Work Futures Daily - It's Bosses, All The Way Down

Management Is Too Important To Leave To Managers | Corporate Skinner Box | Employee Speech Rights | Open Offices | Open Secrets

Beacon NY - 2019-01-18 — Back from a trip to Qingdao China. About which more soon.

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No boss? No thanks. Why managers are more important than ever. | Nicolai Foss and Peter Klein go after 'bosslessness' as 'one of the biggest new management fads'.

Unfortunately, the bossless-company narrative is dead wrong. It misunderstands the nature of management, which isn’t going away, and it is based on questionable evidence. Given these fundamental defects, this narrative is potentially harmful to managers, students and policymakers.

My thoughts at Its Bosses All The Way Down, but the short version is in the quote of the day, below.

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Closing the Culture Gap | DeAnne Aguirre, Varya Davidson, and Carolin Oelschlegel treat 'business culture' as some sort of lever that company leaders push on to make things happen. The authors just barrel ahead as if this is a given, that the 'normal business' perspective on 'cultural change' translates to getting everyone 'aligned' around a vision that the C-Suite and management cadre think is necessary to remain or become competitive. It is implicitly not about becoming a revolutionary, postnormal company. It's about becoming more 'collaborative', 'innovative', 'customer-centered', and 'agile' -- whatever those mean.

Here's a quote that shows one of the mistaken ideas that animate a great deal of the folklore about managing company culture like an 'asset':

Focus first on adopting the few critical behaviors that matter most — tangible actions that, if practiced more often at every level, can help shift the culture. Cultures don’t change quickly, but a disciplined focus on these “critical few” can accelerate and catalyze a purposeful evolution.

As people begin to adopt the behaviors, take time to recognize and reward those people for focusing on those behaviors, too.

But such intercessions -- based on rewarding certain behaviors, and by extension, punishing others -- will fail. Alfie Kohn wrote, in Science Confirms It: People Are Not Pets,

Even though the average American corporation resembles a giant Skinner box with a parking lot, no controlled study has ever, to the best of my knowledge, found a long-term enhancement in the quality of work as a result of any kind of incentive or pay-for-performance plan.

As she points out, social psychology has led us to understand that as soon as people are rewarded for doing something they tend to lose interest in whatever they had to do to get the reward. It seems counterintuitive, but much of human nature does when viewed through the lens of 'normal' business logic, that would like to ignore the complexities of human aspiration.

The key to culture is not extrinsic rewards, but clearing away the barriers to the expression of intrinsic motivations, like the drives for autonomy, mastery, purpose, and gaining the respect of those we respect. Forget the carrots and the sticks: people are better than that. Or as Kohn puts it,

The problem is the outdated theory of motivation underlying the whole idea of treating people like pets — that is, saying: Do this, and you’ll get that. [...] The best that carrots — or sticks — can do is change people’s behavior temporarily. They can never create a lasting commitment to an action or a value, and often they have exactly the opposite effect … contrary to hypothesis.

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Private employers: You can’t forbid your workers from talking to journalists | Frank LoMonte shares a new paper from the Brechner Center for Freedom of Information that explains the limits of private employer's control over employees' interactions with the media:

In a newly published white paper, lawyers with the University of Florida’s Brechner Center for Freedom of Information explain that federal labor law forbids private-sector employers from barring their employees from speaking to the news media without supervisory approval.

The First Amendment does not apply to decisions made by private employers, but workers in the private sector enjoy some free-speech protection courtesy of the National Labor Relations Act (“NLRA”).

Congress enacted the NLRA in 1935 to guarantee workers the right to engage in “concerted activity” to improve working conditions. The National Labor Relations Board (“NLRB”) has interpreted the statute to apply to discussing workplace issues with the media, because workers may seek public support to change their employer’s practices. So, in the board’s view, a policy requiring employees to keep all work-related information confidential — or to clear all interactions with journalists with a corporate P.R. office — is an unlawful labor practice.

So, while the First Amendment does not apply to private employers, employees still have protections from employers who might like to silence them.

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Why companies are still designing open plan offices | Katharine Schwab plows old ground, but I like the six office plans that broke the mold.

