In the United States alone, over six million startups are launched annually. Google, Comcast, Amazon, Cisco, and Oracle are well-established Fortune 100 companies, yet none of them were on that list ten years ago. Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, and Pinterest connect billions of people around the globe. All were founded within the last decade.
This turbulence naturally impacts employment and careers. The conventional map of success — get a degree, start at the bottom, network aggressively, follow the rules, climb the ladder, retire comfortably — is now a no-man’s-land.
The average adult worker in the United States holds more than 10 jobs in a lifetime. It’s become increasingly common to hold more than one job at a time, to reeducate yourself continuously and to reinvent your career three to four times. The simple inquiry “what do you do?” has become a complex question unanswerable with a simple title or function.
This chaotic landscape of constant and continual change is at odds with the established view of
business and business leaders, particularly CEOs. Good CEOs once ruled from a position of stability. They commanded forces of people, money, distribution networks, and brand imagery, bolting them together into a profit-making, market-share-gaining machine. An industry might be cutthroat, but it was understandable and advanced relatively slowly. Innovations required years of development. Aspiring CEOs wrote five-year business plans, built brand equity, assembled their associations, and climbed up a well-defined hierarchy.
As attractive and permanent as that world may sound, it simply doesn’t exist anymore and it isn’t coming back.
The CEO is possibly an archaic notion that will soon be taken over by the DEO, the Design Executive Officer. But then the question becomes, what type of design are we talking about? The Design Thinker, the Interaction Designer, who knows. Is it possible to generalize that type of position to that extent?