Realities of the Creative Economy Part 3 of 3 – Looking beyond the Creative Economy
The Creative Economy is here already, and soon old business models will fall away. What could come after that though, is even more exciting. Introducing - the Vocation Economy.
As described in part two, the creative economy is about earning a living from adding valuable creative insights to systems that can be efficiently run by machine learning. Whatever you are doing can, and most probably will soon be replaced by an algorithm that can do it better, faster, and cheaper. Therefore, you as a human being with the limitations that come with that, have only one advantage. We all need to start playing outside the rules that machines can learn to add value, and therefore remuneration in your occupation.
Within this context, the difference between an occupation and a vocation is actually simple. While an occupation is simply a job – “the principal business of one's life” or “a person's usual or principal work or business, especially as a means of earning a living”.
A vocation is a passion that you earn a living from. First used in the 15th century, it is mostly used in association with professions that people feel have a higher purpose – a divine calling to a religious life (e.g. pastor or missionary). Broader current definitions also include: “a strong impulse or inclination to follow a particular activity or career.”
The one you do because you earn a living from it, the other you do because you live for doing it, but have found a way to be compensated for your passion.
Not to be confused with the legal terminology of vocational economics, a field of research that examines the degree to which an individual is financially harmed as a result of physical and/or cognitive injury wrongfully sustained.
The vocation economy I’m talking about (and I haven’t found any other reference to the matter, so I’m coining the term!) is the next natural evolution in the creative economy. The only way to be truly innovative and imaginative, is when you are chasing that dopamine explosion of achieving something that excites you. This is something that usually only happens when you are busy doing something you are naturally passionate about.
This approach to adding value in return for remuneration has already started to become widely expressed in our shared information networks. Current pioneers like Seth Godin and the late Scott Dinsmore have been encouraging people to stop doing a job that makes them miserable and do something about it, because there is no better time than now. Disruption innovators like Jeremy Gutsche, founder of Trend Hunter has already identified cases of hobbyists applying their skills and passions (like origami) in incredible new ways to add value to industries that are seemingly unrelated. In 2013, economist Andrew McAfee predicted that automation and machine learning will cause androids to be doing a lot of the work that people are currently doing. He calls this “the new machine age”.
Taking into consideration that Watson, IBM’s supercomputer was already able to perform basic voiced customer support in 2013 and Elon Musk announced Tesla’s autonomous big-rig truck in June 2017, while Google and Uber are also pursuing self-driving trucks and delivery vehicle solutions. According to Business Insider, being a truck driver is the most common occupation in 29 of America’s states. It also has one of the highest turnover rates at 81%. According to statistics provided by eNatis there are about 2.8 million truck-like vehicles (both above and below 3500kg GVM) on the roads of South Africa. That means, that potentially those individuals driving them could be replaced by autonomous delivery trucks in the near future. Occupations that require little passion will not be around for much longer.
There is good news within all this doom and gloom though. As McAfee states in his TED talk: “Once the androids start doing the work, we don’t have to. No more drudgery and toiling”. That is where I believe the vocation economy comes in. Once people are freed from daily drudgery, they will be able to apply themselves in a way that appeals to them. Machines are going to make it possible to connect skills and specialties in a way that maximum value is extracted from them. I believe that once we understand how to use new technology to be more valuable as humans, it will be as simple a transition as going from a typewriter to laptop. Sure, the laptop will be able to write its own story, but you will still have to dream up the plot to make it relevant and interesting.
The future is all about our truth as humans. To be relevant in the future economies, whatever they might be, you and your business need to be relevant to the consumer. Insight can only be conceived in the human mind, no matter how technologically advanced computers are. If you require help to gain insight into your business, let Etiket help you align your business strategies to the core human truths that will never be digitised.