Lead on Purpose

Promoting Leadership Principles in Product Management

Book Review: The Coming Jobs War


“If you were to ask me ‘From all your research, what is the best predictor of new jobs?’ my answer would always be new customers.” Jim Clifton, chairman of Gallup and author of The Coming Jobs War: What every leader must know about the future of job creation, says that what everyone wants is a good job. He makes the bold assertion that job creation and successful entrepreneurship are the world’s most pressing issues right now. “If countries fail at creating jobs,” says Clifton, “their societies will fall apart.”

To be honest, the first few chapters of the book are quite depressing. Clifton describes how the United States is losing its position, as the world’s economic leader, to China and other countries like Brazil and India. Grounded in findings from the Gallup World Poll, Clifton shows how the current job creation trends could land China as the world leader by the year 2040. Unless…

Unless the United States and other top economies step up and create new jobs at a furious pace, China and other economies will surpass it. Clifton argues that the solution to creating good jobs must be found in cities, not in federal government. Promoting entrepreneurship and job creation must be the sole mission and purpose of cities’ business leaders, government officials and philanthropists.

According to Clifton, cities will succeed by declaring an all-out war: “I don’t use the term ‘war’ lightly. This really has to be a war on job loss, on low workplace energy, on healthcare costs, on low graduation rates, on brain drain, and on community disengagement,” he says. “Those things destroy cities, destroy job growth and destroy city GDP. Every city requires its own master plan that is as serious as planning for war.”

The next big breakthrough, and the one that will help keep the United States on top, will come from a combination of the forces within big cities, great universities, and powerful local leaders:

  • Local leadership: The leadership at the local level is key to creating new jobs. Cities need leaders who will bring in new companies that create new jobs. Companies need to hire the right people. “More money, jobs and GDP turns on who is named manager than on any other decision,” says Clifton. “Fire all lousy managers today.”
  • Entrepreneurial innovation: “Entrepreneurs are the rainmakers,” says Clifton. When enough entrepreneurs gather in a city and create formal jobs, they start a virtuous cycle. Silicon Valley is a great example of this phenomenon. Other cities are showing positive signs of growth. Business leaders who are willing to take risks will pave the way for new jobs and economic growth.
  • Education: A few of the most well known entrepreneurs dropped out of college, and some people believe that college gets in the way of innovation. Not according to Clifton. Great universities are the origin of most highly successful startups. They are a critical part of new-company formation, and America has a decided advantage because its top 100 universities are its most differentiating global strength in the war for jobs.

Clifton concludes The Coming Jobs War with ten findings that are “the most important of literally trillions of combinations of data and opinions Gallup has studied” for the United States to win:

  1. The biggest problem facing the world is adequate jobs.
  2. Job creation can only be accomplished in cities.
  3. The three key sources of job creation in America are: the country’s top 100 cities, its top 100 universities, and its 10,000 local ‘tribal’ leaders.
  4. Entrepreneurship is more important than innovation.
  5. America cannot outrun its healthcare costs.
  6. Because all public education results are local, local leaders need to lead their whole cities and all youth programs to war on the dropout rate, with the strategy of one city, one school, and one student at a time.
  7. The United States must differentiate itself by doubling its number of engaged employees.
  8. Jobs occur when new customers appear.
  9. Every economy rides on the backs of small to medium sized businesses.
  10. The United States needs to more than triple its exports in the next five years and increase them by 20 times in the next 30 years.

I highly recommend The Coming Jobs War to anyone who cares about the future. The book is especially important for every CEO, executive and manager, and anyone who has the seed of entrepreneurism growing within.

The Product Management Perspective: Great products bring new customers, which create new jobs. The role product managers can play in the jobs war is to make sure their products resonate with the market. Clifton writes: “The answer is customer engagement.” When customers love the products we create, companies will grow and new jobs will flow.

3 thoughts on “Book Review: The Coming Jobs War

  1. Pingback: Jobs War | Barataria – The work of Erik Hare

  2. Pingback: Happiness At Work 3 ~ a route map to edition three | performance~marks

  3. Great summary of an excellent book. Of course, much more detail and depth in the book. This is a “must read” for any manager or business owner. The near economic future of our country is at stake.

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