Sunday, December 6, 2015

Active Inoperative Mediocrity Disorder (AIM Syndrome)

New Insight

The 'pressure for excellence" or inner tension towards suppuration of current limitations, is actualized through creativity or, in a vicarious way, through attraction and admiration for excellency in others.

If this 'pressure for excellency' is greater than the abilities or possibilities for expression, the frustration may originate neurotic, psychotic or addictive psychopathology.


In the other extreme, the defect or inhibition of the 'pressure for excellence' also originates pathology, which we term 'mediocrity disorders'.

Three forms are described:

  1. Simple, almost asymptomatic, with hyper-adaptation and lack of originality. 
  2. Inoperative or pseudo-creative, with passive-aggressive traits and tendencies to reproduce the external manifestations of the normal processes of self actualization; and 
  3. Active Inoperative, the malignant form, with exaggeration of the repetitive and imitative tendencies of type 2, active impersonation of the external signs of excellency, including pretensions of notoriety and demands for undeserved respect and admiration, and jealous envy against brilliant and excellent people, with destructive trends.

JL Gonzalez de Rivera (http://www.psicoter.es/dmdocuments/97_A148_03.pdf)

This opens a whole new dimension for understanding of corporate and political behaviour.

In Simple Terms:

If a person is challenged with excellence he or she can behave in a number of ways:
The healthy way is to be creative and drive for excellence oneself, or by admiring excellence in others. Wouldn't our world be a phenomenal place if this is the norm?

However, if the "pressure for excellence" is too great for one's abilities it can lead to some scary and stupid (probably unnatural) human behaviours:

Three likely behaviours can occur:

  1. Zombies: People that simply "ride along". Cannot be bothered, and is not to be bothered by anything that challenges the status quo.
  2. Passive Aggressiveness: Indirect expression of hostility, such as through procrastination, stubbornness, sullenness, or deliberate or repeated failure to accomplish requested tasks for which one is (often explicitly) responsible.
  3. Go after the excellence by impersonation, jealousy, envy, demands for undeserved respect and admiration and/or eliminate the the cause - i.e. get rid of the excellence. For example: If you cannot stack up, better cut others down to your level.
Somehow, the malignant form is way too familiar.

If you have anything more about this, please share.

Google is surprisingly sparse on content about this Disorder.

Hendrik van Wyk

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Friday, December 4, 2015

Another Day, Another Job on the Block - The Solution

The Answer to Job Losses

Producers are the lifeblood of the economy. These are the people that make things and/or add value to things that are part of our everyday existence. For example, they include the chefs that prepare and manufacture our food, builders for our houses and infrastructure, engineers constructions and tools, bakers, farmers, butchers, and many more. We know them in their workshops, kitchens, factories, foundries and work sites.

When the Producers work, they created something, or transforms something that is useful to themselves, and to others. Their production is used by people, and other producers. Producers add direct value to their consumers and employees. Indirectly, the community benefits through taxes that are levied on producers' earnings.

The benefits to the Producer and community increase when the producer does business outside the community, province or country. It brings revenue into the area. It increases the scope of the value they provide.

Producers are important because they form the tax base, and economic foundation of any society's social and public services. They pay company taxes on profits. Their staff pay personal income taxes from what they earn. In addition, Producers contribute to insurance, pensions, levies and licenses, which all serve to enhance our society.

Because of Producers' efforts, it is possible to have healthcare, social services, education and shared infrastructure. All government sponsored social and infrastructural services is ultimately coming from the wealth generated by producers.

Producers contribute to people's lives by providing meaningful employment. People are employed directly by the Producer to work in the businesses. Indirectly, people work in public services that is financed by the tax revenue.

Why be interested in Producers?

Learning and creating, the ingredients for producing, are natural human qualities. By making something, people find self-worth, recognition, meaning, growth, and purpose in life. Producers make things, and provide opportunities for people to work with, and for them, to make things. They make it possible for people to live well.

Having healthy Producers in a community allows the community to benefit overall from the same qualities offered to the individual: A community's self worth, purpose, recognition, progress, and more is built on the foundation of Producers, the jobs they provide, and the social services they finance.

Communities with strong and growing Producers, and an increase in the number of producers are communities that are healthy and progressive.  If we have more producers amongst us, we are all collectively better off. If we make it easy for Producers to produce, and to trade their production, everybody benefits.

Jobs at Risk

The Calgary Herald reports that in Alberta, Canada, group layoffs during 2015 have surpassed 18,000 workers. These are only layoffs off people in groups and reported to the Provincial Government. Provincially, the number of EI recipients was up 99 per cent, or 28,830 people, from a year earlier. In November alone, 2015 the province shed 14,900 positions and crossed the threshold for 7% unemployed.

Canmore, Alberta
The Huffington Post reports that Alberta lost 52,800 jobs in the past year, or 2.6 per cent of all positions in the province, the largest loss of any province. Saskatchewan came second, with a loss of 6,800 jobs, or 1.4 per cent of the province's total.

Canada lost jobs at the fastest pace since the Great Recession, Statistics Canada’s latest payroll report shows in August 2015.

While many of these job losses is attributed to the pressure in the energy producing sector, it is not all as a result of the price pressure on oil.

MIT Technology Review reported in 2013 that Oxford researchers estimate that 45 percent of America’s occupations will be automated within the next 20 years. The authors believe the takeover will happen in two stages. First, computers will start replacing people in especially vulnerable fields like transportation/logistics, production labor, and administrative support. Jobs in services, sales, and construction may also be lost in this first stage.

Then, the rate of replacement will slow down due to bottlenecks in harder-to-automate fields such engineering. This “technological plateau” will be followed by a second wave of computerization, dependent upon the development of good artificial intelligence. This could next put jobs in management, science and engineering, and the arts at risk.

The bottom line is that jobs are flying out the door thanks to economic downturns or through technological advances. It is bound to become even scarcer in the near future for many reasons. Some locations and industries are hurting more than others. One thing is certain, every job is possibly at risk. 

What is happening to the jobs? Are producers still producing, but not employing anymore, or is it that we are losing Producers?

