“it was 20 years ago today”

Today marks the 20th anniversary of Jarche Consulting. There were several times when I thought that I would not make it this far. The roller coaster ride continues, having weathered the great recession and a pandemic. Who knows what the future will bring? For now, I am grateful to my friends, colleagues, and especially my repeat clients who continue to have confidence in my work. It has been a great pleasure.

Writing on this blog, after +19 years, continues to be a primary way that I make sense and connect with people around the globe. Here are some thoughts I shared along the way as I marked other anniversaries. (more…)

work is human

Is there a talent shortage today, or merely ineffective hiring practices?

While employers lament a talent shortage, they are scrambling to increase talent attraction and retention. They offer new incentives and promises of increased flexibility and an inclusive company culture. However, most of these efforts ignore one key factor that could make a significant difference–including talent across the age spectrum.

Instead, talent management processes such as recruiting, hiring, promoting and retaining tend to exclude individuals under 24 or over 40. The result is a 16-year criterion for talent. —Forbes 2023-03-12

Is ageism a primary factor influencing the retention of skilled and experienced workers? (more…)

the button

Ethan Mollick discusses the impact of ‘The Button’ on our writing. The Button is in Google Docs but similar GPT-LLM tools are or will soon be available in many other writing tools. They can immediately create a credible piece of writing, such as a letter of recommendation or a proposal, increasing anyone’s speed of writing and avoiding writer’s block. These tools are exceptionally convenient, so of course most people will use them. But at what cost?

“But then The Button starts to tempt everyone. Work that was boring to do, but meaningful when completed by humans (like performance reviews) becomes easy to outsource – and the apparent quality actually increases. We start to create documents mostly with AI that get sent to AI-powered inboxes where the recipients respond mostly with AI. Even worse, we still create the reports by hand, but realize that no human is actually reading them. This kind of meaningless task, what organizational theorists have called mere ceremony, has always been with us. But AI will make a lot of previously useful tasks meaningless. It it will also remove the facade that previously disguised meaningless tasks. We may not have always known if our work mattered in the bigger picture, but in most organizations, the people in your part of the organizational structure felt that it did. With AI-generated work sent to other AIs to assess, that sense of meaning disappears.” —Ethan Mollick


blessings and curses

On the last Friday of each month I curate some of the observations and insights that were shared on social media. I call these Friday’s Finds.

“Until a drag queen walks into a school and beats eight kids to death with a copy of ‘To Kill A Mockingbird’, I think you’re focusing on the wrong shit.” Wanda Sykes

This is the best advice ever —”Live so that if your life were turned into a book, Florida would ban it.”@GigidiGranat (more…)

the act of creation is human

In 2005 I wrote a business plan for a client that was based on an operational model of employing ‘knowledge artisans‘.

Next-gen knowledge artisans are amplified versions of their pre-industrial counterparts. Equipped with and augmented by technology, they rely on their human capital and skill to solve complex problems and develop new ideas, products and services. Highly productive, knowledge artisans are capable individually and in small groups of producing goods and services that used to take substantially larger teams and resources. In addition to redefining how work is done, knowledge artisans are creating new organizational structures and business models.

I later followed this up by discussing how knowledge artisans choose their tools. (more…)

automation vs augmentation

Understanding machine learning (ML), generative pre-trained transformers (GPT), and large language models (LLM) has become a part-time job for me. Not only is there a lot of information and discussion, but a wide range of opinions. The topic of ‘AI’ constantly pops up in professional meetings. Researcher danah boyd discusses the difference between the perspectives of automation vs. augmentation as ‘AI’ develops.

“When it comes to AI’s potential future impact on jobs, Camp Automation tends to jump to the conclusion that most jobs will be automated away into oblivion … most in Camp Automation tend to panic and refuse to engage with how their views might intersect with late-stage capitalism, structural inequality, xenophobia, and political polarization … Camp Augmentation is more focused on how things will just change. If we take Camp Augmentation’s stance, the next question is: what changes should we interrogate more deeply?” —Zephoria 2023-04-21

I am mostly in the augmentation camp, though I am concerned that automation + capitalism = a perfect storm. This was the case with the augmented work enabled by the personal computer. Knowledge work improved significantly but wages did not. (more…)

“a pandemic of thoughtlessness”

Christopher Lydon, host of Radio OpenSource, interviews two humanists on failing intelligence.

“Robert Pogue Harrison is our Dante scholar at Stanford, our professional humanist, and a West Coast friend in smart podcasting. We asked ChatGPT about his voice, and we got the instant answer that his voice “has a certain mellowness and introspection” that go with his ‘keen ear for language and a precise, articulate way of expressing his ideas’. He’s joined by Ana Ilievska, initials A.I. She is Robert’s colleague from Europe in humanistic studies at Stanford. Recently, in the podcast Entitled Opinions, they both defended AI as a wake-up call, maybe in the nick of time, to rescue humanity, human stewardship, human culture from its corrupted condition. They both said they expect their students to use AI and to learn from it.” —2023-05-04



step lively

It seems that today everyone is chatting about GPT (generative pre-trained transformers) and what feeds them — large language models (LLM). I am always skeptical when the next techno-hype cycle comes around but this one seems different. The worst case scenario does not look good, especially for knowledge workers.

In a few months, maybe a year, the first wave of AI-driven layoffs slash firings are going to hit the economy. And then? They’ll just keep going. Executives are going to figure out that a whole lot of work — clerical, administrative, accounting, legal, writing, marketing, customer relations, even decision-making and risk analysis and data analysis — can be automated. AI’s going to be like offshoring, but much, much worse. Offshoring wiped out the working class — AI’s going to finish the job of wiping out the middle class. Offshoring eviscerated blue collar jobs — AI’s going to wipe out some pink collar ones, and a whole lot of white collar ones, too. —Umair Haque 2023-04-28


“moments, not models”

On the last Friday of each month I curate some of the observations and insights that were shared on social media. I call these Friday’s Finds.

“The ability to learn from experience in the present — from moments, not models — is what is needed when the past has become a hindrance and the future is unclear.” —Gianpiero Petriglieri via Shaun Coffey

“The kind of intelligence [AI] we’re developing is very different from our intelligence. So it’s this idiot-savant kind of intelligence.”
Geoffrey Hinton

“The great merit of the capitalist system, it has been said, is that it succeeds in using the nastiest motives of nasty people for the ultimate benefit of society.” —E.A.G. Robinson (1941) via QuoteInvestigator (more…)