IBM and Creative Destruction

One of the fundamental aspects of successful capitalism is the principal of creative destruction. In a capitalist system, businesses that are hampered with flawed business models, substandard management, unproductive labor or changing markets, among other things, pass away in a sometimes agonizing fit of destruction. New businesses, with a better take on what the market is willing to buy on an ongoing basis and how to produce that profitably, spring up and thrive. It’s the business version of earth to earth, dust to dust and the circle of life.

Even though we all know this story and can intellectually recognize that it is a required component to make a capitalistic economic system work, when push comes to shove, or more realistically, padlocks come to factory gates, things get a lot tougher. When long-standing, treasured companies die, such as Maytag, it is traumatic, especially for the local communities.

If they are big enough or politically well connected, governments sometimes step in and prop up dying businesses. In the last year we’ve seen multiple examples of this in vehicle manufacturing, insurance, financial services and banking. But even while entire economies are distorted by artificial means, the market keeps changing and creative destruction keeps happening.

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Doing It For Free

“If they didn’t pay me, I’d do this for free.” – Harry Cabluck

Have you ever had a job in your life where you felt like that? Have you ever invested your time and energy into a career where you literally couldn’t wait to get up in the morning?

Few people have that opportunity. I feel very fortunate that I’ve had more than one.

Many people get exposed to a job early in life and do some variation of that same job the rest of their lives, especially in the trades. Others pick a college major at age 18 or 19 for reasons that often have little to do with their interests, skills or abilities and more to do with factors related to friends or romantic pursuits. They end up with a degree unrelated to their interests or stuck in that career track for the rest of their lives. Others, especially in times like these, take any job that’s available, and as long as the paychecks clear the bank, they stick to it. Others get on a job or career track they don’t intend to pursue for a lifetime but are subsequently locked in by responsibilities such as loans, marriage, mortgages, and children.

In all these cases, it is not unusual for people to wake up one day and realize they are unhappy in their jobs and careers, but feel trapped there due to age, education or skills, unable to seek any alternatives because the barriers to change are too high.

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