Dramatic changes are happening in the world of work. In his must-read book Free Agent Nation, Dan Pink describes the fundamental change in the form, function and ethic of American work. The subtitle of the book is “The Future of Working for Yourself”, something that more of us are doing. Pink feels that this is the most significant transformation since Americans left the farm for the factory 100 years ago. He states the four ingredients of Free Agency are:

  1. The End of America’s Economic Adolescence – the changing relationship between individuals and organizations. No longer do workers offer companies loyalty in return for lifetime employment
  2. Cheap, Houseable Means of Production – technology and the internet. Technology is taking the capital out of capitalism
  3. Prosperity – Middle class Americans are extraordinarily prosperous and are looking at their careers not only as a way to make money, but to add meaning to their lives
  4. The Shrinking Half-Life of Organizations – the hypercharged economy of today metabolizes companies with astonishing speed, flushing them out of the system when they cease to be effective or start becoming toxic

The book also has a quote from two MIT professors, Thomas W. Malone and Robert Laubacher, on why the world is being flattened:

“when it is cheaper to conduct transactions internally within the bounds of a corporation, organizations grow larger, but when it is cheaper to conduct them externally, with independent entities in the open market, organizations stay small or shrink.”

I know many people in web development who are becoming free agents. Some still work at their “regular” job, but many are striking out on their own. So will free agency have an impact on our profession, and is it something you might consider for yourself?