In this post, it should be evident that this is not a simple answer. What is simple though, is recognizing our society's dependence on the real job creators are - our Producers - and their motivations for doing what they do.

Regardless of technology reducing the need for human labour, which is is inevitable in progress, there will always be scope for production and another innovative way to make something that makes life easier, or gives more meaning. Someone had to conceive it, finance it, risk and exerted effort to realize it. The real jobs are those of people that produce, or the jobs available as a result of someone else producing. We all need Producers.

Where's the Beef

The public sector is hiring. The Financial Post reported in June 2015 that the Public sector is ‘crowding out’ private job growth in Canada. According to the Toronto Sun, growth in government employment has eclipsed the private sector, especially in Ontario. In Alberta 15% of jobs are in the public sector earning a combined $21.1 Billion (52%) in wages and salaries of $40.4 Billion of total government expenditure in 2014. Is this a good thing?

No one can argue with the landslide political landscape change in Canadian politics in 2015.

First, the Albertans got rid of the Progressive Conservative government by exchanging it for a public service and Union supported NDP. Then the rest of Canada decided that it was time to give the Liberal social agenda more scope, by voting in Justin Trudeau and the multicultural Liberal Party.

The Progressive Conservatives in Alberta, and the Federal Conservative parties both cautioned about the financial pressure on the Canadian economy. This caution was based on the soft outlook of the energy sector and the drop in the price of oil, after years of the manufacturers being under pressure in Canada. They warned that the softening may require adjustment in public spending due to less tax revenues (i.e. less people having jobs in the public sector, because there are not enough tax revenue to keep everyone employed). If producers are suffering, then taxes will be less to finance public spending.

The result for both parties who cautioned fiscal responsibility, was that they were dispatched in favour of the newcomer NDP and Liberals. Both these new incumbent parties are recognized as big public spenders. The NDP and Liberal parties are quite vocal about their intent to not only preserve the current public employment sector provincially and federally, but intend to expand it wholesomely.

While every tax paying worker in Alberta, not in public service, is taking a haircut by losing their job or foregoing increases and bonuses, the NDP made it clear in that province, that their support base has nothing to fear. Alberta Finance Minister Joe Ceci stated publicly, that he will not revisit collective labour deals (Edmonton Sun 4 November, 2015).

They key message is that if times are tough, and if jobs are on the line, then you better back the biggest employer in Canada - the Government. You better elect the party that will keep the public sector working and the public spending going.

But wait. Who's paying for all this? There is always the uncomfortable recognition that someone has to fit the bill for social spending, eventually. Remember that in social spending, most of the time, the benefactor is not the contributor. Other people's money is spent.

As we've seen above, Producers are ultimately the foundation of the economy's and the government's revenue base. They create the value, and is the tax base for public services. If the private sector workers, employed by Producers, are losing their jobs, and companies are scaling back (i.e. is not paying the taxes they used to), and the public sector is growing (i.e. the government keeps on spending to maintain their support base), then revenue is bound to come under considerable pressure.

A typical and familiar strategy comes to mind, and which is playing out as predictably as always:
  • Increase Taxes: The Globe and Mail reported in September that the NDP planned on added almost CAD$7 Billion in additional taxes. The most recent announcement of a carbon taxes loaded another $30 Billion on the backs of "earners" (read Producers here). Together with tax increases on the "wealthy", and corporates, the Alberta Government will bring in an additional $1.5 billion in 2015, and $4.6 billion in revenue over the next two years. (BNN, 27 October, 2015). With the increase in spending, this doesn't appear to be enough though? Which, brings us to the next familiar Strategy: Borrow.
  • Borrow More: The NDP is on a borrowing rampage. Total debt is set to hit $18.9 billion this year. That figure will swell $36.6 billion by 2018 but could grow as high as $47 billion by the end of 2019-20. (National Post, 27 October, 2015)
Sadly, the change in Alberta's fortunes is not new. The game has been played before by much bigger players. In Canada's landscape, the "have Provinces" have been subsidizing the "have not Provinces" and their bloated bureaucracies for years. The US economy is another drunk on debt, anemic job growth, and an explosion in public sector spending and overbearing regulations. The Standard Weekly in 2012 reported that the total US national debt is US$16.8 Trillion, which is 35% higher per capita that one of Europe's most broke countries: Greece! It has kept growing.

There are many articles to quote about the ongoing increase in taxes, bloated public services and astronomic national debts. All sing a familiar and similar song: The government must provide. The people need more. The businesses are greedy and should complain less. The problem is that eventually even the Government can no longer pay its bills if there is less or no revenue by willing Producers.

What's Wrong With This Picture?

If you are in the public service or a corporation that is benefitting from government financial or regulatory support, then it is still going well for you overall. The public sector is currently on the receiving end of all the increase in funding through taxation and borrowing of the newly elected Governments.

The recent Liberal shift in public sentiment bears testimony to people's reach for safety in uncertain times. They look to the Government to provide the jobs and the social safety nets when times are hard. Any Government seen to waver or communicate restraint is seen as risking the status quo. However, even the borrowing, taxing and spending governments are fast running out of options as they and their country's citizens run out of money.

Producers, facing the brunt of taxations, regulations and a difficult market, are revenue contributors to the punch drunk governmental spending party. For them, the motivation to produce, for others to spend during hard times, become more and more unattractive. The look ahead is also not inspiring with high public dept that will need to be serviced in future.

The simple result is that Producers scale back, or stops producing all together. There simply is no motivation to create something under difficult circumstances that is bound to be taken away from you anyway. Producers are not signing up for new risks. They are no longer investing, creating or open for business. The Financial Post reported in 2014 that CAD $630 Billion of cash is held back by Canadian companies, and not being invested in growth and expansion. This amount continues to grow. Why invest, expand and employ of there is a slim chance of holding on to the spoils. Why exert effort to only be told to handover more of it, to a non-supportive (or Producer non-representative) Government?

Margaret Thatcher's quote comes to mind: “The problem with socialism is that you eventually run out of other people's money.”

