Get to the heart of what will be the vibrant, interesting, & lucrative jobs and careers in the 21st century?

New management

When I went to university, we were told that management is the art of getting work done through people.  A passport to laziness and exploitation!

Today, we say management is developing people through work.

Work should be fun.  It is fun for some of us.

And work should be fair.  Not only should we receive a fair day’s pay for a fair days work.  We should be growing as a person and capable of doing more with each hour of work that we put in.

Rewriting the training manuals for jobs and careers

In 20th century management manuals, Stage 1 of work was doing.  For about 10 years, roughly from 16 to 26, we learned a trade and built breadth & depth through education and exposure.  Our job was to cultivate a deep knowledge of our materials and tools, appreciate our customers, and adapt what we did for their needs.  We wanted to learn enough about the wide range of situations that we might encounter in the future so that we could go with the flow and make a living as the years went by.

Sadly, of course, markets change and revolutions happen in technology.  With very little notice, customers defect to other products and markets, competitors outrun us, or the technology changes sufficiently to require another 10 year apprenticeship.

In the ‘olden days’, HR departments were responsible for seeing ahead and retraining staff ahead of any abrupt changes.  By definition, the HR Director’s job was to spot changes on the horizon and get everyone retrained in new ways without disrupting today’s operations.  There was a reason for that high salary!

You are now your own HR Director

Today’s management theorists and leadership coaches counsel another approach.  They recommend that each of us scan the horizon for changes and retrain ourselves in good time.

This is quite hard to do.  As noobes, we barely understand the business.  We don’t have data to see ahead.  Indeed it might be kept from us.  And training tends to focus on skill  rather than the ‘sweet spot’ where are skills are deeply valued by our customers.

The sweet spot where your skills are deeply valued by your customers

I know that there has been a lot of research on how to train people on the sweet spot.

  • I recall attempts to train doctors by introducing them to patients from day one.  The conclusion, I recall, was that the pre-clinical training was necessary to speed up communication between noobes and experienced doctors and the experiment was abandoned.
  • Cognitive psychologists have developed computer games to test whether it is better to learn the market before we learn the underlying technology of our business.  They concluded no.  First, learn the technology, then try to make money.
  • Military psychologists have found that youngsters trained to manage their attention on computer games performed better as fighter pilots.  In the game, the recruits played the part of captains of de-mining vessels.  Each ‘month’, or game cycle, they would concentrate on the overall outcome of running the ship and concentrate on learning one of the functions only ~ navigation, finance, HR, etc.  The limitation known with this approach is that under pressure we often go back to the “level” that we first learned, requiring, once again, that we can see into the future and pick our “level” correctly.

It seems easy to mess up our mental models of the sweet spot and what we need to do to manage it.  We can overemphasize the money end and underemphasize the skill.  We can also learn to manage situations that are too small to sustain a living.

More research needed on managing our own training for 21st century jobs and careers

None of these experiments have focused though on developing a sense of the sweet spot and organizing skills and commercial acumen around a sweet spot that morphs, ebbs and flows.  I know no experiment where “subjects” were explicitly trained to monitor what is happening around them, to think of their own skills (and the skills of their team) and bring those together into a rewarding balance.

I wonder what would happen if we learned to think that way from the get-go?

 

Organize your own thinking about vibrant, interesting & lucrative jobs and careers in the 21st century

If you want to try, to organize your thinking about the sweet spot between your skills and the needs of customers, this is what I recommend.

Pick on anything you did today that you enjoyed and draw out 3 spokes

  • name the key technical skill that you used to provide your customer with value
  • name the customer and describe his or her needs
  • name the sweet spot and try describe it in one sentence

These three spokes correspond logically to three factors associated with successful business teams:

  • The teams ask questions more often than the give answers
  • They concentrate on the outside world a little more than on themselves
  • The look for what is going well and are positive 5x more than they are negative

Become your own HR Director

I think it will take quite a few lots of 10 to 15 minutes jotting down notes for this way of thinking to come easily.  But when it does you will be your own HR Director

  • Looking ahead
  • Retraining on time
  • Finding the sweet spot where you feel vital, involved, entertained, valued AND rewarded!

Do let me know how it works out!

. . . sway in wicked grace . . . I dare you to

I’ve just found this snippet courtesy of a search for the first line that arrived at this blog.

“The time cracks into furious flower
Lifts its face all unashamed
And sways in wicked grace…”
“This is the urgency: Live!
and have your blooming in the noise of the whirlwind.”
Gwendolyn Brooks, The Second Sermon on the Warpland

I previously had the expression

“Conduct your blooming in the noise and whip of the whirlwind”

This was written for all of us in the 21st century, don’t you think?

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Weekend fun: 21st century job titles

Traditional loom work by a woman in Konya, Turkey
Image via Wikipedia

Yours sincerely
Jack Maddock
P.I.G

Printed Information Gatekeeper or what we latterly knew as Editor.

Does your job title fit the work you do?

Or does your job title sound as if HR picked it from the Bullshit Job Generator.  Human Data Orchestrator, perhaps?  Lol!

