US and NZ can be slurped online in seconds.

There also seems to be little vision about where we are going.

Repeating complaints and doomsday scenarios doesn’t help, I know. But asking the right questions does.

Yesterday, IT writer, Philip Virgo posted a summary of his lobbying at each of the Party congresses. I’ve reorganised his post below as a set of questions – using his words when they graphically describe the issue.

Questions about the future of work in the UK

  • Which are the industries of the future? [Which are they are, and how are developments in these industries consistently highlighted in the media?]
  • Which industries will have “integrated career paths”?
  • What would be consequences of not having industries with integrated career paths? What is the alternative?
  • Will “home made” careers do? Or, will our children be condemned to a “professional backwater . . . no longer part of the mainstream route to the top – unless they emigrate and don’t come back”?
  • Will our children and grandchildren be “condemned to surf the cybercrud on the fringes of the global information society – as the UK becomes the electronic equivalent of Cannery Row – a post-industrial poor relation to the economic powerhouses of Asia”?

What will attract industries of the future – particularly in IT and information-management?

  • A competitive communications infra-structure and access to world-class broadband
  • Regulatory simplicity, clarity and predictability
  • Fiscal certainty [presumably for companies and employees]
  • Removing planning controls designed for the 50’s and replacing them with controls we need for the information age.
  • “Workforce skills programmes” that develop a critical mass of skilled people in the industries that interest us

Virgo describes the migration of IT businesses out of the UK – Maxwell’s newspapers, Google and Yahoo. Isle of Man, Switzerland and Singapore seem to be attractive destinations largely because they undertake to defend data privacy from interference from the US. If that is so, then a foreign policy component of future planning is also clear.

These questions seem to be a good way to start thinking about life and prospects in the UK in the future

What do you think of them?

Being a ‘noobe’ here, I’d be interested in your thoughts on the right questions to ask . . . and the likely answers.

Is the internet good for you?

Was it this week that we had the media telling us that Facebook would give us cancer?  And a professor telling us that the internet makes us scatty?

Well, I won’t go where angels fear to tread, but I do know this.  The world has changed in a fundamental way and it is very important THAT YOU GET IT!

The internet has changed the way we make a living and before you go off and spend 5 to 10 years getting a qualification and doing low paid jobs to get experience, have a look at the business model of the profession you are entering.  Will your profession survive the intenet?

And don’t ask recruiters and HR officers either.  They rarely know the answers.

Ask experienced people who are responsible for strategy in their field and don’t join up unless they can ask clearly!  Invite people who have a hig profile in your future career to talk to your school, university or service club, and ask the questions you need to ask!

Managing risk

At the heart of any profession or occupation is the management of risk – yep that thing that bankers didn’t seem to understand.

Very simply, we cannot know everything in the world and when we have an unfamiliar decision to make, we turn to professionals for advice – doctors, lawyers, teachers, plumbers, and even, bankers.  Even my lowly purchase of a loaf of bread at the supermarket is the purchase of advice.  I am trusting my supermarket to sell me something wholesome and good at a reasonable price.

But how do we know who we can trust?

We have several mechanisms.

  • First is a system of licenses.  A body, like the British Medical Association gives a doctor a practising certificate, for example, to indicate the doctor has the training and knowledge that we expect.
  • Second is a system of audits & inspections.  Chartered Accountants like KPMG and Deloittes check the financial affairs of a business and tell us if it is a going concern.
  • Third is the business model itself.  Newspapers, for example, would verify information is correct before they printed it and it was for that verification that we would pay a shilling or a dollar for our paper, though we often felt that we were buying the content.  They are motivated to get information correct so they stay in business.

The internet adds another way to manage risk

The internet has changed the game of business, and importantly the careers available to us, because it adds, among other things, an additional way to manage risk.  This additional mechanism for managing risk affects how consumers get advice and who gets paid for giving advice.

  • Google Search, for example, allows us to pull up information from all over the world in the blink of an eye.  For many particularly simple matters, we can find information for free and save ourselves the fees of professional advice.  Knowledge has become more easily available and much cheaper.
  • Twitter provides recommendations with equal speed and allows customers to speak to each other. The wisdom of crowds gives us assurances that previously were only available from auditors and inspectors.
  • Blogs, YouTube, Flickr make us all citizen journalists.  Collecting and transmitting data is now so cheap and easy that events like a plane ditching in the Hudson are transmitted as they happen.  No paper or TV service can report events so quickly.

But there is so much rubbish on the internet

Indeed there is.  And it is very important to treat the information for what it is.  IT IS NOT information provided with a stamp of approval from a professional body or a well established business.

This is frightening for many people.  And so it will be until they think clearly about what is happening and act accordingly.

We have two tasks therefore.

  • First, understand how to verify information on the internet.
  • Second, to understand how the internet changes the value of various professions and how much people in those professions will earn in the future.

A lot of people write about the first task.  I am interested in the second.

How does the internet change the value of various careers and the salary you can expect to earn?

Whether you are in a profession or ‘old school organization’, or if you are changing careers and thinking about your next move, these are the questions that I think you should ask.

5 questions to ask about the value of information in your profession or organization

1   Why did you want to go into this career?

When you chose this career, what value did you believe you would add to the world?  Why did you undertake the qualifications instead of just opening up your business?  What did the qualifications teach you that cannot be taught elsewhere and freely on the internet?  How are the systems of knowledge maintained so the knowledge of your profession is deeper and more valuable that information on the internet? To what extent is the profession protected artificially and will these artificial barriers be stripped away by the internet?

2  How do you maintain integrity?

What are the promises that your profession makes to the public and are these promises genuine?  For example, do you send someone to jail for breaking these promises?  What areas of malpractice does the profession look out for?  How do you check that your core promises are being honoured?  When your customers are able to talk directly to each other, what aspects of your service can they inspect better than you can? If they are able to check themselves, of what value is your guarantee?  What aspects can they not check and is the responsibility of your profession?

3  What does your online profile say?

Are you on professional groups like Facebook, Twittter, LinkedIn and Xing?  If we Google your name, can we find you?  What issues are Googled by your clients/customers/patients and what do they find? How do you maintain your profile?  How good is your understanding of information traffic on the internet and the way Google chooses what to show people?  How is your profession learning about the internet and the way it is developing?  How is your profession managing the conversation about the internet among your members?

4  What is your ‘authority’ on the risk management issues which have been the basis of your profession?

What are the issues on which your profession is expert, experienced and willing to help other people, albeit for a fee?  Who in the internet world defers to your opinion and how do they link to you?  How does your profession monitor your online authority?  How do you manage your online authority?  How do you manage the way one member of your profession competes with another for internet domination?  How do you ensure that your clients/customers/patients get access to well debated information and ‘honest authority’, so to speak?

5  How do you help your customers/clients/patients find the information they need and make intelligent choices?

What choices are your customers/clients/patients making on a daily basis?  What information do they use?  What do they search for?  How does information find them and are they able to process it safely and to their advantage?  How has the internet changed this process? And how have those changes, and ongoing changes, changed the basis of your business model?  How you make a living, in other words, and how future members of your profession will make a living?

Your comments?

This is the first time I’ve written about these issues.  So I’d be very interested in your views – or comments – or indeed questions.

How do you think the internet changes our work and our long-term potential to make a living?

What questions should we be asking leaders of professions and encouraging our young people to ask before they invest in an expensive training?


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