Jobs and work

Here are some of the observations and insights that were shared via social media during the past two weeks. [Note: It seems that if you look in enough places, certain patterns begin to emerge.]

If they can get you asking the wrong questions, they don’t have to worry about answers. -Thomas Pynchon.” via @johnsonwhitney

Bert van Lamoen (@transarchitect) “If the old rules are left in place there are no new behaviors and the new model fails and nothing changes.

Hugh MacLeod (@gapingvoid) – “The rush hour @starbucks crowd has this nice bourgeois desperation about them …”

TechCrunch: America has hit peak jobs – via @sardire

Paul Kedrosky recently wrote a terrific essay about what I call cultural technical debt, i.e. “organizations or technologies that persist, largely for historical reasons, not because they remain the best solution to the problem for which they were created. They are often obstacles to much better solutions.” Well, the notion that ‘jobs are how the rewards of our society are distributed, and every decent human being should have a job’ is becoming cultural technical debt.

If it’s not solved, then in the coming decades you can expect a self-perpetuating privileged elite to accrue more and more of the wealth generated by software and robots, telling themselves that they’re carrying the entire world on their backs, Ayn Rand heroes come to life, while all the lazy jobless “takers” live off the fruits of their labor. Meanwhile, as the unemployed masses grow ever more frustrated and resentful, the Occupy protests will be a mere candle flame next to the conflagrations to come.

Disposable worker syndrome is killing us – by @michelemmartin

In the past, through this blog, I’ve focused on how we as individuals need to keep renewing and recycling ourselves through a process of lifelong learning and adapting to change. I still believe this is true. But I also believe that, through our institutions, we are doing great spiritual and emotional damage to ourselves by consistently communicating to people that they are disposable and that they are on their own in the process of recycling and renewing.

To torture my metaphor, we are treating people like garbage–throwing them into landfills and just letting them waste away there. We are doing nothing to provide them with the structures and resources and emotional supports that would help them go through that renewal process.

NYT: The Rise of the Permanent Temp Economy – via @jerrymichalski

The temp industry’s continued growth even in a boom economy was a testament to its success in helping to forge a new cultural consensus about work and workers. Its model of expendable labor became so entrenched, in fact, that it became “common sense,” leaching into nearly every sector of the economy and allowing the newly renamed “staffing industry” to become sought-after experts on employment and work force development. Outsourcing, insourcing, offshoring and many other hallmarks of the global economy (including the use of “adjuncts” in academia, my own corner of the world) owe no small debt to the ideas developed by the temp industry in the last half-century.

Being paid for a task decreases intrinsic motivation (PDF)Edward Deci’s original experiment from 1971 – via @dougald

It appears that money – perhaps because of its connotation and use in our culture – may act as a stimulus which leads the subject to a cognitive reevaluation of the activity from one which is intrinsically motivated to one which is motivated primarily by the expectation of financial rewards. In short, money may work to “buy off” one’s intrinsic motivation for an activity. And this decreased motivation appears (from the results of the field experiment) to be more than just a temporary phenomenon.

The Guardian: Payment by Results – via @JohnQShift

Payment by results is a simple idea: people and organisations should only get paid for what they deliver. Who could argue with that? If your job is to get people back to work, then find them a job dammit … and they make people lie …

… This lying takes all sorts of different forms. Some of them are subtle forms of deception: teachers who teach to the test or who only enter pupils for exams they know they are going to pass; employment support that helps only those likely to get a job and ignores those most in need; or hospitals that reclassify trolleys as beds, and keep people waiting in ambulances on the hospital doorstep until they know they can be seen within a target time. In the literature, this is known as gaming the system.

Does your company culture compare even remotely to this? (Netflix)

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