As a person with a many pots on the stove, keeping up with the latest movies usually falls pretty low on the priority list. So I only recently saw “Up in the Air”, a wonderful take on life in a globalized world. George Clooney portrays a man whose job has him flying all over the country on a continual basis. He is kept busy by cowardly bosses who don’t have the guts to tell their employees themselves that their services are no longer required. In these times, he might seem to be one of the few with job security. However, a fresh faced young woman has recently been hired by the company. She introduces the idea of reducing the cost of doing business by firing people via web conference instead of in person. Management is quite smitten with the idea and authorizes her to implement it right away. In one scene she is shown making a flow chart type of diagram. When Clooney’s character asks her what she’s doing she replies that she is making a flow chart of possible outcomes so that anybody can be easily trained to do his job.
What she could have said is that she was doing the design phase of ISD. Of course, very few members of the general public would have understood that response since very few people seem to know what ISD is. But that was indeed what she was doing. George Clooney’s character was horrified by it, feeling that his work was too complicated and skilled for this approach and required a personal touch. I won’t spoil the ending, but urge you to see “Up in the Air” for yourself. This film was a refreshingly nuanced and compelling take on many aspects of modern life – including the costs and benefits of increased efficiency rendered by “best practices” ISD.