Work Futures Daily - Private Government

Are Bosses Dictators? | First Principles of Organizational Design | Why Open Offices Suck | Five workplace predictions for 2019 | Bernie Sanders on Corporate Power

Beacon NY - 2019-01-03 — This issue takes its title from Elizabeth Anderson’s thesis, that businesses are run – in general – as private non-democratic governments, and we accept that, and the legitimacy of leaders who believe that is a sound way to operate the world of business.

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Are Bosses Dictators? | Joshua Rothman reviews the arguments against dictatorial work regimes offered by philosopher Elizabeth Anderson in Private Government: How Employers Rule Our Lives (and Why We Don’t Talk about It). She pushes for more democratic norms in business, which she calls ‘public government’, governance where the governed have a large voice. This is not the case in 'private government’, where rules are imposed without the active consent of the governed, as is the case in many businesses. Rothman believes the subtitle refers to a harsh reality:

We don’t talk about it is that we don’t want to acknowledge how much the rhetoric of American freedom outruns the constraints of private government.

What are the ‘first principles’ of organization design? | Naomi Stanford wonders if there are 'first principles’ to organizational design. (I start with the larger concern of whether organizations can if fact be 'designed’. They can be influenced in a mazillion ways, certainly. But her question is important in either mindset.) She likens this to the notion of first principles for child rearing, which is an interesting take.

Why open offices suck and how to fix them | Katharine Schwab points out that open offices are sexistbad for productivity, and make people miserable. Why can’t we end this trend? (See Are Bosses Dictators, above).

Five workplace predictions for 2019 | Jena McGregor gets past the obvious bets – like #MeToo, more sexual misconduct coming to light, increased need for diversity, etc. – and digs into new territory for 2019:

  1. Benefits: Family leave for non-parents will become more common

  2. Compensation: A wage gap between old and new workers will create new headaches

  3. Privacy: Workers will demand that employers do more to insure their personal data

  4. Office Design: The office phone booth will become a workplace staple

  5. Workplace Tech: Email will move past its peak and continue its demise.

I call outright shenanigans on No. 5 (email is the cockroach of communications), and wonder how far workers will be able to push on No. 3 given corporate hunger to know what workers are up to.


Work Walk: Tiago Forte Asks A Great Question | I take a close look at an essay from Tiago Forte, who discounts the premises of productivity because we no longer can be certain of exactly what we should be doing, in a world moving so fast. I paraphrase his question:

Are the premises of 'productivity’ less relevant in a world that is so volatile, uncertain, complex, and ambiguous? In the absence of concrete and unchanging requirements, how can we approach making progress against our goals? Do we have to look to the example of highly creative artists, writers, and performers, rather than developers, engineers, and business people?

Note: This essay is an example of what sponsors will be reading in the Work Talk and Work Walk series. I have sent this excerpt to all subscribers, and the full post is available as an example, but I invite you to consider joining the Work Futures Institute as a sponsor, here.


Quote of the Day

The extraordinary power of the corporate establishment is not just over our economy and political life, it is over our imagination and our ability to envision a different kind of world.

| Bernie Sanders


crossposted from workfutures.org.