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Current Topic: Business

Paris Looks Inward on Jobs and Industry
Topic: Business 12:07 pm EDT, May  8, 2004

Nicolas Sarkozy, France's new finance minister, said that the government would move actively to keep jobs and crucial industries on French soil. But for the first time, he also called on European governments to join forces to keep the core of the economic bloc from turning into "industrial deserts."

"There are great companies in Europe, with a savoir-faire of the highest standard. We have to support them. Neither France nor Europe can become industrial deserts. Solutions exist."

Analysts warn that the strategy will do nothing to stop manufacturing jobs from leaving Europe -- and may well backfire.

"He is fighting against windmills -- the process of disindustrialization is inevitable. Those countries who slow that process pay. The problem is not that there is disindustrialization in France, but that it isn't happening fast enough."

"It's very French to defend existing jobs and forget that we may hinder the emergence of new businesses and jobs in the process."

Paris Looks Inward on Jobs and Industry

What Really Works
Topic: Business 1:53 am EDT, Apr 20, 2004

"What really works?" we wondered. Our curiosity prompted us to undertake a major, multiyear research effort; our findings took us quite by surprise.

Most of the management tools and techniques we studied had no direct causal relationship to superior business performance.

It doesn't really matter if you implement ERP software or a CRM system; it matters little whether you centralize or decentralize your business.

It's much easier to be a tumbler than it is to remain a winner. And so, it seems, there is value in being reminded from time to time what really works.

I've been meaning to blog this article, from the July 2003 issue of Harvard Business Review, since its original publication.

What Really Works

How to Prevent Offshoring From Taking Your Job
Topic: Business 9:44 am EDT, Apr 14, 2004

To be blunt, if you're a technologist, there's a chance that your position will be outsourced sometime down the road. If you want to ensure that no one sees you as a commodity, consider these six items:

1. Don't plan to write code for your entire career.
2. Learn to communicate effectively.
3. Develop people skills.
4. Move into the people part of the business.
5. Learn how to sell.
6. Consider consulting.

There was a time when all you had to do was to get a good education and find a stable job. That time is gone.

I blogged this because it's a question on the minds of many. While these suggestions may work, I think there are viable alternative strategies.

How to Prevent Offshoring From Taking Your Job

RE: The Outsourcing Bogeyman
Topic: Business 3:28 pm EST, Mar 27, 2004

Decius wrote:
] You see, I understand the value of offshore outsourcing.
] I honestly think it's a great idea. However, there is a
] REAL problem with employment in the IT/Engineering industry.
] If you cannot take this on directly and discuss the
] implications of it in the face of offshoring, then you
] cannot defend offshoring.

To paraphrase Homer Simpson: "Statistics. Is there anything they can't do?"

You appear to be refuting the thesis of the article on the basis of an exception in a specific industry. I do not believe your argument (that a real problem exists in IT/EE) is incompatible with Drezner's overall assessment that offshore outsourcing does not affect most jobs.

A point that Drezner raises in his article, and that you do not directly address in your response, is that employment trends have as much to do with the large-scale structural shifts brought about by technological development as with the labor policies of big business.

As I've stated before, my view is that the source of the problem, as well as the solution, is education. The boom years produced a pool of 'engineering' and 'computer science' 'professionals' who viewed the learning process as one of accumulating a collection of key facts and demonstrating an ability to regurgitate them on cue. (By no means does that imply everyone is in that pool. EE/CS readers should not reflexively take offense. But if the shoe fits ...)

Just as Bruce Schneier says about security: engineering is a process, not a product. Going forward, "IT/Engineering" must be part of the service sector, not the manufacturing sector. Evidence of the problem can be found in the simple fact that people are still referring to it as an Industry.

Despite the stigma of statistics, I would be interested in seeing some data that shows the unemployment rate as a function of grade point average in college, both overall and by industry/specialty.

RE: The Outsourcing Bogeyman

The Outsourcing Bogeyman
Topic: Business 1:02 am EST, Mar 26, 2004

According to the election-year bluster of politicians and pundits, the outsourcing of American jobs to other countries has become a problem of epic proportion.

Fortunately, this alarmism is misguided.

Outsourcing actually brings far more benefits than costs, both now and in the long run. If its critics succeed in provoking a new wave of American protectionism, the consequences will be disastrous -- for the U.S. economy and for the American workers they claim to defend.

This article appears in the May/June 2004 issue of Foreign Affairs.

The Outsourcing Bogeyman

Lingering Job Insecurity of Silicon Valley
Topic: Business 9:38 am EST, Mar  9, 2004

For computer scientists and engineers, the 1990's were close to paradise -- until the technology boom collapsed. But even as business has started to pick up again, the job market they operate in has become the toughest ever.

While this group represents a comparatively affluent sliver of the American work force, it illustrates the broader forces -- higher productivity, cost-cutting business practices and increased global competition -- that have combined to make job growth throughout the American economy so frustratingly sluggish.

Lingering Job Insecurity of Silicon Valley

Maybe We Could All Deliver Pizza ...
Topic: Business 11:26 am EST, Mar  7, 2004

To hear the pessimists tell it, "Snow Crash" is right around the corner.

... Americans excelled at only four things: "music, movies, microcode (software), high-speed pizza delivery."

Hey, one out of four ain't so bad ...

"Isn't that what investors want from companies?"

"Why stop with a jobless recovery? Why don't we actually strive for a jobless economy?"

Remember "leisure"?

Maybe We Could All Deliver Pizza ...

The Secret of Our Sauce
Topic: Business 10:45 am EST, Mar  7, 2004

America is the greatest engine of innovation that has ever existed, and it can't be duplicated anytime soon, because it is the product of a multitude of factors: extreme freedom of thought, an emphasis on independent thinking, a steady immigration of new minds, a risk-taking culture with no stigma attached to trying and failing, a noncorrupt bureaucracy, and financial markets and a venture capital system that are unrivaled at taking new ideas and turning them into global products.

This is America's real edge.

Tom Friedman's real secret is that the sauce isn't marinara, as you might expect. It's pesto!

The Secret of Our Sauce

New Patterns Restrict Hiring
Topic: Business 2:22 pm EST, Mar  6, 2004

Temporary workers are the fastest-growing segment of the work force, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

"The goal of companies is not to hire."

"We have no way of knowing when hiring will pick up; we don't have models for what is happening now."

Who taught companies to act like this?

Investors, that's who.

Do you invest?

Father: "Who taught you how to do this stuff?"
Son: "You, alright! I learned it by watching you!"

New Patterns Restrict Hiring

Small and Smaller
Topic: Business 8:39 am EST, Mar  4, 2004

Having now spent 10 days in Bangalore, India's Silicon Valley, I realize that while I was sleeping, the world entered the third great era of globalization ... and it is going to require some wrenching adjustments for workers and political systems.

I wonder: when they write the history of the world 20 years from now, and they come to this chapter -- Sept. 11, 2001, to March 2004 -- what will they say was most important?

Small and Smaller

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