1999-09-02 The Farm: thoughts (from the archives)

Part of a series of posts from my old website archives. Enjoy!

[thoughts] something to consider.

Wherever we may roam-

The workforce in technology has changed tremendously in the past decade. Change leaves its touch not only on the people in the workforce, but has also touched the structure of that workforce in ways that enable those people with the tools and skills to free themselves from the age-old “our team forever or bust” ideal. Here’s my argument.

The widespread use of technology in business has sped us up – we do things faster, we find it more profitable to run our businesses as orchestrated parts as opposed to running them as monolithic wholes. Business structures are no longer seen as a body with internal organs working with each other in a closed ecosystem. We see businesses increasingly as neighborhoods where we reach out, know our neighbors, and make best use of each other’s resources – we outsource more and use more temporary contract labor. Much of the quicker-moving businesses consist of people acting as free-agents who are able to look out for themselves and service whoever will pay them.We see business as a world of independent nation-states, each of them making deals and moving as directed by the organizing central core. To change directions, a business need only to change its component parts, to close deals with some and begin deals with others in reaction to need.

On a human scale, this is a very beneficial time for those who have the skills and can find the jobs. Those people are the ones who have the advanced skill sets, the knowledge of esoteric technologies, the things that are highly sought-after. These people have to be excellent salespeople. Their number-one product is themselves.

On the other end, it makes difficultly for those who cannot, or are not good enough, to promote their services. They may have the good skill sets, but in some way, they’re not good at landing the contracts.

There are also those who can sell themselves well, but may either lack the skills or their skills are in low demand. Where once HTML programmers were in high demand, those jobs are now handed out as entry-level positions as more people learn the language and as more technologies emerge to automatically generate HTML. The people who are good at selling themselves but lack what they need may opt to put their sales skills to better use in selling the skills of others. We now have a whole industry that specializes in placing contract labor into technology jobs.

For those who are new to the technology fields or still young in this realm of the free agent world are finding it more difficult to get a foothold and become established. As newer technologies emerge, it is those who grasp those technologies while they are still young who will jetison into positions of mastership and expertise. Those are the things to take aim for as well as keeping an eye on the current staple technologies as a foundation. Training and education take the free agents far, but attention must also be kept towards research and discovery, to grasp the new things and hold on as they develop.

As free agents in a growing, faster changing workforce, they begin to chip away at the long-held bastion of employment: the pension. As free agents, we rely more on our own independent retirement accounts and less on the standard of “twenty years and a gold watch.” In the past 20 years we’ve seen an immense growth in the usage of IRA’s which travel with us as we go from job to job; the constant threat of downsizing and the increasing insecurity of jobs demands it if we wish to ensure our preferred quality of life throughout our lives.

The existence of IRA’s is a strong indication of modern business’s direction towards the nation-state status. With our skill sets, our salesmanship, and our tools, we carry with us everything we need as if we were crossing the vast landscape from village to village in a journey of selling our wares.

The current of modern business puts a larger portion of the workforce into a place where we act as drops of rainwater that form into puddles, only to evaporate when needed and precipitate into other puddles. It’s the giving-away of corporate monogamy to the one-man shops of skilled craftsmen; it’s the idea of the new ways – we go where we’re needed, we fight and compete for places to be, we trade services with those who have the goods to trade. Industrial ideologies yield to technological methodologies.

We are the nomads.

Published by Shawn

He's just this guy, you know?