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Tag: future of work

Your 21st century career will NOT be as an employee

My grand-mother had a clear ‘rule’ – none of us should work for a family-business. We should all go out and work in another business or organization.  My grandmother was obviously fed up with family businesses. She had been burned by them a few times. And I think she made the right call.

I think we should go further though. We should all aim to have our own business.

Is it the Talmud where we are advised to join an established business? That is good advice. We should acknowledge what works in the world and work with it.

But I think we should also aspire to autonomy. Many organizations work on a tournament system. You have to start in round one and work your way up. Should you want to move to another organization, you cannot carry credits from the previous rounds with you!

We need a way to aggregate our experience into a stronger and stronger portfolio.

Online portfolios are a good start. Planning our careers as if they are a business is another.

But as employment law is very clumsy and big organizations are more interested in subordination than developing your ongoing value, isn’t it a good idea to register yourself as a company, employ yourself, and develop alliances with others from day one?

Who is doing this? Who is making sure their youngsters go on to independent careers after an apprenticeship with some one else?

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I want a British TED – and a parallel show for Luddites

I want a British TED

The world is divided it seems – in to those who watch TED and those who don’t.

I watch TED because I like positivity – I like my daily fix. And I admire technological advancement. I wish we had a British TED too – the best of science and technology that is coming out of the UK.

But is my wonder of TED shared?

It seems strange to me, but so many people don’t share my wonder.  They aren’t interested.  They even proclaim themselves proudly as Luddites.

What bothers the Luddites?

Of course, the original Luddites weren’t just disapproving of new technology.  They smashed  the new weaving presses too.

The people around us who claim they are Luddites, simply don’t understand the technology they decry.  But they don’t stop anyone else using it.

They share with the original Luddites, though, a sense of disapproval.  Most of all, the new technology threatens their status.

Should we bother with Luddites?

I am impatient with people who are ‘tight’.   But all fear is genuine – sincerely and acutely felt.   And I am willing to spend time to help people find a positive place in the world.

What I am not willing to do is hold up improvements for others while they have a sulk.  That’s not on the agenda at all.

The general class of bereavement counseling

When we are counseling people who are fretting about change, we are working with a ‘general class’ of issue – bereavement at the highest level, and adjournment at the level of group formation.

Because disdain of new technology belongs to broader, general class of situations, we have the know-how and experience to help people.  We work through three broad steps.

1.  Acknowledge the contribution they made to our welfare and celebrate the skills they used.  We do this fully, sincerely and elaborately.

2.  Focus attention on the opportunities that are opening ahead of us, and new patterns of relationships with new people who are coming into view.  We are concrete & specific and we introduce them, in person, to people who work in the new technologies.

3.  Help individuals, one-by-one, to formulate a personal plan.  We get down & dirty, one person at a time.

I think we should be bothered with Luddites.  If they cannot see how technological change will benefit them, then we haven’t worked hard enough to show them around the new world that it is coming.

Better Reality TV?  TED and the parallel program for Luddites?

I want a British TED, because I like to watch science, and I want to know the best of British science, up and down the land.

I’d also like to see a parallel program that offers respect for the work of people in ‘old technologies’ and welcomes them into a world that we find dear.

Shall we put reality TV and our license fees to good work?

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If you plan ahead, you will be interested in this list . . . and add to it

As a relative “noobe” in the UK, I’ve been frustrated in my search for data about the economy. It is incredibly difficult to get information from the National Statistics Office that in the US and NZ can be slurped online in seconds.

There also seems to be little vision about where we are going.

Repeating complaints and doomsday scenarios doesn’t help, I know. But asking the right questions does.

Yesterday, IT writer, Philip Virgo posted a summary of his lobbying at each of the Party congresses. I’ve reorganised his post below as a set of questions – using his words when they graphically describe the issue.

Questions about the future of work in the UK

  • Which are the industries of the future? [Which are they are, and how are developments in these industries consistently highlighted in the media?]
  • Which industries will have “integrated career paths”?
  • What would be consequences of not having industries with integrated career paths? What is the alternative?
  • Will “home made” careers do? Or, will our children be condemned to a “professional backwater . . . no longer part of the mainstream route to the top – unless they emigrate and don’t come back”?
  • Will our children and grandchildren be “condemned to surf the cybercrud on the fringes of the global information society – as the UK becomes the electronic equivalent of Cannery Row – a post-industrial poor relation to the economic powerhouses of Asia”?