Getting it Right

The answer to job losses and economic pressures is not to expand the public purse by growing public services, increasing taxes and borrowing. Government and public services should not be the employer of choice. when that happens, no only has a society given away its liberty, but it is also killing its future.

If true wealth comes from Producers, then it is time for Producers to be included, cherished, and supported. When Producers grow, and the number of Producers increase, then jobs become available. More public funding for public services become accessible, not because the Producers are taxed more. Rather, because more are producing for the tax base to expand. More Producers are contributing so that everyone can benefit.

The right way is to support Producers to grow their businesses when times are tough, and to make it easy for more people to become Producers.

Give producers incentives to produce. It is hard enough in a tough market to succeed in business. Governments should not make it harder. The simplest way to unleash the resourcefulness of innovative hardworking producers is to make it easy for people to start a producing business, and to keep it fair for them to compete in a market. Government should simply get out of the way, and allow Producers to keep a little more of the benefits for their efforts. Everyone will be better off as a result.

This is why we celebrate entrepreneurs and committed people with producing businesses. They form the backbone of a community and a society. They are are the foundation of a country's success. It is time we recognize them and their efforts.

Hendrik van Wyk

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Saturday, September 19, 2015

Fundamental Truth... Management Behold.





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Thursday, September 3, 2015

Bad Bad Training


Another Induction


How many times have you attended an induction or compulsory company training that is an absolute waste of your time?

I've recently sat through another one with a new client. While the trainer (the Safety and Compliance Officer) was trying her best to do a good job, the material was not helping her. The slides must have been wordsmithed by a recent MBA graduate and junior manager at head office that drew the short straw. Attendees are still digging their way through: "correctional remediation and compliance validation...". This was induction material for digger drivers and welders!

The "cheap and easy" alternative to "out of place" in-person induction and training is to take the toddler approach: Pop in a video/DVD, add some lollipops and popcorn, and hope for the best that something sticks. At least the attendee box is ticked. The checkbox for "made an effort" still comes up empty.

Once the consultants get involved, you are trapped in the LMS maze (Learning Management System). Here you are really held captive. The dreary voice-over, the bad cartoons, and the static contextless images is only trumped by the mindless infantile quizzes that follows. You have to click through it. Click, click, click, if you like it or not, else it keeps coming back like a boomerang from hell.

Wasted Opportunity


Considering the indirect cost of poor induction, it is unbelievable that companies are not trying to do a better job. A quick tally of the direct cost alone, is frightening (and this excludes any compliance training that is mandated by the authorities): Ten attendees and a trainer in 2 hour training at an average direct cost of $100/hour: $2,000 per session. Do this once a week, and you are looking at $8,000 - $10,000/month in overhead. A whopping $100,000 a year, exlcuding expenses such as travel time, coffee and pencils! Add to this the mistakes, re-do and fixes due to poor induction and policy awareness: Huge costs. Inefficient employees not knowing what is expected. More cost. Staff loyalty: Don't get me started on that one.

Companies have no choice. They have to induct and train. Basic coverage is now mandatory for health and safety. It is the law in many jurisdictions. Why then waste the opportunity when companies are paying for it anyway?

Here are the basic areas where companies no longer have a choice:

  • Induction: Some form of orientation about the company's culture, policies and procedures. Considering the rate of change in many businesses, these may require refreshers at least once a year.
  • Health and Safety: The law requires this be done, and compliance have to be proven.
  • Policy Compliance: Key policies vary from industry to industry, but the good old ones stick around: Conflict of Interest, Environment, Diversity, etc. Training usually covers the policy, and is light on the application.
In some areas companies can maximise their training investment. Those have the potential to substantially benefit a business:
  • Systems and Processes: I've lost count of the number of software deployments and process changes that fail simply because training and orientation is not done, or poorly executed. Why spend millions on a new IT system, and not show people how to use it properly?
  • Efficiencies and Improvements: Companies can help people to learn how to do their jobs better. Amazingly, not only will the business be better off, but people may actually like their jobs if they are given a chance to learn new things.

The available methods for corporate training is a huge growth area. There is an explosion of resources available to companies that takes training and education seriously. There is video, animation, simulations and more becoming available due to on-demand and mobile technology.

However, as with most resources, it is not having it that makes it valuable. It is how you use it that makes the difference. One such resource is the use of Online Video in training. Here are some thoughts on how to make video work better for your company's training efforts.

Video Doesn't Train: 

Here is news for you: A video doesn't train or induct. It merely imparts information in a more or less effective way.

Pointers for effectively using video for training:

  • Involvement: For video to train, it needs to involve/include the viewer and mentally/physically encourage participation. Many current training videos are from an observer's perspective, not a participant's view. When one makes training video with the staff of the company imparting the information, it entices and incentivise their commitment through involving them in the material. The video must be entertaining to encourage involvement. Stories and scenarios entertain, and is foundational to this approach.
  • Participation: Viewers engage when they can identify with the characters in the video. By using staff, one shows what they do through familiar images, language and instruction. If they "teach each other" it has more value than if a voice over with pictures, animation, or trainer lectures on the material.
  • Good Structure: Videos need to be better structured and the topics more clearly delineated. A good practice is to clearly demarcate every idea/topic in a separate video. A good practice includes a scenario where one: "Tells it, Shows it, Explains it, Reviews it."
  • Tempo: The video topics need to be communicated in an upbeat and faster pace, else the viewer becomes distracted and bored. It is better to use a collection of short videos, than one long video. Most people cannot focus on a video for more than 3-5 minutes (no matter how entertaining). Television advertisement interruptions have conditioned us for short video. A long video needs a material scene/topic/emotion change at least every 3 to 5 minutes to be engaging (if a long video is used at all).
  • Key Messages: The key messages must be enforced with titles, freeze frames, recaps, examples (stories/scenarios) etc. to improve retention.
  • Refreshers: No one view of an induction video or series of training videos is enough to ensure effective material retention. People simply cannot remember when only exposed to it once - no matter how entertaining. Retention improves dramatically if the messages are reviewed, refreshed and reminders included. The recommended refresh rate to commit material to long term memory is three to five times within a 3 week period, and refreshed once every 6 months subsequently.
  • Enforcement: In today's compliance climate a company has to demonstrate evidence of the training, participation and comprehension validation. To meet these demands, training must be complemented with notices, quizzes, contests and more, with positive incentives for participants. Training cannot stand alone anymore. It must evolve to be part of the companie standard communications strategy.
  • Commitment: When staff is part of "training each other" by being involved in the process (the making of the video, feedback, quizzes, competitions, etc.) then it builds commitment and co-responsibility. The company's "training" becomes a key communication channel that can contribute to better staff engagement and effective communication. 

