Peering forward – technology is destroying and creating jobs

“Technology is eating jobs”

So says Andy Kessler in his Wall Street Journal article, Is Your Job an Endangered Species?

He says there are two kinds of workers today:

“… creators and servers. Creators are the ones driving productivity—writing code, designing chips, creating drugs, running search engines. Servers, on the other hand, service these creators (and other servers) by building homes, providing food, offering legal advice, and working at the Department of Motor Vehicles. Many servers will be replaced by machines, by computers and by changes in how business operates.”

He goes on to explain many kinds of ‘server’ jobs are going to disappear because of the efficiencies of technology or merely smarter coding in computer programs.  Two examples he gives: efficiencies of Amazon is destroying lots of retail jobs and smarter, more creative computer coding could replace lots of clerks at the DMV.

What does this mean for ministries?  We need to think that through.

The first thought is that ‘creators’ in ministries would be those writing resources, running programs, or having direct client contact.  Those positions would be secure in face of technology changes.

The rest of our staff would probably fall into the category of ‘servers’.  A few examples: one large ministry I am aware of produces lots of books and  pamphlets.  They have outsourced all their fulfillment to an organization that is essentially a distribution center.  Lots of efficiencies gained and full-time positions reduced. 

I have published three books by outsourcing all of the work except the writing.  I hired a graphics artist to design the cover, paid an editor to polish my writing, and contracted with a printing company for the physical production.  I did the creating and outsourced all the serving.  The total cost was surprisingly low.

Things to ponder:  there are going to be big opportunities for efficiencies.  We may need to swallow our pride and cooperate with other ministries who have competencies and efficiencies that we don’t have.  There may be ‘servers’ out there who can do things faster and cheaper than our staff. 

Another implication is stewardship of our staff.  Perhaps we have an obligation to our staff in the warehouse whose jobs are at risk of going away.  Perhaps we should coach and help retrain our staff whose work could be performed more efficiently and effectively by a specialized ‘server’. 

We need to start thinking about what impact these changes are going to have on our programs and organizations.

Mr. Kessler has written a book, found here.  It is on my reading list.

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