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Wednesday, June 15, 2011

How Will You Stay Relevant in a Global Work Force?

Globalization is changing corporate strategy. For example, 20 years ago no one would have considered merging the NYSE with a German exchange. However, as exchanges of various countries consolidate, it may be imperative for the NYSE to be ahead of the curve. If the NYSE stands still, it may lose its relevance in the future as other countries continue to merge their exchanges. Besides, the merger gives the NYSE access to foreign markets in a way they could not have done as effectively on their own. In today’s world, he who has the greatest access to global markets will raise the most capital.    

In other industries, hospitals are facing similar questions of relevance as a result of President Obama’s healthcare plan. Hospitals are engaged in M&As to ensure their relevance and ability to effectively penetrate a wider market. In some cases, the merger does not afford all the normal economies of scale that is typically received from corporate mergers.  At the same time, it can increase a hospital’s core competencies by merging with a hospital that specializing in a different aspect of healthcare or surgery.

While it is easy to see the importance of an organization’s need to stay relevant, how important will it be to ensure the individual remains relevant? As citizens of the US, we complain that many jobs are being outsourced overseas. Instead of seeing this as a problem, let’s see how the US fully benefits from outsourcing and the role the individual plays to remain relevant.

There are only 300 million people in the US.  Therefore, there are only so many televisions, cars, jeans… that can be sold in the US. The global population is over 6 billion. At least 3 billion live in poverty. How will we sell them our products and services if they cannot afford them? When we outsource, we create new loyal customers. The lower paying jobs go overseas first. As a result, the training, skills and competencies in the US have to reflect a knowledge-based society, instead of a manufacturing society. 

As a nation, we have gone through this transformation more than once.  Approximately 150 years ago, 95% of the jobs in the US were agriculturally related. Now the number is reversed with 3% dedicated to agriculture. What would have happened if we resisted the transition from working on a farm to working in factories? We are just in another phase of a continuous transformation.

In the 1850s, people learned new skills and competencies for labor, manufacturing and management. It is the same now. There are tremendous opportunities to develop and position an individual to be more valuable. Even though it is important to have specific skills in a specific industry, the ability to transfer those skills and competencies to other industries and tangential job functions will increase your relevance in the job market. In addition, foreign language skills set you apart, especially in the US.

Before you complain about outsourcing, look at the trends of big business. They often foretell the demands of the individual. Remaining relevant will require more than hard work. It will require each person to increase the intellectual capital they possess and be able to use it various capacities.

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