The Recession Of The Industrial Age

- - The Future

These two stories seem to go together.

Seth Godin asserts that while one recession is over, the recession of the industrial age is here forever.

The networked revolution is creating huge profits, significant opportunities and a lot of change. What it’s not doing is providing millions of brain-dead, corner office, follow-the-manual middle class jobs. And it’s not going to. (story here)

Over in AdAge we have the story of a mass exodus from large agencies:

Since the beginning of the year, a veritable Cannes jury worth of senior creative talent has shrugged off the leashes of big agency networks for their own start-ups or for creative pursuits outside the ad industry. (story here)

I’d like to believe this is the end of the brain-dead office job, but I really doubt our love affair with corporations is going away any time soon.

There Are 4 Comments On This Article.

  1. Agreed. While the networked idea economy gives more options to the millions of brain-dead, corner office, follow-the-manual middle class employees, there are always going to be those who find fulfillment outside the day job and thrive in the comfort zone.

    On any given day, it can sound attractive to many of us independent folks too.

  2. The problem with predicting trends is little market twists always seem to disrupt a nice, neat, straight trend line. There is no question that some industries never recover from economic downturns. But new industries often thrive and supplant the dying industries. I’m always skeptical of people who extrapolate current conditions into some vision of the future. They usually turn out to be wrong because unexpected events inevitably alter the course of reality.

    Corporate jobs have always been a mixed bag. They steal your soul, but deliver a regular paycheck and benefits while demanding very little individual responsibility. The exodus from corporate jobs has largely been driven by the decline in job security brought about by economic conditions. If you take away the guaranteed regular paycheck and benefits part of the equation, all you have left are the soul-sucking parts. Hence striking out on you own doesn’t seem quite as perilous.

    It is certainly possible that the post-recovery economy will see more independent contract workers than corporate pukes. But from a corporate perspective, managing external resources is always more complicated than using internal employees. I’m going to guess the corporate hire/fire cycle will most likely repeat itself: as economic conditions improve corporations shift focus from cost containment to market expansion; hiring increases; middle-management bloat increases to match hiring. Then there will be another recession and the cycle will repeat. It’s not much consolation in the current market, but economic conditions always seem to find an equilibrium point.

  3. I have to agree Rob and hope it continues in the direction of a majority of smaller entities. The playing field begins to level out. The industrial revolution became the Renaissance when the semiconductor appeared. It is now technology that is the giant.

    The new revolution should be the corporate giants learning how to do what general dynamics did with the building of the F16. I am not sure how many different countries and vendors were used, but they were successful. I will also add they probably had too many people managing things to get the job done. It could be a starting point or maybe there is already a better model.

    I just have to say I was in one of those soul sucking jobs and I am happy that I was forced into freedom!

  4. The largest banks are practicing monetary forbearance, which means that while the numbers can be picked to claim an end to the recession, the reality is that the can has been kicked down the road. While Seth Godin is a talented writer, he fails to grasp or explain the reality of the current global economy. Ask nearly any corporation or business whether they think the recession ended 15 months ago, and you are more likely to get a chuckle or negative reply.

    It’s true the talent at the agencies is going different directions, but I think some of that is because true gains have often come from times of adversity. The time to act on the future in a big way is when things are at the bottom. Meanwhile I took in a huge profit from selling half my shares of Interpublic group, one of the largest ad conglomerates. There is far more than one story happening in advertising. The fact that specialists are on the rise indicates to me that budgets are slowly improving.