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Why Open Secrets Exist in Organizations | Insiya Hussain and Subra Tangirala ask an important question:

Why do issues remain open secrets in organizations where multiple employees know about a problem or a concern, but no one publicly brings it up?

The results of their research are stark:

As issues become more common knowledge among frontline employees, the willingness of any individual employee to bring those issues to the attention of the top-management decreased. Instead of speaking up, what we observed among our participants was something like the bystander effect, a psychological phenomena describing how people stay on the sidelines as passive bystanders, waiting for others to act rather than do something themselves.

[...]

Indeed, our research shows that when multiple individuals know about an issue, each of them experiences a diffusion of responsibility or the sense that they need not personally take on any costs or burden associated with speaking up. They feel that others are equally knowledgeable and, hence, capable of raising the issue with top management. They find it convenient to psychologically pass on the accountability of speaking up to others, and this makes them less likely to speak up themselves.

And of course, it's dangerous to speak up, so the bystander effect wins out.

It's behind the HBR paywall, but worth using one of your free monthly article to read.


Quote of the Day

The real misstep here is thinking of bosslessness as the aim of the revolution in work: it’s not.

| Stowe Boyd, It's Bosses, All The Way Down


crossposted from workfutures.org.

It's Bosses, All The Way Down

A response to 'No boss? No thanks. Why managers are more important that ever.'

Nicolai Foss and Peter Klein go after ‘bosslessness’ as ‘one of the biggest new management fads’ in No boss? No thanks. Why managers are more important that ever.:

“Unfortunately, the bossless-company narrative is dead wrong. It misunderstands the nature of management, which isn’t going away, and it is based on questionable evidence. Given these fundamental defects, this narrative is potentially harmful to managers, students and policymakers.”

I plan a critique in depth, this is just a starting point.

This is the discussion we need to have, in the transition from normal to postnormal (revolutionary) business (see Moving from ‘Normal’ Organizations from ‘Revolutionary’ Organizations http://stoweboyd.com/post/181924034832/moving-from-normal-organizations-to). There are a long list of mistaken assertions in this piece, like Elon Musk and Steve Jobs being seen as exemplars of the new way of work, just because of the high-tech nature of their businesses. They aren’t. Also, there is no real discussion of the changing backdrop behind all this: the changing world, which invalidates a great many of the premises underlying business as normal. Consider this comment:

“Third, while technological miracles such as the internet, cheap and reliable wireless communication, Moore’s law, miniaturisation and information markets have induced sweeping changes in manufacturing, retail, transportation and communication, the laws of economics are still the laws of economics. And human nature hasn’t changed. The basic problem of management and business – how to assemble, organise and motivate groups of people and resources to produce goods and services that consumers want – is still the same. Since the industrial revolution, entrepreneurs have been organising extremely complex activities in firms that are neither completely centralised nor completely flat. Imagine the complexity involved in operating a national railroad, a steel mill or an automobile assembly plant in the 19th and early 20th centuries. These were all ‘knowledge-based activities’ and were conducted in teams organised in various structures. Are things so different today?”

Yes, they are. First, we’ve moved from a world that was complicated to one that is complex, and as a direct consequence things that were formerly amenable to analysis and top-down control are increasingly out-of-control and require new sorts of thinking. Just consider AI, which is an unprecedented advance and one that is likely to have an impact like electricity or written language. Second, yes human nature hasn’t changed, but our understanding of human cognition, decision-making, and social systems has grown enormously in the past few decades, but has not really made much of a dent in schools of management and the C-suite, yet. We’re in a time of rapidly expanding insights about human motivation and connection, but meanwhile our companies continue to be run with a perspective on human psychology and sociology circa 1970. And yes, the complications of running a steel mill or a railroad in the 19th century are dwarfed by the complexities of Amazon’s platform and its impact on retail markets. Complex and complicated are very different things.

What is happening isn’t the whim of hipsters, but essential adaptations to a violently changing world, not just some CEO back from a conference deciding to adopt Holacracy or Teal (and I agree, those are fads, by the way).

