There’s an old song lyric “wherever I lay my hat that’s my home” (…attribution to Marvin Gaye). Aside from a short stint living in Europe, I’ve always lived in Boston, MA. First it was because my friends and family all lived here. As I got older, and progressed in my career, I stayed in Boston because of different reasons. There was excitement in the air: creative work in the city with smart people doing great things. However, even with all this opportunity sometimes I’ve felt like I was trapped. Where else could I go to do what I do? I made a list and wrote Seattle, San Francisco, and Austin. Then I thought, dang! There goes my dream of living on a beach and being an executive.
Turns out, I was on to something. As I’ve mentioned in an earlier post, I’m a big fan of looking forward, and a bigger fan of solving problems. According to Dr. Richard Florida, one of our keynote speakers at the Supply Chain Insights Global Summit, my description fits about 30% of us in the workforce. We tend to gravitate towards certain cities on Earth. Why on Earth (pun intended) do we go to specific cities? Well, it turns out we’re part of the “Creative Class.” We like being around each other and working together to help move society forward. Ok, it sounds logical. If you are scratching your head, and wondering what in the #%*&@#@ is the “Creative Class”? Please read on.
It’s a subsection of knowledge workers within the workforce broken down into two groups: the Creative Professionals and the Super Creative Core. I’m going to start quoting from Dr. Florida’s work here. The Creative Professionals are the classic knowledge-based workers. This group mainly includes people working in healthcare, business and finance, the legal sector, and education. They “draw on complex bodies of knowledge to solve specific problems” using higher degrees of education to do so. Then there’s the “Super Creative Core” which is about 12% of all the jobs in the US across science, engineering, education, computer programming, research and a smattering of arts, design and media workers thrown in for good measure. These people fully engage in the creative process, making innovative commercial products and consumer goods. Their primary job function is to be creative and innovative, and “along with problem solving, their work may entail problem finding.” (I’m sure these individuals are super popular at parties.) In short, their job is to move their product, company and/or the economy forward by creating something new.
So, if you are still scratching your head wondering what does this have to do with supply chain and why would Supply Chain Insights feature Richard Florida to speak at the Supply Chain Insights Global Summit, let me continue. We believe that this redefines supply chains in the Race for Supply Chain 2020. This is more than just birds of a feather flocking together in a few places on the planet (Silicon Valley, Boston’s Route 128, The Triangle in North Carolina, Austin, Seattle, Bangalore, Dublin and Sweden to name a few) and having an impact. It is about commerce and a return to cities. Mega cities are emerging. This trend is a major driver of economic growth, both local and global.
As you reflect, think back. It’s a historical fact that people moved away from the agrarian lifestyle to the cities because there was innovation and a better way of life. Now, the most creative in our society are moving away from the cities to innovation hubs and creating a “new” new way of life. I can’t tell if it’s a chicken or an egg situation, where companies recruit all the brilliant creators to come live and work in an innovation hub and ultimately impact the economy, or that companies come to areas where creative folks area already living and set up shop. Either way, the trend is real and it’s impacting the global economy. Cities with creative knowledge workers will redefine transportation, commerce, and social systems. Demand becomes more volatile, and mega-cities the new norm.
The design of mega cities is a challenge. According to Dr. Florida, thirty percent of the population is forecasted to be in a few cities. It’s going to be crowded; and if Dr. Florida is right, it will transform supply chains forever!
There is also a need to rethink talent, recruitment and work environments. Perhaps, if companies start shifting their policies now to attract the creative class workers, new innovation hubs will emerge and the economic impact will be wide spread throughout not just the States, but the rest of the developed world. Dr. Florida will share insights on the future work systems. I encourage you to attend this Summit to understand what companies need to adopt to attract highly intelligent employees that resist the traditional 9-5, want to wear yoga pants to work (because they don’t like suits and ties), and rethink work systems to give them enough independence to steer their own course … yet still get the job done. It’s a major leap and cultural shift for many firms, but if they can turn the corner there’s nothing but upside.
Of course, you don’t have to take my word for it. We’ve got the economist that identified this trend keynoting at our conference in September. You can hear what this means to you straight from Dr. Richard Florida’s mouth. And you can start to prepare your organization for this new economic shift that embraces the out of the box thinkers to move the economy forward. As for me, I’ll have a seat in the front row of this limited seating event and I will start researching apartments in Stockholm and Dublin so I can bring a little of the Boston 128 creative class flare to the rest of the world.
Cartoon sourced from the Roanoke Times. (Weblink http://ww2.roanoke.com/editorials/images/0719_creatives_750x560.gif)