Prelude for a flattening world

I often enjoy turning on PBS during my lunch time break to see, hear and understand those interviewed by Charlie Rose. In my opinion, Charlie Rose is one of today’s top interviewers, and I find his work broadcast on PBS to be both insightful and thought-provoking. Recently he interviewed Thomas Friedman, Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist for The New York Times (e.g. his columns at India Express – via Twenty Onward) and author his most recent book, The World Is Flat: A Brief History of the Twenty-first Century.

Outsourcing has been a hot issue for awhile now, especially in the high technology realm I occupy professionally, and its debate won’t be going away until it’s assumed. Nevertheless, outsourcing can be a source of anxiety and concern as most change is capable to generating–if not for you and I, for the people we may work with and/or for. So, as I observed the optimistic response from Mr. Friedman to Mr. Rose’s questions, I wanted to get a firsthand, deeper sense of the author’s perspective. (Thanks, Costco, for the great hardback price.)

The global competitive playing field is being leveled; the world is being flattened. There seems to be little to dispute in these statements; however, there is less constructive discussion about how to response progressively and effectively to this reality. Mr. Friedman closes his opening chapter saying, “It is the ambition of this book to offer a framework for how to think about it [i.e. ‘the great challenge for our time…to absorb these changes [from a flattening world] in ways that do no overwhelm people but also do not leave them behind’] and manage it to our maximum benefit.”

Here are some of my initial takeaways:

  • Globalization agent: country (1.0), company (2.0), individual (3.0 – present)
  • Division of work forming: grunt (execution) vs. creative (strategic design, service)
  • “Everyone has to focus on what exactly is their value-add.” -Jaithirth “Jerry” Rao
  • “There is no real end to what can be done by whom.” -Vivek Kulkarni
  • Organizations need to flatten, too, and rapidly in order to source decisions and work optimally.

As noted in my post title, this is just a prelude–after all, I’ve only finished the first chapter (“While I Was Sleeping”). Indeed, I get a keen sense that I’m about to wake up and receive a large portion of effective hindsight. Googling “‘Charlie Rose’ ‘Thomas Friedman’” suggests that I’m a bit late to the review party (e.g. Slate). Nonetheless, prepare the fire house!

Update 12/1/2008: For more of my book reviews and to see what else is in my book library (i.e. just the business-related or software-related non-fiction therein), please visit my Books page.