way we work is changing. The way we live is
changing. The way we learn is changing.
are causing tremendous uncertainty, doubt, anxiety,
and stress. Those of us who are adults grew
up in the Industrial Age of the last century.
We are now moving from a time in which we were
fairly certain of the basic facts about life
and of the rules that applied to it, to a time
when we are not quite sure what is real and
what is not real.
will be with us for another ten to twenty years.
Living with the ambiguity, and feeling comfortable
with discomfort, is not easy.
in writing this book is to discover how our
lives are changing, and to understand what lies
ahead, by looking back at our great grandparents'
generation, the generation that was alive during
the last time society experienced such a dramatic
change. We call this dramatic change in how
we work, live and learn a "nine shift."
What Nine Shift
"nine shift" is used to describe the
great changes taking place in our lives right
now. What we are experiencing in how we use
our time and how we experience life derives
from the phenomenon that nine hours in your
day will be spent entirely differently in 2020
than they were spent in 2000.
24 hours in a day. We have no real discretion
with roughly 12 of those hours. We need to eat,
sleep, and do a few other necessary chores in
order to maintain our existence. That hasn't
changed much through the centuries, so far.
approximately 12 hours a day where we, as individuals,
do have some discretion. That includes work
time, play time, and family time.
12 hours, about 75%, or 9 hours, will be spent
totally differently a few years from now than
they were spent just a few years ago. Not everything
will change, but 75% of life is in the process
of changing right now.
kind of change occurred between 1900 and 1920
as well. Frederick Allen called it "the
big change" in his 1952 book by the same
title.(1) We call it a nine shift.
means is that nine hours in your day will be
spent entirely differently in 2020 than they
were spent in 2000. That is an enormous change.
That is a nine shift.
time we experienced this nine shift in society
was between 1900 and 1920. The driving force
of the last century, the 20th century, was the
automobile. The automobile and the way the automobile
was made — the mass production factory
— shaped how people worked, how people
lived, and how they learned, for the last 100
years. The auto is not a symbol for the 20th
century. Instead, the car and the car factory
literally changed most of life.
So many common
features of life today would not have been widely
present without the car. They include offices,
suburbs, fast food restaurants, company organization
charts, unified school districts, and many more
aspects of life that are considered "standard"
society are so dependent on the car that to
do without one for a week would be an enormous
burden for the majority of us. We simply have
no readily implementable back-up plan to working
and living without a car, even for a week.
The car shaped
and defined the 20th century. It had an almost
negligible impact on the 19th century, and as
we will see, the automobile is going into steep
decline and will have a much reduced and non-dominant
role in the 21st century.
are arguably more important inventions than
the automobile. Electricity and the printed
book are two examples. But neither shaped the
20th century as the auto did. And neither were
confined to the 20th century like the auto has
been. Electricity had a much greater impact
on society in the 19th century than the auto,
and it will have a much greater impact on society
in the 21st century than the auto. The importance
of the printed book has continued for five hundred
years, and even with the advent of digital communication
it is unlikely that we will see its influence
wane in the newest age.
As we will
see, the Internet is behaving exactly the same
way as the automobile did 100 years ago in its
impact on society. The auto is not used here
as an "analogy," which is defined
as something "somewhat similar." Instead
the influence of the Internet on our lives is
exactly a replay, a mirror, of the influence
of the auto on society 100 years ago. The outcomes
will be different of course, but the forces
and how those forces interact and change our
lives, are the same.
is not really about the Internet. It is more
about the consequences and changes of the Internet,
about how the Internet is changing how we work,
live and learn in this century. It is about
the tremendous transition from one way of life
to another that we are undergoing between 2000
what has happened already in the 21st century,
to understand what is happening today, and to
understand what will be happening between now
and 2020, all we need to do is to revisit the
years 1900 to 1920.
of the fundamental changes in our society in
this century will take place before 2020. We
know this because most all of the fundamental
changes in 20th century society took place between
1900 and 1920.
In 1900 society
was in the Agrarian Age. The predominant occupation
was farming. A majority of people lived either
on a family farm or in a small town (less than
2,000 people). We will explore more what life
was like then, but most of us have little knowledge
about life in 1900.
just a short period of time, just twenty years,
society went from being an agrarian society
to being an industrial society.
almost all of the major inventions of the century
had seen the light of day. They included radio,
movies, airplanes, the gasoline engine, and
only device to have a major impact on us that
had not yet been invented was the television.
Yet even there, "the visual language for
television was established by 1920," according
to television and communications expert Kathleen
by 1920, almost all of the major aspects of
20th century life had emerged. They include
suburbs, commuting, offices, factories, the
National Football League, women's right to vote,
and possibly most importantly, the ubiquitous
organization chart or pyramid.
So the time
period to analyze is 1900-1920. Life in the
19th century before 1900 looked a lot like life
in 1900. And life in the 20th century after
1920 looked fundamentally the same as life in
business thinker regarding this metamorphosis
from the Industrial Age to the Internet Age
has been Peter F. Drucker, who invented the
term "knowledge worker." Notes Drucker,
"Both in its speed and its impact, the
Information Revolution uncannily resembles its
two predecessors within the past two hundred
years, the First Industrial Revolution of the
later eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries,
and the Second Industrial Revolution of the
late nineteenth century."(3)
"The Next Society will be a knowledge society.