The real misstep here is thinking of bosslessness as the aim of the revolution in work: it’s not. It’s a side effect of adaptation to a barrage of challenges: it’s a new suite of skills, new ways of thinking, and new practices that lead to very different behaviors and cultural underpinnings at work, all in order to be effective in a drastically different context: a digital, global, and accelerated economic order.

Those who want to lord over businesses that look and feel like businesses of the first and second industrial revolution are obviously challenged by today’s business context, here at the outset of the fourth industrial revolution, and the end of the third.

We have not crossed the line, but the trend is toward a workforce of 100% knowledge workers performing cognitive, non-routine work, and all other tasks being automated at some time in the near future. That extends from the barista making your latte, to a team of software developers writing an app, to the brain surgeon in an operating room, to the entrepreneur dreaming up a new product. They are all doing cognitive, non-routine work. AI and robots will quickly take over all other work, leading to enormous upheaval and turmoil, but it’s coming. Leaving aside how we will deal with that (about which I have a lot to say), take it as a given that we are speeding in that direction, as the numbers of the past 40 years indicate. ( And also leave to one side what about AI that can match us at cognitive, non-routine work, yet another topic we have to struggle with.)

One key aspect of postnormal business is that the people working in them will demand greater autonomy, and not just out of egotistic arrogance, but as an outgrowth of their expertise and the networks of ‘talent’ needed to get things done today. That autonomy decreases the central role of bosses as decision makers and task managers. These folks won’t need bosses, they need resources, they need barriers pulled out of the way, and they need strong teammates, but they don’t necessarily need a ‘boss’ to do those things. They just need the help of others, to cooperatively make those things happen. And no one has to boss someone else around to make those things happen: we need to pull together, not get pushed into line to make things happen.

In a sense, it’s not that companies are becoming bossless, so a better way to cast this is that the management ‘cadre’ – the elite that control planning, decision making, allocation of resources, and personnel management – will expand in the postnormal business to include everyone on payroll. Everyone is management, no one is an underling. (And by extension, everyone should be an owner/shareholder/partner, which is another discussion.)

Of course, that has a lot of ramifications, out of scope for this brief response. But the authors miss the deep trajectory of what’s going on. When they write,

“Far from making management obsolete, however, these changes make good management more important than ever.”

I agree. It’s so important we are headed for an era where everyone on payroll will be part of the management team. It’s bosses, all the way down.


Origally published as a comment at Aeon.

Moving from ‘Normal’ Organizations to 'Revolutionary’ Organizations

A manifesto for a movement

Originally this essay formed the final section of An End To Predictions, A Call For Revolution, but now republished independently.

I am republishing here since I am out-of-pocket for the next week on a trip to China, and wanted you to have something to read, and perhaps to discuss when I return.


The greatest enemy of knowledge is not ignorance, it is the illusion of knowledge. | Steven Hawking

Hawking sets context for what I have been calling a ‘movement’ since 2005 or so, the movement to drive a transition from 'normal’ industrial-era organizations that are role-centered, closed, slow-and-tight, hierarchical, and backwards-focused to 'revolutionary’ post-industrial-era organizations that are human-centered, open, fast-and-loose, heterarchical, and forwards-focused. Like other movements, this work revolution is defined by the dynamics of opposing forces. On one side, we have those who explicitly or implicitly uphold the principles and cultural foundations of 'normalcy’, and who actively or passive-aggressively oppose those, on the other side, who advocate revolutionary change in work culture, practices, and values.

I’ve picked the terms 'normal’ and 'revolutionary’ with intention. Specifically, I have borrowed them from Thomas Kuhn’s central arguments in The Structure of Scientific Revolutions, a work that laid out the analogous dynamics in scientific revolutions.

Kuhn argued that there is a cyclic form to science, where the work of a generation of scientist in any given field establishes a paradigm around which research and discourse are centered, like Newtonian physics. It started with various incoherent notions of motion (the pre-paradigm phase), but the central premises of gravity, and Newton’s laws of motion led to the development of a second phase, where 'normal’ science began, and the dominant paradigm structured the science for a considerable period of time, establishing consensus on terminology, methods, and the sorts of experiments that might lead to increased insights1.

