First Things First

Value of the Obvious | Facebook Workplace Trust | Gig Worker Revolt

Beacon NY - 2019-02-14 — I called this First Things First because it's a thread across the various links today. You'll see.


I've been under the weather, so a bit thin today.


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The Surprising Value of Obvious Insights | Adam Grant is a national treasure. In this essay he discusses the disarming quality of 'confirming what people already believe can help organizations overcome barriers to change'.

When Google sent an email nudging managers to take simple onboarding steps — talking with people about their roles and responsibilities, for instance, and scheduling regular check-ins — their new hires got up to speed a month faster.

I was wrong to place such a high premium on the unexpected. Findings don’t have to be earth-shattering to be useful. In fact, I’ve come to believe that in many workplaces, obvious insights are the most powerful forces for change.


I’ve learned that obvious insights are valuable in overcoming three obstacles to change. The first barrier is resistance to new data. For me, the most annoying sentence in all of organizational life might be “But that’s not what my experience has shown.” Yes, that’s why I conducted a randomized, controlled experiment with longitudinal data: I wanted to learn rigorously from lots of people’s experiences, not just yours, so that we could figure out whether you were an outlier.

Come in with a contrarian data point, and managers who have parked their careers in their lot of intuition and experience find it threatening. The visceral response is skepticism followed by denial. Waltz in with a piece of compelling evidence that people already believe is true — like Microsoft’s findings that it’s bad for employee satisfaction and engagement when managers are slow to respond to email and multitask during meetings — and you get immediate buy-in.

The second barrier is resistance to change. My runner-up for the most irritating sentence in workplaces worldwide is “But that’s the way we’ve always done it.” How did that stance work out for Kodak and BlackBerry?


The third barrier is the organizational uniqueness bias. Honorable mention for the most exasperating sentence belongs to “That will never work here.”

Go read it.

Oh, and this piece by Grant led me to the great That's Interesting! by Murray Davis that I wrote about yesterday.


Does Workplace have a Facebook problem? | Matthew Finnegan explores the concerns about Facebook Workplace -- the competitor to Slack, Microsoft Teams, and other work messaging tools -- given the controversies around the company's consumer platform, most notably the Cambridge Analytica revelations, where Facebook's user data was reused for political purposes.

It’s not clear yet how high-profile troubles on the social media side of things might spill over to the company’s collaboration suite. But they’re likely leading to greater scrutiny by at least some customers, analysts said.

“Facebook’s privacy and data issues have cast a long shadow over the Workplace business, which is trying to move further into the sunlight,” said Wayne Kurtzman, a research director at IDC.

“Enterprises have to weigh user trust, corporate trust, and ease of use in the platform, knowing the platform itself may keep some users from adopting it. Meanwhile, other enterprises have made the jump quite successfully.”

Finnegan talks with a broad range of customers and returning to IDC's Kurtzman about what Facebook might do to decrease concerns of corporate users. They'll have to get that straightened out first to catch up to the market leaders.


Revolt of the gig workers: How delivery rage reached a tipping point | Carolyn Said captures the state of the gig economy's pay and work practices, like Instacart's using tip money to make base pay for drivers -- a policy now reversed -- and the New York City minimum wage for ride hailing drivers.

“We’re at a moment of reckoning for tech companies,” said Alex Rosenblat, a technology ethnographer at New York’s Data & Society Research Institute and author of “Uberland: How Algorithms Are Rewriting the Rules of Work.” “There’s a techlash, a broader understanding that tech companies have to be held accountable as political institutions rather than neutral forces for good.”

Yes, there's a techlash, because these companies are not putting the interests of the workers first.

Quote of the Day

Putting people first has not become the norm in the business world and treating employees as chattel is perversely spreading worldwide like a cancer.

| David Sloan Wilson, Business Schools Have It Backwards. Companies Survive Longer When They Put Employees First., which I cite in Untelling the Dominant Economic Story.

Trust me, you should go read that.