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In this landmark book, Daniel H. Pink offers the definitive account of this revolution in work. He shows who these free agents are -- from the marketing consultant down the street to the home-based "mompreneur" to the footloose technology contractor -- and why they've forged a new path....
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In this landmark book, Daniel H. Pink offers the definitive account of this revolution in work. He shows who these free agents are -- from the marketing consultant down the street to the home-based "mompreneur" to the footloose technology contractor -- and why they've forged a new path.
Pink explains that the American working economy for several generations had a single, human emblem -- the "Organization Man," so dubbed after the 1956 book of the same name by William H. Whyte, Jr. The label described what was then the quintessence of work in America - an individual (nearly always male) who ignored or buried his own identity and goals in the service of a large organization, which rewarded his self-denial with a regular paycheck and job security. Organization Men abided by what Whyte named a Social Ethic, a secular theology that placed the organization at the center of the universe, and defined entrepreneurs as "selfish type[s], motivated by greed."
Beginning in the 1980s, conditions and attitudes changed. Companies that had formed the bedrock of American work began winnowing their work forces in response to economic stimuli, corporate restructuring, and technology that could do people's work for less money. Pink writes that the social contract of job security was broken; the Organization Man was relegated to the annals of history. What replaced him as the archetype of work in America is the free agent - the independent worker who operates on his or her own terms, untethered to a large organization, serving multiple clients and customers instead of a single boss.
Pink explains that free agency has already begun overturning many of today's central assumptions about American work and life, among them the following:
Through his experience and research, Pink has found that most free agents are at least approximations of one of three basic free agent species - soloists, temps and "microbusinesses."
Pink writes that the most common variety of free agent is the soloist - someone who works for him- or herself, generally alone, moving from project to project, selling his or her services. Over the years, soloists were termed "freelancers" in the cultural vernacular; "independent contractors" in legal vernacular; and any one of a dozen or more terms for self-employed soloists.
If soloists are free agents by design, Pink explains that temps are often free agents by default. Many of the 3.5 million workers in the temp population would rather have a "permanent" job with a company, but coldly efficient corporations, temp agencies looking after their own interests, and the temps' own lack of ambition or ability conspire to pin them to the bottom of the economic ladder.
Erupting across the Free Agent Nation is a blaze of enterprises that are smaller than the typical "small business" - sometimes consisting of only two or three people. Pink explains that these microbusinesses are a growing force - more than half of American companies today have fewer than five employees.
While many pundits bemoan the loss of a sense of community in the business world (and elsewhere), Pink writes that free agents are, as a result of and in response to their independence, finding ways to create their own communities, with their own infrastructure, and their own network of professionals whose business it is to make their lives and work easier. He writes that it is in part due to these things that the Free Agent Nation continues to grow, not just in numbers, but also in richness and depth of community.
Why Soundview Likes This Book
Free Agent Nation delves into a current trend that has transformed the way people think about work and working, and captures a fresh perspective on the transformational effects that entrepreneurship is having on the modern working world. Managers, business owners, and anyone thinking of becoming a free agent will want to understand this powerful new demographic and its impact on the business landscape. Copyright (c) 2002 Soundview Executive Book Summaries
THE FACTOID: The largest private employer in the U.S. is not Detroit's General Motors or Ford, or even Seattle's Microsoft or Amazon.com, but Milwaukee's Manpower Inc., a temp agency.
THE QUOTE: "This book is about the free agent. If the term is vague, it is because I can think of no other way to describe the people I am talking about. They are free from the bonds of a large institution, and agents of their own futures. They are the new archetypes of work in America."
THE WORD:Tailorism. The free agent's approach to work; descendant of Taylorism, Frederick Winslow Taylor's One Best Way method of mass production. Under Tailorism, free agents fashion their work lives to suit their own needs and desires— instead of accepting the uniform values, rules, and structure of a traditional job. Opposite of the One Size Fits All ethic of the Organization Man era. (Synonym: My Size Fits Me).
