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Thanks Thomas. This is a really fertile idea. So many directions to explore, especially in relation to the whole notion of the nature of knowledge work and productivity, as you outline in your comment.

When I read your post I thought to myself, I went back and forth tying myself in circles. First I thought, great idea. Then I thought, but there is a logical economic push - the logic of capital, if you will - to increase returns to costs/spending, investments or any other outlay, be it fixed or variable, e.g., a building/machine (fixed) or a person/labor (variable). Simply put, organizations seek to increase productivity not for it's own sake but to increase margins (i.e., maximize returns) - while at the same time market competition exerts a downward pressure on margins. And the competitive hamster wheel goes round and round, finding near market equilibrium, someone innovates, another copies and catches up, another market equilibrium arises, etc. etc.

What could counteract this process to make part-time work feasible? i.e., do people work more because they make less and less? do people work more because they want to buy more? If we wanted to work less could we? Is it a decision or are we compelled to? If we said to a company, I only want to work half-time and they agreed, then perhaps they'd have to pay more to hire more workers, e.g., more benefits, more HR costs, etc. But then again, if one could prove that people are better knowledge workers if they labor part-time then that's a powerful argument. Then the logic of increasing returns to labor is in working less and not working more. Fascinating assertion.

Your post makes my head spin with the implications, while trying to think it through. So much to explore ... thanks.

Karl, thanks for the post! What I love about it is that it is a concrete example of connecting in so many ways. When we think of Business Process Outsourcing - after Googling it - we think of big companies in the US or Europe hiring big shops in India or the like, in urban centers. But this goes deep. The possibility of training youth in rural areas to complete tasks formerly done by people in offices in major corporations is true globalization - for the better. If the links are made, one really can connect across continents and create jobs anywhere.


Matthew commented on The man who inspired Ray Charles

Thank you "old friend" for your post. Enjoyed your framing. On the one hand we could summarize this insight as "mentorship" about which there have been several other posts but you seem to have brought out something else that is critical - and it seems that David K. below (or will it be above after I post?) has keyed onto it. The twin demographic challenge of youth and longer lifespans - much has been written about both.

See this interview with Paul Irving about the "upside of aging":

We have the example of the man who inspired Ray Charles. Are there any examples of programs that have tied these two demographic challenges together?