Conclusion


Video training has the potential to transcend the training event by building a campaign for safety, orientation, compliance and effective communication.

Companies that take care to train their staff is halfway towards building a great business. If these businesses can do it well, with our help then training becomes a real competitive advantage.  It only makes good business sense that if a job has to be done, one might as well decide to do it well.

We have some expertise to help. Give us a call today.

Hendrik van Wyk



Monday, August 17, 2015

Your Knowledge is Valuable

Ever Thought of Training Someone?


The Producer: The Trainer

Producers should train others. By becoming trainers, they can change society.

You are a successful producer. You make things. You've built a business through hours, days, and years refining your craft. Do you realize other people would love to know what you know, and do what you do? 

Our society depends on people like you, and businesses like yours. The more producers we have, the better our world becomes. Producers are proud people, hard working people with a passion for what they do.

There is a problem: What our children learn in school today has nothing to do with being a producer, or making something. After graduating from high school, many of them still do not have the necessary skills to work in our businesses. Most secondary education is expensive, and pushes it out of reach even further. 

Where can they go to learn how to become a producer? Where will our future generations learn how to be the best best bakers, farmers, chocolatiers, builders, carpenters, winemakers, cheesemakers, and more. Is there a way that they can learn from the best?

What if they can learn it from you?

The explosion of Online Video Training is an opportunity to invest in ours and their future. With good quality online training, accessible from anywhere, learners can bypass the institutions and go right to the source - you. It is now possible to be trained by the experts directly. Your expert knowledge as a producer is valuable and can unlock this training opportunity. There are thousands of learners that will jump at the opportunity to be tutored by those that do it every day.


Here is the marketing message: With our online video training production services, our mission is to train more producers and turn them into entrepreneurs. We want to place good quality video training within reach of every person with an Internet connection and an eagerness to learn. 


If you help us with your expertise, we hope to restore the ethics and value of work. By training future producers we make people productive, and restore their sense of purpose. By encouraging aspiring producers to become entrepreneurs, our goal is to restore the value of production in a misaligned consumption driven society.


We propose to work with Producers like you, to develop online training, and change the world.


What's In It for You


You are the Producer with the expertise. Most probably, training people is not something you've had in mind, or have time to do. You may have considered it, but didn't know how to do it.

We produce online video training. We deliver and distribute it. Our business is to take your expertise, and turn it into online video training.

By combining our efforts, we can create great learning experiences for future producers and entrepreneurs.

Value to You: The Producer

  • Market Exposure for Your Business: Training enhances your brand. Your business stands out from competitors, because of the the contribution you make in the development of your craft, industry and your community. More people will know about your business, and the value you have to offer. 
  • Recognition for Your Expertise: Being a trainer immediately distinguishes you. By showcasing your knowledge and experience, prospective students can recognize the contribution you make in developing your craft. No one knows exactly what you know. Every Producer's experience is unique. By sharing your knowledge, you create more opportunities for yourself, and for others to work with you.
  • Revenue: We carry the risk of the production investment, and share the revenue with you after the initial cost is recovered. There could be scope for multiple courses, and each offers its own earnings opportunity. Earnings is determined by the demand for your training.
  • Staff and Customer Development: The training we produce can be valuable if for your own staff. It can also add value to your customers. For example: "How to?" training is used in many industries to help customers make the most of their product purchases.
  • Training Product: We commitment to produce an above the standard training product, that is associated with your business and enhances your brand. It is something you can be proud of, and share with your current and prospective customers.


Your Investment: Mostly Your Time

  • Your Time for the Production: We need to record you training. This we do, in many cases while you go about your regular work day. We need your input and feedback on the course materials we produce on your behalf, such as presentations, documents, etc. This is included in the course to enhance the learning.
  • Ongoing Student Feedback: We take care of the day-to-day student feedback, discussions and administration. However, some times the expert (you) will have to weigh in on a topic. We must be able to call on you for this contribution, occasionally. 
  • Refreshers: Training works well when it is regularly updated and improved. Depending on the course materials, some of your time will be required to produce additional material, or to help us refresh older items.


Express your interest here: www.profiledproductions.com



Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Artisans' Revival

Bad News Robot

A 2014 Gallup report of worker satisfaction found that as many as 70 percent of Americans don’t feel engaged by their current job. Psychology has shown us that purpose, meaning, identity, fulfillment, creativity, autonomy are all things necessary for personal well-being. Yet, they are absent in the average job.

Imagine self-driving cars snaking through the streets, and Amazon drones dotting the sky. They are replacing millions of drivers, warehouse stockers, and retail workers. The capabilities of machines continue to expand exponentially, while our own abilities remain the same. Rows upon rows of Cloud servers are replacing armies of corporate and IT infrastructure service workers. Knowledge Workers can work everywhere, access any application, obtain any information, from any of their devices of choice, and all outside of the corporate IT service landscape.

A constellation of Internet-enabled companies matches available workers with quick jobs. Most prominently disruptions include Uber (for drivers), Seamless (for meal deliverers), Homejoy (for house cleaners), and TaskRabbit (for just about anyone else). Online markets like Craigslist and eBay have likewise made it easier for people to take on small independent projects, with access to tools, materials and instruction almost anywhere (Udemy). 

