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A Trend Is Not The Future
A map is not the territory.
Quote of the Moment
A signal is not a trend. A trend is not a future. A future is not THE future.
| Johannes Kleske @jkleske
A distant echo of ‘the map is not the territory’: deep advice to the searcher.
Recently, I suggested some changes here at the Work Futures newsletter. Don’t worry, I am not quitting. In fact, I will be redoubling my work here.
In part because of the positive response to my recent interview of Céline Shillinger about her upcoming book, Dare to Un-Lead, I will be posting more interchanges with other thinkers, doers, and mediators in the exploration of trends in the future of work.
The primary outcome of these discussions will be reserved for paid subscribers to Work Futures, although I will be featuring summaries in the regular posts for all to read.
Today, I will be sending out a query to a group of folks who I think might have something insightful to say about the following proposition:
It seems more likely that the Covid pandemic is becoming endemic. What impact will that have on trends in the future of work, such as the indefinitely receding Return-To-The-Office plans of traditionalist corporations, the structure and ethics of organizations, the shifting role of leadership in uncertain times, and the meaning of work during semi-permanent crisis?
My plan will be to pull out the most compelling and thoughtful responses, and perhaps ask a follow-up question or two. Expect the first of these Inquiries before the end of January. Likely, I will pose a second before the end of the month, as well.
Those who sign up for a paid subscription now will get 10% off for the year. Note: I plan to collate these inquiries into a quarterly report, available only to subscribers.
I have to get a review copy of Leadership Unravelled: The Faulty Thinking Behind Modern Management By Mark Cole and John Higgins.
Why is it that leaders – in social, political, and (most importantly) organisational contexts – are seemingly unable to address meaningfully the wicked problems and complex challenges that we currently face? There’s enormous busyness around reconfiguring departments and adopting ‘transformational’ operating models, but in general plus ca change, plus la meme chose.
Eyewatering amounts of treasure and time are spent in corporate life on leadership development, with people working hard to try and demonstrate that something useful has happened as a result. An entire pseudo-science has emerged to try and prove its worth, in part to justify the economic dividend that goes to those who make it to the upper levels of positional power. The fetishisation of leadership, especially strong leadership, fills our news outlets holding up carefully distorted images of great men (leadership is still deeply gendered) from across the worlds of politics, business, and sports. This book explores the persistently disappeared and unacknowledged constraints that inhibit leaders in every context. It argues that these constraints – defined in this volume in terms of five organisational paradoxes and six management myths – are found at large in society and are especially impactful in organisational life.
Mark Cole, one of the authors, has a detailed introduction to the thinking behind the book, here. An excerpt:
There is no hidden hand to be found in the workplace, no strange attractor creating observable but inexplicable order, what creates workplace reality is the active presence of power in all its forms, shaping and being shaped by what passes for truth.
Expect a review and perhaps an interview, once I get a copy.
Emily Peck digs into a persistent inequality based on companies asking potential workers their current salary:
In the past, employers would typically just ask candidates for their current salary and base a new job offer on the number provided, maybe offering some small percentage more. Scholars and advocates for gender equality argue that this strategy perpetuates wage inequality. If a woman was paid unfairly at one employer, she would be anchored to that lower salary throughout her career.
Banning the question, they argued, would help close the pay gap between men and women. On average women earn 83 cents for every dollar a man makes, according to 2020 census data. The gap is wider for Black and Hispanic women.The argument resonated, and over the past five years, in addition to the states that passed salary history bans, a handful of cities and counties also prohibited the practice. Rhode Island and Nevada passed bans in 2021 that also require employers to disclose salary ranges to applicants. (Colorado and Connecticut recently passed laws requiring companies to disclose salary ranges for positions.)
Of course employers try to make salary negotiations a zero-sum game, one that is especially disadvantageous for women. Note also the disparity in stock options:
A recent analysis commissioned by The Wall Street Journal found that 24 percent of male employees had company stock compared with 17 percent of women. And women typically hold fewer shares even when they do own stock.
Katie Clary reports on a case of discrimination by Walmart because of persistent use of a trans worker’s ‘deadname’ (birthname).
Players refuse to restock frontline of wartime MMO Foxhole in protest over state of game. Sounds like a workers’ strike: they are complaining that it was too difficult and time-consuming to create and transport war materiél to the front lines of the Foxhole WWI game.