Posted by J Matthew Buchanan at December 12, 2005 07:07 AM
Recognition of a major change has to be, of course, the first step in taking advantage of it. Often times, you read or hear about a major change in your world but, without personal experience that allows you to recognize the change as real, you wonder if it’s actually happening or if certain people just think that it’s happening. You may even grow a bit cynical and start to believe that certain people just hope that the change is happening.
That’s where I started with the concept of the flat world. I had heard about it and read about it, but had no personal experience that allowed me to truly recognize that the change was in process. As a result, I had little interest in the concept and, perhaps, a little disbelief.
Then, out of nowhere, a brick hit me in the head and suddenly I realized that major change was indeed underway. After that, I saw the flat world in everything around me, much like you seem to hear a particular word more often after actually learning its meaning.
Here’s the story.
I had ordered a new ThinkPad X41 TabletPC (which, by the way, is the best computer I have ever owned…despite a few hard drive issues). I’m like a kid on Christmas morning when I have a new tech toy on order…I just can’t wait. I checked the status of the order each morning and was disappointed to learn that there was about a two week backorder. Rats.
Finally, I was rewarded one morning when I received an e-mail telling me that my order had been shipped and that I could track it on the UPS web site. Great, I thought…we’re entering stage two.
I immediately clicked the tracking link and was excited to see that the package was ready for shipment, straight from
Here’s the brick. The next morning, UPS.com told me that the package was here and ready for delivery. Holy
That’s right. The computer travelled from
Now, I know there's an international date line in there somewhere, and at least one of my fellow rethinkers believes there is funny business in the whole package tracking thing, but, no matter, the effect was the same -- the computer arrived one day after I was told it was shipped. Very cool.
(imagine the effect had Lenovo/IBM been able to get rid of the two week backorder!)
I tore into the package even before the man in the brown shorts left. As I tossed the instruction manual aside, the realization hit me -- the world really is flat. The day before, a Chinese worker had held the computer in his hands as he packed it for shipment. Now I've got it and it's ready for business.
Suddenly I believed that the flattening of the world…the change…was indeed in process. I couldn’t ignore it anymore because this one simple example had given me the personal experience that allowed me to realize that.
I wondered about the reason for my initial disinterest and disbelief -- this is the only rational explanation I can offer. I was born and raised in the American Midwest, where manufacturing is King. I suspect that my initial disinterest in the change to a flat world was at least partially due to a knee-jerk reaction that a lot of people have in these parts of the country. The reaction is based purely on fear. Fear of outsourcing, off-shoring and the loss of manufacturing jobs, good manufacturing jobs.
But the computer experience had changed something because the knee-jerk reaction seemed to be gone. Now I had the experience I needed to believe in the change, which, of course, gave me the desire to figure out how to plan for and take advantage of it.