Heed the Call

Heed the Call

Apple has one of the best company brands in America. The company is widely admired for its technological innovation, quality and style. So, why is it sending almost all of its manufacturing and a growing number of its professional jobs overseas?

The company’s late CEO, Steve Jobs, used to brag that Apple products were designed and manufactured here at home. The bragging stopped in the 1990s. Why?

According to a recent article in The New York Times, “…Apple’s executives believe the vast scale of overseas factories as well as the flexibility, diligence and industrial skills of foreign workers have so outpaced their American counterparts that ‘Made in the U.S.A.’ is no longer a viable option for most Apple products.”

The emphasis in that quote is mine. The point of view is Apple’s … and that of a growing segment of the American business community. From their perspective, America’s workers are 3G; workers in China, India, Japan, Korea, Germany and Brazil are 4G and moving quickly toward 5G.

To put it bluntly, too many of us are out-of-date and out-of-step with the competitive forces we face in the global marketplace. We’ve been #1 so long, we’ve forgotten that there is a #2, a #3, a #4 and a host of others who want our spot.

But, that’s a national problem, not an individual one, right? I mean, what can any single person do about such a swing in economic momentum? What role could any one of us play in this battle for market supremacy?

I would respectfully suggest that there are two steps each of us can take.

First, we must recognize the danger. The scope of the threat.

This is not some theoretical issue that will matter only to economists and (maybe) politicians. It’s not an academic debate or a discussion of differing philosophies.

This is a fight that’s every bit as real and important as World War II or the Cold War. That‘s not hyperbole. It’s fact. The outcome of this battle for supremacy in the global marketplace will determine the American standard of living. The caliber of the American experience. And, the kind of America we leave to our kids.

Second, we must deal with the danger. Be equal to the threat.

Unlike in World War II or even the Cold War, this conflict has no distinction between the home front and the front lines. The battlefield is in every workplace, industry and profession, craft and trade right here at home.

The key to victory, therefore, is personal commitment. We have to stop going to work to do our job and start going to work to win the war. Each and every one of us must contribute our talent, our drive, our dedication, our insight and creativity to the war effort. We must take individual responsibility for helping the country to achieve victory.

Our call to arms is the same as that of our parents and grandparents. In World War II, it was the iconic poster of Uncle Sam pointing at each American and saying “I want you.” In the Cold War, it was President Kennedy saying, “Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country.” Today, the battle has been joined again, and this time, we must heed the call and measure up.

Work Strong,
Peter

Note: To read more about Career Fitness and Career Activism, get my books, Work Strong: Your Personal Career Fitness System and The Career Activist Republic. Both are available at Amazon.com, in many bookstores and on Weddles.com.

2 Comments

  1. Your article was intriguing and valid points to be sure. So why then aren’t individuals and organizations taking heed? Which is more of a rhetorical question, but definitely one that needs attention. It’s disconcerting for not only current employees and employers but for new graduates stepping into the job market. Mainly because this young generation, does bring to the table certain skills and talents that can be utilized to propel us, as a nation towards maintaining the coveted number one position. But this will take that one change manager to initiate a paradigm shift if you will, in changing a ‘status quo’ mind set.

    1. You ask the right question, Patricia. And typically, many people take the tack you propose in your last sentence. They wait for “that one change manager to initiate a paradigm shift.” In my view, that’s shirking our individual responsibility to initiate change. Yes, doing so is difficult and does entail some risk. But, that’s why I think Americans need to recognize the challenge for what it is: a war, a battle to sustain our quality of life for ourselves and for our kids.

      Peter