Although the on-demand economy is not yet a major part of the employment picture, the number of “temporary-help services” workers has grown by 50 percent since 2010, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Since 2000, the number of manufacturing jobs has fallen by almost 5 million, or about 30 percent in the US. Six years into the 2008 recovery, the share of recent college grads who are “underemployed” (in jobs that historically haven’t required a degree) is still higher than it was in 2007 or, for that matter, 2000. College degrees are not what they used to be.

More people are pursuing higher education, but the real wages of recent college graduates have fallen by 7.7 percent since 2000.

In 2013, Oxford University researchers forecasted that machines might be able to perform half of all U.S. jobs in the next two decades. Nine out of 10 workers today are in occupations that existed 100 years ago, and just 5 percent of the jobs generated between 1993 and 2013 came from “high tech” sectors like computing, software, and telecommunications. Guess, which jobs are taken over by machines? Yes, the 9 out of 10! If you are doing a job today that can be done by a robot, consider yourself a robot, soon to be replaced by a better model.

Is any job truly safe? What work will people do (WWPD)?

A birdseye view over the above, and the various articles circulating the web, is making it abundantly clear, for those that have not discovered it yet for themselves. The world we know is about to change. Your job is going to be a casualty, and it is happening very, very fast.

The Future of Work

What would happen if technology permanently replaced a great deal of human work, and related jobs? The widespread disappearance of jobs would usher in a social transformation unlike any we have seen.

The sanctity and preeminence of jobs lie at the heart of the country’s politics, economics, and social interactions. What might happen if jobs go away? Computer scientists and software engineers essentially invent us out of jobs, and the total number of jobs declines steadily and permanently.

In the midst of the Great Depression, the economist John Maynard Keynes forecast that technological progress might allow a 15-hour workweek, and abundant leisure, by 2030. President Lyndon B. Johnson arguing that “the cybernation revolution” would create “a separate nation of the poor, the unskilled, the jobless,” who would be unable either to find work or to afford life’s necessities.

Technology is exerting an accelerating continual downward pressure on the value and availability of jobs, on wages and on the share of prime-age workers with full-time jobs. The share of U.S. economic output that’s paid out in wages fell steadily in the 1980s, reversed some of its losses in the ’90s, and then continued falling after 2000, accelerating during the Great Recession of 2008. It now stands at its lowest level since the U.S. Government started keeping track in the mid‑20th century.

The share of prime-age Americans (25 to 54 years old) who are working in jobs has been trending down since 2000. Among men, the decline began even earlier. The share of prime-age men who are neither in jobs nor looking for a job has doubled since the late 1970s, and has increased as much throughout the recovery as it did during the Great Recession itself.

Do these people choose not to work, or is there simply not a job for them? Society’s values are bound to be rocked to its very foundation, regardless of the answer to the question.

In 1931, James Truslow Adams defined the American dream: "Life should be better and richer and fuller for everyone, with opportunity for each according to ability or achievement, regardless of social class or circumstances of birth”. Yet, in all the pursuit since 1931 a great many things have gone off the path to corrupt this vision.

We are confronted every day in the media with supposed richer and fuller lives, based on a broken and corrupt set of values:
  • Consumption Driven Economies: More stuff. You need this or that, to be happy. If only you had three bedrooms instead of two, or 6 cylinders instead of 4, then you will be truly happy. More stuff creates wealth, and is wealth.
  • Medicinal Health: More pills, patches and injections (with a few incomprehensible minor side effects) will set you up for beauty, perfection, exhilaration, great sex, social acceptance, and ever lasting youth.
  • Fabricated Equality: Ability and achievement went flying out the door in favour of equality and inclusion. Now everyone that Tweets is an expert, yet no one has expertise. The collective is considered responsible for our circumstances, which leaves no one accountable. The “I” is disappearing from our vocabulary with our liberties in toe, as “the Government” gladly fills the void “for the greater good” of all. Personal responsibility and achievement is going extinct by the minute, as society turns to the “authorities” to safeguard our welfare, secure our pensions, do our healthcare, give us our jobs, and deliver to us our newly minted “rights” in exchange for our liberty.
  • False Opportunity: Credit buys you your future, and gives you, your dreams. You can borrow to be educated, borrow to be housed, borrow to be transported, to eat, and even borrow to have children. And what credit doesn’t take from you, the government gladly finishes off through taxes for their part in securing you, your “rights”. Even Governments can borrow to delivery on their “dreams” and newly minted exorbitant electoral promises.

All this is founded on one simple assumption: There will be jobs!

With a job, you can access credit for your dreams, and your Government can tax you for securing your “rights”. Without jobs, the system falls apart. With the human robots in the jobs wheel, it will keep turning. Without the jobs wheel, what will the obsolete robots do?

The only way we as society will be able to confront the imminent arrival of the robots taking our jobs, is through a fundamental re-think of our value system. This will require a fundamental rethink of the value of work, instead of the proclaimed and false benefits of having a job.

The Artisan’s Revival

Work provides purpose, meaning, identity, fulfillment, creativity, autonomy, which are all things necessary for personal well-being. If 70% of workers miss these benefits from their jobs, then it can be fair to assume that what they do in their jobs, isn’t really work. So, who is doing this wonderful fulfilling work?

Artisans made up the original American middle class. Before industrialization swept through the U.S. economy, many people who didn’t work on farms were silversmiths, blacksmiths, or woodworkers. These Artisans were ground up by the machinery of mass production in the 20th century when they were relegated to "good jobs" instead. Lawrence Katz, a labor economist at Harvard, sees the next wave of automation returning us to an age of craftsmanship and artistry. We will be able to return to meaningful work.

The Internet and the cheap availability of artistic tools have already empowered millions of people to a production culture from their living rooms. People upload more than 400,000 hours of YouTube videos and 350 million new Facebook photos every day. The demise of the "formal" (rather former) economy could free many would-be artists, writers, and craftspeople to dedicate their time to creative interests, and to live as cultural producers, released from the shackles of the the traditional job.

Such activities offer virtues that many organizational psychologists consider central to satisfaction at work: Independence, the chance to develop mastery, and a sense of purpose. It also offers an immense contribution to communities and social value where these artisans do their work to benefit those around them through what they produce, and the knowledge they impart to learners or apprentices.