Copyright (c) 2001 by Daniel H. Pink
|Part 1||Welcome to Free Agent Nation|
|Chapter 1.||Bye, Bye, Organization Guy||9|
|Chapter 2.||How Many Are There? The Numbers and Nuances of Free Agency||27|
|Chapter 3.||How Did It Happen? The Four Ingredients of Free Agency||47|
|Part 2||The Free Agent Way|
|Chapter 4.||The New Work Ethic||59|
|Chapter 5.||The New Employment Contract||85|
|Chapter 6.||The New Time Clock||103|
|Part 3||How (and Why) Free Agency Works|
|Chapter 7.||Small Groups, Big Impact: Reinventing Togetherness in Free Agent Nation||123|
|Chapter 8.||Getting Horizontal: The Free Agent Org Chart and Operating System||143|
|Chapter 9.||The Free Agent Infrastructure||161|
|Chapter 10.||Matchmakers, Agents, and Coaches||171|
|Chapter 11.||Free Agent Families||183|
|Part 4||Free Agent Woes|
|Chapter 12.||Roadblocks on Free Agent Avenue: Health Insurance, Taxes, and Zoning||199|
|Chapter 13.||Temp Slaves, Permatemps, and the Rise of Self-Organized Labor||213|
|Part 5||The Free Agent Future|
|Chapter 14.||E-tirement: Free Agency and the New Old Age||233|
|Chapter 15.||School's Out: Free Agency and the Future of Education||317|
|Chapter 16.||Location, Location ... Vocation: Free Agency and the Future of Offices, Homes, and Real Estate||261|
|Chapter 17.||Putting the "I" in IPO: The Path Toward Free Agent Finance||271|
|Chapter 18.||A Chip Off the Old Voting Bloc: The New Politics of Free Agency||287|
|Chapter 19.||What's Left: Free Agency and the Future of Commerce, Careers, and Community||301|
|Appendix||Results of the Free Agent Nation Online Census||339|
Posted October 26, 2001
Reading this book was irritating! I've developed a habit of turning down the corners of pages when something on that page is particularly interesting to me. I discovered that I was turning down practically every page of Free Agent Nation! Daniel Pink has accomplished what most readers of non-fiction books desire: he's put solid value on almost every page. Your thoughts will be constantly stimulated as you move through this book. Our lives have changed substantially since William Whyte wrote The Organization Man in 1956. The work environment experienced by today's generation-and tomorrow's-is radically different. Instead of being captives of the organizational mode, income-earners are now free agents, including some 30 million freelancers, temps, and microbusiness owners. The lifestyles and philosophies of this growing group will impact the labor pool, retirement, education, real estate, and politics. Daniel Pink's name will go down in literary history for Free Agent Nation because he has so effectively covered the underlying philosophy of a generation. Free Agent Nation, an engaging, smooth read, is organized into five parts. The first part introduces us to what Free Agent Nation is all about. Chapter 2 gets right into 'Numbers and Nuances' to give the reader a deep understanding. Chapter 3 explains how free agency happened. 'Four ingredients were essential: 1) the social contract of work-in which employees traded loyalty for security-crumbled; 2) individuals needed a large company less, because the means of production-that is, the tools necessary to create wealth-went from expensive, huge, and difficult for one person to operate to cheap, houseable, and easy for one person to operate; 3) widespread, long-term prosperity allowed people to think of work as a way not only to make money, but also to make meaning; 4) the half-life of organizations began shrinking, assuring that most individuals will outlive any organization for which they work.' Part Two explores The Free Agent Way, the new relationship between worker and employer. Part Three gets into How (and Why) Free Agency Works. Pink explains how people get connected-with work opportunities and with each other. While many free agents work alone, they are not alone. There is a growing community of mutually-supportive independent members in an evolving new design of society. But, all is not rosy in Free Agent Nation; this is not Camelot. Part Four examines the problems that arise from laws, taxes, and insurance. An interesting chapter (13) on Temp Slaves, Permatemps, and the Rise of Self-Organized Labor reveals the seedier side of this picture. Pay careful attention, and you can almost feel the changes that are coming. Part Five engages The Free Agent Future. Chapter 14 addresses E-tirement, confirming that older members of our society will be playing much different roles than in previous generations. The chapter on Education gives some initial insight into some different approaches to lifelong learning. Educators take note: your lives will be changing . . . are you ready? Concluding chapters explore free agent finance, politics, and how free agency will influence commerce, careers, and community in the years ahead. With all that said, let's