Platt Perspective on Business and Technology

Career planning 16: career planning as an ongoing process of analysis and synthesis 10

Posted in career development, job search, job search and career development by Timothy Platt on October 9, 2017

This is my 16th installment to a series in which I seek to break open what can become a hidden workings, self-imposed black box construct of career strategy and planning, where it can be easy to drift into what comes next rather than execute to realize what could be best for us (see Guide to Effective Job Search and Career Development – 3, postings 459 and following for Parts 1-15.)

I have been discussing a set of four sources of disruptive change in the workplace in recent postings to this series, that all significantly impact on employment and even on the meaning of employability (see Part 14 and Part 15.) And for purposes of increased continuity of narrative here, I repeat them as offered in Part 15:

1. Non-compete clauses in hiring and employment agreements,
2. Automation and the spread of artificial intelligence and robotization into the workplace,
3. Telecommuting and the emerging capabilities for people and for businesses to conduct work online and from anywhere to anywhere, and
4. The workplace impact of the cloud on all three of the other sources of change that I make note of here.

Then at the end of Part 15, I stated that I would continue its line of discussion here, where I would:

• Expand the set of specific disruptive changes under specific discussion in all of this, and
• Address these issues in timeframe and related contexts as viewed from the individual participant perspective.

I at least begin this, by adding a fifth fundamental source of change into this narrative, that like the above restated fourth change: the advent of the cloud, impacts upon and shapes all of the others here listed:

• Legally mandated and enforced regulatory oversight and its case law history as that shapes how regulatory rules are interpreted and enforced.

And I begin addressing this, by noting that regulatory oversight, and particularly as explicitly mandated and enforced by weight of law, is probably the furthest reaching and the most impactful of all of the change drivers that I have been addressing here, and particularly:

• When businesses increasingly do business across national boundaries and even globally,
• And when at least one of the legal jurisdictions involved, is actively and even proactively regulatory in its approach to managing a level playing field.

This state of affairs is quickly becoming the new norm, in an increasingly globally interconnected day-to-day business context. And this certainly holds true from an employment and employability perspective when telecommuting and similar options can mean people working from anywhere to anywhere. Legally mandated workplace and employment regulatory protections offered in one locale, can and will impact upon businesses in others too – and certainly across international borders.

Let me start addressing that with a seemingly unrelated example that applies strictly within a single nation: the United States, but that can be seen as representing a somewhat developed-in-practice role model for what we can expect to see emerging in a workplace and employability context. And the example that I would cite here is the State of California’s legally mandated definition of what it means for food to be organic, as specified by the US federal government’s Organic Foods Production Act of 1990, and the California Organic Products Act of 2003.

The California standard for designating food as organic is one of the most stringently demanding and far-reaching in the United States. And California’s position as a leading grower and provider of fresh produce nationally – and a leading consumer of food products from its population size, means that its definitions and its regulatory requirements, have impact that extends way beyond its state borders. People in other states and even in other nations who buy California organic, know what that means and they come to demand the same quality control levels for food produced in their own states and their own legal jurisdictions too, and even outside of the United States itself. And growers who operate outside of California face pressures to conform to those standards too, and certainly if they seek to ship their products to that state and with an organic designation. California’s approach to defining organic food, has become the gold standard and the benchmark that others have come to use in defining and enforcing food quality control elsewhere too. Their clout and reach in agriculture has made that all but inevitable, and certainly given their pro-consumer position in this.

Let’s consider how the basic principles there, might be applied to an employment and employability context. And I begin with my first change driver from the above list: non-compete clauses and agreements. And I start by repeating a point that I have already made in this blog in regard to that terms of employment approach, and by citing a recent news story that I have made note of in other series. Even just within the United States, different states with their separate laws and case law records, approach non-competes differently from each other. See:

Noncompete Pacts, Under Siege, Find Haven in Idaho

Idaho’s state legislature, as influenced by “pro-business” lobbyists, have pushed through some of the most draconian anti-employee legislation in the United States for enforcing non-compete clauses in hiring and job retention agreements. If would-be employees could not move out of state to find new opportunity, and current and former employees couldn’t move out of state either, and if the job market was, and was always going to favor employers with many more qualified applicants for any given type of work opportunity than there are positions open for that work, and as the basic rule and for all types of jobs, then this might mean Idaho employers gaining and holding a stable advantage in employer/employee negotiations there. Add to that, enforceable barriers against telecommuting and against court challenges and either within-state or beyond as would arise through appeals to higher courts. But none of those qualifiers can be relied upon and certainly not long-term and definitely not for the types of positions that employers might more legitimately need that type of protection for. Like organic produce, job availability faces porous borders and competitive pressures that can and do cross them too.

And I stress here that even when employees and would-be employees cannot realistically cost-effectively and affordably move, at least for securing lower level and lower overall pay jobs, this type of measure still creates real instability for those employers, as the experience of looser and less restrictive laws in other jurisdictions shapes employee expectations and even in the heart of a state like Idaho itself. Loose and lax and even effectively nonexistent regulatory law governing and restricting use of non-competes can be challenged in court, and effectively changed in legal decision and in case law precedent moving forward. And the more win-lose and anti-competitive it is the more likely it is that that will happen.

So flipping around a basic point of conclusion that I made late in Part 15:

• The more win-lose a terms of employment change is as a business practice, the more unstable it is going to prove for the businesses that come to rely upon it,
• And the greater the resultant risk it will create for them for doing so, as reactive change developed in response to it can break it, and certainly as currently pursued, and with all of the direct cost and all of the indirect cost (e.g. bad publicity) that this would create.

With that stated and argued, let’s step back to reconsider change that would impact on employability in more general terms again, and how regulatory and other factors external to the business collectively help shape them. I am going to delve into that in my next series installment, addressing interaction issues. And in anticipation of that, I note here that I will add in one more fundamentally important emerging source of change to this narrative:

• The emergence of the lean and agile business model as an increasingly important strategic and operational approach, and one that will become essential for seemingly all types of businesses in our increasingly globally interconnected and globally competing markets.

I have been writing in positive terms of lean and agile businesses for a long time now in this blog. And in anticipation of discussion to come here, note as a starting point for that, that the lean and agile business model does offer both risk and positive opportunity in an employment and employability context. But capturing the positive opportunity in this change, means embracing its possibilities and in some specific types of ways; it means planning and developing career paths in terms of an explicitly lean change-driven business model. I will discuss all of this, at least in part in terms of timeframes too.

Meanwhile, you can find this and related postings at my Guide to Effective Job Search and Career Development – 3 and at the first directory page and second, continuation page to this Guide.

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