What will attract industries of the future – particularly in IT and information-management?

  • A competitive communications infra-structure and access to world-class broadband
  • Regulatory simplicity, clarity and predictability
  • Fiscal certainty [presumably for companies and employees]
  • Removing planning controls designed for the 50’s and replacing them with controls we need for the information age.
  • “Workforce skills programmes” that develop a critical mass of skilled people in the industries that interest us

Virgo describes the migration of IT businesses out of the UK – Maxwell’s newspapers, Google and Yahoo. Isle of Man, Switzerland and Singapore seem to be attractive destinations largely because they undertake to defend data privacy from interference from the US. If that is so, then a foreign policy component of future planning is also clear.

These questions seem to be a good way to start thinking about life and prospects in the UK in the future

What do you think of them?

Being a ‘noobe’ here, I’d be interested in your thoughts on the right questions to ask . . . and the likely answers.

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Is this today’s career choice- invest in crowd sourcing OR in expert filters?

Absolute Radio launched its online radio last night. It runs under the name Dabbl from 7pm to 6am.  We nominate the tracks that they should play, and the most popular tracks win.

Dabbl as a lens on social media

A critical unresolved issue in social media is whether crowd sourcing can replace expertise.

Are our votes better than the opinions of expert DJ’s on Radio 6, for example?

I think, as ever, the proof will be in the pudding. We will have to see, in other words.

  • Do we take part?
  • Are the averages of our opinions as good as the expert knowledge of DJ’s?

Dabbl : an experiment we should all copy

Whatever the outcome – Dabbl are running a good experiment that every honest industry should finance and run.

  • How good is the filter made up by our average opinions?
  • With this baseline, experts can ask themselves a straight forward question.
    • Can we do better than the average opinion?
  • And if so how exactly do we do better?
    • How can we organize a service that is consistently better?
    • And how can we develop our service over time so that it continues to be better than average opinion?
    • In what way do our consumers think our service is better?
    • And who is so convinced by our superior performance that they are willing to fund it?

Welcome to the 21st century! I reckon Dabbl is beating the path to where we all will be soon.

What would be crowd-sourcing in your industry?

With Dabbl in front of me as a clear example, I am going to be thinking about this.  What would crowd-sourcing look like in psychology, management and consulting?

What would it mean to commit to a career in crowd-sourcing?

And what would it mean to commit to a career in an expert filter that competes with crowd-sourcing?

Is there a third choice?  And if so, what is it?

What will you be discussing with youngsters you coach?

  • Crowd-sourcing?
  • Expert filters that compete with crowd sourcing?

    UPDATE:  I think the third choice is to do both.  I think we should build platforms to crowdsource in our area and add the expertise on top.  Of course some might specialize in various aspects of the enterprise.   As a profession, I think crowdsourcing should be our basic foundation and there should be a seamless gradient to expert opinion.

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    What about your work is important, valuable and innovative?

    Day One at Xoozya (cont’d)

    “So what is my first goal”, I said to the HR Director.  “The amount of work on my desk is expanding exponentially and I’ve only been here a few hours.  I must find an avatar, explore the communication system, and map my skills set.”

    What are your priorities?  I know you will say get settled, but all employers say that, and they don’t mean it.  What do you want done by when?”

    Kick the habit of looking to managers for goals

    “Well, Goal One” Peter said, “is to kick the habit of looking to managers for goals.  We are not here to set goals. We provide an arena or framework for you to work, alone if you like and with other people if you wish.  We are a huge company and you can work with whomever you choose and with whomever chooses to work with you.”

    Acknowledge your own judgment

    “That’s stressful at first because it feels as if you have no boundaries.  And to feel oriented, we all need boundaries.”

    “But you do have boundaries.  You’ve made choices all your life.  You’ve attended to some things and ignored others.  In your judg                    ment, some things are important and command your attention.”

    “We will ask you to do a third task.  We will leaving your avatar to the end of the month.  In addition to exploring the communication system and thinking about your skill set, you have a third task, which is this.

    What it important, valuable and innovative about your current project?

    “Write down what you are working on now.  And then tell me

    • Why this project is important to you
    • Why you think is is valuable
    • Why you think it is innovative.

    Why do you feel vital and alive when you are working on this project and why do you believe it adds vitality and quality to the way we live?”

    “Let me give you an example.