Over time, normal science may lead to anomalies in findings – unexpected results from experiments, questions that can’t be answered – and these can lead to questioning the old paradigm as its weaknesses are apparent. This can lead to crisis, and that can spark a paradigm shift, like quantum physics as an alternative to Newton’s.

The crisis and the shift are not necessarily smooth, and there is often active disagreement and contention between the advocates of the previous, 'normal’ paradigm, and the revolutionaries pushing for the new paradigm. This can lead to breaks in the scientific discipline, with huge controversies and great antagonism, since the reputations and livelihoods of the scientists are at stake.

At some point, the crisis ends, usually as a result of the establishment of a new paradigm, which eventually becomes 'normal’ mainstream science, with new methods, terminology, and established approaches for experimentation.

We are at a time of such a crisis, although it’s not in the traditional realm of science, per se. The crisis is in the world of business, and it is really predicated on scientific revolutions in several areas that impinge on business, namely cognitive science, behavioral economics, social psychology, and related fields. (And in the background behind the soft incursion of these revelatory social science findings, we can feel the looming hard technologies of the fourth industrial revolution.)

In the past few decades enormous advances have been made in our understanding of how people perceive the world and their relationships to others, how we reason (or don’t), how people 'make decisions’, how productive teams 'work’, and how cultural norms impact our behavior. However, very little of this science has reached the C-suite. Consider, as only one example, the persistent problems related to diversity and the foundational issues of cognitive bias. However, few in leadership are educated in these issues, and no coherent new paradigm of organizational theory and practice has yet fully emerged.

At present, we are left with the strange dichotomy of entrepreneurial capitalism – with capital growth and shareholder value as the highest aims – and the independent considerations of making the world a better place, making the workplace more equitable, just, and less precarious, and attempting to construct the world of work so that people can achieve greater autonomy, meaning, and purpose in their lives, and not just a paycheck. These cross forces define a growing area of tension in the discourse about the future of work, the transformation of the 21st century business, and how to balance the desires of the many sorts of people holding stakes in these companies.

At the same time, we see growing interest in the principle that a revolution is business operations is needed to confront and overcome a long list of 'anomalies’ in business and the economic sphere. The combination of increased economic pressures in a sped-up, global marketplace and the desire for greater stability and purpose for everyone at work leads to some broad trends that could stand as a proxy for the 'revolution’ in organizational theory and practice:

  • Human-centered not role-centered. We lose a great deal when we limit people to only thinking about or acting on a limited set of activities in business. A machine press operator can have a brilliant insight that saves the copy millions, and a field sales lead can come back from a meeting with a customer suggestion for a breakthrough new product. But not if they are punished for stepping outside the painted lines on the floor. People can be larger than their job descriptions, if we let them.

  • Open not closed models of thinking and operations. This means a 'yes, and’ mindset, where we consider alternatives rather than rejecting them because they are novel. This means activity rooting out systemic anti-creative and anti-curiosity patterns in business dogma. It means embracing Von Foester's Empirical Imperative: Always act to increase the set of possibilities.

  • Fast-and-loose not slow-and-tight operations. Agile, flexible, and adaptive methods of organizing, cooperating, and leading are needed. A less bureaucratic management style would increase innovation, and lead to building business operations around experiments rather than only well-established processes.

  • Heterarchical not hierarchical operations. The bronze age rule of kings, supposedly selected by the gods and legitimized by their personal charisma has led to terrible results, with narcissistic sociopaths all too often calling the shots. The occasional Steve Jobs or Yves Chouinard does not disprove the problems inherent to top-down-only organizations, especially in a time of great change and uncertainty. Organizational structure is another means to the ends that companies are created to effect, and serves as a powerful barrier to change when treated as sacred and inviolable.

  • Forward-focused, not tradition-bound. We need to adopt a new paradigm for business, one that explicitly breaks with a great deal of what passes for conventional wisdom, organized around new science, new forms of social connection, and leveraging the possibilities in the points made above. And science is not standing still, so we must incorporate new understanding into our work and the operations of business.

