I’m working on policies right now, which is always slightly depressing. Developing policies always feels like a lose-lose situation. At least some of them are necessary, but no one loves them. Organizations tend to view policy in very binary ways, either embracing it too tightly as a protective talisman against risk, or rejecting it outright as being oppressive. On its own, policy isn’t either of those things (protective or oppressive). That all depends on how its applied.
Posts from the ‘Work’ Category
The only job I’ve ever been fired from was at The Body Shop, and I totally deserved it. In my last year of high school I had enough credits to need only a handful of classes, so I got two retail jobs at the local mall to pay for car insurance and cigarettes (gross, I know). The Body Shop was a tight-knit collective of diligent young women who seemed to re-invest most of their paycheques back into Body Shop products. They loved the ethos of the company, and completed intensive product knowledge training that allowed them to chirpily recite the ingredients on demand for any one of our vast array of aromatic offerings.
I did not fit in.
Adaptive. Agile. Responsive.
However, as is often the case, the desire for an organization to be something different seems to be strangely disconnected from the doing it will entail at the individual level. That is to say, adaptive and agile sound like fantastic destinations when considered in isolation from the daily practices required to get us there.
To the untrained, distracted, or overworked observer, rebels and cynics can easily be confused at first glance. This is particularly true in a habitat populated by otherwise homogeneous fauna. Their non-standard vocalizations and often contradictory postures might result in confusion unless further observation is undertaken.
Before you get out your binoculars, and this metaphor grows unwieldy, can I suggest taking a moment to reflect on the image that comes to mind when you hear the word ‘rebel’.
As humans, there are certain common aspects of existence that we are all supposed to dislike. Mother-in-laws, the Department of Motor Vehicles, final exams, root canals…and networking.
“I know I have to network to get a job, but it’s so hard.”
As a textbook introvert, I used to take these lamentations to mean that I must not be doing it right, because, well, I rather enjoyed “networking”. And that couldn’t be right, could it?
Being a knowledge worker is so 2016. At a recent event, a speaker described our economy as being on the threshold of the ‘post knowledge era‘ – a period in which companies will achieve competitive advantage not by accruing the most data, but by honing the ability to focus on the most salient information, and coax relevant insights and analysis from it. While AI will increasingly be used for routine, repeatable tasks which can be governed by rules, our human intelligence is still unmatched at using context and intuition to reach non-linear insights, and in a world awash in information our attention (rather than knowledge) will become the scarce resource.
I’ve just spent a week working with a few of my Actionable colleagues on the other side of the world. This gave me cause to reflect on both the obvious and intangible elements that contribute to our exceptionally collaborative team culture. It also meant that I had a lot of time on several airplanes to catch up on my reading list. Something that had been in my Pocket list for awhile was this short article by Olivia Godhill about employee happiness. I wrote about this topic years ago, and have since mostly ignored the employee happiness hype, but it continues to be an alarmingly popular aspiration for many in HR.
When I joined Actionable at the beginning of this year I had never worked remotely, aside from the odd day over the years when I worked from home to spare my colleagues from a particularly vicious cold. I’d worked in organizations with remote workers, and had handled plenty of HR challenges and questions related to those arrangements, but I’d never experienced it first hand. Joining a fully remote, distributed organization was daunting: it meant that I needed to figure out how to work remotely for myself, while also understanding the particular needs of a remote and distributed team.
This week I noticed an eye-catching stat making the rounds again. You’ve likely seen it as well:
“65% of today’s elementary school students will do jobs that do not yet exist”
Although it sounds believable, the claim is actually quite suspect. You can read a thoughtful tale of its history and context in this excellent essay from Benjamin Doxtdator: ‘A Field Guide to ‘jobs that don’t exist yet’’.
The underlying message this stat conveys is that education is failing to prepare our next generation for the economy of tomorrow. And hey, don’t we already have a digital skills gap?