Knowledge will be its key resource, and knowledge
workers will be the dominant group in its work
force."(4) And he concludes, "All
this suggests that the greatest changes are
almost certainly still ahead of us."(5)
In this book, we will take two magical mystery
trips. One will be back to the time of your
great grandparents (give or take a generation,
depending on your age). The other magical mystery
trip will be forward just a few years. Both
scenarios will be very unfamiliar, both are
equally exciting and ripe for exploration.
two halves in the period of transition from
one society into another. The first half, the
first decade (2000-2010), is characterized primarily
by the unraveling of the old society. The second
half, the next decade (2010-2020), will be characterized
primarily by the reformulating of society around
the new way. At the juncture of the two decades,
around 2010, is the turning point from the old
society to the new society.
Here are the critical time
periods we will look at:
1990-2000 and 1890-1900
Technology first introduced.
Intellectual excitement and creativity.
2000-2005 and 1900-1905
New way grows; old way becomes
dysfunctional, but is still dominant.
2005-2010 and 1900-1910
Conflict and chaos as the
new way challenges the old way.
2008-2012 and 1908-1912
Turning point in society.
Old way gives way to new
2020 and 1920
New way is
clearly dominant and accepted. The old way is
clearly in decline.
Some of these
changes in life are fairly fundamental. For
the sake of symmetry, we will describe nine
of the most important changes coming and going
on right now.
What we know,
and what many other technology and economic
experts have widely documented, is that the
Internet, and the World Wide Web in particular,
is a profound new technology that has already
fundamentally affected our economy. We know
that we are moving from an industrial economy
to an information economy. We know that the
number of knowledge workers is dramatically
increasing and will become a significant part
of the workforce.
we are alone, at present, in predicting that
all of these nine shifts are occurring and will
become commonplace by 2020.
Shift One. People
work at home.
to an office will become a rarity, a thing of
the past. A significant part of the workforce
will work from home or telecommute.
Shift Two. Intranets
diminish as primary work places. Intranets will
replace physical offices for most businesses,
companies and nonprofit organizations.
Shift Three. Networks
organizational structure of life in the last
century, the organization chart or pyramid,
goes into steep decline. It is replaced by a
superior organizational structure, the network.
Shift Four. Trains
the dominant mode of transportation in the last
century, loses its dominance and becomes a peripheral
and supplemental mode of transportation. Trains
and light rail become the dominant mode of transportation.
Shift Five. Dense
neighborhoods replace suburbs.
and suburban sprawl, come to a halt and then
recede. Towns and cities are reformulated around
dense communities composed of shops, stores
and homes within walking distance of a light
Shift Six. New
social infrastructures evolve.
inequality in wealth between the rich and the
rest of society comes to a halt. The issue of
inequality of wealth in society is addressed
and a variety of social reforms are implemented
to restore more of a balance in income distribution.
Shift Seven. Cheating
work ethics and behavior of the 21st century
take over. Boys are leading the change in values
and behavior, just as they did 100 years ago.
Shift Eight. Half
of all learning is online.
classroom rapidly becomes obsolete. Half of
all learning is done online, changing the nature
of how we learn and how we teach.
Shift Nine. Education
mortar schools and colleges of the past century
become outdated. All education becomes web-based,
providing a better education for both young
people and adults.
explore each shift in detail. Each one is a
logical outcome of a whole series and system
of forces that are set in motion by the dominance
of a new technology. That new technology for
us right now is the Internet and World Wide
For our great
grandparents' generation, give or take a generation
depending on your age, the same system of forces
were set in motion by the dominance of a new
technology, the automobile, exactly one hundred
outcomes, of course, are different, the forces
and the way the forces impact our work, life,
and education, are exactly the same.
None of the
nine shifts described in this book are future
predictions. They are all taking place right
now and we see them and experience them on a
daily basis. Thus Richard Thieme's comment rings
true for us.(6)
of this book may seem to be future predictions,
it is a present reality to us, our family, our
staff, our organization, and to a fair number
of others with whom we communicate. Julie goes
so far as to say that what we are describing
is not the present, but the past. A recent past
to be sure, but that these changes have already
taken place. Most of us just do not know it
Coates has lived in all three ages,
the Agrarian Age, the Industrial Age, and now
the Internet Age. She grew up on a subsistence
farm in the rural South, and experienced the
extended family, home-grown vegetables, fall
canning rituals, and going to church three times
a week. She watched as her father made the transition
from the farm to the factory.
world's oldest baby boomer," Julie is also
an authority on the demographics of learning.
She currently teaches an online course called
Generational Learning Styles.
A. Draves grew up in a family that
was involved in the creation of the Industrial
Age. His great grandfather started several factories,
one of which became a Fortune 500 company.
from a home office, has created a virtual office
for his organization, and teaches online.
Bill, along with Greg Marsello, form the senior
management team for the Learning Resources Network
(LERN), the leading association in the world
in lifelong learning. LERN is currently the
largest online provider of professional development
for professors in higher education to teach
in 1995, Julie, Bill and Greg initiated the
transformation of LERN into a virtual organization.
Thus our research has evolved out of three engagements:
a) a personal and family history interest; b)
our work in leading several thousand providers
of lifelong learning and continuing education;
and c) our own organization's transition to
a virtual organization, and to a structure that
is positioned to operate effectively in the
About This Book
The purpose of our research
is a business book. It describes how your own
work organization should change and transition
into the Internet Age in order to remain viable
and successful. After reading this book, you
will understand the major shifts your work organization
must go through to remain successful in the
To help you
individually in your personal and emotional
journey through the current period of uncertainty
and ambiguity. Our lives are moving from a reality
with which we grew up to an entirely new and
unfamiliar environment. We each will need to
live with that ambiguity as our lives change.
After reading this book, your comfort level
will increase about that ambiguity and you will
feel better about addressing the personal challenges
to our story. Welcome to Nine Shift.