Work Futures Daily - Slutbot

| Peak Gig? | Flextime Double Bind | 33 Female F500 CEOs | AI in Hiring? | Sarah Todd |

Beacon NY - 2019-05-23 — Yes, I named the issue after a chatbot named Slutbot (see Elsewhere, below for deets). It's just too chewy to not use it.

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:::

Our new publication, On The Horizon, is dedicated to help spread greater understanding of the economics, structure, and behavior of platform ecosystems, and the corresponding reordering of business operations and organization. Sign up for the OTH weekly newsletter to be notified about new articles, interviews, events, and other news from the exploding domain of platform ecosystems.


Social Now 2019 — Lisbon Portugal — 6-7 June 2019

Developing digital leadership in a unique fusion of workshop and social tools demonstrations. See below at the footer for more information, or visit socialnow.org.


Stories

In a Tight Labor Market, Gig Workers Get Harder to Please | Christopher Mims talks with Jason Noorzai who has worked for eight gig economy companies in the past few years: Postmates, Doordash, Grubhub, Amazon Flex, Uber, Lyft, Field Agent, and Deliv. (I never even heard of Deliv, before.)

Mr. Noorzai’s experience in the gig economy is—according to surveys by Gallup and others—typical in two ways: First, he churned through these jobs quickly, never staying in one for more than a few months. Second, he’s now using these services to supplement his income, rather than treating them as full-time work.

As Noorzai's trajectory shows, there's a lot of turnover in gigland:

The unusually high rate of turnover in the gig economy should have the leaders of these companies and their investors worried, says Micah Rowland, chief operating officer of Fountain, a company that helps gig companies acquire new workers by streamlining the hiring process.

Because Fountain helps companies hire a higher proportion of the people who show an interest in working for them in the first place, Mr. Rowland’s company benefits from high turnover in the gig economy, but only as long as its clients stay in business. For some, he worries the churn rate is so high that it’s unsustainable.

“It struck me that in some of these markets, they’re processing thousands of job applicants every month, and these are not large cities,” says Mr. Rowland. “I asked, ‘Have you guys ever considered you may burn through the entire available labor market of people interested in or willing to do roles like this?’ and they did not have an answer for that.”

The implications for the value of these platform companies are potentially dire, because without the gig workers there is no gig economy. Switching to full-time employment is an answer, and comes with serious costs, but cuts the cost of churn. Mims asks the right question:

You would think that companies like Uber and Lyft would respond to high turnover rates by improving conditions for workers and raising pay, but the pressures of going public appear to be pushing them in the opposite direction. For years drivers have protested pay and working conditions at these companies, and recent protests in Los Angeles, San Francisco and other cities continue to be about these issues.

And in the end, the economics are trending toward zero pay for gig workers, as tens (hundreds?) of billions are being invested into autonomous vehicles, delivery bots, and robotic processes:

The largest of the gig startups still have billions of dollars in the bank. For them, reaching profitability might be impossible without automating the jobs now filled by costly humans. If that sounds familiar, it’s what former Uber Chief Executive Travis Kalanick once said about self-driving cars—that being in the vanguard in developing them was an existential issue for the company.

“These [food-delivery and ride-hailing] businesses are banking that driverless technologies will be available soon enough that they can get out of this endless cycle of losing money,” says Mr. Price.

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Disconnecting to spend time with your kids could sabotage your career | Chris Morris reports on new evidence of the double-bind latent in flextime work arrangements. Taking advantage of them will slow your career:

According to a recent study, parents who work part-time have a 21% chance of being promoted within the next three years. Full-time counterparts have a 45% chance, and the average mother waits two years longer for a promotion than the average father.

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Fortune 500 Female CEOs Reaches All-Time Record of 33 | I know I should feel good about this news from Claire Zillman, but the absolute truth is I'm not. Only 33?

In the latest Fortune 500 list, published Thursday, you’ll find a new record: As of June 1, 33 of the companies on the ranking of highest-grossing firms will be led by female CEOs for the first time ever.

To be sure, that sum represents a disproportionately small share of the group as a whole; just 6.6%. But it also marks a considerable jump from last year’s total of 24, or 4.8%.

