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Steal This Idea: The Robot Curve

Ever wonder why your skills are constantly out of date? Why your company is always falling behind competitors? Why so many jobs and projects are being outsourced? The Robot Curve is a simple model of innovation that shows how new processes, businesses, and technologies continuously destroy old ones as they create new opportunities for wealth. Where are you on the curve?

The Robot Curve is a constant waterfall of obsolescence and opportunity. At the top of the curve is creative work. Creative work is original or even unique, so the value and cost are relatively high.

One step down is skilled work, including the work of professionals. Skilled work is creative work that has become so well understood that it can be codified and taught. The value and cost are somewhat lower, but still profitable for the providers.

As skilled work becomes standardized, or as technology can transform it, skilled work becomes rote work. Rote work is a program, process, or operation that can be outsourced or handed over to unskilled workers with a minimum of training. The cost and value are low quite low.

Finally, skilled work turns into robotic work, allocated to machines, software, or actual robots. The cost and value plummet to the bottom, creating wealth for those who design and manage it. Eventually the work is made obsolete by newer processes, businesses, or technologies.




How do you optimize for the Robot Curve? Two ways: 1) By keeping your skills or products moving toward the top of the curve, or 2) by designing or managing skills or products at the bottom of the curve.

Download this set of slides to start a discussion with your team. Order the book, Metaskills, to find out more about the Robotic Age and the five talents you’ll need to thrive in it.

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