A Glimpse of the Future

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I have been doing a lot of traveling around the world and back and forth to the US.  I am reading a book called, The Next 100 Years by George Friedman.  Mr. Friedman is a futurist.  His insights are insightful and whether they are accurate . . . I don’t know and won’t until some point in the future.  He does make some compelling arguments from current events and future trends.

Many things standout in this book, but interestingly he predicts that as baby boomers retire there will be a labor shortage.  That’s right . . . a shortage of labor.  This is hard to imagine given our current state with high unemployment.  The crisis is predicted to be so bad that the US and other advanced nations will be begging for manual laborers, engineers, health care workers and physical sciences.  The solution is either to raise productivity per worker or hire immigrants.

Mr. Friedman doesn’t give much detail (a futurist’s prerogative) but does believe that the timing and magnitude of the crisis, hiring immigrants will be the only solution.   He doesn’t really mention technology which has only helped us do the wrong things faster.

I beg to differ.

However. the levels of productivity needed require better design of work that we don’t see in service organizations today.  Current fads to improvement will not get us there fast enough.  It requires new thinking that allows breakthrough performance and continual learning from there to beat back this prediction.  If not the result will be inflation and increased role of government.

When will we start to see the effects of Friedman’s predictions?  Around 2015.

Most organizations will begin need to compete for resources internally and externally and build programs to train and make the work more interesting and in control of the worker.  There won’t be the bureaucracy of management that we have in today’s organizations . . . they won’t be able to afford it.  The work itself will become more important.  That is, at least, my prediction.

In working with organizations, I  find that there is massive improvement for organizations.  Using systems thinking (and more importantly the 95 Method) the improvement achieved is 20-60% better than other methods I have used.  The reason is work redesign, worker steering of decision-making and management focused on getting knowledge (rather than targegts and financials).

Decidedly, if Mr. Friedman’s predictions are correct, now is the time to start preparing for the coming labor shortage.  Are you ready?

Tripp Babbitt is a speaker, blogger and consultant to service industry (private and public).  His organization helps executives find a better way to make the work work.  Read his articles at Quality Digest and his column for CustomermanagementIQ.com  Download free from www.newsystemsthinking.com “Understanding Your Organization as a System” and gain knowledge of systems thinking or contact us about our intervention services at [email protected].  Reach him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/TriBabbittor LinkedIn at www.linkedin.com/in/trippbabbitt.

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