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Should Companies Use AI to Assess Job Candidates? | Tomas Chamorro-Premuzic and Reece Akhtar make a strong case for taking humans out of the loop in hiring:

AI has the potential to significantly improve the way we identify talent as it can reduce the cost of making accurate predictions about one’s potential, while at the same time removing the bias and heuristics that so often cloud human judgement. The fact that AI algorithms can detect and measure latent or seemingly intangible human qualities may lead some to be skeptical of the aforementioned findings, but it is worth noting that there are plenty of scientific studies that demonstrate that humans can accurately identify personality and intellect from just thin slices of verbal and non-verbal behavior. AI algorithms simply leverage the same cues that humans do. The difference between humans and AI is that the latter can scale, and can be automated. What’s more, AI does not have an ego that needs to be managed.

Or a paycheck, health insurance, or parking space.

The authors touch on the ethical and legal implications, but they come down in favor of AI in hiring:

It’s still possible to deploy innovations like the ones we describe here while operating within the constraints of good codes of conduct.

And of course, humans are so biased in their judgments about others it should be a crime to not rely on AI.


Quote of the Day

There’s an important blind spot in the public discourse about the importance of work-life balance. As Laura Carroll notes for Fortune: “When it comes to work-life balance, the ‘life’ part has often been synonymous with personal time related to parenting.” When employers and the media talk about work-life balance, they’re often referring to “family-friendly,” flexible policies that allow people to get home in time to eat dinner with their kids, work remotely when a child is home sick, or duck out of the office to pick up children after school.

There’s no doubt that parents deserve to have work cultures that accommodate their families. The problem lies in the implication that the only reason anyone would want to ever stop working is because they’ve got tiny humans at home. In making the need for work-life balance appear contingent upon caretaking responsibilities, we inadvertently suggest that people need to justify their right to prioritize a life outside of work—a mindset that’s bound to perpetuate burnout culture, hurting parents and non-parents alike.

| Sarah Todd, You deserve work-life balance—even if you don’t have kids


Elsewhere

Untelling the Dominant Economic Story | At On The Horizon I build on writing by David Sloan Wilson, who said

Putting people first has not become the norm in the business world and treating employees as chattel is perversely spreading worldwide like a cancer.

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Tesla: Insane or Clever | Jean-Louis Gassée starts by suggesting Elon Musk is a madman and then ends up saying he's crazy like a fox. Because he has vertical integration of all software and hardware layers, which his establishment competitors don't.

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How to Talk to Millennials About Capitalism | Edward Glaeser tries to debunk modern interest in socialism, unconvincingly.

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Talk Dirty With Machine | Rainesford Stauffer reports on the state of flirttech: chatbots designed to help people learn how to flirt. The perfectly named Slutbot teaches Juicebox users how to sext.


Social Now 2019 — Lisbon Portugal — 6-7 June 2019

At Social Now, enterprise social tools battle it out for the chance to be voted “the best tool for my organisation”.

Every year, Social Now shows ways of improving internal communications, collaboration, and knowledge sharing and retention. This 8th edition Social Now 2019 will also pay special attention to several key questions:

  • how leaders can adapt to fully rip the benefits of digital transformation efforts; and,

  • how to use enterprise social tools to identify, nurture and develop great digital leaders.

Cablinc is a fictitious company with very real challenges. At Social Now, you will hear:

  • amazing speakers offer practical recommendations to help Cablinc;

  • platform vendors tell “day-in-the-life” narratives of smarter work practices at Cablinc;

  • peers from real organisations share their own experiences, in short talks and in the innovative “peer assist” session.

Come to sunny Lisbon. Join a small group of 100 professionals for 2 days of practical talks, rich debate, great networking, and gorgeous food and wine.

Click to register, or for more information.

Social Now uses a totally different lens to zoom in on key questions about social tools. More of a workshop than a typical tech conference, and dedicated to on-the-ground exploration of tools, rather than abstract theorizing. It's my third (fourth?) Social Now and I can't wait. | Stowe Boyd

Work Futures Daily - Chaotic and Smart

| Richer Sounds Trust | Living At Risk | Wednesdayless | Farm Workers Rights | Curtis Carlson |

Beacon NY - 2019-05-22 — I am operating like I have two full-time jobs, which in a way, I do.

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If you're getting this you probably signed up at workfutures.org (or one of its predecessors) or stoweboyd.com. If someone forwarded this to you, sign up here. Feel free to pass this along to others.

Consider becoming a paid sponsor to support our work, and to receive in-depth investigative reporting and discounts to other events, reports, and activities.

And paid sponsors gain access to our new members community. Visit members.workfutures.org to request a trial membership.

:::

Our new publication, On The Horizon, is dedicated to help spread greater understanding of the economics, structure, and behavior of platform ecosystems, and the corresponding reordering of business operations and organization. Sign up for the OTH weekly newsletter to be notified about new articles, interviews, events, and other news from the exploding domain of platform ecosystems.


