Enslavement USA

enslavement-jpeg

I am not sure what this art was supposed to represent outside the Smithsonian American Art Museum in Washington, DC.

But to me, this scene looked almost like a reenactment of enslavement. 

I remember seeing similar type photos of presumed harshly treated black slaves who were forced to build the White House and the Capitol

Sure, we are fortunate to have jobs for people in this country.

Yet, seeing these workers bending over and shoveling in hard labor and in 91 degree heat this week at the feet of this great statue just seemed more than a little demeaning and telling of where we unfortunately still are as a country. 

Freedom and human rights means for everyone!

Decent jobs, wages, housing, food, healthcare and education, should be for everyone!

Maybe it’s a great thing that we are advancing with automation and robots that can do the jobs that people shouldn’t have to do.

So people can do and be treated as human beings and not as robot slaves. 😉

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Playing The Work Game Can End In More Ways Than One

Work Hard

This game takes working to a whole new level of absurdity. 


It’s called “Don’t Get Fired!


And it’s by a 29-year old South Korean programmer who found a way to vent his own frustration with the crazy working world by making it into a mobile game. 


The goal is to “rise through the ranks of a nameless corporation by performing an endless string of mind-numbing tasks, while avoiding  a long list of fireable offenses.”


I did a screenshot here after I passed the interview and did the tasks that the various levels of management told me to by yelling at me with exclamation marks. 


The more exclamation marks means the more yelling and critical the tasks are from the seniors in the organization. 


Here the added stressor is everyone is in “fever mode,” because the president is in town, so now you are getting work from everyone and have to manage all the competing priorities. 


See me, the intern in the lower right corner with the work piled up on my desk.


You have to tap furiously on each task to turn them green and eventually make them disappear as completed.


In the game, you basically “get fired again and again in a cycle of humiliation and false hope.” 


There are no less than “29 ways to get fired, including opening a box of donuts that doesn’t belong to you,…addressing colleagues with the wrong level of formality, or failing to laugh hard enough at the jokes of a company vice president.”


One game player said, “sometimes you just have to laugh at the futility of life” or in this case I think he is referring to meaningless work tasks. 


Mind-numbing tasks and yelling in the office are not what decent work life is about.  

It’s no wonder that doing meaningful work, being treated with dignity and respect, and having the opportunity to learn and grow are some of the most important aspects of a satisfying job.


Then why get fired, when instead you can get promoted. 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

I Like Working Here

Monsters

I got some bad news and really good news from a colleague at work this week. 


The bad news was that he was concerned that he hadn’t gotten the raise that he wanted from his company for the last number of years.


The good news was that he said that despite that, “I and everyone else on the team really like working here–it is a special group.”


It was funny, because recently someone else from a different office stopped me on the elevator when I was getting off on my floor, and she points and says “everyone says that is one of the best groups to work in!”


I can’t tell you how happy I was to hear this feedback.


And while I certainly know that “you can’t satisfy all of the people all of the time,” it was especially meaningful to me to hear this on such a fast-paced and high performance team–where people routinely seem to not only pull their weight (and more), but also pull together. 


As to the raises from this gentleman’s company that is a separate matter, especially as I understand that we all have bills to pay, but in terms of a good work environment and inspiring team that is something that also means the world to me. 😉


(Source Photo Andy Blumenthal)

Face Down

Face Down
Rounding the corner, it was interesting to see this guy lying face down in the pavement.



Heart attack, stroke, mugged, shot…lying in a pile of garbage-looking stuff.



Other people walking right past him holding their cups of coffee…not even paying attention to him.



Turned out he’s working, and there is an open manhole and he’s practically head first. 



Anyone down there?  😉



(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Giving Voice To The Workers

Giving Voice To The Workers

In light of the recent factory collapse in Bangladesh and another in Cambodia this week, there is an promising crowdsourcing service called LaborVoices for factory workers and other industries.

A former Department of State employee, Kohl Gill, who I do not know, started the service.

LaborVoices collects information from workers by phone polling in the workers native languages.

The service anonymously records information about hazardous working conditions, product quality, and maintenance of equipment.

According to Bloomberg BusinessWeek (13 May 2013), LaborVoices aggregates worker responses and provides the results on a subscription basis through an online dashboard.

Unlike with onsite inspections, where workers can be easily coaxed, cajoled, or threatened to provide positive workplace feedback, the private polling by mobile phones provides for more accurate and timely reporting of workplace issues.

Problems that can be identified early can be remediated sooner and hopefully avoid defects, injuries, and illnesses from poor products and working conditions.

Giving voice to the workforce–anonymously, safely, and in aggregate can provide important information to companies, labor unions, government regulators, and law enforcement to be able to take action to protect people inside the workplace and to users outside.

Like an ever-present inspector general, internal auditor, or tip hotline, LaborVoices can help self-regulate industry, produce safer products, and protect the workers who make it all happen.

(Source Photo: here with attribution to UN Women Asia and The Pacific)

Do Business With Good People

Robot_with_a_heart

While most companies run to do business with anyone with a checkbook or credit card, some amazing others are more discriminating.

In interview on Leadership in the New York Times (24 December 2011) with Ori Hadomi, the CEO of Mazor Robotics(they make robotic systems that aid in spinal surgeries) he states: “You can’t afford to working with people are not good people [you need to be selective]…you need to look at your vendors and your customers the same way.”

He actually “told one our salespeople recently that he didn’thave to sell our product to people who were not nice to him.”

Wow–this is powerful stuff.

It’s not about just the money, it’s about the meaning and feeling good about yourself, the organization, and what you are achieving,

Similarly, Hadomi has a different–better–philosophy on the role of the management that typically sees itself as making sure employees get the work done and work hard.  Hadomi states: I believe that my role is not to make people work, but to give them the right working conditions, so that they will enjoy what they do.”

On making mistakes, often a punishable offense in organizations, Hardomi states: “It’s natural that we make mistakes.”  The main thing is that we learn and solve them for the future.

With planning and communicating, while many organizations play their stakeholders and stockholders telling them everything is going to be just great–and this often is pronounced when companies reassure investors and others right before they were about to fall off the proverbial bankruptcy cliff.  However, Hardomi tells us that while positive thinking can help motivate people, it can also be dangerous to plan based on that and that instead in Mazor robotics, he establishes an executive as the devil’s advocate to “ask the right questions [and]…humble our assumptions.”

In working out problems, while email wars and reply-alls fill corporate email boxes, Hardomi cuts it off and says “after that second response…you pick up the phone.”  Problems can be resolved in 1/10 the time by talking to each other and even better “looking at the eyes of the other person.”

As we all know, too often, the number and length of meetings are overdone, and Hardomi has instead one roundtable a week–where everybody tells what they did and are planning to do–this synchronizes the organization.

Who does Hardomi like to hire, people that are self-reflective, self-critical, and can articulate their concerns and fears. These people are thoughtful, are real, and will make a good fit.

Hardomi sets the bar high for all us in breaking many traditional broken management paradigms–he is paving a new leadership trail that especially from a human capital perspective is worthy of attention and emulation.

(Photo adapted from herewith attribution to Gnsin and Honda)