Skip to main content

The world is flat by Thomas L. Friedman

I learnt in a course I took that the traditional manner of managing an organization through a rigid “command and control” structure is something companies cannot afford to do now. Now companies need to allow their “knowledge workers” or employees who have knowledge to come forward and create value for the company, in fact to encourage them to come forward. To do this you need to create an environment through which they can do this.

I just heard a video lecture on MIT World by Thomas L. Friedman who wrote the book “The world is flat” and the point he makes is that the world is now so flat that individuals across the globe are empowered. People in a certain country are importing machines from South Korea, hiring others from their local Arabic school and exporting their merchandise labeled in Arabic to Kuwait. Another very common example of empowerment at the individual level is when anybody with access to the internet and programming skills can go online bid for making a software and get the money for it. Another example is a blog: if I want to find out how people feel about the war in Iraq I can go find their blogs and read them.

An important point the author makes is that this move from vertical silos of countries and companies interoperating with each other to people interoperating with each other, a move from vertical to horizontal has taken place on the basis of a platform. This is the “flat world platform”.

The author has mentioned 10 flatners in his book and three of them in his lecture.

Here they are:

1) The PC enabled people to author their own content in digital form. This could be articles, music, images, in short anything that you can make with a PC.
2) The Netscape browser…leading to the dotcom boom…leading to massive, unplanned fiber optic cabling worldwide, thus connecting the entire world through the internet.
3) Alphabet soup: http, html, xml, tcp/ip, etc. A whole range of protocols that connected people’s software’s with each other. The author refers to this as the “workflow revolution” i.e. connecting peoples work flows.

An important phenomenon this “flat world platform” led to is “offshoring”. Another important phenomenon it led to is “uploading” (not downloading).

Uploading was the process of people uploading whatever content they wanted online. Examples include: Open source software, university education (eg. Lectures at MIT that are now online), blogging, Wikipedia (an online encyclopedia that is often updated as often as yesterday and about topics that are most recent), YouTube (a place where people can post their videos).

An important rule of the flat world that the author makes is: “Golden rule of business: Whatever can be done will be done”.

If you come up with an idea and you don’t materialize it somebody else will.

The point the author thus makes is that in this hypercompetitive enviornment you are actually competing with your own imagination.

At the individual level the author notes people who can connect two specializations example: enginnering and MBA, or caligraphy and computers (The author said that the font face that came in the mac and was very innovative was because of a person who had taken a calligraphy course at his university and was inspired by it).

The point i'd like to make here in line with my posts about decompartmentalization is: "the level at which you can decompartmentalize is based on how far you can stretch your imagination"


Popular posts from this blog

Explanation of the movie 'Revolver'

I saw the movie for the umpteenth time last night and I finally got it.

This is what the movie says:

1) In every game and con there is always a victim and there is always an opponent. It's good to know when you are the former so you can become the latter.

2) But the question is how do you prepare yourself for this game?

3) You only get smater by playing a smarter opponent.

4) The smarter the game the smarter the opponent

5) Checkers is an example of such a game. Chess is a better game. Debate is an even better opportunity to learn and so on.

6) But the question is where does the game stop? or one can ask what is the smartest game one can play?

7) The answer according to the movie is: "The game of con you play with yourself".

The text below has been added on 3 Dec 2008 and is based on a comment posted on October 30, 2008, at time 4:12 PM. I have only recently understood what this person meant and it is …

The beauty of self-negation

Self-negation is the act of exercising your will power to do what you don’t want to do such that you benefit from this act [of self negation]. The more one practices self-negation the better you get at controlling your will and making it do what you want it to, when you want it to.

For obvious reasons this can have tremendous benefits. Just imagine a situation where your superior wants you to sit late or gives you a task that is very difficult and you have enough control over yourself to not get flustered! In fact imagine turning your world into the world you always imagined as a child… by taking the difficult steps, through self-negation…one can only marvel at the beauty of creating the world you want!

We get the chance to practice self-negation many times in the day, each chance another ‘opportunity’ to get better at controlling ourselves.

Every time we sit down to eat for example we can eat good food in the quantity that the body requires and after that leave some space in our stoma…

Why feedback is important

We learn about the world as we get feedback from things within it such as from family, friends, mentors and even books.

Feedback can tell you where you went wrong and affirm what you do right. It can thus help you predict the future.

Interestingly there are people I have met who question the importance of feedback. They say: “I can figure out everything I need to on my own. I don’t need feedback like others do.” This is not true. In fact there is a big danger lurking in this notion.

If the world you are creating is your own you might get stuck in it or some part of it and not know what to do next.

If however, this world of yours and all parts of it are based on some feedback you will always know who to ask if you get stuck.

Somebody once said that "fundamentally we are here not to be seen, but to see" i.e. to see things outside of ourself. You will notice that all growth you have had has owed itself to some consistent feedback.

Suppose you wrote an essay. You wouldn't rea…