Social Now 2019 — Lisbon Portugal — 6-7 June 2019

Developing digital leadership in a unique fusion of workshop and social tools demonstrations. See below at the footer for more information, or visit socialnow.org.


Stories

Richer Sounds founder hands over control of hi-fi and TV firm to staff | Zoe Wood reports on the UK hi-fi and TV retail chain, Richer Sounds, whose founder, Julian Richer, has transferred the majority of his shares into a worker-owned trust:

Julian Richer will announce to staff on Tuesday that he has transferred 60% of his shares into a John Lewis-style trust. Richer, who recently turned 60, said the “time was right” to pass the baton to the chain’s 531 employees.

John Lewis is an employee-owned UK company which operates department stores and supermarkets, and employees are known as partners, and receive a share of profits as well as salary.

With annual sales of nearly £200m, Richer Sounds is one of the biggest UK companies to embrace employee ownership in recent years.

The Employee Ownership Association (EOA) says more than 350 businesses have now adopted the model, with at least 50 more preparing to follow suit. Recent converts include Riverford, the organic vegetable box company and Aardman, the Bristol-based animation studio behind Wallace & Gromit.

An unorthodox business figure, with his long hair and sideline as the drummer in funk band Ten Millennia, Richer is lauded for the success of Richer Sounds which he founded in 1978 at the age of 19. His business philosophy, set out in his 2001 management book The Richer Way, champions providing secure, well-paid jobs with a happy workforce as being key to business success over the long term.

Richer Sounds, which has 53 stores, refuses to use zero-hours contracts and is one of the 14% of companies with a pay gap that favours women. Employee perks include access to company holiday homes around the world, including in European cities such as Paris, Venice and Barcelona. It donates 15% of profits, which last year stood at £9.6m, to charity.

I wonder why this form of business hasn't caught on in the US?

Basically, the trust will pay Richer over time for the shares, but he is likely to make less than if he sold them to outside investors.

The article has profiles of other companies in the UK with this structure.

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The Economy Is Strong. So Why Do So Many Americans Still Feel at Risk? | Jacob Hacker picks at the scab that has grown over the central disconnect in American society: the precarious nature of life where employment, health, and retirement are contingent, and the institutions that formerly seemed to support us no longer do, and in their place we are… on our own. [Emphasis mine.]

Insecurity is the broad challenge that all 2020 presidential candidates must address — and it helps explain why Democrats are tripping over one another to present bold plans for universal health care, public retirement supplements, guaranteed jobs and a much higher minimum wage.

Even with unemployment at a 50-year low, the job market is failing to reach millions of potential workers. That’s because those who aren’t working or looking for work are left out of the unemployment statistics. And the number of such workers has been growing: When unemployment was last down near 3.5 percent, in 1969, virtually all men ages 25 to 54 were in the work force. Today, the proportion is below 90 percent, the result of a long-term decline in work force participation that has hit men most severely, but has recently affected women, too.

Other rich countries haven’t seen this troubling fall, in part because they have policies that help workers find jobs, keep their skills up-to-date and balance work and family. Unfortunately, the United States hasn’t done much on any of these fronts. It once nearly led the world in levels of work force participation; now it’s toward the back of the pack.

This reversal has had many bad effects. It’s reduced the incentive to bid up wages, which used to be seen as the inevitable consequence of tight labor markets. It’s also made unemployment less and less useful as a measure of job security.

The basic problem is that most of the jobs offered today don’t provide the guarantees that workers once expected. This transformation is obvious in “gig economy” jobs like driving for Uber. But the gig economy is still pretty small; for most Americans, the problem is that their work has been gig-ified. Corporations used to pool major economic risks within their labor forces. They did so because they could — the pressures of financial markets and global competition were less constraining. And they did so because they thought they had to if labor unions were to remain satisfied. Now those risks are mostly on workers alone.

A must read.

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The Australian company that banned work on Wednesdays | Celina Ribeiro writes about Versa, an Australian digital marketing agency, where thy have implemented a four-day workweek, with Wednesdays off.

This surprised me, because I assumed that having Fridays or Mondays off would work better, but no:

Why Wednesdays?

That Monday feeling of productivity was critical to [CEO Kath] Blackham’s decision to break the week into two “mini-weeks”, rather than creating a long weekend, which she feared may encourage her predominantly young staff to “have an even bigger weekend”. She’d also found that letting staff choose their own days off meant it was often unclear to other employees or clients when that staff member was available, and that hit productivity.

