Paul Millerd shares an article that explores how the mindset towards work changed and moved towards the concept of careerism.
Modern work critics blame Frederick Taylor for the hyper-optimization of the modern workplace. The accepted narrative is that Taylor kicked off a movement that looked at work as something that could be optimized and managed and that his efforts kick-started a 100+ year movement of steadily increasing optimization.
Sounds good but it’s not true. Today’s hyper-optimized workplace would not exist except for the emergence of a new kind of worker: the career-driven knowledge worker.
Taylor was mostly concerned with the manufacturing world and he believed that an embrace of his principles would help not only managers, but production workers:
‘The principal object of management should be to secure the maximum prosperity for the employer, coupled with the maximum prosperity for each employee.Frederick Taylor, Principles of Scientific Management, 1911
He wrote in a time in which the kind of service and knowledge work that is common today barely existed. While his techniques did gain popularity in manufacturing, it would take another 30 to 40 years for analytical and measurement techniques to gain widespread adoption.
It took the emergence of a new kind of work.
The Career Path & The Need To Perform
After world-war II as the US repurposed its military workforce there was a boom in employment in the business world and for the first time. the goal of working for a big corporation became a common goal.
William Whyte famously called them “Organization Men” and wrote more than 400 pages making sense of this new type of worker that started to identify with a company above any other affiliation in their life:
The ones I am talking about belong to it as well. They are the ones of our middle class who have left home, spiritually as well as physically, to take the vows of organization life, and it is they who are the mind and soul of our great self-perpetuating institutions. William Whyte, The Organization Man, 1956
This was a dramatic shift from the age-old conflict between labor and the owners of capital. Once that had existed from the earliest days of capitalism.
Key points include:
- Continuous improvement and the “Theatre Of Work”
- A new kind of worker
- Changes in our mindsets
Read the full article, The Knowledge Worker Mind & The Birth Of Careerism, on Boundless.com.
Robyn Bolton shares introspective insights and answers on working from home during the pandemic.
In middle school and high school my dad and I would have massive arguments about my math homework. And by “massive,” I mean arguments that make episodes of The Real Housewives look like polite differences of opinion over tea and crumpets.
The issue was not my struggles to understand the work (though I’m sure that played into things) but rather my insistence on knowing WHY I needed to learn the content in the first place.
My dad, a metallurgist before becoming a computer engineer, seemed to think the answers to “Why?” were (1) you will need to know this in the future and (2) because this is the assignment.
To which I would respond, (1) no I won’t because I’m going to be a lawyer or a writer and even if I’m not those two things I can say with 100% certainty I won’t be an engineer and (2) that is not an acceptable reason.
As you can imagine, things would escalate from there.
In the decades since, with the exception of some single-variable algebra and basic geometry, I have yet to use most of the math that I was forced to learn and I still insist that “because that’s the assignment/the rules/how things are done” is not an acceptable answer.
Usually I apply that same stubborn curiosity to help my clients find and capitalize on opportunities to do things differently and better, create value, and innovate.
But, in the last week as I, like most Americans, find myself largely confined to my home, my curiosity is extending to my own environment and habits and I’m not always prepared for the insights that emerge.
Key points include:
- Why am I trying to maintain all my pre-pandemic habits?
- Why am I watching non-stop news?
- Why are there 6 dozen eggs in the refrigerator?
Read the full article, 5 Whys of Working from Home, on Milezero.io.