Is Average Over? And What To Do About It?
In a way, 'average' is the bedrock of our society and culture. The politicians want to represent the average Joe. The average person drives our economies, quite literally as cab driving is a solid middle class profession (and one that is likely to disappear). The average person keeps the chunk of the economy going, by buying the stuff we array in the shops. Culturally, the average makes our mass culture possible, by flocking in everywhere from football grounds to the pop shows. The death of average is indeed bad news for everything!
Tom Friedman as always, makes a powerful, if slightly overstated, case for this: The way to beat the average is to (a) strive like an immigrant, (b) connect with work like an artisan and (c) bring out your 'extra'. Now, indeed, that's more a matter of attitude, values and commitment than of talent! This is useful advice, but this may need to be accompanied by how we think of success, smarts and performance. It is not that this change is needed to accommodate those who can't catch up on the traditional scales, it is rather because once machines take over the jobs where we devoted maximum energy so far, we shall need other smarts to progress. The day computers completely take over the analysts' jobs, the awkward interpersonal skills that most analysts survived with may need to change: To build the new human-machine partnerships, a new sense of ability will need to be discovered.