Professor Jarrod Haar isn’t surprised that dropping Wednesday has proven so successful for Versa. As professor of human resource management at Auckland University of Technology in New Zealand, as part of his own research Haar has interviewed employees on rotating four-day weeks, and found they most enjoyed the Wednesdays off.

For employers, shutting down mid-week gives “more bang for your buck”. he says. “The Wednesday break means you return to Thursday fresh, and this is when people feel most productive.”

Note that since implementing the change revenue is up 46% and profits tripled.

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State AFL-CIO Head: Farm Workers Closer to Gaining Union Rights | I confess that I was ignorant of the tangled history of farmworker labor organizing in the US until reading this piece by Bob Hennelly. I learned that farmworkers have been marginalized from unionization:

In the 1930s, America’s farmworkers were excluded from the landmark protections extended to other workers as codified under the New Deal. The 1935 National Labor Relations Act and the 1938 Fair Labor Practices Act expressly exempted them, along with domestic workers.

Across the country state legislatures followed suit, denying the most basic labor protections for this workforce that was most often migratory and vulnerable to exploitation.

During the 80 years since, resistance to farmworkers organizing and gaining legal workplace protections has remained intense, with less than one percent of them able to benefit from union membership.

But now, [New York] State AFL-CIO President Mario Cilento believes the labor movement is closer than its ever been to righting what he sees as a “decades-old disgrace” with the passage this legislative session of the Farmworkers Fair Labor Practices Act (S-2837/A-2750).

The bill, sponsored by [New York] Assembly Member Catherine Nolan and by Labor Committee Chair State Sen. Jessica Ramos, would cover as many as 100,000 farmworkers. Roughly a third of New York State farms contract out for labor.

Because of their lack of union protections and exclusion from other labor practices, farm workers don't have the right of overtime pay, either.


Quote of the Day

Innovation from above tends to be orderly and dumb; innovation from below tends to be chaotic and smart.

| Curtis Carlson


Elsewhere

The Limits of Digital: Ideas, Creativity, and Cultural Reformation | Over at On The Horizon I dig into the bottleneck in productivity in today's economy, and especially into the recent Digital Abundance and Scarce Genius by Eric Brynjolfsson and Seth Benzell, where they are searching for the elusive G factor, which may stand for lack of human geniuses, or a shortfall in AI, or something more diffuse, like the increasing cost of new ideas.

I argue the missing factor is tied to platform ecosystems:

I look to the broad dissemination of the protocols, practices, and technologies that underlie platform ecosystems, and a transition of global businesses into massively-connected assemblages of interdependent organizations united by ecosystem economics. This could be the new stage of ‘replicability at low or even zero cost’ expansion of these economics, but one that relies on the adoption of new ways of work by people, teams, and organizations, rather than the singularity of some next stage in AI intellect.

I’d rather bet on organizations made of people, even if we do get AI working on sifting through the idea pile for us.

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How A.I. Can Help Handle Severe Weather | Alina Tugend looks into using AI to deal with increasingly sever weather [emphasis mine]:

One Concern, a company based in Menlo Park, Calif., uses artificial intelligence to model and forecast the impact of hazards. It started up in 2015 and has two products on the market: software platforms focused on earthquakes and flooding that are tailored to specific geographic areas to predict hyperlocal damage.

One Concern’s flooding platform, released last year, allows customers — which include cities and the private sector — to predict the depth and flow of flooding on a block-by-block basis up to five days before a potential flood.

But “this model without action doesn’t do anything,” said W. Craig Fugate, chief emergency management officer at One Concern and former administrator of the Federal Emergency Management Agency from 2009 to 2017.

So, the company is also focused on helping to mitigate the destruction wrought by such floods. That means looking not only at specific structures, but also everything that supports them. For example, a hospital may withstand flooding or an earthquake, but if the water system that serves it or the roads that lead to it are unusable, the hospital can’t function. That is what happened with Hurricane Harvey in Texas in 2017, Mr. Fugate said: Hospitals survived the flooding, but the roads were impassable.

“Historically, we’ve always looked at last 100 years’ worth of data to make decisions about going forward,” he said. “But if you’re having record-setting events practically monthly, how do you start projecting the future?”

You can't. Instead, prepare for the worst.


Social Now 2019 — Lisbon Portugal — 6-7 June 2019

At Social Now, enterprise social tools battle it out for the chance to be voted “the best tool for my organisation”.