The big question henceforth will not be how we in society will be affected by the disappearance of our jobs, but it will rather be how we as society will have to adjust our values to accommodate a new world that questions the prevailing consumption driven liberalised dogma. And, will we be able to do it in time to save our world from the brink of economic collapse.

Life should be better and richer and fuller for everyone, with opportunity for each according to ability or achievement, regardless of social class or circumstances of birth. 

For this Artisan’s revival a return to a classic set of values will be required:
  • Production must drive the economy, for personal and community benefit.
  • Health should not be medicated, but achieved through informed decision and dedication.
  • Ability, achievement and personal responsibility must be recognized and liberty restored. Rights must be earned, and recognition given, to those achievers that contribute the most.
  • The fruit of a person’s labour and his or her property should be his or hers to own, and to share or exchange, with whom he or she pleases.

In the coming months, I will be seeking out these Producers that are re-inventing themselves, and who are changing their circumstances in line with this new set of values. These are the people driven by the dignity of work, of production, and of creativity. I aim to tell their stories and show the value they bring. Where they are willing, I hope to showcase their work, so that others can also learn from them, how to produce.

These are the Artisans’ that will leading the revival.

Reference Material

Derek Thompson

By Erik Brynjolfsson (@erikbryn) and Andrew McAfee (@amcafee)

Tim O’Reilly
https://medium.com/the-wtf-economy/the-wtf-economy-a3bd5f52ef00

Monday, July 20, 2015

Lake Louise, Alberta, on a Summer's Day 2015

Lake Louise Summers Day

I had a lot of fun recording some of the action at Lake Louise in Banff National Park, Alberta Canada. See the crowds, some of the selfie slaves, the blue waters, and the beautiful flowers around the lake.


Tuesday, July 7, 2015

I Made This...

Authentically Hand-Made - Fatto a Mano Autenticamente!


In 2010, thanks to a fortuitous incident with a short sighted luddite CEO, and a spineless Executive VP, I was given the phenomenal opportunity to step into the world of being a Producer. I embarked on a sabbatical from IT management, and devoted my attention to journey towards the truly authentic. Towards something I make that is “real”, that I can taste, touch and smell. After 20 years in the IT industry, it felt as if what I do, held no real value. I produced nothing. It certainly was not appreciated by those I am doing it for. It held no value for me personally. So, why bother?

I took some time out, and wanted to make something that is valuable to me. Something real and authentic, in which I can recognize artistry, mastery, fulfilment and purpose. With no knowledge of Coffee, Gelato or Nougat I embarked on a dramatic learning curve to build my own Gelateria in small-town Southern Alberta, Canada.

Why a Gelateria? Because there wasn’t one. I remembered that some of my happiest times of my life was sharing a cup of coffee, or going for an ice cream with a friend or family member. I therefore embarked on a mission to pull the most authentic Italian Espresso, make the most authentic and classic Italian Gelato, and the best Honey Nougat I’ve ever tasted. If the coffee, Ice Cream and Nougat is good. Think of how good the friendships can be with them. Figaro’s was born (www.figarosgelateria.com).

The journey was by no means easy. Don’t start businesses you know nothing about. But, while chipping away at the challenges of producing a truly authentic, quality product amongst a colossal industry of substitutions and fakeness (more about that later), I’ve come to learn some valuable lessons. The most important lesson I learned was: How to creatively produce. How to become a Producer.

Why is this the most important lesson? What follows should provide some perspective on the value of production, and why I consider myself now part of this neglected minority that has given us so much, of what we have in society today.

Creatively Producing

Creativity heals.  By creating, we transcend ourselves, we become more than we are, and greater than we conceived. Our creations extends us, expands us.

When we as Producers practice our form of artistry, we realize self-value. When others recognize our products, and derives value from it, it transforms them too. Therefore, production has social value, extending beyond the Producer to the group. When Producers offer their creations for the benefit of others, it unlock commercial value, an equal exchange for the benefit of the other, and an incentive to for continued pursuit of the calling. It is this commercial value that forms the foundation of commerce, of the market, which in its part, is the lifeblood of civil society.

Producers, like artists are visionaries. They routinely practice a form of faith, seeing clearly and moving towards an elusive creative goal. It is often visible to only them, but invisible to those around them. It is their work that creates the market, not the market that creates their work. Producing is an act of faith. It is a solemn driven desire. Producers practice this drive. It is their calling. They are called into pilgrimages on its behalf. Like many pilgrims, they doubt the call even as they answer it. But, answer it is what they do, every day, staying true to benefit themselves, and those around them. It is only in production, that the true calling of an artist transforms into the calling of a Producer.

They are the prime movers. The first movers, and also the last movers. They are true to their own truth. Producers know no other truth. Tradition and custom, what others have done before them, or what others wish them to do, doesn’t constrain them as free thinkers, but rather drives them to keep re-inventing. The Producer is a first mover, a prime mover, a creator of value, a creator in the only possible sense of the word. They are the life-giving principle itself, of civilized life. With them civilization moves. Without them, it ceases to exist.

Their work is their only reality and only great passion. Happiness depends on nothing but achievement in value. The Producer finds in that achievement, a sensation beyond happiness, a sensation for which the word ecstasy is inadequate, a sensation which is a reason in itself, which justifies all existence: Humanity at its highest possibility. The creator of worlds.

That is why the Producer is the most precious amongst us. Without Producers, there simply is no future. They are the foundation of civilization, of civil society, and of who we are in humanity. We must celebrate those amongst us, who move us forward in producing our world, and for our worlds. We call out the Producers amongst us, that share their creations for our collective benefit.

Because now, as never before, these Producers are under threat from looters, above the law, with unimaginable fabricated rights, allowing them to deny liberty, contain free exchange of value, constraining, and take what is not theirs. They lay claim to what they never produced, and destroy the respect and dignity of work, of production, of creativity. They are destroying the one creative endeavour that transcends ourselves to become more than we are: Production.