This is predicated upon stating – explicitly – that a revolution is necessary, and that a long list of practices and principles will need to be identified as problematic and rooted out. This is exactly what I founded Work Futures to do, as a research and educational institute, and in 2019 I intend to push hard to advance that agenda.

This revolution has started, but the we are in the early days of what will eventually – decades from now, perhaps – be a wholesale recasting of business. But the world of work cannot be changed independently of the larger world. It is one part of a larger set of changes that envelope and animate it.

The larger societal and economic trends touched on in the post this is extracted from (see An End To Predictions, A Call For Revolution) – Polarization and Populism, Capitalism and Gigantism, and the Fourth Industrial Revolution – are imparting enormous stress on the human sphere. And, as a result, it is very hard to predict what will happen in 2019. However, I believe that by 2023 a great deal of the revolution – this transition from the 'normal’ to a 'revolutionary’ form of business – will have become more clear, as the new paradigm becomes more well-defined, and as the larger world shifts to internalize new approaches to the tectonic forces at work, at all scales.


crossposted from stoweboyd.com.


  1. Paraphrased from Wikipedia↩︎

Work Futures Daily - The Skills Gap Was A Lie

Remember the Skills Gap? | Who Pays For Paid Leave? | Cohotels | Standing Doesn’t Burn Many Calories | Inbox Infinity | Powerful Older Women Are A Thing | The Cult of Facebook

Beacon NY - 2019-01-09 — The move back to Substack has turned out to be remarkably smooth, except I still have months of old Dailies to post here (a month a week, maybe).

Starting later this month, a weekly poll, so I can tap into the community’s thinking.

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I am headed to Qingtao China Saturday, attending the Haier Annual Innovation Conference, so no Dailies until my return, although I will write something about the event. Expect a new Daily on 21 January.

If you are looking for things to read while I am traveling, take a look at An End To Predictions, A Call For Revolution, especially the third section, Moving from 'Normal’ Organizations to 'Revolutionary’ Organizations.

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Links

The “skills gap” was a lie | Matthew Yglesias reports on recent research by Alicia Sasser Modestino, Daniel Shoag, and Joshua Ballance that undercuts the story about the ‘skills gap’ that, as Yglesias says, 'everyone from the US Chamber of Commerce to the Obama White House’ was pointing to five or six years ago to explain why employers weren’t hiring.

As this chart shows, the education and experience qualifications employers were looking for got steadily higher as the unemployment rate rose during the Great Recession. Superficially one could interpret this as a “skills gap” — people couldn’t find work because they simply lacked the credential needed to work in the modern economy. Except as the unemployment rate started to fall, so did employers skill needs.

img

[I believe the second chart is mislabeled: 'Education Requirements’ in the table should be “Experience Requirements’.]

[…]

In other words, the skills gap was the consequence of high unemployment rather than its cause. With workers plentiful, employers got choosier. Rather than investing in training workers, they demanded lots of experience and educational credentials.

And now, with a tight labor market, employers are willing to train workers rather than call for government to do so for them. (Although, in yesterday’s Daily, Human Capital, we saw figures that show CHROs are ambivalent about retraining, to say the least.]

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A California Dream for Paid Leave Has an Old Problem: How to Pay for It | Gavin Newsom the incoming California Governor wants six month paid parental leave for workers, which will cost a lot, and he has no current plan on how to fund it. Five other states plus DC offer between four and 12 weeks. Claire Cain Miller and Jim Tankersley note

The California policy would be the nation’s biggest test of the idea that longer leave, by encouraging parents not to quit their jobs and by delaying the need to pay for infant care, can help economic growth.

But the governor will face questions about whether it would require a tax increase; how the program could stay solvent if there were a recession; and how businesses would cope with employees’ long absences. California’s existing paid leave program is financed by a 1 percent payroll tax. Increasing that tax would require the approval of two-thirds of the Legislature, not assured despite Democratic control.

It’s a long stretch, I think. How about three months?

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At Hotels, Space That’s Like the Office, ‘but Cooler’ | Hotels are creating coworking spaces for guests. Younger guests are more likely to want to work outside their rooms, in public spaces.

