The Rural Nature of the Customer Revolution

Robert Paterson has a good conversation going on about creative talent moving to the rural areas. I’m not sure how large of a movement this is, but it makes for an interesting hypothesis. Rob backs it up with some examples:

Oh Yes – University? My son is one of the leading artists in his field. 8 years of art school no degree. He is hired because of his talent and his portfolio. My business partner started programming when we he was 14 and had his own business since he was 16. No one cares about his credentials, they care about what he has done and what he can do – he is so much better than the product of a technical college. My daughter has cooked all over the world, owned her own restaurant – no one asks where she went to school. Once they have tried her food, they are hooked.

My point? In the real world of where the producer is on the line and not buried in a bureaucracy, what counts is can you really do it. Most universities and technical schools are credential machines that produce people that have few skills. Think of a BA in Business – which I teach by the way. What do you know as a graduate that you can apply in a small business? The true answer is all but zero.

Credentials are still very important in bureaucracies but they have no standing on their own in the creative world and in the world of reputation

Does this mean that the creative people will be able to live in rural bliss while the rest live live in urban sprawl with McJobs? Will the successor to the digital divide be the Creative Divide? Of course there will be implications for organisational design; when your creative team is separate (physically & mentally) from the developers/manufacturers. It sounds good on the rural/creative side, but I’m worried about the effects on everyone else.

In the meantime, it would be a nice change to get some solid economic activity in places like Atlantic Canada. For instance, in New Brunswick we’ve had two mill closures this month, with about 800 jobs lost. I’m not sure how many creative entrepreneurs have started up this month, but certainly less than 800. There may be turbulent times ahead.

Update: Dane Carlson on the Business Opportunities blog, is observing a similar phenomenon in the US – "I think that technology is quickly removing any economic benefits from operating your business in a major metropolitan area."


2 Responses to “The Rural Nature of the Customer Revolution”

  1. Anonymous

    I wish I shared your optimismThose mill closures are a lot worse then 800 jobs – there were hundreds of contractors etc who aren’t directly on the payroll, but got 90% of their work from the mills.

    Also those mills bought $millions of wood every year, a lot from local woodlot owners.

    Credentials are still very important in bureaucracies but they have no standing on their own in the creative world and in the world of reputation

    Yeah, but the bureaucracies have all the freaking money!

    There’s room for a few people to make a decent living out here in the woods, but all the Beemers and Benzes are right in downtown Toronto.

    Peter Burtt

  2. Anonymous

    Managerial CapitalismThanks for the comment Peter. Part of the problem is our system – Managerial Capitalism. I’m not optimistic either, but it seems that these kinds of closures that put hundereds and thousands of people out of work are not going to stop. How to “we” then develop a new economy that provides economic opportunities for a variety of skills.

    Knowledge work is part of the answer, but it won’t address the immediate needs of these forest workers. How we handle the transition of our ecomomy will be as important as the kind of future we help to create. No easy answers but I believe that the keys to solving our problems have be found locally, and not keep hoping for another multinational to set up shop in the province.


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