    Today, a young post-graduate in Sydney, Marsha Gittens,  published a post in Brazen Careerist on what she wants from work– her career must-haves.  She wants money, good leadership, perks, etc.  We all want the same things but right now the financial benefits of the corporate world are uppermost in her mind because she is making the change from being a student, with all that entails, to being a member of the corporate world, and all that entails.

    But financial rewards are not her project.  The move from the student world to the corporate world is her project and we are all better off if we acknowledge that openly.  She will spend the next year or two finding out where she fits into the corporate world and she wants to know how roles are structured, what these roles involve, and how important they are to other people.  At the end of the year she will have done well if she has gained this knowledge that she does not have now.  Much of this knowledge can only be gained from the inside.  From being in a company. From working on a team.  From doing a job and getting her hands dirty.

    “So she will not move as a spectator.  She moves as a player and she is looking for assignments that will give her the combination of overall understanding and hands-on experience consistent with her skills.

    “You sought membership of Xoozya for reasons you told us when we recruited you, and for reasons you’ll have kept to yourself.  Whatever has been put on the table, at this juncture in your life, there is something you want to achieve and you believe that we are the tool for you to achieve it.  There are resources you expect to find here and that you will look for.

    The young Australian post-graduate wants to find her toe hole in the corporate world.  To do that she needs to understand the corporate world.”

    “You are mid-career and you want . .  . what?  Describe what you came here to achieve.  What are you working on and why did you believe that we have the resources you need.”

    “What we suggest you do is write down your current project and answer those three questions.

    • What about the project is important to you?
    • Why do you believe it is valuable?
    • What about the project is truly innovative?  Why is it so important to be doing this work now and what about it is so special that it cannot be ignored?

    Then we’ll talk again.  How about this time next Friday?”

    And if you are enjoying this series, please do feel free to join in!

    • Leave your thoughts in the comment section
    • Grab the RSS feeds for posts and comments top right
    • If you comment on this post from your blog, please link back to this post from the words Jo Jordan, flowingmotion, or Xoozya
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    And PS, if you are new to this blog, Xoozya is an utterly fictitious organization. This series began on the spur of the moment as I started to explored the principles of games design and Ned Lawrence of Church of Ned mentioned how much time people put into designing their avatars, or online identities. Xoozya is an attempt to imagine what an organization would look, sound and feel like if it were run along lines recommended by contemporary management theorists.

    And PPS Ned is an online writing coach and is available for hire.

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    Avatar as a role description

    First day at Xoozya

    Today is my first day in a new job and I headed off to HR to sign on the dotted line, get an ID card, and so on and so on and so on.

    I had a pleasant surprise.

    Induction at Xoozya

    Good morning. Welcome, to Xoozya.  So glad you’ve chosen to join us [genuine smile].

    To provide autonomy

    What we want to do today is introduce you to the communication system so you can navigate and find your way around.

    Avatars

    To start you off, we’ve got 10 avatars for you to choose from.

    Capture your role and aspirations visually

    After you’ve been here a month, and had a chance to settle down, our avatar designer will pop in to see you for half-an-hour every day for a month to help you describe your role in the company.

    Annual review

    Every year, a year from now in other words, we will ask you to refresh your avatar, and to think through how it has worked for you and how it should change to fit your expanding role in the company.

    Internal budgets

    You can change your avatar during the year if you wish.  But we will charge you for your use of an avatar designer with Xoozya tokens.  You will also earn Xoozya tokens when you help people out in other ways.

    Pay & taxes

    Around the 15th of each month, you’ll need to make up your mind how much to pay yourself.

    After you have chosen your avatar, we will show you how to log on to the accounting system to direct payment to your bank account.

    Internal payments

    Around about the 15th of each month, you should also allocate payments to your team leaders and anyone else you think should be hat-tipped.

    Visualizing your budget

    We have a very nice screen which shows you your budget.

    It will show you clearly the budget allocated to you for the financial year,  the pro rata amount for this month, how much tax, insurance and pension you must pay for each dollar you pay yourself when you take money out of Xoozya, how much other people in the organization have hat-tipped you this month and cumulatively for the year, and how much you’ve hat-tipped them.

    You can also look at their accounts to see what is the norm.  We visit all the noobes around the 13th of each month till you get the hang of it.

    Day 1 Agenda

    Agenda for today: let’s choose an avatar.  After that we’ll grab a a coffee and brunch.  Then we’ll have a  look at the accounts.

