Summary: The World Is Flat: Review and Analysis of Thomas L. Friedmans Book

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Synthesizers, explainers, leveragers, versatilists and more are identified and explained as viable career options, as well as strategies for preparing for these positions. He recommends building right-brain skills, or those that cannot be duplicated by a computer, and explores different vehicles to higher learning, including music. Friedman examines the factors necessary to create the right environment for this learning and contemplates methods of achieving this in modern day America. We begin by examining the U. An interview with Shirley Ann Jackson, President of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, demonstrates that a quiet crisis is happening slowly but surely as multiple and complex forces are at work creating the perfect storm; demographic, political, social, cultural, economic, etc.

We explore the dirty little secrets that no one is talking about — a lack of highly skilled scientists and engineers, disinterest in math and science by our younger population, lack of ambition as television and video games take over, an outdated basic education system, lack of funding for research, lack of infrastructure as we focus on war and other countries focus on developing sustainable and innovative business.

He sums up the chapter with a call to action to kick-start the long process of preparing ourselves for the future into motion before we are literally left behind. In a call to action, Friedman stresses that we simply cannot do things the same old way anymore and people must be willing to change and adapt. He compares our current crisis to that we faced in competing with the Soviet Union and the launch of Sputnik; the main challenge then came from those who wanted to put up walls while we now have to face those who want to tear them down.

Now, as then, we must change our strategy to overcome these issues. He questions leadership and education; who will lead us into the forefront of this new globalized economy? The necessity for lifelong learning and benefits to allow workers to remain mobile and adaptable is very real, though it seems to be at the bottom of our to-do list. Finally, Friedman examines how companies such as Capital One are working on the lifelong learning objective by providing training and upgrading to employees, increasing their own productivity and bottom line in the process, as he calls for social programs that encourage workers to be creative and hardworking.

We see the Chinese manufacture of statuettes of The Virgin of Guadalupe and their subsequent importation into Mexico as an example of the problem created when one developing country competes with another, as China replaced Mexico as the U. Friedman discusses the need for developing countries to put policies in place to create the right environment for their companies and entrepreneurs to succeed in the flat world. He states that countries must be brutally honest with themselves in determining their place in the world market if they are to adapt and survive.

A comparison of countries who have opened their borders and adopted free trade policies versus those who have not and been left behind illustrates his point. The concept of reform retail and wholesale is introduced as we explore changes in education, infrastructure and governance. Ireland becomes a case study for financial success as their per capita GDP has risen to second highest in the European Union. Friedman opines that companies willing to change and accept change are more likely to do things than have things done to them. We look into commoditization in a wide range of industries, where everything is the same and supply is plentiful.

Clients are flooded with options and everyone becomes the same. Each company is driven to be more creative and innovative, or risk falling between the cracks. His web-based global network cut costs and allowed him to compete with the biggest in the business and come out ahead. We see through other business models that globalization forces the big to act small: case in point, Starbucks learning from their customers to use soy milk in their coffees.

We learn that companies must be willing to collaborate and focus on niche markets, doing themselves what they need to do to stay in front of their customers and outsourcing the rest.


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The best companies use outsourcing as a method of growth, not to shrink their workforce. Outsourcing allows them to provide more and better services more efficiently.

The world is flat book review - Thomas L friedman

We also explore socially responsible outsourcing; giving the outsourced workers a good wage and opportunity within their own country that they would not have otherwise. Friedman shares stories of the world flattening but humbly announces that he does indeed realize the world is not yet flat. He wants to draw attention to the flattening and the ever-increasing pace at which it is occurring. Part of this understanding must come from a recognization of factors that are preventing globalization from occurring in some people. Friedman examines different groups of people he believes are disadvantaged for one reason or another and the way that this keeps them from moving forward into a flattened world.

The AIDS epidemic affects people who are too sick to hope they will ever make it to middle class. Disempowered people are those who live in areas touched by the flattening of the world but lack the means, knowledge and infrastructure to benefit from it.

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Different societies and cultures are coming into contact with each other more frequently and more quickly than ever before, leading to great frustration. Using the Arab-Muslim world and his journalistic encounters with their youth as an example, Friedman explores the impact of freedom of thought and expression that world flattening has created and its impact on a traditionally closed society. He warns of a potential threat lurking in the not too distant future: a depletion of our natural resources as people compete to have more and better.

The World is Flat by Thomas L. Friedman Analysis | SchoolWorkHelper

In this examination of the impact of globalization on world cultures, we learn that globalization came to be seen by many as Americanization, creating a backlash by those who felt that they would be steamrolled and homogenized into being mini-Americans. But as new forms of communication and innovation create a global platform for the sharing of work, entertainment and opinion, Friedman believes that globalization serves more to enrich and preserve culture than to destroy it, as each person is given their own voice and vehicle of expression through podcasts, websites, etc.

The nature of the beast is such that the bad will always be there with the good. As humanitarians and businesses connect online to share ideas, so too do terrorists and predators.

The World is Flat by Thomas L. Friedman Analysis

This leads to an examination of how geopolitical conflicts could derail or slow globalization. Any interruption to that supply chain would be critical. As we reflect on the evolution of supply chains and the effect they have had on politics and the stability of countries they affect, we remember that Asia, as opposed to much of the Middle East, has become more stable because they are part of many supply chains and therefore more interested in doing good business.

