The latter weeks of the recent US election saw the term socialist get a LOT of mileage. It was an interesting attempt to frighten people with the idea that their wealth was about to be redistributed to those that are too lazy to make it on their own. Similarly, no casual conversation about socialism or communism can avoid the inevitable reference to ownership of the “means of production.” While this phrase conjured up specific images of factories and laborers throughout the post-WWII era, I am wondering what kind of connotations it has in today’s world – a world that is hot, flat and crowded. Furthermore, with the ever worsening economic news about company closings, layoffs and bankruptcies, perhaps it is time to get a better understanding of just what the “means of production” are in the digital world and exactly who owns them.
The traditional model of training was a push model in which the company decided what skills you would need and then designed the training to make sure you acquired the skills necessary to do your job. In most cases, this meant operating a machine on the factory floor. The digital age, however, has turned this model on its head. Companies can no longer keep up the the flow of information and the rapid pace of change. By the time the Training and Development department gets the courses out the door, they are nearly obsolete. Since the company can’t provide the training anymore – who can? Well, the answer is YOU!
What began as a small movement among the “alpha geeks” to use the web2.0 world to create individualized learning and personal learning environments, has morphed into a full blown revolution of social media, social networking, learning on demand and content creation as well. In this new world, training and personal development are no longer the job of the company. In fact, it’s the responsibility of the individual to create a personal learning environment (PLE). The main reason for this change is – you guessed it – ownership of the means of production!
What’s that got to do with training you ask. Everything. The means of production are no longer owned by the company. Nope…they’re owned by you! The new means of production in the digital world is information, knowledge, digital literacy, content creation. The bottom line is that employee’s create value for the company by what they know, who they know and what kind of problems they can solve. All of that resides within you. In an odd twist – everyone now owns the means of production – at least their means of production. Since that’s the case, it’s up to you to take charge of your own training and personal development. Evey employee needs to become literate in today’s digital work skills. Even more important is to develop a network of people with whom you can share ideas, comments, highs and lows. This means getting a Twitter account, creating a Facebook page, creating a blog, and getting LinkedIn to name just a few.
As companies downsize, you need to protect yourself by taking stock of your own means of production. Do it today…do it now. Take a look at what you know and who you know and work on improving in these areas each and every day. The revolution is here and you’re a part of it whether you want to be or not. As the Edupunks over on the academic side of learning like to say: The Revolution is here! Long live the Revolution!
Take a page from their book and Rock the Company!
*Credit to CogDog for this amazing Edupunk video