Reasons for Optimism in a White Collar Nation

Scott Francis
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Two articles caught my attention recently because there is an interesting synergy between the two. In the first, Mike Gammage argues that BPM is the best career move for the next decade.  He makes a compelling argument: that BPM is the key to rescuing process management from silo views and project perspectives.  Others would argue that BPM saves the business from IT (or at least, saves its processes). Mike’s take on why BPM:

  • They are owned by the business, and are in the language of the business. They embed ownership of process management and process improvement in the line, where it belongs – not with IT or the Quality team or a Process group.
  • They are truly the DNA of the business. They are holistic and integrated models of the organisation, so the impact of any proposed changes are understood and can be properly addressed.
  • They deliver for the end user.They combine ‘live’ business processes with real-time KPI metrics, documents and e-Learning. They are personalised and delivered to every desktop across the enterprise in the language of the end user.
  • They enable change. They underpin Lean and Six Sigma programmes, and foster a culture of continuous improvement. They provide a common language for collaboration between IT and the business stakeholders.
  • They are governance frameworks.They are secure and auditable. They can force acknowledgement of process change, and ensure that every process and document is properly authorised.

Not a bad list at all.  The second article I read, makes the point that we are now a white collar country – more than half of us have white collar jobs now (actually, 60%).  And that manufacturing jobs are declining globally, not just in the US.

Really, it should be no surprise that final assembly is the least valuable, and the design genius of Apple the most valuable, work that go into an iPod, iPhone, or (coming soon!) iTablet. It’s been that way all along.

And this could explain why Dell’s prowess for logistics and final assembly eventually ran its course- once the logistics and final assembly were commodotized by its competitors, they didn’t have the investment in design to retain pricing power. The interesting thing about this article is that usually, when people opine about the US becoming a “knowledge worker” economy it is with some wistful regret about the jobs and ways of life lost, as well as a concern that we’re ill-prepared to compete in such a world (due to our education system, etc).  But the author takes a more optimistic view – that we will compete well in the new knowledge economy but that we’ll have our work cut out for us.  He may just be right.

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