Overall, the price of war is higher than it used to be and countries will have to consider the effect of a war on their place in the business world. Friedman explores both the China-Taiwan relations and India-Pakistan as examples of how the flattening of the world and supply chain have a calming effect and cause countries to think rationally about the true cost of war, making diplomatic solution more likely. As we explore the darker side of the supply chain phenomenon, we understand how Al-Qaeda and other terrorist networks form mutant supply chains for the purpose of destruction, not profit.

In a flat world, the transmission of terror is much easier. We must examine our abilities to derail the nuclear threat by using our capabilities to disrupt the terrorists supply chain.

Book Review: The World is Flat by Thomas L. Friedman

Friedman concludes that the forces that flatten the world can be used to bring everyone up to the same level, or to bring them all down to the same level. Converging technologies — and the will to use them — drove the behind-the-scenes changes that dissolved the boundaries between nations and people. People are slow to pick up on new technologies such as convergent printer-fax-scanners, or the ability to print tickets at home. Convergence took three phases:. New players joined the flat world — people in India, China, Russia, and other locations that had previously been part of more controlled economies.

Walls fiber , ceilings upload , and floors history are eroding: Imagine the house of the old nation-state riddled with holes. The world is more open. But it is also more dangerous — people missed a number of important changes while they were busy looking out for others.

In This Review

We ignored the growing threat of terrorism until we could not. Need to Know: We don't change when we want to, only when we are out of choices. India was close to broke when it initiated economic reforms in , but ten years later it had accumulated nearly a hundred billion dollars in cash reserves. Globalization is a transition from an industrial to a knowledge society, a revolution-in-the-making with eerie parallels to the Communist Manifesto. The boundaries of communities will dissolve and new ones — political, personal, and business — will arise.

They owe their allegiance only to shareholders, whose priorities often conflict with those of people and politicians whose identity and fortune is tied to their geography. Need to Know: Globalization is the silver that lines a dark cloud, erasing political beliefs and sidestepping national identity, saving consumers billions in discounted retail while costing society in unpaid health care and turning offices and social lives inside out.


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  • Five: America and Free Trade Friedman admits to a fondness for free trade, but he shows where it hurts as well as why it works. Economics are not a zero-sum game of "I win, you lose. Nations may lose in the short term, yet if they adapt by specializing, they will ultimately do well. Need to Know: There is a push to demonize globalization, but many contrary examples — the economic boom of postwar Japan, Germany, and America — point to the benefits of change. There is no guarantee of lifetime employment in the unstable, post-globalization world.

    Now you compete with your neighbor, as well as with the rising workers of China and India, where a centuries-old caste system is also being upended. This is dangerous ground for the American middle class, which may drain from the center of the bell curve into lower and upper classes. Need to Know: Living in the new world will take a lot of adaptation. The poorest — like the lowest class Indians in the old caste system — may profit by easier access to education, but the richer Western middle class must prioritize education and create a specialized skill set that defies commoditization.

    Preparing youth for an uncertain future in a borderless, virtual world, separating signal from noise, is a daunting task. Incoming students must learn how to learn, differentiate between truth and fiction, find curiosity and passion, engage in liberal arts education, and synthesize skills through right-brain thinking.

    America is uniquely suited to handle these challenges due to its flexibility, research, institutions, venture capital, open society, intellectual property protection, political stability, and trust. In an effort to boost creativity and adaptability in its engineering students, the Georgia Institute of Technology purposely selected students with musical backgrounds for admission. It has also seen a sea of change in the computer science department, which reorganized its degrees into nine threads combining computing with intelligence, embodiment, internetworking, platforms, information, people, media, modeling, and foundations.

    Need to Know: The only certainty in the years to come is that there will be change, and students who maximize the breadth of their education in science, engineering, mathematics, and liberal arts stand to profit the most. Is America a country in decline? China sure thinks so.

    The World Is Flat

    Once upon a time, in the days of Sputnik, science and engineering was our bread and butter. Now investment has fallen and political fear keeps foreign students from working here. Modern countries need infrastructure, education, and governance to survive in the flat world.


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    Ours suffers from serious gaps: low total numbers of students, fewer top students, unmotivated kids, struggling poor kids left behind, and slow home broadband compared to other nations. Need to Know: The Chinese have a saying: fu bu guo san dai, or "wealth does not make it past three generations.

    The political winds that shifted against education and foreign knowledge worker visas will lead us all into the still waters of a national brain drain. This is the new Cold War. The crises are more personal than a foreign satellite whizzing overhead. Government must acknowledge globalization and, working with it, do the job of creating a more fair, compassionate, egalitarian environment using the powers of:. Need to Know: We need good leaders, people who can fight for us and create opportunities in ongoing education, portable benefits, "good fat" like wage insurance, and parenting that emphasizes hard work over instant gratification.

    It's not alone: China's culture seems to lend itself to taking advantage of globalization. But every region has strengths and weaknesses. Countries no longer have the luxury of geographic divisions. In the new, flat world they must grow their economies through connectivity Internet, roads and airports , education, governance fiscal responsibility and the rule of law , and environment green spaces and pleasant workplaces. Ideally, they make it easy to start a business, hire and fire workers, enforce a contract, get credit, and embrace a culture of work, thrift, honesty, patience, tenacity, and openness to change and equality.

    Need to Know: Each country will need to look into its national character to see how its puzzle piece fits — and how its economy survives — in the new map caused by a borderless world. Under globalization, there are nine habits of highly successful companies. The best companies:.


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