Every year, Social Now shows ways of improving internal communications, collaboration, and knowledge sharing and retention. This 8th edition Social Now 2019 will also pay special attention to several key questions:

  • how leaders can adapt to fully rip the benefits of digital transformation efforts; and,

  • how to use enterprise social tools to identify, nurture and develop great digital leaders.

Cablinc is a fictitious company with very real challenges. At Social Now, you will hear:

  • amazing speakers offer practical recommendations to help Cablinc;

  • platform vendors tell “day-in-the-life” narratives of smarter work practices at Cablinc;

  • peers from real organisations share their own experiences, in short talks and in the innovative “peer assist” session.

Come to sunny Lisbon. Join a small group of 100 professionals for 2 days of practical talks, rich debate, great networking, and gorgeous food and wine.

Click to register, or for more information.

Social Now uses a totally different lens to zoom in on key questions about social tools. More of a workshop than a typical tech conference, and dedicated to on-the-ground exploration of tools, rather than abstract theorizing. It's my third (fourth?) Social Now and I can't wait. | Stowe Boyd

Work Futures Daily - Mining The Past

| Overconfidence | Prowler | Secret Parenting | USPS Bots | Ayesha Siddiqi |

Beacon NY - 2019-05-21 — Today's title is derived from Ayesha Siddiqi's quote of the day.

:::

If you're getting this you probably signed up at workfutures.org (or one of its predecessors) or stoweboyd.com. If someone forwarded this to you, sign up here. Feel free to pass this along to others.

Consider becoming a paid sponsor to support our work, and to receive in-depth investigative reporting and discounts to other events, reports, and activities.

And paid sponsors gain access to our new members community. Visit members.workfutures.org to request a trial membership.

:::

Our new publication, On The Horizon, is dedicated to help spread greater understanding of the economics, structure, and behavior of platform ecosystems, and the corresponding reordering of business operations and organization.

Sign up for the OTH weekly newsletter to be notified about new articles, interviews, events, and other news from the exploding domain of platform ecosystems.


Social Now 2019 — Lisbon Portugal — 6-7 June 2019

Developing digital leadership in a unique fusion of workshop and social tools demonstrations. See below at the footer for more information, or visit socialnow.org.


Stories

Why High-Class People Get Away With Incompetence | Heather Murphy reports on recent research regarding overconfidence as a consequence of higher social class:

What is it about an elite upbringing that seems to make people feel qualified for tasks where they have little experience? This is one of the questions that inspired a study published Monday in The Journal of Personality and Social Psychology.

The researchers suggest that part of the answer involves what they call “overconfidence.” In several experiments, they found that people who came from a higher social class were more likely to have an inflated sense of their skills — even when tests proved that they were average. This unmerited overconfidence, they found, was interpreted by strangers as competence.

The findings highlight yet another way that family wealth and parents’ education — two of a number of factors used to assess social class in the study — affect a person’s experience as they move through the world.

Other studies have demonstrated that the overconfident are perceived as competent. The implications are broad. As Daniel Kahneman relates in the wonderful article Don't Blink! The Hazards of Confidence, we have entire industries — such as investment firms — that are based on overconfidence, but analysis shows zero correlation between their prognostications and results. As he wrote,

Overconfident professionals sincerely believe they have expertise, act as experts and look like experts. You will have to struggle to remind yourself that they may be in the grip of an illusion.

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Tencent, Pearson Among Backers of $100 Million U.K. AI Startup | Jeremy Kahn profiles Prowler, an AI startup that sidesteps the bottleneck of requiring large amounts of data to train AI:

Unlike many AI companies that use supervised machine-learning techniques that rely on vast amounts of data, Prowler’s software uses unsupervised methods based on a field of mathematics that deals with probabilities and doesn’t require massive data sets. Its decision-making software also relies on reinforcement learning –- in which software learns from experience rather than data –- as well as game theory.

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End the Plague of Secret Parenting | Emily Oster turns a great phrase in this piece calling for parents to openly acknowledge that they are 1/ parents and 2/ have obligations to their families:

For the past few weeks, I’ve been talking with parents—mostly women—about all aspects of life with little kids. (My new book, Cribsheet, focuses on using data to make parenting decisions.) One thing I heard much more than I would have liked, and more than I would have expected, was that parents feel the need to hide or minimize the evidence of their children at the office.

I should be clear that most of the parents I spoke with had good—enviable, lengthy, gender-neutral—leave policies. The issues they encountered were more subtle, more nebulous, more about climate.

Women told me that they hid their pregnancies until well into the third trimester, wearing loose-fitting clothes to avoid telling their bosses or venture-capital funders that they were expecting. Once they had kids, some told me they simply never discussed them. If they had to deal with a child-related issue, they lied about why they were leaving work.

