Globalization Upon Us

American children sing “We are the world,” but the world does not listen. Children in Iran burn American flags. Children in Iraq throw stones at American soldiers. Children in China write hateful essays about the “evil” American ways. American politicians attempt to spin how third world countries embrace Western ways while the terrorist alert is heightened to acknowledge another international threat. Increased globalization has elevated the risk at the domestic and international levels for US government military and civilian personnel.

According to the Forrester Research, approximately 3.3 million U.S. jobs and $136 billion in wages could be moved overseas to countries like India and China by 2015. Therefore, many organizations will need to change their strategies in order to meet the international challenges ahead.

Let’s look into the future. Many developing countries will continue to grow strongly over the next decade. In fact, these countries steadily shift to consumer-led growth instead of export-led growth.  The dollar spirals downward and foreign currency goes upward.  China and India have added millions to their labor force creating products as well as outsourcing their services abroad at a fraction of what American workers can provide. 

These upstart countries are positioning themselves to become the next Super Power.  For example, China passed Japan as the world’s second-largest economy. According to the World Bank estimates, China could surpass the US by 2020. China’s gross domestic product (GDP) spreads across 1.3 billion people ($3,600 per person) while the US GDP covers a smaller population ($42,000 per person). Yet, China will continue to fuel the world’s economy due to its thirst for raw materials and products in order to meet its own demand.

Globalization continues to transform our organizations.  Today, many American businesses have a global focus.  The S&P 500 companies now generate 46% of their profits outside the US. In fact, some of the largest companies are higher.  For example, Coca-Cola has become a very successful brand abroad, with operations in 206 countries.  Over 80% of the company’s revenue comes from abroad.  Coca-Cola CEO Muhtar Kent explains, “We are a global company that happens to be headquartered in Atlanta. 

Do the math!  American businesses are headed offshore for increased profitability.  Companies gain from this foreign exodus the benefits of accessing more lucrative markets, new technologies, easy credit, and quality, cheap labor. When American businesses cut jobs, it has impacted the standard of living for today’s families.

Columnist Fareed Zakaria highlights the dilemma: “Capital and technology are mobile; labor isn’t….And this is a country with one of the highest wages in the world, because it is one of the richest countries in the world. That makes it difficult for the American middle-class worker to benefit from technology and global growth in the same way that countries do.” 

Economist pundits and political opportunists paint globalization as the best thing since sliced bread yet hide the realities of global competition from the general public. The forecasted outlook for the full-time worker is bleak. Clearly, technology and outsourcing are making the contingent (temporary) and other forms of flexible labor (independent contractors, on-call workers, temporary help agency, part-time, and contract workers) a reality for future employment opportunities.

As a matter of fact, Charles Handy theorized that unemployed or spare workers would create their own new work in the future. Business executives express little moral remorse as they keep American workers at bay.  Therefore, a different type of U.S. business model will need to be developed for global competition in the near future.

How do US organizations compete globally with the realities of outsourcing and create an American labor force that is clearly energized and motivated in the process?  What will happen to the quality of life for the middle class as global averages impact American wages?

 © 2011 by Daryl D. Green

 

Indispensability for Professionals

 

Introduction

In the 1939 movie classic The Wizard of Oz, a cyclone sweeps Dorothy Gale and her little dog “Toto” to the magical land of Oz. Dorothy wonders through the land, meeting some strange characters.  There is the Scarecrow who desires a brain; the Tin Man who wants a heart; and the Cowardly Lion who hopes for courage. As Dorothy vows to help solve each of their individual problems, she gains power and influence that speaks to the concept of indispensability.

The future is filled with uncertainty. More and more jobs go abroad. Companies continue to shrink in size in hopes of being more competitive.  Business executives understand the power of technology and outsourcing to gain a business edge.