Let us celebrate Producers, Production, and the Prime Movers: The creators of society, and of our future.


Conclusion:

Stepping into the role of Producer certainly changed my outlook in life. What changed for me is a further realization that I developed an utter impatience with those that produce nothing and expect something in return. Through some mythical “right”, human or otherwise, bestowed on them through some external divine moral invention, they give themselves the right to deny existentialism, and destroy liberty.

I have no time anymore for those that are in the way, by inhibiting output and curtailing production. These are the ones that are busy for busy’s sake, and those that believe they have the right to take, what isn’t theirs. The decision makers with immeasurable power, yet no clue.

They are the people that steal my time, by putting me in meetings with no outcome, and forcing me to comply with rules with the only benefit, the justification of their existence. The corporations that expect my presence, yet limit my ability to be effective, and help them succeed. The “authorities”, governmental or otherwise, with little to no responsibility, that have the “right” to decide about my property, my morality, my privacy, my education, my business, food, and my freedom.

They take what I earn through taxes and levies, to give to the ones that produce nothing, under a corrupt ideology of “the benefit for the greater good”. These are the people that consider themselves justified to spend my earnings, yet have no appreciation or recognition for the effort it takes to realize it in the first place. These people we call the Looters, the takers.

Every hour of my day I evaluate my action’s ability to contribute towards a desired and valued outcome. I aim to produce something of value for myself, useful to others. If it is useful to me, it will be useful to those around me too. I am developing a laser focus on output, progress and value that move me, and those that are with me. We call ourselves Producers, the makers. It is people like us that move civilization forward.

I cannot go on strike like John Galt. But, for the cause of liberty, free market, limiting authority, and the rule of law, I will continue to wear black, and only black clothes as I’ve done for 5 years now. For this cause I will focus on spreading the message of the Producer, the prime mover, and the maker of civilization. This I will do in every possibly way available to me.

For this cause I will continue to mourn the country I left behind to the looters, and grieve for the culture and identity I had to sacrifice for the “greater good”.

Hendrik van Wyk

Credit to: Ayn Rand (Atlas Shrugged), Julia Cameron (The Artist Way).

Sunday, June 21, 2015

In the Moment

Special Memories, Dec 2012


My watch stopped. Time’s up.

It is a lazy sunny afternoon in late Spring. I am standing on the balmy C-Train platform downtown, waiting for the train to take me back to the office. People are slowly wandering back to their work places after the lunch hour. It is a slow wander to make the most of the beautiful sun shining between the tall Calgary oil company buildings. I crossed the street moments ago quickly, to catch the next train heading west.

When I made my way up the ramp to the platform, I wondered how much time I have left. I have to get to the office for my next meeting. My hand slipped into my left pant pocket and I felt the familiar smooth surface of my silver pocket watch and chain. As I walked, I looked down to the watch in my hand and read the time. Twenty to seven.

This cannot be, I thought to myself. I’ve just had lunch. I come to a standstill staring at my watch in disbelief. It is indeed what it shows. It suddenly dawns on me. My watch have stopped at Twenty to Seven this morning. I turn the watch over as I’ve done countless times before, and read the inscription: “Special Memories, Dec. 2012”. I check the time again. Still Twenty to Seven. A feeling of relief comes over me. It is time. It is finally here. Sooner than I thought, but more welcome than I expected. This is indeed, a special memory.

The Promise


When moments are important, why look at a watch to see them slip away? Why be reminded how many are gone? Even worse, why be notified just how few are still left?

My moments deteriorated. Little compromises put me off course, until I was so disoriented the last year that nothing mattered anymore. Everything felt wrong.

I decided to do something about it. I’ve set a deadline: When my watch stops, I should be in a place where watching time is no longer required. My hope was that on that day I will have realized a fundamental change in my world. By the time my watch stops every moment should matter. I will no longer trade them for anything less.

I also made myself a promise that I will seek out perfect moments. I will not be required to count, or tolerate the minutes and hours that slips away doing something I don’t love, being somewhere I don’t like, and talking to people that don’t matter. My time belongs to me. It is the most precious resource in my life. Perfect moment transcends time, while collections of moments like these make our memories. These memories are our stories.  

My promise to myself is to find perfect moments, perfect places, engaging people, while doing work that I love. I am promising myself a new and better story.

What follows from here onwards is a record of these moments, my memories. Call it: “Special Memories, Dec 2012”. It is my story.

I hope you enjoy it with me, as much as I did living each of them.

Hendrik van Wyk

Monday, March 16, 2015

Everyone is an Expert

Thanks to Google, we know the following:

What is an Expert?

  • Step 1: Identify Your Interest. First you need to evaluate your current position and identify your area of interest for your intended expertise.
  • Step 2: Focus. Get rid of any clutter. Focus on your chosen interest. Focus on it until you know it, have done it, is recognized for it by others, in particular: By fellow experts.
  • Step 3: Keep At It. Remember that practice makes permanent. Becoming an expert overnight just isn't going to happen. Doing the same things over and over is also not going to get you far. You have to incrementally work at it day-after-day. You have to improve on it. Evolve. This can take years of dedication in study and commitment depending on the difficulty or complexity of your focus area, and take a lot of resources.
"Expert: A person who has a comprehensive and authoritative knowledge of, or skill in a particular area."

Everyone an Expert

If there is one industry where the word "expert" is worth nothing, it is the IT industry. In IT everyone is an expert, and really, as a result, no one is an expert. 

False "experts" are destroying it for real experts. In the following short paragraphs I hope to show:

  • That the IT Industry has an incentive to destroy expertise.
  • As a result, everyone is an IT "expert".
  • With everyone an "expert", where are the real experts?
  • The net result is an industry in peril, and our companies are paying for it.


Destroying Expertise

Getting qualified in IT is one of the easiest, and also one of the most difficult endeavours around. 

Let's look at a University Degree for a start. If you manage to work your way through a Degree Program in Information Management or Information Systems, you are probably well equipped for a senior assignment at the History Channel.  

