ItÕs a new (e-) day

Aug. 8, 2000

It's a new (e-)day

Whoever said the more things change the more they stay the same was dead wrong. I offer Hood's theorem in response: The faster things change, the faster things change.

Ralph Hood, Columnist

August 2000

I don't know what they teach MBA candidates at high-powered schools like Wharton and Harvard (wish I did), but it seems to me that adapting to change at an ever faster rate should be high on the list. In one recent week I spoke for two groups that exposed me to examples of this...

First was an international computer group at the University of Georgia. These nine hundred people, from colleges and universities around the world, are busily putting together online college courses so that anyone, anywhere, can learn 'most anything at any time in the privacy of his own computer. The ramifications for business are mind-boggling.

The whole idea of separating education from career may become a thing of the past. The concept of leaving the real world for several years was started way back when wealthy folks wanted their kids to have more education than they could get at home, so they sent them off. Is that really necessary today?

Will tomorrow's workers be perpetual students constantly taking online courses to keep up and to learn the latest processes, the newest methods, and the newest equipment? Quite possibly.

How many times have you seen a sharp young employee who was held back by lack of a college education? In the future, you may help that employee get that education online.

How about the employee with educational gaps in certain specific areas? Fill in those gaps with specific courses. Maybe instead of one employee going off to take a course, several will take that course together - online.

Perhaps smart employers will use these courses to retain good employees. A college degree for a young employee would be one heck of an incentive, I'd think. I can't begin to imagine the changes online education will make in our industry, but here it comes, ready or not.

Two days later, I spoke in Austin, TX, for a national telecommunications association. I followed Dr. Bob Mathis, University of Nebraska at Omaha, College of Business. Dr. Mathis talks about getting and keeping key employees, and he could scare a slow-moving businessperson to death.

Dr. Mathis, quoting McKinsey & Company, says that keeping key employees today is like carrying frogs in a wheelbarrow: They can jump out at any time. Many of today's skills - particularly in information technology - can transfer to any industry instantly, so key people can be lured away at any time. Compet-ing for talent, Mathis indicates, will be at least as important as competing for business.

Here's the scary part: Dr. Mathis believes if attracting, keeping, and replacing key talent is not part of your long-term strategy, you're already in deep trouble.

Today's key employees want a great company, a great job, and great compensation. People in industries and companies you never heard of are plotting to offer those things to your best people. Wake up and smell the fear!

Ralph Hood is a Certified Speaking Professional who has addressed aviation groups throughout North America. A pilot since 1969, he's insured and sold airplanes at retail and distributor levels and taught aviation management for Southern Illinois University. He currently serves as National CFI Marketing Mentor for AOPA's Project Pilot Instructor Program. Reach him at [email protected]