Saturday, November 25, 2006

Idea generated jobs

There is a great deal to like about Thomas Friedman's new book, The World Is Flat.

It's written as an historical perspective on the great forces moving societies and markets. It should also be looked at as a how-to primer on getting yourself ready to participate in the coming global economy. I highly recommend this book from the perspective of new and emerging enterprises.

Among the many quotes I've tagged for highlighting, one keeps popping to the front: "There may be a limit to the number of good factory jobs in the world, but there is no limit to the number of idea generated jobs in the world."

Friedman quotes Netscape cofounder Marc Andreesen on the subject: "If you believe human wants and needs are infinite, then there are infinite industries to be created, infinite businesses to be started, and infinite jobs to be done, and the only limiting factor is human imagination."

Andreesen continues later, "You should be afraid of free markets only if you believe that you will never need new medicines, new work flow software, new industries, new coffeehouses. Yes, it takes a leap of faith, based on economics, to say that there will be new things to do."

Thomas Friedman summarizes, "But there always have been new jobs to do, and there is no fundamental reason to believe the future will be different. Some 150 years ago, 90 percent of Americans worked in agriculture and related fields. Today it's only 3 or 4 percent. What if the government had decided to protect and subsidize all those agricultural jobs and not embrace industrialization and then computerization? Would America as a whole really be better off today? Hardly."

This post is NOT about unfettered trade with countries that are human rights thugs and environmental criminals. Our governments need to get better hold of that process, creating 21st century standards for social, environmental and production standards that meet the needs of all world citizens. Under this scenario, I firmly believe that millions of great new enterprises will arise worldwide, in both developed and developing countries.

This post is about you creating new enterprises. This post is about the valuable resource that is your imagination. You can do it. You’ll probably need to do it someday, if not for the economics of it, then for your own mental health.

There is no limit to the number of idea generated jobs that can be created. Don’t look at what’s been done. Look at what’s possible. Look at what needs fixing. Honor your own ideas and look to your future. Plan well and be ready to launch when your time comes.

I wish you good ideas.

Thomas Friedman’s web site. In 2005, The World Is Flat was given the first Financial Times and Goldman Sachs Business Book of the Year Award, and Friedman was named one of America's Best Leaders by U.S. News & World Report.

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