The World is Flat.

Books / Sunday, October 8th, 2006

The World is Flat

“Those who get caught in the past and resist change will be forced deeper into commoditization. Those who can create value through leadership, relationships and creativity will transform the industry, as well as strengthen relationships with their existing clients.”

What career field is Friedman referring to above? Try Accounting

I loved this book. And I can’t believe it has been on my shelf for this long and I just got around to reading it recently. One of those could not put it down but I am falling asleep books. An important read for all. Scary. Informative. Frightening. Inquisitive. Historical. And easy to follow. I highly recommend this book to anyone who might have considered reading it…and to those of you who haven’t considered it before too. Although the latter group might not be nerds like I am, however the information is still really well presented and important.

For example: Chapter Two: The Ten Forces That Flattened the World

1. 11/9/89: When the Walls Came Down and the Windows Went Up
2. 8/9/95 When Netscape Went Public
3. Work Flow Software: Let’s Do Lunch: Have Your Application Talk to My Application
4. Open-Sourcing; Self-Organizing Collaborative Communities
5. Outsourcing Y2K
6. Offshoring: Running with Gazelles, Eating with Lions
7. Supply-Chaining: Eating Sushi in Arkansas (Wal-Mart, HP)
8. Insourcing: What the Guys In Funny Brown Shorts are Really Doing (UPS)
9. In-forming: Google, Yahoo!, MSN Web Search
10. The Steroids: Digital, Mobile, Personal and Virtual

These are all events that have happened in my short life time. My GOD how the world has changed! The Berlin Wall fell about a month after my father passed away..a lifetime ago to me, but in the context of our society? Only 15 short years. Frightening and exhilarating to think about at the same time.

I realized when reading this book that I need to read/study/learn/understand more about China. Friedman interviews Kenichi Ohma the author of the book “The United States of China” who says the following…

“China is a threat. China is a customer, and China is an opportunity…You have to internalize China to succeed. You cannot ignore it. Instead of competing with China as an enemy…you break down your business and think about which part of the business you would like to do in China, which part you would like to sell to China and which part you would like to buy from China.”

And Rajesh Rao, founder and CEO of Dhruva Interactive, a small Indian game company based in Bangalore, had this to say…

“Instead of complaining about outsourcing Americans and Western Europeans would be better off thinking about how they can raise the bar and raise themselves into doing something better. American have consistently, led in innovation over the last century. Americans whining- we have never seen that before. People like me have learned a lot from Americans. We have learned to become a little more aggressive in the way we market ourselves, which is something we would not have done given out typical British background.” “My message is that what’s happening now is just the tip of the iceberg…What is really necessary is for everybody to wake up to the fact that there is a fundamental shift that is happening in the way people are going to do business. And everyone is going to have to improve themselves and be able to compete. It is just going to be one global market.”

I also want to mention one last section, where Friedman looks to the future and the role of politicians in this new flat world.

“…When the world starts to move from a primarily vertical (command and control) value-creation model to an increasingly horizontal (connect and collaborate) creation model, it doesn’t affect just how business gets done. It affects everything- how communities and companies define themselves, where companies and communities stop and start, how individuals balance their different identities as consumers, employees, shareholders, and citizens and what role government has to play. All of this is going to have to be sorted out anew. The most common disease of the flat world is going to be multiple identify disorder, which is why, if nothing else, political scientists are going to have a field day with the flat world. Political Science may turn out to be the biggest growth industry of all in this new era. Because was we go though this great sorting out over the next decade, we are going to see some very strange bedfellows making some very new politics. Average Joe has to become special, specialized or adaptable Joe. The job of government and business is not to guarantee anyone a lifetime job- those days are over. That social contract has been ripped up with the flattening of the world. What government can and must guarantee people is the chance to make themselves more employable…Politicians not only need to explain to people the flat world, they need to inspire them to rise to the challenge of it. There is more to political leadership than a competition for who can offer the most lavish safety nets. Yes, we must address people’s fears, but we must also nurse their imaginations. Politicians can make us more fearful and thereby be disablers, or they can inspire us and thereby be enablers.”

Well said. Now go read this book.

Whatcha talkin' bout Willis?