And what title might you suggest for my colleague who is a network engineer (computers) and makes a healthy living connecting shopkeepers and restaurants with London markets, the old fashioned way?  Well, to me he is a supply chain something or other.  I can see it all fits together.

It obviously all fits together but we just don’t have the right vocabulary for jobs like his which are interesting and integrated but I suppose not “functional”, using that word in the theoretical sense.

I’ve been looking around for good job titles.  Here are common ones.

  1. Chief something office – often Chief Inspiration or Happiness Officer
  2. Metaverse Evangelist
  3. Knowledge Concierge
  4. Knowlege Valet (being a concierge in training)
  5. Instigator
  6. Brand Champion

Inpired by the resurgence of Concierge, I looked around for lists of jobs from days gone by.

They are an interesting read if only to find out the origins of British names.   It is quite extraordianary, thought how specific these jobs were.  Jobs today are much broader.

What job title fits what I do?

I’m a work psychologist, sometimes known as an industrial psychologist, or occupational psychologist or organizational psychologist.  Which of these old titles fits my work?

I liked “chapper” on the Scottish list. This poor fellow’s job was to wake up the baker before sunrise!

I hate alarm clocks but putting that quirk aside, hmm, this is what I do for a living!

I alert people to opportunity and get them moving even when they feel like staying put!

I could also be a piecer – the child that fixed broken threads on a loom.  I do a lot of that but not so much for the sake of weaving but as way of alerting people to opportunity.  Fix this thread, then  . . .

How would you describe the work you do?

Does your job title do it for you?  Or do you need a new way of describing your work?

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We can’t run our banks or trains BUT we have raised a fair and decent GEN Y?

Life in the 21st century is a little grim

One of the pleasures of living in the UK is long commutes on overfull trains.  I am not talking overcrowding Mumbai-style (aka Bombay) to be sure. But there is a more than 50-50 chance in the UK that I will find myself standing for an hour, or finding a free wall and sitting on the carpet – damn the higher dry cleaning bills.

Two trips back, I plonked my teaching file down on the aisle carpet and sat on it, embarrassing the 50-something who had a seat next to me.  When I declined his kind offer to change places, he retorted, so you can tell your friends about how things used to be better!

But I think it has got better

Actually, I don’t think things have got worse.  I’ve been away from UK and because I pop in and out, I see change intermittently and I think have a less distorted view.  UK is cleaner and quicker than it was 10 years ago and much cleaner and quicker than it was 20 years ago.

And more optimistic

I also don’t think things have got worse for another reason.  I teach (college).  And teaching brings me into contact with Gen Y twice a week.

Gen Y may be many things.  What you can count on is that they want to do a good job.  They ask questions.  They are knowledgeable about what they have been in contact with.  They want to run fair and decent businesses.  They are intensely interested in any curriculum to do with being a good manager or a good leader.  I can hear a pin drop when I get onto topics like charismatic leadership.  It may be narcissism on their part (and mine), but I like to think differently.

So why have we done so well?

So lets pose  a question.  We see so much shocking leadership and management in today’s world.   Steve Roesler pointed to the obvious today.  Many of our workplaces seem to reward bad leadership.  The collapse of the financial system seems to be a case in point.  The post mortems will tell us eventually.

How is it that

We cannot provide decent commuting trains in the 6th richest country in the world, or fair mortgages in the 1st richest country,

BUT

We have raised our children to be intensely interested in being decent, fair and engaging?

Why did we do so well? I am asking sincerely.  What did we do to bring up such a pleasant, decent, energetic, and fair generation of youngsters?

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A masculine culture

Sociologists sometimes write of a masculine culture. Hofstede writes of masculine and feminine cultures.

The ‘prep’ scene in Goodbye Mr Chips illustrates this point. A pupil slams down a books while Mr Chips’ back is turned. This pupil has already challenged Mr Chips successfully on two occasions: mimicking his walk behind his back and disrupting his class spectacularly.

At first, Mr Chips does not know who is making the noise. He cunningly uses the glass of a large picture as a mirror and calls on the boy without giving away how he knows who is the culprit. Then luck would have it that the boy’s name is “collie” and he is able to humiliate the boy by suggesting that is the name of a dog. And so it goes on.

This is a masculine culture. It is based on pecking order, domination and humiliation.

We aren’t being rude about guys. Why should you put up with it either? The story line in Goodbye Mr Chips is that guys were challenging this way of life in 1910, one hundred years ago.

The alternative

If you want the alternative, look at the scene where Mrs Chips challenges the headmaster. The challenge is based on reason, persuasion, and persistence. Not domination and subjugation. The headmaster deftly avoids the challenge. He rejects an unfamiliar idea, which would be alright in its own terms. He rejects it, though, to restore his domination. Later, in the dance scene, being a wise man, he concedes the validity of the new idea (and validates it by including it in the hierarchy!)

Does life has to be a series of battles? Can we not trade visions? Can we not have Eureka moments when we learn something unexpected? Can we not do the equivalent of come up to a crest of a hill and be amazed by the vista in from of us?

If the 21st century will be about anything, it will be about a currency of visions rather than the currency of force.