I bet WeWork will go the other way, and start building hotels into their coworking spaces.

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Stand More, Lounge Less? Don’t Do It to Lose Weight | Gretchen Reynolds warns that new research affirms that standing only burns 9 more calories an hour compared to sitting, and involves other health trade-offs.

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A Case for Inbox Infinity | Taylor Lorenz thinks we should just surrender to the void, and give up on Inbox Zero:

In 2019, I suggest you let it all go. There is simply no way for anyone with a full-time job and multiple inboxes to keep up with the current email climate. Even after deleting and sorting my 2,700 unread messages, I awoke the next day to more than 400 more.

If email grows past some threshold and becomes too much to handle, we need to move past the implicit cultural norm that all email received will be responded to. I personally agree with the notion of creating a forever-on out-of-office message warning people that I may never get around to their email.

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I Am (an Older) Woman. Hear Me Roar. | Jessica Bennett reports on older women taking on powerful jobs, or commanding attention in a youth-obsessed world. But the backdrop is still negative:

84 percent of corporate hiring managers said they believed a “qualified but visibly older” candidate would make some employers hesitate — particularly if those candidates were women.

And while more people over 65 — almost 20 percent — are still working than at any other point since the 1960s, according to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics, even when America’s jobless rate was close to full employment it was women over 50 who were having the hardest time finding work.

“Ageism is one of the last acceptable biases in our culture, but it powerfully intersects with sexism,” Professor [Susan] Douglas [of the University of Michigan] said.

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Inside Facebook’s ‘cult-like’ workplace, where dissent is discouraged and employees pretend to be happy all the time | Salvador Rodriguez makes Facebook sound like psychic prison:

Key points:

  • More than a dozen former Facebook employees detailed how the company’s leadership and its performance review system has created a culture where any dissent is discouraged.

  • Employees say Facebook’s stack ranking performance review system drives employees to push out products and features that drive user engagement without fully considering potential long-term negative impacts on user experience or privacy.

  • Reliance on peer reviews creates an underlying pressure for Facebook employees to forge friendships with colleagues for the sake of career advancement.

I think the company has adopted the now-conventional entrepreneurial culture:

Former employees describe a top-down approach where major decisions are made by the company’s leadership, and employees are discouraged from voicing dissent — in direct contradiction to one of Sandberg’s mantras, “authentic self.”

Facebook still uses stack ranking for performance reviews, a technique falling out of favor. Microsoft dropped the practice in 2013 after widespread complaints across the company. Stack ranking creates a cutthroat atmosphere since managers can only have so many excellent reports, and so many get bad reviews as a consequence, even when undeserved.


Quote of the Day

Diversity improves the way people think. By disrupting conformity, racial and ethnic diversity prompts people to scrutinize facts, think more deeply and develop their own opinions.

Sheen Levine and David StarkDiversity Makes You Brighter


crossposted from workfutures.org.

Work Futures Daily - Human Capital

Dig Your Own Hole, Sharpen Your Own Shovel | Age Bias Starts at 36 | Time Management Is Ruining Our Lives | High Performers Quitting | Esko Kilpi on Leadership

Beacon NY - 2019-01-08 — I am awash in projects, but really enjoying getting reconnected with people I haven’t spoken to in a while. Coming soon, interviews with Esko Kilpi and Brian Solis in the Socialogy, Revisited series, part of the new Work Talk thread (for paid sponsors only). Will also be published as a book, once complete.

Will be kicking off an interview series with small ‘organizational design’ consulting firms in February, as well.

I’m relaunching the Work Futures Slack community in February, as well (again, paid sponsors only).

:::

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Links

The Future of Work Requires Investments in Human Capital | Irving Wladawsky-Berger lays out the arguments for an enormous, global increase in human capital investment. He quotes World Bank Group President Jim Yong Kim,

With technological progress placing a premium on higher-order skills, the failure of countries to lay the groundwork for their citizens to lead productive lives will not only carry high costs; it will also likely generate more inequality. It will put security at risk, too, as unmet aspirations can lead to unrest.

