Are you ready for global competition?

Are you ready for global competition?

“Creativity as a topic at Davos (World Economic Forum) has moved from optional to +essential+.”
John Maeda, President, Rhode Island School of Design

Recently, I was invited to give a talk at a Croud Sourcing Summit here in Tokyo since I am one of very few users of oDesk, a global outsourcing site, in Japan. I wanted my audience to get a feel of what it’s like to outsource jobs abroad so I decided to show a short 2 minute video at the end of my presentation. This blew the audience off. Here’s the video I showed them (the shock is at around 47 seconds into the video).

This was a group assignment for part of my 3 month global communication course. For this session, I had my students create an ad poster of this course using a Pakistan designer. It was a two week project where:
  1. Week one, students brainstorm the headlines & images and convey that directly to the designer using video Skype.
  2. Week two, the designer sends a couple of samples based on the request and the students chooses the one they like. The final hour is spent on finalizing the poster communicating with the designer (the beginning of the video).
The final version of the poster can be seen on right. After finishing the project, the Pakistan designer, living in Islamabad, wanted to give a house tour (I have worked with many Pakistanis over oDesk and they were all super friendly people) where we got shocked when we saw what was outside.
Just an hour ago, we were using video Skype, sharing screens, living in a very high tech world and this gap of seeing outside after the job totally blew us off.
I only paid US$50 for job. I remember asking him where he learned how to use Adobe Illustrator. His answer:
“Google is my teacher!”
This project was done over a year ago and now I see more and more Americans and British competing over a project with the same price range as Filipinos, Indians.
No wonder wages aren’t rising and the employment rate for developed countries remain high. Most routine work is rapidly getting replaced by these people who will call you “sir” and do the same work at a fraction of the cost.
Cathy Davidson, a professor at Duke University, recently said that “65% of today’s teens will end up in careers that haven’t even been invented yet.”
Are we preparing our children for this? Am I preparing myself for this? The more I use oDesk, I get really scared. It’s a reminder to always try to reinvent myself or else…

Posted by Masafumi Otsuka

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