Why a Slow Economy is Really Better for Your Executive Career

I am not an economist.

But I do remember the 1990s (the first half, anyway) where growth was slow, about 2 to 3 percent per year.  This was before the Internet took off and before we all got connected online.  If we rip out a page from that time frame, we can see overall benefits to slow, steady growth.

  1. Opportunities are real and based on true growth.
  2. Productivity is based on actual revenues booked.
  3. Investment is given to companies that have proven their success.Slow Growth
  4. Customer demand is based on value, not hype.
  5. Jobs are created when productivity meets capacity.
  6. Prices are based on real demand and are competitive.
  7. Growth is manageable and predictive.

What is different today than 20 years ago is how people are to be employed, with lower barriers to enter the world-wide labor pools, and social networking creating interactive work flows rather than static work structures.

Therefore, executives must be willing to move away from the idea of a j-o-b and think in terms of how they can be engaged in the flow of fluid work, ignoring the method in which payment is received (wages versus income).

But here lies the rub.

Many of us who are in the executive ranks are so stuck in “…working for an organization…” when that very ideal organization is being re-engineered as we speak.  It is being uprooted from within.  Beyond the media reporting and government metrics is a whole underworld of opportunities.  These opportunities are similar to the current in a river where, at the surface, it looks calm and placid, yet underneath is a ranging torrent of water that creates the real movement of the river itself.

The real economy today is the torrent of opportunities that run under the surface of traditional industrial-age job creation, including the metrics that give us an idea of what’s going on.  In my opinion, these metrics are so out-of-date no wonder consumer confidence goes up for two months, then down for another two months.

So…what’s the answer?  What does this mean for the “traditional executive”?

The answer lies in understanding how to be engaged in the flow of fluid work.  Here are a few insights that I’ve gained:

  • Work is being reorganized around essential tasks, not roles
  • Tasks are viewed in terms of impact and return on investment, not functional expertise
  • Labor is being hired based upon contractual outcomes, not job descriptions
  • Hiring is based upon co-creation, not individualized responsibilities
  • Money is flowing to value creation entities, not high-priced candidates

This fundamental restructuring of work and what work is valuable is moving away from what an individual can do and is looking for network pools of labor flows that can assist an organization to meet customer demand, keep overhead costs constant, and receive increased value for each essential task performed.

At least that’s my thought about a slow economy.  What do you think?

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