Work Futures Daily - Superjobs
| Slow Decisions | Retail Closings | Superjobs and Digital Janitors | John Seabrook |
Beacon NY - 2019-04-13 — I am as busy as I have been at any time in the past tend years. Next week you will find out why.
Today’’s issue is named after Marina Gorbis’ coinage: superjobs (see below).
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Why It Doesn’t Always Pay to Be Decisive about Making Decisions | Theodore Kinni apparently stumbled on a 30-year-old book, and dug out some timeless advice about decision making.
Thirty years ago, in their book Decision Traps, which is dedicated to [Amos] Tversky and [Daniel] Kahneman, professors J. Edward Russo and Paul J. H. Schoemaker answered this question; the key was avoiding what they labeled “Decision Trap Number 1: Plunging In.”
Note that Daniel Kahneman won the Nobel Prize in Economics for his contributions in ' his groundbreaking work in applying psychological insights to economic theory, particularly in the areas of judgment and decision-making under uncertainty' (Psychologist wins Nobel Prize). His primary recommendation about decision-making can be characterized as 'slow down'. The reason?
The question that is most often asked about cognitive illusions is whether they can be overcome. The message … is not encouraging. | Daniel Kahneman, Thinking Fast and Slow
Russo and Schoemaker codified some of Kahneman and Tversky's research findings into a schematic of how to avoid the trap of 'anchoring-and-adjustment', where making decisions before necessary can lead to less than optimal results.
Before you take up a decision, they wrote, “you should make choices about the decision process itself — choices that are likely to determine the character of the whole effort. We call these choices the ‘metadecision.’” The authors went on to list a series of questions that typified a fully considered decision process. And guess what? Many of them have to do with timing, including:
Must this decision be made at all?
Does it need to be made now?
How much time have decisions like this one taken in the past?
How long should this decision take?
When should it be made?
Are the deadlines arbitrary or real?
How much time should I expect to spend on each phase of the decision process?
Consideration of the metadecision, which Russo and Schoemaker said might take a few minutes or a few hours, belies the myth of the fast-thinking, decision-slinging leader. But it is, in fact, critical to sound decision making. “Often the excellence or sloppiness in decision making is established in the metadecision that takes place, usually without the decision maker even knowing it,” they wrote.
So, make the metadecision process explicit, and restrain your inclination to make a decision. Actively hold onto the perception that you are in a period of research and framing the decision, and defer the decision as long as possible.
Of course, this runs counter to most people's natural tendencies.
U.S. Retail Stores’ Planned Closings Already Exceed 2018 Total | I don't think that I would normally post a story about retail stores closing in Work Futures Daily, but the first few paragraphs by Sapna Maheshwari stopped me dead:
As an executive vice president at Great American Group, a firm that helps liquidate the merchandise, clothing racks and mannequins at stores that are closing, Ryan Mulcunry has been watching booms and busts in the retail industry for almost two decades.
Companies like his have been busy in recent years, but lately one thing has been missing.
“In all the other cycles, including 2008, a lot of people would come in and buy racking, circular racks and so on,” Mr. Mulcunry said. “They’d buy it all and warehouse it and wait until somebody wanted to reopen a store and sell it back to them. Those people have gone away.”
He added, “People don’t think retail is going to grow again from a bricks-and-mortar perspective.”
This is not just-another-retail-downturn to be followed by a new wave of offerings. The internet — and the platform economy it has engendered — has rewritten the foundation of retail.
In the past year, liquidation sales have happened at Bon-Ton, Toys “R” Us, Charlotte Russe, Gymboree and Payless […]
Payless plans to close 2,300 stores in North America by the end of May, in what is expected to be the biggest liquidation of a retailer by store count. Gymboree started closing 749 Gymboree and Crazy 8 stores in the United States in January. The personalized engraving retailer Things Remembered, which filed for bankruptcy this year, has closed more than 200 stores.
There will be a lot of empty stores in gap-toothed American malls and shopping centers. What will we do with them? Will we see more mixed use space, with a mix of retail, business offices, and residences? Marijuana dispensaries? More pop-up shops?
Where will the workers go for a paycheck? Restaurants? Can they move to business roles without reskilling?
A new trend to follow.
What are digital brands doing about in-store retail? Experimenting, as we see in Digital-Native Retailers Are Giving Physical Stores a Radical Makeover:
On Black Friday in 2018, online spending in the U.S. leapt 24 percent from the previous year. By contrast, in-store sales fell by 7 percent and footfall was down 9 percent. These numbers might give the impression that brick-and-mortar stores are losing relevance with consumers, but several successful online-only retailers are actually opening physical shops — and traditional brands can learn from them by looking at why and how they’re doing it.