 However, many workers must rely on the good will of their employers to stay gainfully employed.  Sadly, many workers do not fully understand the merits of indispensability in their lives. Bloomberg Businessweek magazine editor Josh Tyrangiel called indispensability the new word of 2011. Tyrangiel notes, “How do we make people smarter and save them time?”

For my clients and students, I have emphasized the importance of building customer value in everything that they do. In fact, it is an attribute to one’s branding strategy to be unforgettable to others. However, many workers operate in the dark shadows of their organizations. Renowned preacher Richard S. Brown, Jr. proclaims to his audience, “Everyone wants to be outstanding but no one wants to stand out.” 

Yet, it is the “standing out” that catches everyone’s attention.  I’ve written several books on this new 21st-century theme, including Breaking Organizational Ties, Publishing for Professionals, and Job Strategies for the 21st Century. If you do the same things that you’ve always been doing, then you shouldn’t be surprised if you get the same results.

Gaining influence is therefore critical in achieving any substantial level of success in life. When an individual has a clear platform as an expert, people tend to listen.  In fact, a person can often gain more influence at work and in the community with a clear personal strategy. This article provides individuals with a proven method for becoming indispensable in their organizations in order to build sustainability in their professions.

The Current Market

With economic pressures, organizations look to streamline and drop processes and people that do not add value to their bottom-line. Some people sit back and hope that business will create more jobs. With a weak economic growth rate of 3%, these jobs will not rapidly appear anytime soon for the 15 million people still unemployed. This reality speaks to the record number (1.3 million) of “discouraged” workers as of last November. Discouraged workers are individuals not currently looking for work because they believe no jobs are available to them.

Coping Solutions

Indispensability means adding value to your customers and organization. In the classic sense, indispensability means being absolutely essential or necessary. Yet, it goes to the heart of being relevant. Kivi Miller, author of The Nonprofit Marketing Guide, argues it’s important to listener to your customers: “Every day presents an opportunity to learn more about the people you are trying to help and the people who are trying to help you.” Therefore, getting to know your target audience is critical.Are you indispensible to your organization or community? If not, why not? Being indispensable speaks the pressing needs of organizations to compete in a global environment.

The following are a few strategies for gaining indispensability in your organization: (a) Devote time to solving important problems for your customer; (b) Showcase your expertise on a variety of levels (blogs, media expert, etc.); (c) Be a great source of information by writing and speaking; (d) Champion a significant cause in a nonprofit organization such as United Way; (e) Become the linchpin that connects people with problems to people with solutions; and (f) Extend your network globally with social media platforms such as Linkedin.com. Emerging leaders and individuals on the fast track understand the benefit of being indispensable to advance their careers and gain a competitive advantage.

Conclusion

Everyone wants to feel needed. Yet, the concept of indispensability goes to the heart of gaining more influence in life. Legendary speaker Dale Carnegie understood the influential attributes of indispensability: “You can make more friends in two months by becoming interested in other people than you can in two years by trying to get other people interested in you.” Therefore, one must be willing to understand the needs of others if he or she hopes to gain this type of influence that will sustain his or her career in the future.  

With millions of people searching for full-time employment, it pays to distinguish yourself from others by building skills that speak to the concept of indispensability.  Individuals need to retool their thinking about indispensability before it is too late.

If the concept of indispensability is the solution for America’s professionals in the future, can today’s unemployed workers capitalize on this attribute?  If yes, how?  

© 2011 by Daryl D. Green

Market Turbulence

For many people, the bad economic picture will not change soon enough. According to a USA Today/Gallup Poll, almost three-fourths of those surveyed don’t like what’s going on in the country. David Walker, the former chief of the Government Accountable Office, predicts a poorer America if the economic ship doesn’t change direction: “We’ve kicked the can down the road as far as we can. We are at the abyss.”

Market turbulence has overtaken our ability to realize the American Dream. This turbulence relates to the chaos that now plaques our financial institutions, wrecking havoc on our normalcy. With a weak job growth, many U.S. jobs will continue to be outsourced globally or automated through technology.