Between Punchcard 101, HTML for Beginners, and Principles of Data Management, you probably have the combined IT role and industry understanding of a whistle. Often, I've sat with graduates from all kinds of Universities and Colleges explaining to them that the IT industry has specialist roles, and somehow their particular education path neglected to cover just that. 

After University, and too late, they discover the reality of just how disconnected their institution was from reality. These institutions focus on technologies - obsolete technologies in most cases. Whatever graduates master at University was most likely already irrelevant the day they enrolled for it. 

The only thing a degree in IT does, is that it shows you are committed, and have an uncanny high risk tolerance for debt. The real study starts the day you enter employment, post qualification.

The alternative is to go for a "quicky". These you can get when enrolling for a quick certification of some sorts. Some are product related, and others just general topics of the the day, that will look good on a CV, sell a course, and may just get you hired, maybe. For example: A quick PMP from PMI, a quick certificate from the local BA Institute. Type in IT Certifications in Google, and be amazed at just how many irrelevant organizations are willing to help you depart with your hard earned cash to anoint you a certified "Expert" in Cloud Computing, Security, Computer Forensics, SOA, SEO, ITIL, BI, Storage, and CV Writing.

The sickening fact of these "certifications" is that in most cases they cost you more than the above mentioned obsolete University Degree. Believe me, your certificate is not worth the paper it is written on within 6 months of you completing it, if not sooner. At least it gets you to "officially" put the acronyms in your CV. You can buzz the buzzwords. Can you do the job? Doubtful. 

I can hear all the PMP's out there whining already. Thanks to the PMI's "stringent" criteria for handing out their very profitable certification paper, forcing disciples like you back annually for another PDU driven inoculation and mandatory cash deposit, you can now get a monkey qualified as a "Project Management Professional". As long as they pay the fee, do the quick exam prep (Modest fee required. There is now an app for that.), and can "paint by numbers", they can be a PMP. I know a few. I can show them to you. They are all still collecting their PDU's to "prove" relevance, and cannot manage a project to save their lives.

Here is the parting line on education for IT. It is an inter disciplinary study. It requires engineering foundations, social science insights, management disciplines, and much much more. It is not for the faint hearted. There is no one place that will prepare you for a job in IT. It takes years.

In the "everyone can have one" PC (Politically Correct) drunk society of today, it is unlikely that the majority of "experts" understands, or is willing to do what it takes to make Information Technology a vocation. And saying that, merely distinguishing the roles within the industry alone is a topic fraught with confusion and disagreement. The majority of the reasons for this is explored further in this post.

The "Experts"

The IT industry created a business model to curtail expertise. It is a well known publicized fact that there is always a "shortage of skill" for particular topics in IT. 

Software and Hardware vendors are continually pushing new innovations, and at the same time try to maximize consulting and services revenue by locking in a small group of individuals with the requisite knowledge about the technology. These are the only "certified" consultants that is "endorsed" to consult on their behalf. 

This way, these vendors can capitalize on premium billing rates created by artificially engineered scarcity.  SAP is a case in point where for a long time, you could print money with SAP credentials. SAP constrained access to this knowledge through exorbitantly priced training, which was only available, within reason, to their own employees or a select group of "partners" that is willing to help create and cash-in on the ecosystem for the privileged. 

It is no surprise that these "partners" are blue-chip global consulting firms that uses armies of recent University graduates, put through boot-camps to demand top-dollar. If a person worked for one of these "partners" they are billed for as much as $350/hour to unsuspecting customers. When these people leave the Consultancies, they are treated as outcasts earning a fraction of the rate. Yet, by no means did their expertise diminish, or did it?

Which brings us to the topic of Consultants. How does one become a consultant in IT? 
Answer: You call yourself one. There is nothing more to be said.

The speed of change in the IT industry is constantly keeping everyone on their toes. This is both frustrating, but also creates opportunity for charlatans and snake oil salesman. 

Because the industry is always on the move, it is hard to validate expertise. There is not enough time to assess success or failure. As soon as a new tool or technology forces the prior to obsolesce, so it goes with those that gave themselves out as experts for these tools and technologies. 

The only ability to remain relevant is to quickly add a "certification" and a few new buzzwords to your CV, and voila! You are back in business. Most hiring mangers don't know Windows from their Unix or their Raid 1 from their 5, so all they do is look for the required acronyms, requisite buzzwords, likability, tenure, and the rest takes care of itself.

A good friend of mine once lunched with Bill Gates. He return from the lunch referring to Mr. gates as "The Satan of Software". On closer inspection, his reasoning for this frank metaphor related to the fact that he felt that because of Microsoft, real professionals in IT was sidelined. Good software business was killed off, and hardware vendors kneecapped. Not only did Microsoft make (bad) computing accessible to the masses, but it also made the masses "experts" unto themselves. 

Before, a C-level person in an organization had to resort to expert counsel for computer and information related decisions. With the advent of the PC, Microsoft transferred  this "illusionary expert ability" together with the PC machine, right into the C-level office, and into the executive's hands, sacrificing true expertise in the process. 

Every executive using a PC now suddenly became an expert. So did masses of under qualified geeks certified with MCSE's, MCSD's and whatever expertise Microsoft could concoct into yet another money spinning certification. 

Everyone with a PC became an expert. And, no one became more dangerous than the computer savvy Company Executive with no clue, that he has no clue. The best part about these executives is that they continue to perpetuate their own loyalty biases. They continue committing to Microsoft because: "They are not experts in anything else." They will not know future technology if they fell over it, and productive solutions if it hit them in the face. All this while real expertise is sidelined, overruled, relegated, and disenfranchised. 

Thanks heavens for the great equalizer: The Internet!


An Industry in Peril

How come am I so negative? Why is there a case for concern?

What follows are a few examples of instances where I've witnessed first hand how "Expert" C-Level Executives are not just ruining it for real expertise, but where they've put their companies' futures in peril, or is wasting millions in public funds. 

These examples will show just how ridiculous this business of IT has become, and that few to no one, is standing up and calling it out on any side.

Stay tuned for the next instalment...

Hendrik van Wyk

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