From jobs to superjobs: The impact of AI | Deloitte has released a massive portfolio of articles in the 2019 Global Capital Trends, and one article Erica Volini and many other colleagues dig into the idea of superjobs:
The advent of “superjobs”
In traditional job design, organizations create fixed, stable roles with written job descriptions and then add supervisory and management positions on top. When parts of jobs are automated by machines, the work that remains for humans is generally more interpretive and service-oriented, involving problem-solving, data interpretation, communications and listening, customer service and empathy, and teamwork and collaboration. However, these higher-level skills are not fixed tasks like traditional jobs, so they are forcing organizations to create more flexible and evolving, less rigidly defined positions and roles.
These new types of jobs, which go under a variety of names—“manager,” “designer,” “architect,” or “analyst”—are evolving into what we call “superjobs.” New research shows that the jobs in highest demand today, and those with the fastest acceleration in wages, are so-called “hybrid jobs” that bring together technical skills, including technology operations and data analysis and interpretation, with “soft” skills in areas such as communication, service, and collaboration. The concept of superjobs takes this shift one step further. In a superjob, technology has not only changed the nature of the skills the job requires but has changed the nature of the work and the job itself. Superjobs require the breadth of technical and soft skills that hybrid jobs do—but also combine parts of different traditional jobs into integrated roles that leverage the significant productivity and efficiency gains that can arise when people work with smart machines, data, and algorithms. [For examples of what superjobs could look like in government and in manufacturing, see William D. Eggers, Amrita Datar, and, Jenn Gustetic, Government jobs of the future: What will government work look like in 2025 and beyond?, Deloitte Insights, October 4, 2018; Paul Wellener, Ben Dollar, and Heather Ashton Manolian, The future of work in manufacturing: What will jobs look like in the digital era?, Deloitte Insights, January 25, 2019.]
Elsewhere in the report, the researchers point out that we may be heading for a bifurcated future, with high-skilled superjobs on one extreme and low-skilled 'digital janitors', as Marina Gorbis has described:
The big picture: The first wave of automation-fueled job losses hollowed out middle-skill work — manufacturing positions that required some education, but not a college degree, and led to lucrative, lifelong careers. That left behind jobs mostly at the high- and low-skill extremes.
Among these new, middle-skill jobs is the "digital janitor," says Marina Gorbis, executive director of the Institute for the Future. "The more data we produce, the more digital detritus we throw out there," she says. And someone will need to clean it up.
The bottom line: In the future, "I think there will likely still be lots of jobs for people with less education," says Jed Kolko, chief economist at Indeed. "The bigger questions are: What will those jobs pay? Will they have benefits and a predictable schedule? Will they lead to careers?"
Yes, this is the big question, and right now the answer looks like 'no'.
Quote of the Day
It’s also possible that this second wave of A.I.-based mechanization will automate the farmer’s job long before it removes the need for hired labor. In the indoor farms I visited, the brain work of farming—when to plant, irrigate, fertilize, and harvest—had been automated, but not the grunt work. In the state of agricultural work today, we can see, perhaps, the conditions that other industries will face when their workforces have been automated: the last jobs left will be the tough manual ones. The robots will be too smart to do them.
| John Seabrook, The Age of Robot Farmers
Or at least not adept enough in the fingers department. But that seems to be a technical challenge that will soon be surmounted. And then, what?
A Directory of Advice That Works | Tony Stubblevine has done us a solid by amassing 256 resources to help us do things. Ranging from personal productivity (Implement the Marc Andreessen Productivity System in Trello ~ Bryan Ye) to getting more out of life (How to Reject Busyness and Embrace Slow Living With Your Entire Family ~ Jen Anderson), it's a comprehensive list. I confess I have only glanced at a few, but I feel better knowing such a list is available.
Place-Based Immigrant Visas Could Spur U.S. Growth | Richard Florida reports on a new policy paper by Adam Ozimek, Kenan Fikri, and John Lettieri in From Managing Decline to Building the Future: if the US creates a 'Heartland Visa' for immigrants, could it help regions that are struggling with depopulation? As the authors point out:
Current skilled immigration policy largely benefits populous, booming metro areas but fails most heartland communities. A new program of place-based visas—let’s call them Heartland Visas—could become a powerful economic development tool for communities facing the consequences of demographic stagnation, but not content to simply manage decline. The visas would constitute a new, additive, and voluntary pathway for skilled immigrants to come to the United States. Eligible communities would opt-in to hosting visa holders, who would provide a much-needed injection of human capital and entrepreneurial vitality into parts of the country that retain considerable economic potential.
Good idea. Richard Florida chimes in:
Heartland visas are a mechanism for spurring growth in parts of the country that aren’t benefiting as much from existing visa programs like the H-1B. These visas would not be tied to a single employer, so their holders could work in startups and small businesses that might otherwise have trouble handling the costs and administrative burden associated with the H-1B program. They would be contingent on visa holders finding and maintaining a job or starting a business, and would provide a path to permanent residency.
The program would restrict where visa holders can live and work for a certain amount of time, but they would be able to move within the U.S. once they were granted permanent residency, an incentive for compliance.