Declare Your Independence

Trends rear their heads much before they become visible to the general public. It is the job of a futurist to spot these trends early and calculate how the collision of multiple trends will affect the future. One trend that has been gradually gaining momentum over the past thirty years is the increasing need for workers to look out for themselves and depend less on the corporation to provide long-term financial security.

It was obvious, beginning in the late 1970s, that global competition was setting up American corporations to enter an arena requiring a high level of productivity to combat the razor-thin profit margins that would result from the market share drops. In the 1980s, global competition intensified; and in the 1990s, global competition strengthened even more. And now, in the 21st century, global competition is fierce; and American corporations are beginning to feel the pain–big time.

In 1993, I wrote a book entitled Conquering Corporate Codepencence, which prescribes the skills necessary for worker survival and competitiveness in the 21st century marketplace. I called the issue “corporate codependence” because “codependence” means dependency on someone or something that is dependent on something else. In other words, a codependent person is once-removed from control of his/her destiny. If a person is dependent on a corporation, and that corporation is dependent on global market conditions, then the person is not in direct control of his/her career destiny.

To be in direct control, a layer must be removed from the empowerment process. Workers must become “indipreneurial.” That’s a word I coined to mean that workers must have the skills to work either in a corporation or to work in an entrepreneurial mode outside the corporation; i.e., they must have the ability to be an independent contractor. In effect, indipreneurs wake up every morning unemployed but have the skills necessary to find work and negotiate contracts for that work/project. In 1993, I projected in the book that by the years 2015 to 2020, 70% of the workforce would be indipreneurs.

With the present economic climate (exacerbated by increasing narcissism in key leadership positions), and increasing global competition, it seems that America is on target for those projections. The present requests of General Motors, Ford, and Chrysler for government help in recovering from their present economic crunch further illustrate this point. Many other companies, once they weather this economic storm, will build back their workforce, with a different structure—a structure that has fewer long-term promises.

Here are a few questions from the book to check to see if you might be corporate codependent. Please answer these five questions “yes” or “no.”

1. Do you feel more insecure and uncertain about your future than at any other time in your life?

2. Are you experiencing undue stress and burnout on your present job?

3. Are you depressed as a result of having been laid off or fired from your job?

4. Are you currently employed, but living in fear that you may soon be axed?

5. Would you like to change careers or start your own business, but fear that you don’t have what it takes?

If you answered one or more of these questions with a “yes,” then you might have a tendency to be corporate codependent. The good news is that there are skills for overcoming this condition and that people are capable of positive success even in this unpredictable economic climate.

I’ll discuss more about these skills in a later blog.

© 2008, Carolyn Corbin.

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