eParachute Blog

On finding the work of your dreams, from Dick Bolles & the team at eParachute.

Unbundling Jobs

You’ll find after you go through eParachute's career exploration exercises that you’ve learned about three important components of you: Your skills, your knowledges, and your preferred people environment - which also turn out to be three of the most important components of a job.

It turns out that, according to Dick Bolles in What Color Is Your Parachute?, work roles have four more important parts. In addition to skills, knowledges, and people, jobs also include the people environment, the workplace environment, geographical location, compensation, and the purpose you feel you’re fulfilling.

The various elements of a work role have traditionally been bundled together into what we call a job.

Technology and globalization have turned these components on their sides, “unbundling” them, allowing them to be separated into different layers, and fundamentally changing the way work is performed.

Take, for example, geography. Many jobs used to require the work to be conducted in a specific location, such as an office or a factory. But with the combination of automation and globalization, a variety of work can be performed in another place -- from your home or a coffee shop, or outsourced halfway around the world.

But automation and globalization have far more seismic implications for work than simple outsourcing: Together, they allow work to become completely unbundled, down to a very granular level. Services like Uber, Taskrabbit, and Mechanical Turk each allow work to be conducted in narrow contexts, dramatically impacting the way we work.

How does an “unbundled job” operate in practice? What happens when, say, there’s a customer who wants to go from point A to point B in a city?

In the past, we called the hirer “A Cab Company,” and the worker “A Cab Driver.” (In 2012, there were about 233,000 cab drivers in the U.S.)

What are the most frequent problems that a cab company has? Taking the customer’s order, dispatching a vehicle to pick up the passenger at Point A, depositing the customer at Point B, and charging the customer.

In a traditional cab company, the tasks needed to solve these problems would have been performed using the skills of the dispatcher, who takes the customer’s order, and tells the driver to pick up the passenger, and the driver, who transports the customer, and takes the customer’s payment.

Along comes Uber. The tasks needed to solve the problems are now performed by an app, which takes the customer’s order, tells the driver to pick up the customer, and takes the customer’s payment; and an untrained driver with a car, who transports the customer.

So, the job of driver and dispatcher have become unbundled. And it’s happening in industry after industry after industry.

Now, it doesn’t mean that all jobs are going to become unbundled tomorrow. Despite the rise of the Internet and new media, we still have old media like radio and record players. Jobs will be around for a long time. But just as unbundling is affecting entire industries, this unbundling is impacting a wide range of jobs today. And it’s going to affect an increasing amount of the work that people do.

That’s why it’s so important for you to do your own self-inventory. The more you know about your skills, knowledges, and other important work-related characteristics and needs, the better you’ll be able to find meaningful work - whether you find it in a traditional job, or in something a little more non-traditional.


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