Please fix the escalator...

October 23, 2011

By David Poeschl, Kimberly-Clark

Thomas Friedman, New York Times Columnist  recently traveled to China and observed in awe a beautiful convention center constructed in just eight months.  He then returned to Maryland to find a simple subway escalator under construction, closed for six months.

This example elevates a concern prevalent in culture today that the U.S. is behind.  Has America lost its ability to act collectively?

Globalization and the IT revolution have merged, bringing the world today from connected to hyper-connected.  Grinnell College, a small liberal arts school in Iowa, saw 9% of applicants last year from China, 45% of them with perfect SAT math scores.  Children in the U.S. today are no longer competing only with their classmates.

Globalization is much bigger than the threat of Japan in the '80's.  Japan's threat was to two industries - auto and electronics.  Globalization, led currently by China, represents a fundamental shift in everything we do.  

The global evolution toward hyper-connectivity is far from over.  The U.S. has incredible resources and can maintain a position of strength by focusing on the 3C's:  creativity, collaboration and communication.  Companies hiring today are seeking people capable of seeing the world differently, with innovation being more important than ever before.  The concept of "average" is officially over and will not return.

Friedman left the audience with three key take-aways:

  1. Think like an immigrant  (there is no spot waiting at university)
  2. Think like an artisan  (everything tailored)
  3. Think like the waitress at Perkins  (a personal experience where a waitress went above and beyond the expected service using what she could control within her environment)

"We are all immigrants in this new world."


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