Thursday, June 19, 2008

The World is Flat - Thomas Friedman

Hi All,

I've read the book back in 2006 and I written the review then. After that, in 2007, a revision was done and around 50 pages had been added on the Social Entrepeneurship. The case of Muhammad Yunus on the case of microfinancing via Grameen Bank. The cover of the book had been changed to Red cover as well.

We now live in the world that's becoming flatter (Globalization of course !) and our company are striving towards more efficient way of doing things. This will never stop as we all trying our best to be competitive among the industry peers and outperform each other. This book really highlight that and the importance and how to embrace the effect of globalization. The story about Wal-Mart, Wipro and UPS were an interesting to read.

There are several things in the book that I would like to highlight and point out that makes the book interesting namely

1. 10 Forces behind the flattened world
11/9/89 - The fall of Berlin wall
8/9/95 - Emergence of web and the IPO of Netscape
Work flow software - Software becoming standard and interoperability becoming a norm
Uploading - Harnessing the power of communities/forum/open source
Outsourcing/Y2K - The emergence of India and abundance of Fibre optics
Offshoring - Running with Gazelles, eating with lions
Supply chaining - The wonders of Wal-Mart and RFID
Insourcing - UPS and what those brown shorts guys are really doing
In-forming - Googling, Yahoo and other web search. How to build and deploy your own personal supply chain of info/knowledge/entertainment
The steroids - Digital of Ipaq, mobile skype, personal ipod and virtual downloading - bittorrent/edonkey/kazaa

2. The author reasoning on the emergence of Globalization 2.0 (Era of big office, mainframe, PC) and 3.0 (digitization, minituaturization, virtualization, personalization and wireless)

3. Triple convergence - 10 Flatteners + Platforms + level playing field on collaboration

4. The loss of personal touch and more machine interaction of automated processes

5. The 3 categories of untouchables - Terms for job/work that can't be outsourced
i. special or specialized - Michael Jordan, J.K. Rowling, brain surgeon etc
ii. localized and anchored - Jobs must be done in a specific location/knowledge/face-to-face/personalized interaction - barber, waitress, chefs, plumber, nurse, masseurs, nannies, gardener, cleaning ladies
iii. 'old middle' jobs - currently under tremendous pressure due to flattening of world

6. How can we adapt ourselves from old middlers to the new middlers ?
Possible categories to improve
Great collaborators and orchestrators - manager who can work in and orchestrate 24/7/7 supply chains (24 hour a day, seven days a week and across 7 continents), good collaborators who are able to operate, mobilize, inspire and manage a multidimensional and multicultural workforce
The great synthesizers - the one who can bring disparate things together
The great explainers - managers, writers, teachers, producers, journalists and editors who are good explainers
The great levereragers - the case of EDS and SMC
The great adapters - employees who are more adaptable and versatile (Versatilists - constantly adapting but also of constantly learning and growing)
The green people - people who are involved in sustainable and renewable
The passionate personalizers - people who are passionate about the area of interest and at the same time differentiate themselves among generic jobs
The great localizers - understand the emerging global infrastructure and then adapt all the new tools it offers to local needs and demands.

7. New quotient
CQ (Curiosity) + PQ (Passionate) > IQ (Intelligent)
Curious and passionate staff are self educators and self motivators.

8. Tubas and test tubes - Mixing science with music. The case of Georgia Tech

9. The crisis of Public Education in US - The diminishing science students and the rise of flat country

10. New mantra of employability. The case of IBM - "Instead of IBM giving you a guarantee that you will be employed, you had to guarantee that you could stay employable"

11. Follow the Leaping Leprechauns - The case of Ireland. From the sick man of Europe to the rich man in less than a generation.

12. Glocalization - How culture easily absorbs foreign ideas and global best practices and melds those with its own traditions

13. The case of 2 cities - Mexico City and Dalian (China) - reform wholesale, followed by reform retail, plus good governance, education, infrastructure and ability to glocalize

14. How companies cope with Flat world and what are the rules
- When the world goes flat - and you are feeling flattened - reach for a shovel and dig inside yourself. Don't try to build walls
- And the small shall act big... One way small companies flourish in the flat world is by learning to act really big. And the key to being small and acting big is being quick to take advantage of all the new tools for collaboration to reach farther, faster, wider and deeper
- And the big shall act small...One way that big companies learn to flourish in the flat world is by learning how to act really small by enabling their customers to act really big
- The best companies are the best collaborators. In the flat world, more and more business will be done through collaborations within and between companies, for a very simple reason: The next layers of value creation - whether in tech, marketing, biomedicine or manufacturing - are becoming so complex that no single firm or department is going to be able to master them alone
- In a flat world, the best companies stay healthy by getting regular chest X-rays and then selling the results to their clients
- The best companies outsource to win, not to shrink. They outsource to innovate faster and more cheaply in order to grow larger, gain market share, and hire more and different specialists - not to save money by firing more people
- Outsourcing isn't just for Benedict Arnolds. It's also for idealists

15. The rise of Islamo-Leninism - Case of 9/11

16. Infosys and Al-Queda - The different use of supply chaining and collaboration

17. The curse of Oil - The rise of oil price and it's implication

In the end, I hope you find this book inspire you to look deep into yourself and find what's in it for me to be competitive in the flat world. If you have read the book and would like to share your thought and ideas about the book, feel free to drop an e-mail and we can discuss further on this.

What I like about the book
Thomas Friedman narrative is easy to understand and enjoyable. Probably because he was a reporter previously. The example used really opened up my mind about how globalization will affect us in many way. You can use this book to emphasis to your children on how globalization really affect them in the future.

Things to improve
I sincerely hope that Thomas Friedman can come up with the sequel of this book since now the high commodity cost and oil price really change the way globalization affect our world. Besides, the book was written way back in 2005. A lot can be added since then that affect the way we look at the world at the current moment.

I give this book a 9 out of 10. Considered as one of my top ten best book that I've read so far... If anyone had any book to recommend, do leave some comments to my blog.

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