    Avatars as a new world job description

    What temporary avatars would you like to choose from on your first day at work?

    If you were to capture your role in an avatar, what would it be?

    What would you choose to describe yourself in that first month before you know anyone and before you are clear about the details of your role?

    I would love feedback on this post.  If you liked it, would you do 1 of these 5 things, please?

    • Comment
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    • Subscribe using the RSS feed (top right)
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    WordPress kindly tells me when you have done that and I’ll be over to read what you have written!

    Hat-tip

    To the ever creative Ned Lawence at Church of Ned who set this train of thought in motion!

    To Wang Jian Shuo whose direct requests for links I am copying!

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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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    Tip 3: find your future now not after the recession

    Male and female ostriches "dancing".
    Image via Wikipedia

    Don’t ask who will be employed now

    Today I commented on Jon Ingram‘s post about the way HR managers are responding to the recession and remarked that we should not be like the proverbial ostrich – head in the HR sand, butt in the breeze, where it is likely to be shot off!

    Ostriches can run really fast (I’ve ridden one). A kick from them will also de-gut you as effectively as a kick from a giraffe.

    So why don’t they run or attack, which they sometimes do?

    Well, partly, they are none to bright (easily dazzled and then captured by reflecting the sun off your watch into their eyes).

    But they are hoping that if they are quiet, that they will be safe.

    So I am not going to be quiet.  It does not make me safe.

    But I’ll also be kind, and tell you why I am blathering on about the wild animals of southern Africa.

    Is the knowledge I acquired in southern Africa of use here?  Well, some is and some isn’t.

    The point is that the competencies of yesterday are not necessarily valuable tomorrow.

    We must distinguish what of yesterday we can take forward to the future.

    We can respect the rest.  We can reminisce about it. But some belongs to the past and will not contribute to the business models of tomorrow.

    Don’t bury your head in employment sand!

    The questions we have to ask, and should ask each year in our strategy review are:

    • What competencies is this business or my career based?
    • How are these going to change? Incrementally, or suddenly and discontinuously requiring radical back-to-school training?

    And in a bad downturn, we should also ask:

    • Can I use the slow time of the downturn to re-train and get some early experience in these new technologies?

    Strategies for employers and employees

    Employers should be actively building their team around the technologies of tomorrow.

    Employees who have switched-off employers should be networking hard to find and build the team that is coalescing around the markets and technologies of the future.

    Ask who will be employed in the future?

    Here is a simple procedure

    1  Grab an old shoe box

    • For one month, on an A5 envelope, every day write down one url to the future of your field with some notes about why you think it is important.  Date it!
    • For one month, on an A6 envelope, write down the contact details of a person who seems to be heading towards the right future and the nature of your contact with them.  Date it!
    • On the back of some other suitable scrap, jot down a daily diary of “what were the main events of today and WHY DID IT GO SO WELL”.  Keep your rough-and-ready diary in the box.
    • Print out a calendar.  Mark off each day and “don’t break the chain”.  Get the creative thinking charged up and humming.

    2  At the end of the month, review and repeat

    • But this time discard one of the A5 and A6 envelopes as you add a new pair each day.
    • Keep the rough-and-ready diary going and remember to end by asking the question “WHY DID THE DAY GO SO WELL?”
    • And remember “don’t break the chain”.  Do this exercise daily however roughly.

    You’ll be in the future before me!

    Now, you’ll be in the future before me, so let me know how it goes. I’m particularly interested in how many months it takes you.  My guess is three at the outside.

    And when you’ve done this,  we’ll “make a plan” to come back to rescue the ostriches!  We’ll have a figured out a role for them by then.

    Right now, lets go out,  scout the future and be there when it happens!

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    Poetry in HR?

    Psychology and no poetry

    I studied psychology and taught work psychology for many years.  I arrived in psychology from the physical sciences and found the hard core experimental and measurement approach quite familiar.  Indeed as a youngster, I might have fled had I been asked to deal with poetry.  Literature had been my worst subject at school by quite a long way and I simply lacked the frameworks for understanding what poetry offered.

    Poetry in management theory

    One of the pleasures of the school of positive organizational scholarship is that it embraces poetry.  Indeed, poetic language is one of the five original principles of appreciative inquiry.  Leading exponent, David Cooperrider, coins many a melodic expression, the best known being: the good, the true, the better and the possible.

