i4j Book: Disrupting Unemployment


“Disrupting Unemployment” (on AmDisruptingUnemployment - front coverazon) by i4j co-founders David Nordfors and Vint Cerf, along with  managing editor Max Senges published by the i4j Leadership Forum and the Kauffman Foundation, has been released. 

The book reframes the future of work, from the “race against the machine” to “Disrupting Unemployment”, with Vint Cerf and David Nordfors presenting a combination the  i4j Leadership Forum and their own visions for an Innovation-for-jobs economy. Chapters are included by selected i4j Leadership Forum participants: Philip Auerswald, Robert B. Cohen, John Hagel, Dan Harple, Mohammad Islam, Joi Ito, Steve Jurvetson, Sven Otto Littorin, Geoffrey Moore, Monique Morrow, Mitchel Resnick, J. Philipp Schmidt, Jim Spohrer, Esther Wojcicki and Joon Yun

A job is a need. Innovation for jobs is a market.

In the world’s existing, task-centered economies, the aim is to minimize the cost of tasks through innovation that helps customers spend better, yet–a growing paradox–with people in manufacturing or service jobs replaced by machines. But people need to earn in order to spend. In a people-centered economy, designed to increase the innate value of people, a job is a customer need, as in when people say “I need a job”–paid work with a steady, reliable income, enabling people to raise families and live a decent life. Employment is the standard way of satisfying the customer’s need for a job, but innovation is opening many more possibilities. There is a market for innovative companies to offer customers good jobs where they earn better, in more meaningful ways. Thus what is widely seen as a current problem becomes instead a powerful, emerging opportunity for entrepreneurs: to transform underused human capacity into wealth distributed much more widely and evenly.  

Five billion customers want a good job. 200 Million have one. 

Of the five billion world citizens of working age, three billion want to work; most of them want a steady job, but barely a billion have one. Of these,, only two hundred million (13%) are ‘engaged’ (meaningfully involved) in their jobs. For every engaged worker, two hate their jobs and the rest are indifferent. This sad world workforce creates $75 trillion of market value (GDP) each year.  

Innovation: jobs that match skills and engagement

“Disrupting Unemployment” postulates that innovative companies can help everyone find a job that matches their skills, talents and passions, teamed with people who engage them, finding mutual opportunities for what they do best. How much more value would five billion well-matched, inspired people create vs. today’s two hundred million engaged workers accompanied by four hundred million angry ones? A doubling in world GDP ($75 Trillion) is a conservative estimate. Add to that the increased well-being of people having a job and a team that engages them.

From pipe dream to real potential

Beyond the difference in self-actualization, well-being and sense of meaning, the concept of providing all earners with ‘tailored’ jobs has been science fiction. Smartphones, cloud computing, big data and other emerging technologies are making it possible. Summoning an innovation-for-jobs ecosystem around this vision, many companies are already linking recruiting, education, coaching, skills, matchmaking, HR and opportunity-creation in a long-tail labor market. We tested this in January with great success, and will continue to facilitate the innovation-for-jobs ecosystem, with entrepreneurs – both social and commercial, funders, policymakers, educators, experts 

Chapters by i4j Leadership Forum participants, edited by Max Senges:

  1. The Bifurcation is Near, by Philip Auerswald
  2. The First Software Age: Programmable Enterprises Creating New Types of Jobs, by Robert B. Cohen
  3. Mobilizing Ecosystems to Drive Innovation for Jobs, by John Hagel
  4. Innovation Dynamics: Analytics Based on Big Data and Network Graph Science—Implications for Innovation for Jobs (i4j) Initiatives, by Daniel L. Harple, Jr.
  5. Accelerating Toward a Jobless Future: The Rise of the Machine and the Human Quest for Meaningful Work, by Steve Jurvetson and Mohammad Islam
  6. How to Disrupt Unemployment Policy, by Sven Otto Littorin
  7. Developing Middle Class Jobs in a Digital Economy, by Geoffrey Moore
  8. The Supercritical Human Elevated [SHE] Economy, by Monique Morrow
  9. Innovation for Jobs with Cognitive Assistants: A Service Science Perspective, by Jim Spohrer
  10. Creative Learning and the Future of Work, by J. Philipp Schmidt, Mitchel Resnick, and Joi Ito
  11. Can the Health Industry Cure the Ailing Job Market? by Joon Yun 
  12. Creative Learning, by Esther Wojcicki 

David Nordfors

David Nordfors is CEO and co-founder of IIIJ and the chair of the i4j Summit. He was previously co-founder and Executive Director of the Center for Innovation and Communication at Stanford University. He was one of the World Economic Forum Innovation 100 in 2009, and has served on WEF Global Agenda Councils. He serves on advisory boards of the Poynter Institute, Discern Investment Analytics and Black & Veatch. He is an adjunct professor at IDC Herzliya in Israel, a visiting professor at Tallinn University, the Tecnologico de Monterrey, and the Deutsche Welle Akademie. He was advisor to the Director General at VINNOVA, the Swedish Agency for Innovation Systems, where he co-initiated the national Swedish Incubator System and set up a bi-national R&D fund between Sweden and Israel for mobile applications. He was Director of Research Funding of the Knowledge Foundation, KK-stiftelsen, administering an endowment of $300MUSD, building a funding framework underwriting over a hundred innovation initiatives between universities and industry. He initiated and headed the first hearing about the Internet to be held by the Swedish Parliament. He has a Ph.D. in physics from the Uppsala University and did his postdoc in Theoretical Chemistry in Heidelberg, Germany.