Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Welcome to the Machine

I've been crazy-go-nuts with work. I'm sitting in a hotel room in Daytona Beach, FL at the moment. We are bringing up a new center in a nearby community. I am on the Monday through Friday commuting plan. I'm not finding a lot of time to read/research/etc career/management/leadership related material. I'm either pre-gaming on the flight down, reading something for fun to try to clear my brain of the cobwebs, or post-gaming on the way home.

Seth Godin has a new manifesto posted at ChangeThis. Two pieces jump out at me. He talks about "cogs".

Since you were five, schools and society have been teaching you to be a cog in the machine of our economy. To do what you're told, to sit in straight lines, and to get the work done.

Seth joins the Thomas Friedman train. He is also on the path of Rajesh Setty who tells us we need to be distinguishing ourselves. Friedman tells us [see commentary]that we need to be constantly improving/increasing our skill sets. We need to be "special", or "specialized", or "anchored" or just super-adaptable. Otherwise...we are just cogs in the giant machine.

Godin goes on to define cogs further:

1. Cog labor is a lowest-common-denominator activity.
2. If cog labor gets expensive, companies now automate it.
3. If a company can't afford to automate, they move the work somewhere where it's cheaper.
4. If the competition moves, companies figure out how to measure and semi-automate their cog labor to make it cheaper still.

And then here is something to ponder. Read it, let it sink in, process it, put it in your brain as you drift off to sleep and when you are good and terrified...start doing something about it...

The end result is that it's essentially impossible to become successful or well-off doing a job that is described and measured by someone else.

Sleep tight.

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