Once again, we find ourselves confronted with a global challenge, one that, once again, will require an enormous mobilization of economic and policy investments. Will we be able to do so?

The World Economic Forum surveyed 313 CHROs for the 2018 The Future of Jobs Report, representing 15 million employees worldwide. Sue De Pasquale looked at their plans: Will they be making these huge investments in human capital, especially in the face of growing AI use? [Emphasis mine.]

A predicted 54 percent of today’s employees will require significant re- and upskilling by 2022.

The study also found:

  • 35 percent of the workforce is expected to require additional training lasting up to six months

  • 9 percent is expected to require additional training of six months to a year

  • 10 percent will require training of more than a year

  • Nearly 25 percent of companies are undecided about or unlikely to pursue the retraining of existing employees

  • Nearly 66 percent of companies expect workers to adapt and pick up skills as they pursue new positions

  • More than half of companies are likely to turn to external contractors, temporary staff, and freelancers to address their skills gaps

They are not planning to make the necessary investments in reskilling: they will outsource it to the workers, either before getting hired, or learning on the job.

We’re going to be on our own. Dig your own hole, sharpen your own shovel.

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Age bias against startup founders is rampant by age 36 | Leah Fessler reports on a recent survey of US startup founders:

In a wide-ranging survey of US startup founders polled by venture-capital firm First Round Capital, 37% said age is the strongest investor bias against founders, while 28% cited gender and 26% cited race.

It’s a shame, given that research research repeatedly suggests that age diversity promotes productivity and performance, and that older workers take fewer sick days, have better problem-solving skills, and are more likely than younger workers to be highly satisfied in their work. From childhood on, though, we’re bombarded with images of decrepit, fun-loathing old people, leading us to develop “pervasive negative beliefs [that] are out of step with the reality of aging,” as SYPartners president Jessica Orkin recently noted in Quartz.

[…]

All told, 89% of the survey respondents said they agree that older people face discrimination in the tech industry.

Oh, man. It’s worse than I thought, and I thought it is endemic.

Nearly 85% of the founders said they have formal or informal diversity and inclusion policies at their companies, or intend to adopt such strategies soon. And a majority of the respondents said they believe tech will be demographically representative of America’s racial and gender makeup within the next 20 years.

Notably, in the diversity -and-inclusion portion of the survey, First Round did not ask founders when they think the tech industry will be representative in terms of age.

The answer is 'Never’.

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Why time management is ruining our lives | Oliver Burkeman wonders if our efforts to become more productive are screwing us up, and singles out Merlin Mann’s Inbox Zero mantra for special attention:

The truth is that more often than not, techniques designed to enhance one’s personal productivity seem to exacerbate the very anxieties they were meant to allay. The better you get at managing time, the less of it you feel that you have.

[…]

The allure of the doctrine of time management is that, one day, everything might finally be under control. Yet work in the modern economy is notable for its limitlessness. And if the stream of incoming emails is endless, Inbox Zero can never bring liberation: you’re still Sisyphus, rolling his boulder up that hill for all eternity – you’re just rolling it slightly faster.

Go read it. It’s solid.

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Why Some High Performers Are Quitting Big Companies to Work for Themselves | Eddie Yoon and Christopher Lochhead look into the numbers of why many are leaving corporations to work for themselves:

Many high-skill professionals will earn more money on their own than by working for someone. In 2015, the U.S. Census Bureau estimated there were 2.7 million non-employer firms that are run solely by owners. Nearly 70% of these solo businesses had annual incomes of $100,000 to $250,000, which is nearly two to four times higher than the average U.S. household. Thirty percent of solo businesses earn more than $250,000 per year versus 2% of total U.S. households. Many worry about health insurance and a stable paycheck, but if you can tolerate the uncertainty, you can earn more than enough to cover health care and save for rainy days.

Follow the money.


Quote of the Day

Following is not being passive, but a process of creative learning through observing and replicating desired practices. Leading is doing one’s work in a transparent, reflective way. Every human relationship serves as a model for what is possible. As we observe others we incorporate their actions into our own repertoire. Learning is the fundamental process of socialisation.

Esko Kilpi, from the Socialogy, Revisited series, in process

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