One woman told me she worked on a team of men, all of whom were fathers. Pregnant with her first child, she noted that none of the men ever talked about their children, and she assumed she shouldn’t either.

The general sense is that everyone should adopt the polite fiction that after the first several months of leave, the child disappears into a void from which he or she emerges for viewing and discussing only during nonworking hours.

[…]

Put simply, mothers and fathers ought to come clean about the nature of their lives. We can’t fix problems that we pretend don’t exist; we can’t improve the lot of parents at work if we pretend we aren’t parents.

Go read it.

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Self-Driving Trucks Will Carry Mail in U.S. for the First Time | Ira Boudway reports on a milestone in autonomous vehicles, when the US Postal Service will pilot semi trucks from TuSimple carrying mail between Phoenix and Dallas starting today. Here's the work angle:

The Postal Service spends more than $4 billion per year on highway trucking services through outside contractors. Those costs have been rising due to a national shortage of drivers. Self-driving trucks could save hundreds of millions by eliminating human drivers and the hours-of-service rules that keep them from driving round the clock.


Quote of the Day

If you want to predict the future, see what is being mined from the past.

Ayesha Siddiqi, Our Brand Could Be Your Crisis


Elsewhere

Looking at the World with One Eye Closed | At On The Horizon, I explore the premises of complexity economics, in particular W. Brian Arthur's observation that traditional economics looks closely at allocation in the economy — how quantities of goods and services and the prices are determined in markets. However, traditional economics doesn't really get into formation in the economy. As Arthur says about that side of economics, formation is

How an economy emerges in the first place, and grows and changes structurally over time. This is represented by ideas about innovation, economic development, structural change, and the role of history, institutions, and governance in the economy.

The allocation problem is well understood and highly mathematized, the formation one less well understood and barely mathematized.

Complexity economics looks at structures forming in the economy, so it's just as much concerned with formation as with allocation.


Social Now 2019 — Lisbon Portugal — 6-7 June 2019

At Social Now, enterprise social tools battle it out for the chance to be voted “the best tool for my organisation”.

Every year, Social Now shows ways of improving internal communications, collaboration, and knowledge sharing and retention. This 8th edition Social Now 2019 will also pay special attention to several key questions:

  • how leaders can adapt to fully rip the benefits of digital transformation efforts; and,

  • how to use enterprise social tools to identify, nurture and develop great digital leaders.

Cablinc is a fictitious company with very real challenges. At Social Now, you will hear:

  • amazing speakers offer practical recommendations to help Cablinc;

  • platform vendors tell “day-in-the-life” narratives of smarter work practices at Cablinc;

  • peers from real organisations share their own experiences, in short talks and in the innovative “peer assist” session.

Come to sunny Lisbon. Join a small group of 100 professionals for 2 days of practical talks, rich debate, great networking, and gorgeous food and wine.

Click to register, or for more information.

Social Now uses a totally different lens to zoom in on key questions about social tools. More of a workshop than a typical tech conference, and dedicated to on-the-ground exploration of tools, rather than abstract theorizing. It's my third (fourth?) Social Now and I can't wait. | Stowe Boyd

Work Futures Daily - Greed and Flex

| Greedy Work | Flexy Work | Publicy | What Teams Want | Irwin Corey |

Beacon NY - 2019-05-20 — After a wet and brief spring, it appears that we have barged into summer here in NY state. I am wearing shorts, and a straw hat, like most of the tourists rubbernecking on Beacon's Main Street. Beacon was rated 'Hippest City in America under 20,000 population' by some tourism magazine, and that really attracts a lot of weekenders from the surrounding area. They're coming on bus tours, now. I'm not kidding.

:::

If you're getting this you probably signed up at workfutures.org (or one of its predecessors) or stoweboyd.com. If someone forwarded this to you, sign up here. Feel free to pass this along to others.

Consider becoming a paid sponsor to support our work, and to receive in-depth investigative reporting and discounts to other events, reports, and activities.

And paid sponsors gain access to our new members community. Visit members.workfutures.org to request a trial membership.

:::

Our new publication, On The Horizon, is dedicated to help spread greater understanding of the economics, structure, and behavior of platform ecosystems, and the corresponding reordering of business operations and organization. Sign up for the OTH weekly newsletter to be notified about new articles, interviews, events, and other news from the exploding domain of platform ecosystems.


