• Mel Butcher

2021: A Year to Move Beyond the 'Factory' Mindset

Updated: Jan 16, 2021

There's a concept in Akimbo world called the factory. An assembly line could be part of a factory, yes, but the concept refers to something broader. It refers to cranking out a widget or a memo mindlessly. It refers to a setting where obedience is the key to making it. It refers to the perceived need to color inside the lines at all times.

If a task can be performed by a computer, we will, eventually, create the shortcut. If your work can be reasonably performed by another human in another country that will work for substantially less money, it will be outsourced. If a task can be performed by a machine, we will automate it.

All of these changes make business sense. And if you sit in the U.S., like me, this is the capitalist world we work in.


About 15 years ago, Daniel H. Pink published A Whole New Mind.

Here's an excerpt:

"The last few decades have belonged to a certain kind of person with a certain kind of mind -- computer programmers who could crank code, lawyers who could craft contracts, MBAs who could crunch numbers. But the keys to the kingdom are changing hands. The future belongs to a very different kind of person with a very different kind of mind -- creators and empathizers, pattern recognizers, and meaning makers. These people -- artists, inventors, designers, storytellers, caregivers, consolers, big picture thinkers -- will now reap society's richest rewards and share its greatest joys. This book describes a seismic -- though as yet undetected -- shift now under way in much of the advanced world. We are moving from an economy and a society built on the logical, linear, computerlike capabilities of the Information Age to an economy and a society built on the inventive, empathic, big-picture capabilities of what's rising in its place, the Conceptual Age."

Ask yourself:

Is my value as a worker solely my ability to be more productive?

Does my value as an employee grow with my increasing obedience?

If you're reading this, my guess is that your real value and what your employer really needs from you is not something that can get cranked out in the factory.

Your potential value is not even, at its foundation, your expertise.

It has something to do with your humanity -- skills that a machine or computer cannot offer.

Perhaps the challenge, then, for 2021 is to look at the needs identified by Pink -- Empathy, Design, Story-telling, Symphony (think orchestrating complex things), Play, and Meaning -- figure out where our strengths lie, and then bring more of those to our work.



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