Navigating a flat world
|Fortune favours the prepared mind
In his book, The World is Flat, Thomas Friedman closely examines
globalisation. The book outlines how digitisation, virtualisation and automation
change the way we live, interact and do business. It also reveals how CEOs and
CIOs worldwide have realised its potential.
Flattening of the world is a metaphor for creating a new, global and Web-enabled
field where millions of new players participate and collaboratively develop
new processes. Triple convergence of new fields, players and processes heralds
an era where discoveries are a routine. Friedman calls this phenomenon Globalisation
3.0, its main feature being individual empowerment.
The second chapter of the book chronologically traces the
events, innovations and companies that have made the world more accessible.
The first three flattenersthe launch of Microsoft Windows, Netscape Web
browsers availability, and workflow softwareensure that people can
digitise content on computers, and communicate and collaborate with other people
anywhere. The next six flattenersopen sourcing, outsourcing, offshoring,
supply chain, in-sourcing and in-formingare based on the first three flatteners.
The last flattener projects an imminent scene in which everything will be digital,
mobile, virtual, personal and wireless.
||The World is Flat: A brief
history of the globalized world in the 21st century
||Allen Lane - Penguin
Triple convergences benefits are discussed at length in chapter three.
A skilled person will get work if he knows to access the world. He can make
a Web site, have an e-mail address, and demonstrate his work. If he is comfortable
to work with, is diligent and transparent in his transactions, he is in business.
Starting a global business has never been easier.
The fourth chapter highlights the issues that occur due to globalisation and
their resolution. The sixth chapter discusses new opportunities due to flattening
of the world and the ways to harness them. People will have to constantly upgrade
their skills and get smarter and more creative. The chapter details jobs that
cannot be outsourced, and the right education to be equipped with in a world
where change is the only constant.
The eighth chapter talks about five actions to help a country progress in the
flat world. There is emphasis on the need for introspection by countries to
know their strengths and weaknesses. It also focusses on concepts such as glocalisationthe
willingness to absorb best ideas and practices and meld them with a cultures
A chapter is dedicated to those who missed out on earlier benefits due to their
inability to adapt; it discusses ways to address problems without resistance.
There is also a discussion on Dells conflict prevention theory. This postulates
that no two countries that are part of a major global supply chain will ever
fight a war against each other. Instead, they will be busy making just-in-time
deliveries of goods and services and enjoy the associated rising standards of
living. But this sounds unconvincing; since when has prosperity been preventing
The final chapter brings out two opposing sides of globalisation and the aggressive
adoption of new technologies by comparing and contrasting Al Qaeda with companies
like Infosys or JetBlue.
However, Friedman lacks introspection on two counts. The first is the USAs
attitude towards the rest of the world. The second is the lack of consideration
on the part of that country by equipping the so-called freedom fighters to fight
the Soviets in Afghanistan, and also by arming Pakistan. A critical look at
how the US nurtured fundamentalism, not knowing that it would some day boomerang
on it, would have evened out Friedmans analysis.
Discounting this, the book is a must-read for contemporary CEOs, CIOs and
for generation-next leaders aspiring to make India a superpower in the coming
decades. The Pulitzer-prize-winning New York Times columnist has made the book
as dramatic and as simple as possible.