Stories

Work in America Is Greedy. But It Doesn’t Have to Be. | Claire Cain Miller discovers that in a tight job market, more employers are finding that offering flextime (of various flavors) leads to attracting and retaining workers.

At Credigy, a finance company near Atlanta, any worker can arrive late, leave early or work from home, no questions asked, as long as the work gets done — and even the members of the senior leadership team do so. It’s a different world from most professional services companies, which require long hours in the office.

At Miss B’s Cafe in Louisburg, Kan., servers collaborate on their schedules so they can fill in for anyone who needs a day off, and the kitchen manager bakes brunch pastries the evening before so she can attend yoga on weekend mornings. It’s unlike many service-sector jobs, in which schedules can be assigned at the last minute.

The long and unpredictable hours that have resulted from America’s obsession with work have spread from the so-called greedy professions, like law, finance and consulting, to many other jobs, both salaried and hourly. It’s a major driver of gender inequality: The increasing wage premiums of long hours have pushed many couples with equal educations to take on unequal roles, because if they’re parents, they can’t be on call at work unless someone else is on call at home.

[…]

Driven by competition for workers, more employers have begun offering these benefits (while still providing stable wages and benefits, unlike in the gig economy). Sixty-eight percent allow workers to telecommute as needed, up from 54 percent in 2014, according to the Society for Human Resource Management. Twenty-seven percent offer the flexibility to work outside normal business hours, up from 22 percent.

“For the last 10 years, employers have been used to having it all their own way,” said Martha Gimbel, an economist at Indeed, the job search site. “In a tight labor market, they’re having to compete in a way they’re not used to.”

I was having a conversation recently with Steve Power, the Global President of Deputy, a company that provides a staff management toolkit. We were discussing the topic of how much of a headache last-minute scheduling is for hourly workers, in retail, food service, hospitality and other markets. Power pointed out that in a very tight employment market employers were being pushed to make changes in order to retain workers who could walk across the street to get another job.

One of those changes is making schedules farther in advance, and greater openness to workers having a say in who they work with. Apparently, they are wising up to the reality that workers are happier when working with friends rather than strangers or those they don't like. That might be as big an incentive as higher pay, and the evidence shows self-formed work teams are the most productive.

[from Flexwork Pays]

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My boss gave me flextime when I became a mom, and it became harder to advance my career | Anisa Purbasari Horton tells the other side of the flextime story:

When lawyer-turned-entrepreneur Amy Nelson was working as a litigator, she asked her boss for flextime after her first child was born. She quickly realized that such an arrangement effectively meant that she was working 40 hours but at a reduced rate.

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In If We Care So Much About What Google Knows, Why Do We Keep Telling It Everything?, Jennifer Senior says it simply takes too much time to operate privately in a public world online:

In an attempt at reconciliation — and expiation and clarification — I made lots of phone calls and did lots of reading on the topic in recent weeks, much of it online. By the end, I was Google-stalked almost exclusively by ads about privacy-related books and podcasts: I was that deep in a house of meta-horrors. Here, perhaps, was my most liberating discovery: Our conflicting impulses are actually quite rational. As Alessandro Acquisti, a professor of information technology at Carnegie Mellon, points out, sometimes each of the contradictory beliefs in a paradox is perfectly well founded.

Let’s consider, just as an example, why we are forever skating past the internet’s fine print. In 2008 — 2008! before Instagram, before Uber, before WhatsApp! — two of Acquisti’s colleagues at Carnegie Mellon calculated just how long it would take for the average internet user to read the privacy policies of all the websites he or she visited in a single year. Their answer: over 30 workdays, at a national opportunity cost of $781 billion.

Which makes blowing off those policies seem quite reasonable. A necessity, even.

So there you have one explanation for this so-called paradox: To fully apprehend our vulnerabilities as digital creatures would require far too much time and energy. More than that: It would require an entirely new set of instincts, a radically different cognitive framework from the one we now possess.

She goes on to quote Danah Boyd,

Danah Boyd, the founder of the Data & Society Research Institute, perhaps put it best when she wrote we are “public by default, private through effort.”

Which is why we are really talking about publicy not privacy. Public by default.

[from Jennifer Senior on Publicy]

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Survey: How modern teams actually want to work | Ben Taylor relates some perhaps surprising results from a Dropbox survey:

  • More workers want to slow down to get things right -- only 41% wanted 'to go fast to achieve more', and 76% valued 'making sure work is done right'.

  • Workers strongly value uninterrupted focus at work, but most will make an exception to help others -- 59% said they valued 'making time for uninterrupted flow'. Older generations valued such focus even more highly (67% for Gen-X, 71% for Boomers).

