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The Doer’s Theorem

When talking with a person in transition he said: While I was working, the world changed! Even before the recession this was too often the case – a shocking discovery for far too many people.

Moore’s Law predicts processing speed of chips will double every 18 months, as a result the cost per computation drops by a similar factor – many say cost drops by 50% during the same timeframe.

As processors change, software and systems take advantage of the speed and new capacity to build faster, more complex tools to do more work faster (transaction processing) or to improve video quality and delivery on computer screens and digital cameras (e.g., HD, 3D, Streaming).

In addition to changes in hardware, software, and systems, we have also seen the introduction of new instruments as well – smartphones, tablets, on-board automotive processors (for engine performance, accident avoidance).

The point is: the technology (how the instruments, tools, and equipment are applied) is evolving to replace repetitive and predictable manual tasks. As a result the collecting and compiling functions of technicians, operators, and analysts are being replaced by the changing technology. The effect of technological changes is illustrated by the automotive technician – a trained diagnostic tech with a roll-about computer and a dozen cable leads has been replaced by a cable attached to the network which can be plugged in to the socket under the dashboard – the computer complies the readings from sensors, applies analytics, and issues a report for the mechanic (and the car owner) on the findings and remedial actions required or recommended. No diagnostic tech is needed.

As more information and data is entered on-line, software and systems are used to collect responses, compile results, and do comparative analysis. Such tasks are disappearing from position responsibilities for employees.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported in January 2010 the average tenure in a private sector job is 4.0 years. During this timeframe, computing speed has doubled twice and the new chips have been incorporated into software, systems, and new instruments. A job changer will face the challenge of obsolete positions and skills, as well as the need for proficiency in using the new tools, systems, and instruments – a diagnostic tech may be able to trade down to get his old position with a less advanced shop, but will need additional skills to get a better position.

The Doers need to add to their skills to remain viable in the labor market and with their current employer. When changing jobs internally, new knowledge, skills, and experience play a strong role in winning the appointment – just as they do on the outside when applying to a new employer. If contemplating launching your own firm, old skills and experience with outdated technology will find a narrow and shrinking market – the exception to this was the Y2K phenomenon in the late ’90’s, where the COBAL programmers were desperately needed to modify enterprise systems. Keeping up with advances in the application of relevant technology is an important goal for us all.

The Doer’s Theorem is you must add to your skill-set and expand your experience portfolio about every three years to remain viable in the labor market.

Prior experience, skills, and knowledge are the firm foundation on which to reinvent yourself, but change is coming too fast to rely just on the old favorites and a stagnant learning philosophy.

Successful Doers might say: While I was changing, the world did too!

Comments and contributions?

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Corey McCarren

I like this post a lot, because I think it’s spot on. Never ever get too comfortable and stop learning new skills or improving because you never know when your current comforts will disappear! Here’s a question though. Some theorize that Moore’s law is bound to hit a wall soon, unless a new nanomaterial (carbon-nanotubes, graphene, nanowires) is stable enough and has the properties to create workable transistors. Do you believe there is potential for such a wall in the job market, where people stop innovating maybe due to a lack of resources or the like?

Jack Gates

Hi Corey:

Thanks for your comment.

As to your question about the repeal of Moore’s Law – with the shift to the cloud, the dynamics change from local processor to server-farm capabilities, speed, and power. I lean toward a corollary which projects capacity or volume of results on a scale, rather than processor improvement – assuming any interest remains in predicting the speed of improvements.

I feel innovation will increase rather than diminish – with more user-oriented tools, greater access to resources, and continuing movement to more output & results from fewer people, the folks will become more adept with the available tools and as doers will be directly involved in seeking solutions to getting them. It will be more effective to have the doers telling the system what is needed than when it is described to the coders and they try to create what they interpret is the system instructions.

Resources will likely increase instead of decrease.

That’s my take on it.