Tim O’Reilly’s Google+ stream tipped me off to a very interesting post on Forbes about how outsourcing both helps and hurts us. You really should read it yourself, but the long and the short of it is this:
1.) We have to outsource where it makes sense, to keep pricing competitive, but
2.) As soon as we do it, whomever we outsource to will most certainly approach our competitor with the same proposition, so
3.) We end up back where we started.
The key to solving the equation? Outsource where it makes sense, but always add innovation.
Say what you will about Steve Jobs as a person. As a figurehead of Apple, his vision, passion and perfectionism as CEO of Apple are unmatched. Apple products are copied mercilessly and are the source of tech lust all over the world. It is why despite Michael Dell stating Apple should close shop and give money back to its shareholders, Apple is now worth more than Dell. Oh and Microsoft and Intel combined.
Whether we tax high and offer decent public services, or tax low and allow the business sector to cover the weight, it doesn’t matter. If we don’t innovate, we will cease to be relevant.
So I’m asking you, America: quit arguing. Just figure out how we can make more Steve Jobs(es?).
Let’s look at what helped make Steve Jobs successful:
1.) Republicans like Rich Perry seem to be strangling education for the sake of keeping taxes low. Steve Jobs went to a public high school in Cupertino, California. So did Larry Page and Marissa Mayer from Google. Yet today, we are cutting teachers and school funding is as low in some areas as it was in the Depression era. That doesn’t seem conducive to being competitive in a global market.
That being said, we really need to address teachers’ unions ability to protect bad teachers from being fired. Mr. Jobs is not a fan of this policy, and he doesn’t like teaching kids to take tests either.
2.) Apple is in Cupertino, which is in a hotbed of technology. Apple talent could come from Berkeley, Stanford, CalTech, and a host of other technical schools. So while Jobs himself got his education at Hewlett Packard with Woz, he was empowered by an educated base.
Right now, college tuition is increasing, but college kids are not learning about technology at the rate the private sector is producing it. Ask any tech company how difficult it is to hire developers and you’ll see.
3.) Reform patent law. I’m not a lawyer or an inventor, so I can’t confess I have a solution here. I just can’t imagine inventing anything with as many patent trolls as we see now.
4.) Reward innovation and people who think out of the box. Foster change makers. And for God’s sake, quit watching those ridiculous mindless television shows.
The G.I. Bill produced more engineers among the “Greatest Generation” than any other generation before or since. It helped foster engineers that put a man on the moon. Can our nation create an entire generation of Steve Jobs(es?) that innovate us out of this recession, or are we destined to care more about “Dancing with the Stars” than the X Prize?