Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Advocate and Navigate: Two Key Thematic Trends Which Will Shape Future Careers.

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Advocate and Navigate - Two Key Thematic Trends which will Shape Future Careers.

Note: This article was written by Douglas Castle for publication in The Global Futurist. This article may be re-published, reproduced or otherwise transmitted without the author's or publisher's consent provided that the article is published in its unabridged entirety, with full attribution to both the author and the source, and  with all hyperlinks left intact and live. If words are spelled improperly, please leave them that way - it is always deliberate (only kidding). 

Dear Friends:

In the very near future,  new types of entire businesses and their subsumed career paths will be concentrated in the fields (either singly or combined) of advocacy and navigation.

The first has to do with proactively representing and protecting the rights of potentially vulnerable individuals; the second has to do with finding, communicating with, coordinating and monitoring all of the parties and all of their efforts as may be required to achieve any complex and important goal.

These two categorical career "designations" address two major issues, both of which are increasing in magnitude daily (although in a world of largely decreasing expectations, people are very resigned to both of these growing problems, despite their kicking and cursing about "the System"):
  • We are living in an increasingly decentralized world, where there are more moving parts to virtually every social process, and more participants than ever before. With outsourcing, subcontracting and migration of businesses to cyberspace, many of the persons involved in any given process do not know eachother or communicate with eachother -- they are often functioning as a headless juggernaut, where no one person takes ultimate responsibility or internally manages a process from start to finish;

  • We are living in an increasingly de-personalized society, where people do not interact as emotionally, or with the same level of commitment to eachother as in earlier times. This is a function of self-defensiveness and insularity (more computer contact, less physical contact and body language exchanges). We feel, lamentably, that "every one of us much watch out for himself or herself, because others are doing the same." 

Ultimately, these two new categories, used in the new senses of their respective meanings, serve as a means of re-centralizing and re-personalizing processes. 

Experts are needed to advocate and navigate for us...we are an entire species trying desperately to cope with the difficulties imposed upon us by a combination of societal factors, including, but not limited to:

1. Increasingly complex technology versus an increasing percentage of older persons in the general population;

2. Increasing de-centralization compartmentalization and specialization of virtually every aspect of every service business, in both the private and public sectors -- no one individual guides a customer, consumer or client through any process from start to finish anymore;

3. Increasing subcontracting, outsourcing and offshoring, with multicultural miscommunications, reminiscent of the Tower of Babel;

4. Deterioration in customer information access, service and responsiveness due to automation and "pidgeonhole" menu choices...have you ever had a particular problem which you needed to speak with with a utilities company about, only to telephone the toll-free number and be given a choice of four options, none of which actually addressed your situation? After that, did you wait on the phone for what seemed like an eternity (not daring to hang up and lose your precious place in line) while listening to distorted and terribly over-orchestrated music with brief interruptions by some syntho-voice saying, "Please stay on the line. All of our representatives are busy serving other customers. You call will be answered in the order in which it was received. Your estimated waiting time is 20 minutes..."? Sometimes these calls add further injury to insult by adding a "canned" message saying something to the effect of, "Due to an unusually high volume of telephone calls, it might take a long time to have a representative speak with you. If you'd prefer, you can reach us at our website, at ---------------, or, if your call is not an emergency, call us at some other time?"

The patience required to deal with this type of manifest impertinence and impersonal treatment is something which I am having a difficult time cultivating.

I remember being able to call up the "operator" (a Humanoid) on the telephone to request a telephone number for a particular party. Now, I have to go online to find telephone numbers.

Simple requests for information have now become research projects, requiring a great deal of skill and determination.

4. A very low signal-to-noise ratio in the media barrage, combined with declining attention spans and impatience born of sensorial overload and obsessive multi-tasking (i.e., doing many things simultaneously without getting any single one of them completed to any reasonable standard of quality);

5. An increasingly fractionalized social structure with limited communication between components -- this means that each of us, individually has expend the effort to coordinate multiple parties as may be required in the circumstances;

6. An ever-increasing pile of convoluted and often highly confusing protocols, rules and regulations governing virtually anything which we ordinarily do in our lives. You simply cannot accomplish anything institutionally without working through a mountain of forms and other paperwork;

7. People have, to a great extent, lost touch with the notion of investing in long-term relationship-building. Our lives have largely become a staccato series of fleeting and impersonal interactions with others, with time at an ever-increasing premium. We have many "contacts" and very few functioning, responsive and compassionate relationships. We are, ironically, more isolated than ever before.

In sum, when someone about whom you care is: chronically ill; aging; dying; experiencing profound emotional problems; contending with substance abuse; in financial trouble; in legal will need to find some ultimate decider and coordinator of the entire process.

You will need an ADVOCATE and a NAVIGATOR.


Douglas Castle

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