  • Most workers have slightly more trust in people closest to the work, rather than people in upper management — Boomers are the most skeptical about upper management.

  • Workers are torn between idealism and pragmatism — 58% want to take big, gnarly societal issue, while 46% want to get their work done first.

Productivity is being displaced as the prime mover at work.


Quote of the Day

If we don’t change direction soon, we’ll end up where we’re going.

| Irwin Corey, accepting the the National Book Award in 1974 for Gravity’s Rainbow. Thomas Pynchon sent him to accept in his place.


Elsewhere

Microsoft, Slack, Zoom, and the SaaS Opportunity | Ben Thompson provides a solid explanation of the dynamics in the enterprise software marketplace, as exemplified by three leading companies.

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‘They Were Conned’: How Reckless Loans Devastated a Generation of Taxi Drivers | Brian Rosenthal unrolls the collapse of the market for taxi medallions, and the sharks that took unwitting taxi drivers for everything they had. Oh, and Uber and Lyft were complicit, too.

2019-05-18 Digest

Contributors: | CBInsights | Theodore Kinni | Kyle Kowalski | Lee Bryant | Jane Watson | Stowe Boyd Jared Lindzon | Joshua Cooper Ramo |

Beacon NY - 2019-05-18 — Crazy week. Or really two weeks, since I didn't put together a digest the week before.

:::

Yesterday, I was finally able to announce a project that has been brewing for months, a new publication On The Horizon, dedicated to help spread greater understanding of the economics, structure, and behavior of platform ecosystems, and the corresponding reordering of business operations and organization.

Learn more and sign up for OTH weekly newsletter to be notified about new articles, interviews, events, and other news from the exploding domain of platform ecosystems.

As Zhang Ruimin, the CEO of Haier, said,

Currently we live in the Internet era. And in this era anyone or any group can start his or her own enterprise. But there will not be a future for the traditional enterprise.

The platform organization will be the future. Many platforms will be built, and decentralization will be very important. Competition in the Internet era is not between companies, but between platforms. You either own, or are owned by, a platform.

:::

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Consider becoming a paid sponsor to support our work, and to receive in-depth investigative reporting and discounts to other events, reports, and activities.

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Social Now 2019 — Lisbon Portugal — 6-7 June 2019

Developing digital leadership in a unique fusion of workshop and social tools demonstrations. Visit socialnow.org for more information.


Stories

The 25 Most Absurd Job Titles In Tech | Amazing titles, like Galatic Viceroy of Research Excellence, Digital Prophet, and Security Princess.

[from Work Futures Daily - Cut All The Flowers]

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Bad meetings no more | Theodore Kinni reviews a new book by Steven Rogelberg, The Surprising Science of Meetings: How You Can Lead Your Team to Peak Performance, which I confess sounded deeply uninteresting, but there are some good factoids in there.

[from Work Futures Daily - Meaning Ensues]

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Post-Workism: 5 Future Scenarios after the Religion of Work | Kyle Kowalski wrote an overly-long post that explores five themes — I'm not sure they are 'scenarios' — that feels like the outline of a book dedicated to convincing people to work less and enjoy life — and work! — more.

[from Work Futures Daily - After the Religion of Work]

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Our Guide to the Evolution of the Digital Workplace | Lee Bryant introduces Post*Shift's Digital Workplace Futures Guide, which recounts the transition from the early thinking about social business to the continuing evolution of today's digital workplace.

[from Work Futures Daily - Out Of Time]

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On Power & Transparency | Jane Watson discusses power, and shares a useful model for thinking about power in the workplace. Power Among is a sort of emergent power arising from the interaction of individuals, a non-zero-sum acceleration and amplification of power through network effects.

[from Work Futures Daily - How The World Ends]

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Microsoft’s Vision: Trawling with Engines of Meaning | I visited Microsoft's Envisioning Center last week, and I wrote up some thoughts of their post-document vision, as hinted at by Fluid Framework and made more clear by the workplace of the future demos that Anton Andrews and the team at Microsoft dreamed up.

:::

This isn't the job I signed up for: What now? | Jared Lindzon explores a troubling trend, when newly hired people discover their jobs aren't as described.

[from Work Futures Daily - Terminated]


Quote of the Week

To see the world this way, as a ceaselessly complex and adaptive system, requires a revolution. It involves changing the role we imagine for ourselves, from architects of a system we can control and manage to gardeners in a living, shifting ecosystem.

| Joshua Cooper Ramo, *The Age of the Unthinkable

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