Flat world, tolerant world and the heart of a Samurai

Sometimes serendipity rules, and I mean rules as in reigns not rocks.

Yesterday, Ronnie Ann of the Work Coach responded to a comment I made on her blog about job seekers need to develop a “Ronin” attitude and approach to looking for employment in a post on her blog. It occurred to me sometime ago that because we cannot compete with our lower waged counterparts in the “East,” that the only way one can remain employable in the Western world is to emphasize and flaunt the less ‘technical’ attributes as an employee, namely one’s creativity and people-oriented skills. Hopefully, you’d find an employer who shared the same view as you instead of someone who was just looking at how many years experience you had writing xml or tinkering with Visual Basic (ugh!). Still, one must abandon the idea that most employers are no longer looking at you as a long-term investment or an employee that will give a good chunk of their lives to a company and embrace the notion that you drive your own employment and literally ‘serve no master.’ Therefore, you must approach any engagement of work like Ronin or masterless samurai.

Serendipity struck because yesterday I also finally watched the MIT video of Thomas Friedman speaking about his book “The World is Flat.” Because the world is flat, we need to worry about our employability in the West. The whole idea that we need to train or educate folks to ‘think on their feet’ ran through my head the rest of the evening.

Everyone now has the same tools?

What are you going to do with those tools?

It’s our imagination that sets us apart.

How are you going to use your creativity?

Unfortunately, our education system is still haunted by the educational needs of the factory age (video link). This was an age where the common commands in school were…sit in your seat… learn by rote, shut up and behave and fit in! As the business man quoted in Friedman’s book pointed out:

The global economic playing field is being leveled and you Americans are not ready.

Friedman insists that our greatest asset in this new and flat world is our imagination. He also points out that technology allows us to collaborate with others on a global scale. More importantly, economies will be driven by packs of individuals working together. Sort of like bands of wandering samurai? The possibilities that result from global collaboration of imaginative minds are endless. For example, musicians and writers from different countries can develop works together, thus, allowing various cultural perspectives to contribute to the development of artistic works. Global collaboration between programmers and application developers has resulted in phenomenal products such as Mozilla Firefox, and Linux OS.

Today, we are interacting with people from other cultures both within and outside of our borders at an increasing rate, therefore we Americans should rely on what we’ve learned or ‘did not learn’ from our cultural history as a nation of diverse groups in working with people all over the world.

Music from the Yoshida Brothers, clips from the anime Samurai Champloo

[Youtube=http://youtube.com/watch?v=u7FPL3J0-ng]

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2 Responses to “Flat world, tolerant world and the heart of a Samurai”


  1. 1 Ronnie Ann July 13, 2007 at 4:30 pm

    I love this post. Friedman’s point is well-taken. We are a global society and can’t go back. Embracing that knowledge and learning to work with it creatively – rather than just cowering in a corner – is the way of a samurai. Or just a damn smart tech worker. (-;

  2. 2 Rory July 15, 2007 at 12:02 am

    I’ve read “The World Is Flat” and it was quite an eye-opener … with my then being sent on temporary assignment in India only shortly afterward.
    I think your analogy of the Ronin is spot-on.
    The next generation of workers will have challenges beyond what I can even imagine today. And I’m struck with how we ISD-ers, particularly in the corporate training world, may have contributed to a lack of imagination … or how we can tap the imagination of the incoming NetGeners, otherwise we (I’m included in this number) will rapidly become irrelevant.


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