take a look at who the author is and how this book was put together. Daniel Pink is a former White House speech writer and Contributing Editor to Fast Company magazine. To research this topic, he invested more than a year on the road conducting face-to-face interviews with several hundred citizens of the Free Agent Nation. He met with real people, who are quoted and cited by name in most cases. The text comes alive with the insightful stories of people who are living-and often loving-their free agent status. These case studies are beautifully interwoven, producing a delightful fabric for the reader to caress. Warning: you'll find your mind leaving the page and floating into day dreams and contemplations numerous times. ToWas this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted April 30, 2001
The term, free agent, is borrowed from sports. It describes the players who are most talented and for whom other teams bid. As a result, they often command enormous salaries, perks, and influence. Recently, the term has been applied to people like free lance software programmers who are sought after because of their special expertise. In Free Agent Nation, the term is applied more broadly to describe all those who rely on project assignments outside of being directly and permanently employed by someone else. This group includes lots of professional free lancers as well as people who work through temporary agencies with few skills at deadly dull tasks. The ideal in the 1950s was to work for one employer, to be loyal to that employer and to receive loyalty in return. Steady progress would follow as seniority grew. Keeping the ship afloat came before the individual's needs. This world was described in the classic book, The Organization Man by William H. Whyte, Jr. Since then the world has changed quite a bit, and Daniel H. Pink's Free Agent Nation is the conscious updating of the working ideal to reflect today's growing free lance economy. This ideal emphasizes freedom, work satisfaction, flexibility, accountability, self-defined markers of success, and being authentic in your own eyes. It's the ultimate of wanting to do good and to do well. Mr. Pink draws on his own experiences, hundreds of interviews with free agents, qualitative surveys, and his review of the literature on this subject to weave together the best integrated story on how independent work is becoming a norm as well as an ideal in the United States. Mr. Pink's strength is that he is a great communicator. He deftly weaves his various sources into a tautly connected story that will make sense to anyone who reads it or has lived it. He connected quite a few dots for me that I have never thought of as being connected before. The book will be of most value to those who are thinking about leaving traditional employment to become a free agent. Free Agent Nation does a good job of describing what the benefits are once you have made the shift. On the other hand, the book almost totally ignores the difficult transitions that most people go through. If you are looking for advice on how to make the shift, some of what is in here will help, but you would do well to talk to some people who are doing what you would like to do first in order to get their ideas on how to transition. The book describes who the free agents are, estimates how many of them there are (a lot more than you probably suspect), how this work style emerged, and why people like it. Essentially, the model described here is a return to the agrarian model of a family growing its own food and always being in close touch. The main change is that people use technology to work from their own homes to meet their material needs rather than farming. Mr. Pink also connects this trend to the rise in home schooling, by showing the traditional school and university to be more similar to the factory model than today's society and economy. The best part of the book for me was the description of how people are making free agency work and the problems they run into. Basically, loyalty is being reborn into loyalty to a rolodex of contacts and clients rather to an employer. An infrastructure is being built up to support free agents (from Kinko's to agents and coaches). Increasingly, two free agents head a family with children. In these cases, the children (such as Mr. Pink's daughter) don't understand that some people have offices outside the home. The weakest part of the book is his scenarios of the possible future for free agents. He is closest in his estimation that free agency will probably eliminate retirement to the rocker on the porch. It is less clear to me that high schools and prestigious universities will be eliminated by home education and on-line learning. His speculations about being able toWas this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.