The cycle of change is short in the knowledge age and digital economy. Jobs end. We create new ones. Do we create new ones fast enough? Do we have the durable and evolvable skills to make it in our emerging landscape?
The cycle of change used to be longer. One reason is the cycle of resource technology change used to be slower. With a slower rate of change, you could go to school, learn a trade, do that job, maybe change jobs once or twice during your career, and then retire. That cycle fundamentally changes when jobs are anchored to a different backbone, and the rate of change outpaces the skills you learn in school.
A colleague sent a great article from Strategy + Business on The Jobs Engine. From the article, these are my favorite nuggets:
- “… the most important consequence of global entrepreneurship: job creation. Without the initiative and energy of entrepreneurs, the job engine sputters.”
- “Humans used to desire love, money, food, shelter, safety, peace, and freedom more than anything else. The last 30 years have changed us. Now people want to have a good job, and they want their children to have a good job.”
- “A great question for leaders to ask is: “Why is knowing that the whole world wants a good job everything to me?” Leaders of countries and cities must make creating good jobs their No. 1 mission and primary purpose because good jobs are becoming the new currency for all world leaders.”
- “Until rather recently in human evolution, explorers were looking for new hunting grounds, cropland, territories, passageways, and natural resources. But now, the explorers are seeking something else.”
- “When the talented explorers of the new millennium choose your city, you attain the new Holy Grail of global leadership — brain gain, talent gain, and subsequently, job creation.”
One of the things that’s always on my mind is the question, “What value can I create?” In parallel, I’m always asking, “What value am I flowing?” I hope the ideas or projects I work on, lead, or in some way contribute, to job creation. I like to be a springboard and a platform or a catalyst for business. In fact, several of the projects I’ve worked, have helped people grow or start businesses, create value, and create jobs. I like to be a platform that empowers.
Personally, the way I find my way forward in the changing landscape, is to anchor to skills that should serve me well for the foreseeable future: strategy, project management, and entrepreneurism. As a program manager at Microsoft, I actually see the job of a program manager as a technical entrepreneur, where the goal is to bring new ideas to life, make things happen, and shape user, business, and customer goals into high impact, high value, results. Strategy is a key skill because it’s about what I will do, won’t do, and why … along with how I’ll differentiate, while playing to strengths. Project management is a key skill because it’s about making things happen as you explore and execute an idea from cradle to grave, while orchestrating teams towards a vision, while dealing with risks, and playing within the boundaries and constraints of time, budget, and resources.
I share these thought because I’m finding myself mentor more and more people on the art and science of effective program management. I firmly believe that effective program managers (or technical entrepreneurs) play a key role in shaping the future.