In fact, the government estimates that an additional 1.2 manufacturing jobs will disappear by 2018. In this economic downturn, many people are just happy to have a job. Yet, the hectic work environment creates severe consequences to today’s workers as well.  In our discussion, we will focus on market turbulence and how to leverage against it.

Market turbulence is transforming businesses across the globe.  International markets have been shaken.  It’s like riding first class on a cruise ship during a terrible hurricane. You have plenty of the creature comforts.

Yet, it doesn’t change your situation. You are in for a rough ride. Today, American businesses, like other nations, are on this rough ride. The hurricane is market turbulence. Stanley Gryskiewicz, author of Positive Turbulence, stresses the dangers of this rocky ride: “Turbulence is energic, forceful, catalytic, and unpredictable.” 

Many organizations do not understand what to do or how to survive it.  Stan Davis, author of Future Perfect, declares, “The external environment-technology, economy, society and so on—is changing so fast that businesses scurry to keep up. Organizations, however, simply cannot run that fast. So our organizations don’t change as fast as do the businesses that they are managing.”

Charles Handy, author of The Age of Unreason, argues “Discontinuous changes require discontinuous thinking. If the new way of doing things is going to be different from the old, not just an improvement on it, then we shall need to look at everything in a new way.”  Many managers brag about their extensive experience. 

Many managers brag about their extensive experience. However, in a market plagued by uncertainty, this experience works against traditionalists. Today change is rapid and unpredicted.  Loaded with their vast experience, managers can lead organizations into business despair. Given the large degree of uncertainty and unknowns, some organizations continue on the same path…to nowhere!

Innovative managers can leverage market turbulence to their advantage. Everywhere we look we see this disruptive change breaking down traditional thinking.  What worked yesterday, will fail today. The best companies know how to adapt to turbulence. While others downsize and contract their market efforts, great companies infuse their organizations with creativity and expand their operations, competing on their strengths. 

Management strategist Stanley Gryskiewicz argues that turbulence associated with change can be a positive force for innovation.  He recommendations four elements in taking advantage of turbulence, which are (a) difference (breaking out from the status quo, (b) multiple perspectives (inviting divergent viewpoints and nontraditional interpretations, (c) intensity (keeping the speed, volume, and force at an optimal level for change, and (d) receptivity (providing mechanisms for individuals to be able to thrive in turbulence.

Gary Hamel, author of Leading the Revolution, suggests “In the new industrial order, the battle lines don’t run between regions and countries…In a nonlinear world, only nonlinear ideas will create wealth.” Creative expert Michael Michalko argues that creativity:  is the answer for surviving market turbulence: “It is not a result of some easily learned magic trick or secret but a consequence of your intention to be creative and your determination to learn and use creativity.”  Yet, succeeding during market turbulence is no accident. In fact, organizations must be deliberate in creating sustainable performance during market turbulence.

How do organizations effectively implement nonlinear thinking to be successful during market turbulence?

 © 2010 by Daryl D. Green

Socio-technical Systems in Global Markets

 

Another problem is presented. A worker gets injured on a subcontractor’s job. We gather around the table dish out the blame. Everyone wants to point fingers. The operations manager blames inadequate funding while the safety engineer cites an inadequate preplanning process. Nothing gets resolved. The issue rackets up for a senior management decision. There’s a meeting to discuss the matter.  Someone leads out and says what can be done to prevent this problem.

 Numerous technical recommendations are offered. Standing up, I state, “Why don’t we ask the workers about this problem? Let’s get them involved so that they can help find the solution.” The room gets quiet. Finally, one senior manager suggests that we should take money away from the subcontractor, buy new technology, and fire the worker’s supervisor. Everyone agrees. After dealing with this same problem every month, I was hoping for a different answer. I was disappointed again.

