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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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.


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’.


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.


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