Work Futures Daily - Now with Comments!

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Beacon NY - 2018-06-22 - The wonderful folks at Substack have released the first working version of comments for posts. So you will be seeing this in this and future newsletter posts:

Except not in fuchsia.

And when visiting the archived post, the comments section will show at the bottom.

Reading and writing comments are an additional benefit for paid subscribers, and I intend to add supplemental information and commentary there. So sign up and try it out.

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One-Liners

Tomer London, the chief product officer of Gusto, makes the case for the company's eponymous product in Introducing Flexible Pay: Putting You in Control of Your Payday. The model is to move away from monthly or biweekly paydays for all, and allow employees to get paid whenever most convenient, for example, daily. As he says:

We believe Flexible Pay will become the new standard for payroll. Consider this: 30 years ago, many of us took a physical check to the bank and deposited it with the help of a friendly bank teller on payday. Today, most Americans receive their pay through direct deposit right into their bank account. Going forward, you’ll be able to get paid for the work you’ve completed when you want.

I bet that's true. However, I think that entrenched payroll services, or players like PayPal or Stripe, could potentially be in a better place to offer up this innovation… perhaps by acquiring Gusto.

Dylan Walsh says business could do better with flat organizations in Rethinking Hierarchy in the Workplace:

"When you look at real organizations, having a clear hierarchy within your firm actually makes people turn on each other when they face an outside threat," says Lindred Greer, a professor of organizational behavior at Stanford Graduate School of Business. Effective teamwork against threats requires not hierarchy, but egalitarianism; not centralized power, but a culture in which all voices count.

Along with Lisanne van Bunderen of the University of Amsterdam and Daan Van Knippenberg of Drexel University, the research team teased out this finding through two complementary studies. In the first study, an experiment, teams of three students developed and pitched a consultancy project to a prospective client. Some of these teams were non-hierarchical, while members of other teams arbitrarily received titles: senior consultant, consultant, junior consultant. Likewise, some teams faced no rivals, while others were told they were competing with a rival firm for clients. The researchers found that the subset of hierarchical teams facing competition with rival firms struggled with infighting while the egalitarian teams cooperated on their work.

In their second study, they investigated a Dutch health insurance company. They provided surveys to 158 existing teams within the firm. The surveys measured the degree to which teams felt egalitarian or hierarchical and how much they perceived conflict with other teams in the company. Company managers then rated team performance. Their results corroborated the experimental findings: Hierarchical teams that felt like they were competing against other teams generally underperformed, while egalitarian teams did not. (The results are forthcoming in an article for the Academy of Management Journal.)

Greer is uncertain that hierarchy can be totally replaced, noting the mixed results with Holacracy, which redirects decision making away from leaders to teams:

“I’ve always said that if there were a Nobel Prize for management, it would go to the person who finds an organizational structure that’s not based on vertical differentiation, on hierarchy, on leadership,” she says. “Other than Holacracy there have to be ways to organize that don’t imply inequality and inequity — ways to organize that are more mutually respectful and reinforcing.”

...

According to an Accenture survey, with findings published in the Digital Health Technology Vision 2018 report,

81 percent of health executives say their organizations are not prepared to face the societal and liability issues that will require them to explain their AI-based actions and decisions, should issues arise.

At the same time,

Accenture’s survey found that 73 percent of health executives are planning to develop internal ethical standards related to the use of AI to ensure their systems are designed to act responsibly.

A chaotic time of increasing complexity which is challenging healthcare companies at a fundamental level.

I enjoyed David Pierce's Microsoft Is Fixing Office, but Not Fast Enough, which contrasts Microsoft's efforts with Google, Dropbox and others:

While Google, Dropbox and others have built modern, collaborative, web- and mobile-friendly productivity tools, Microsoft has been stuck in old ideas. It built mobile and web apps, but it built them to look and work like desktop apps from a decade ago. Microsoft appears terrified of changing anything and angering anyone.

Still, Office is inching toward the future (or at least toward the present). Microsoft recently announced the biggest Office redesign in years, intended to make the apps cleaner, faster and more collaborative.

The change will come slowly: The new look is coming first to Word and Outlook, and only for a few users. It could be months before you notice anything different. The new design feels like a step in the right direction. But it also feels too small, too slow and maybe too late.

His nitpicky analysis of the design flaws of menubars and UX is spot on, and he lambastes Microsoft's seeming unwillingness to let go of decisions made in 1995 or offending those who are stuck in that era.

But I think Google and Dropbox are stuck in a more modern, but still old school set of metaphors, and new 'work processing' tools -- like Notion.io, Slite, and Quip -- are more in step with an always-on, lighter-weight notion of shared online documents. Docs aren't intended to be printed and read on paper, but serve as shared information resources, including tasks, assignments, comment threads, chat rooms, and project management tools like Kanban boards, calendars, and the like. Microsoft may be two generations behind by this point.

Quip document

Quote of the Day

Our technology forces us to live mythically.

| Marshall McLuhan, The Medium is the Message