 Why do we see managers make the same mistakes over and over and never want the day-to-day workers involved in the process? Executives are then shocked when their employees don’t buy-in on their latest management initiative. One of the reasons organizations do not reach peak performance is because managers do not create socio-technical systems to support organizational values.  We will discuss the concept of building socio-technical systems in global markets.

With fierce global competition and a need for a market advantage, I found it surprising that managers move toward the quick fixes like downsizing for short-term gain without analyzing the organization over the long-term. I am not suggesting that this approach is easy; however, I am declaring that over the long haul an organization will be a stronger institution in the process.  First, the concept of a socio-technical system is defined by the interdependence of humans and machines that operate in harmonious fashion. Eric Trist (1909-1993), a renowned researcher, is considered the architect of socio-technical systems. Being of British origin, he was the leading authority in organizational development. His research engaged the workers as one of the critical components to successful operations in high performance organizations.

Researcher William Fox maintains that socio-technical systems effectively blend both the technical and social systems of an organization:These two aspects must be considered interdependently, because arrangements that are optimal for one may not be optimal for the other and trade-offs are often required. Thus, for effective organization design, there is need for both dual focus and joint optimization.”  Therefore, an environment is created where these working parts can co-exist in this industrial system. 

 Since the industrial age, researchers have recognized that both technical and social factors impact organizational performance. Daniel Wren, author of The Evolution of Management Thought, concludes that analyzing a social system gives management an avenue to measure conflict between the “logic of efficiency” demanded  by the formal organization and  the “logic by sentiments” by the informal organization. In profit hunting, many businesses lose focus of the importance of socio-technical systems. Given these precepts, the questions for most managers become how to use this scholarly perspective in the practitioner’s avenue where time is money and money is time.

For next few weeks, we will discuss three practical applications so that socio-technical systems within organizations can support organizational values. These critical supporting mechanisms include a) value modeling, b) technology relevancy, and c) human factor buy-in.  I pray that emerging leaders will understand the implications of this concept with America’s fight to compete in global markets.

How can today’s organizations implement the concept of socio-technical systems, thereby overcoming institutional barriers?

    © 2010 by Daryl D. Green

Catch the Global Wave

What does the future hold?  I can’t be certainty. However, I do know leaders must be courageous, adaptable, and communicators for their followers. Many people fear the future and change. With globalization connected to America’s future, leaders need to also consider a worldview. Stewart Black, Allen Morrison, and Hal Gregersen, authors of Global Explorers, maintain that exemplar global leaders possess a keen interest in global business.

 Furthermore, business savvy becomes the word of the day because people must think globally and adjust activities on the local level as well as satisfying customers at all levels. Inquisitive person are also valuable on a global front because they are curious in the face of uncertainty.

Management strategists view these cultural shifts like movements of waves in an ocean.  Each successive wave of technology brings with it a corresponding value shift. Sadly, new technologies can bring giant leaps in productivity while expanding the moral decay of mankind.  For example, the Industrial Era ushered in a period of materialism, self-sufficiency, and the supremacy of man.

Currently, organizations are witnessing the explosion of information, advancement of communication technology, globalization, and the rising of knowledge workers. Globalization can even shift behavior. In the movie Slumdog Millionaire, 18-year old Jamal Malik is a slave to cultural trends. The movie demonstrated the impacts of globalization on diverse cultures in the world.

Herman Maynard and Susan Mehrtens, authors of The Fourth Wave: Business in the 21st century, suggest the following emerging trends: (a) shift in consciousness, (b) disenchantment with science, (c) inner sources of power, (d) spiritualization of humanity (e) anti-materialism (f) political and economic democratization, and (g) global unification

 Furthermore, today’s existent represents an integration of all dimensions of life and responsibility for all individuals in globalization; it also promotes the unification of the human race. If today’s organizations want to be competitive in the international market, they must learn to active survey the world that is around them. Therefore, modern leaders cannot afford to miss interpret the trends in this global market.

 What are some trends in your industry and how will it impact society?

 © 2010 by Daryl D. Green