An election just passed and the results indicate a very unsatisfied voter. It makes perfect sense. Middle class jobs are scarce and wealth is gravitating only to the uber-rich. We’ve had a thirty year mirage in the standards of living.
Thirty years is a time period I key in on. President Ronald Reagan made thirty year policy decisions and we are at the dawn of a new thirty year window. Besides the politics of it, the transition of leadership throughout companies and communities is just now beginning. Those in their 30s and early 40s are set to grab leadership positions within the next three years.
This is a very positive development.
The values of those ending their leadership position are different from those set to attain it. For instance, the sense of privacy for a 25 year old is nothing like it is for a 60 year old. Sharing on facebook, twitter, and on blogs means you are comfortable with potential embarrassment. There is no hiding skeletons in the closet anymore.
But the main value I see differentiating the two groups is one of scale of competition. The older guard wants to amass competitive advantages and really leverage economies of scale. But the younger guard wants to go smaller. Manufacturing shaped the economics of the 20th century, but a knowledge economy is shaping the present day. Concepts like Design and Branding are ever more important. And perception plays a part in how they are valued. Perception isn’t a Deming TQM or Six Sigma concern.
Bigger versus smaller separates the path. Bigger wants to protect the status quo – scale is expensive. Smaller wants nimbleness but with standards. Think Microsoft with the Office Suite versus Apple’s App Store. Microsoft has a cash cow with Windows and they leverage it to sell Office. People are familiar with it and it works. But how much has it really changed over the last 10 years? Not much, but people keep buying it. Now think about Apple with the App Store. They developed a platform for small developer shops and large ones to compete on an even field. Apple manages the standards and sets up the merchant services. The developers can leverage the scale Apple already built with the platform and sell. Compatibility and interoperability aren’t deal breakers either. This simplifies the cost to compete. Ideas sink or swim based on their merit and marketing.
As we embark on the next thirty years, expect to see a shift in values. It’ll be less of an us and them world and competition will be a loose definition, almost encouraged. Attitudes will change. Smaller is captivating. What do you value?
Working Thoughts 11/4/08
Why Voting Matters