Welcome to the amateur era of disruption

At least in some parts of the world, we are suffering from intellectual inflation. Degrees are no longer good enough. MBA’s are increasingly common. Even Phd won’t necessarily guarantee anyone a job.We are at a point where the relationship between education and career is under threat. As I dislike theory and don’t remember much about university other than the social aspects, I for one am happy with this evolution.

Has anyone noticed?

I started university in 1994 and believe it or not, it wasn’t that common at the time either within my family or within the community we lived in. Most people tended to work more with their hands than their heads. At that stage, getting a degree seemed a guarantee of employment, irrespective of what the degree was in.

Fast forward to 2016. Airbnb hosts do not go to Hotel management school for 3-4 years. Uber drivers do not take the same rigorous exams as London cabi’s. Crowdsouring platforms are full of profiles of people who can help you with virtually anything from writing a business plan, editing a book, making a short film, designing a logo. Just take a look at https://www.fiverr.com as an example. It is possible that some of the people proposing their services actually have degrees or masters in communications, publication, graphic design or other areas but as a user of such services, I don’t look for it and I don’t really care.

In the second half of the 20th century we started to put higher level education as a barrier to entry to many fields which simply don’t require it. Today, they are slowly being removed as we are increasingly interested in the end result and not the qualifications of the person who gets us to it. The “credibility” label is gained through experience rather than a piece of paper. I coach businesses but consciously decided not to become a “certified coach”. My customers are happy and I enjoy what I do. My question to you, captive audience, is have you noticed and do you care?

I’m not suggesting that some professions shouldn’t be done by pro’s. Take this example:

Disruption will follow

Even if we leave education to one side, the amateur era is also going to impact lots of jobs for which degrees and masters are not necessarily essential. One example of this is the restaurant and catering profession. I’m sure many of you have heard about Menu next door. http://canalz.levif.be/expert/menu-next-door-le-uber-belge-des-traiteurs-14-09-15/video-normal-418455.html

The concept is explained in French in the film but basically, rather than going to the restaurant or ordering take-away, you can simply order your evening dinner from your neighbour who is a passionate chef without necessarily ever having been trained in it.

Another example which I will do a specific blog on in the future is Bees Coop, a cooperative supermarket where the customers are also the employees

What would be the impact on Tesco’s, Carrefour, Delhaize etc… if they were to try and adapt such a model?

It is the old debate about the dangers of disruptive innovation. New jobs will be created. Old jobs will disappear. Old rules will need to be rewritten as they simply won’t work in the amateur era. Consumers are starting to care less about your qualifications and more about why you do what you do and how you do it.

The impact on entrepreneurship

One study I read about Uber highlighted that in most cases, the people driving the cars have other jobs. It is the same for Airbnb hosts. This is leading us to a model where we have multiple sources of income. Another point which was made in the report was that Uber had more young drivers (25-35 yrs old) and more women and therefore this disruption also results in opening up professions to sectors which previously didn’t access them. Whether all of this is good or bad depends on whether or not you are a taxi driver, somebody looking for a cheaper ride, someone looking for additional sources of income etc… I don’t wish to judge, simply to understand.

I believe that one of the consequences of the amateur era will be a growth in entrepreneurship as the barrier to entry to try new business ideas is falling off the cliff. Europe has relatively low levels of entrepreneurship and Belgium is one of the worst pupils so this is good news, particularly for me as I love coaching entrepreneurs.

What are your thoughts. Lowering the barriers of entry is good or bad for the economy and society? How will governments, regulators be able to cope as they are ill equipped to move at the pace of innovation?


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