    Poetry in government

    As he accepted his nomination for Secretary of Energy, I was delighted to see Nobel Prize winning physicist Stephen Chu quoting the words spoken by William Faulkner when he won his Nobel Prize in 1950.  Speaking to a world concerned about the ramifications of nuclear power and nuclear bombs, Faulkner said:

    It is easy enough to say that man is immortal simply because he will endure: that when the last dingdong of doom has clanged and faded from the last worthless rock hanging tideless in the last red and dying evening, that even then there will still be one more sound: that of his puny inexhaustible voice, still talking.

    I refuse to accept this. I believe that man will not merely endure: he will prevail.

    He is immortal, not because he alone among creatures has an inexhaustible voice, but because he has a soul, a spirit capable of compassion and sacrifice and endurance.

    The poet’s, the writer’s, duty is to write about these things.

    It is his privilege to help man endure by lifting his heart, by reminding him of the courage and honor and hope and pride and compassion and pity and sacrifice which have been the glory of his past.

    The poet’s voice need not merely be the record of man, it can be one of the props, the pillars to help him endure and prevail.

    Poetry in business and HR?

    If this is good enough for the Secretary for Energy and the White House, then it is good enough for factories, banks, shops and insurance brokers!

    Do you employ a poet and an artist?  Do you think a style of HR that lifts hearts, reminds us of courage and honour and hope and pride and compassion and pity and sacrifice which have been the glory of our past and are the glory of our present and our future, together?

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    Work psychology: 2008 AD

    Do you know what work psychologists do?

    Thirty-one years ago, I decided to study psychology.  And for 28 years, I have practiced as a work psychologist.  Can you imagine my surprise when some readers said this blog was their first encounter with my esteemed trade?  So what do we do?

    What do we do all day?

    I love being a work psychologist and I think it is important for you to know I go to my ‘office’ every day with a spring in my step, looking forward to the people I will meet during the course of the day.   Most of our lives are spent ‘on the road’.  We usually work at our clients’ factories and offices, and we need strong arms to carry around briefcases laden with confidential papers.  When you see us, we are likely to be taking part in some HR exercise – recruitment, selection, or team-building, say.  When you don’t see us, we will be reconciling paperwork, doing computer work, or talking to senior managers about the direction of the company, and ways to organize, lead, up skill, confront challenges, and look after each other.

    Why do clients hire us?

    We deal with the pulse of the organization.  Ideally, we want everyone to enjoy their work as much as we do.  There is fascination in what we do, but little mystery.  Our understanding of how organizations work has grown in leaps and bounds over the last 100 years.  The last ten years have been particularly interesting as the limits of old ‘mechanical’ organizations have been reached and we’ve begun to embrace the fluidity and flexibility of the internet.

    The psychologist’s role is to bring to the party up-to-date information about the way work practices are changing around the world, hands-on experience of changes in other companies, and deep commitment to supporting you as you think through changes in the immediate and foreseeable future.

    What is special about what we do?

    Just looking at us work is not sufficient to see the value we add.  You can see us talking to people – lots of people do that!  You see the briefcases – a prop?

    The key to what psychologists do is deep training and ongoing exposure to work situations around the world.  When we talk with you, we are not asking whether we like you.  Nor, are we are asking about things we want.

    Our interest is in accurately understanding your motivation and your circumstances, reflecting them against the changing world of business and work, and helping you work through the mix of emotions you feel as you cast your story in terms of today’s economic conditions – globalization, credit crunch, and new technologies.

    This is a complicated process.  Even in the simplest business, we have on the one hand the things we want, and one the other, ‘what’s out there’.  And that gap in knowledge is not all we cope with.  When we really want something, we feel fear and trepidation.  Our job is to stay with you while you work through your anxiety and take the first step towards what will ultimately be success and very deep satisfaction.

    Psychologists understand this process, see it is normal, and are there to help steer you through all three questions: you, your opportunities, your emotions.

    When we work in most modern businesses, 5, 10, 15, 10 000, 100 000 of us are going through the same process.  When I decide, for example, to pursue my story in certain ways, my actions change your circumstances.   The key to good organization is that the give-and-take between us as we follow our own dreams strengthens us individuals and as a group.  Therein, the discussions we hold with senior managers.

    Some case studies next?  Do let me know if I have made it any clearer what we do for a living!

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