The week@work – It’s still 3 minutes to midnight, an engineer’s regret, a world run by millennials and the myth of the ‘best jobs’ lists

This week@work began with the announcement that the ‘Doomsday Clock’ has remained at 3 minutes to midnight, and ended with a remembrance day for NASA astronauts lost. Millennials will soon assume a larger role in global leadership and may move the hands of that clock backward, and ‘astronaut’ does not appear on either list released last week, ranking top jobs for 2016.

“Martyl Langsdorf’s “Doomsday Clock,” which first graced the cover of the Bulletin’s print edition in 1947, has served for 69 years to focus the world’s attention on the most pressing global threats. The time on the Clock reflects whether we are more or less safe than last year, and compares the current situation to years further in the past; the decision on where to set the Clock’s hands is an attempt to reconcile the achievements and breakdowns in security efforts, broadly defined, that occur each and every year.

Last year, the Science and Security Board moved the Doomsday Clock forward to three minutes to midnight, noting: ‘The probability of global catastrophe is very high, and the actions needed to reduce the risks of disaster must be taken very soon.’ That probability has not been reduced. The Clock ticks. Global danger looms. Wise leaders should act—immediately.” Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, 2016

While many hold personal memories of where we were on January 28, 1986, those closest to the program provide a cautionary tale on leadership, communication and the value of trusting the voice of your employees.

As NASA observed a ‘Day of Remembrance’, NPR correspondent, Howard Berkes, returned to Bringham City, Utah to interview Bob Ebling, ’30 Years After Explosion, Challenger Engineer Still Blames Himself’.

“Thirty years ago, as the nation mourned the loss of seven astronauts on the space shuttle Challenger, Bob Ebeling was steeped in his own deep grief.

The night before the launch, Ebeling and four other engineers at NASA contractor Morton Thiokol had tried to stop the launch. Their managers and NASA overruled them.

That night, he told his wife, Darlene, “It’s going to blow up.”

When Challenger exploded 73 seconds after liftoff, Ebeling and his colleagues sat stunned in a conference room at Thiokol’s headquarters outside Brigham City, Utah. They watched the spacecraft explode on a giant television screen and they knew exactly what had happened.”

The Economist contemplated a new global order when the millennials take charge, ‘When the young get older: their time will come’.

“Where some see a generation in crisis, others think the young are adapting quite well to the challenges of a changing world. They flit from job to job not because they are fickle but because job security is a thing of the past. They demand flexible hours and work-life balance because they know they don’t have to be in the office to be productive. They spend six hours a day online because that is how they work, and also how they relax. Their enthusiasm for new ideas (and lack of spare cash) has kickstarted money-saving technologies from Uber to WhatsApp. They take longer to settle down and have children, but so what? They will also be working far later in life than their parents did.

In every generation, the young are the first to take to the streets to demand reform. Sometimes their fury leads nowhere, but autocrats still fear it. That is why China’s government rolled tanks over the Tiananmen Square protesters, and why it censors social media today. Young Africans, for their part, may not put up indefinitely with gerontocrats such as 91-year-old Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe and 82-year-old Paul Biya of Cameroon.

In democracies, young people will some day realise that signing online petitions is no substitute for voting (just as their elders started voting when they acquired grey hairs and mortgages and sent their children to government schools). When the young show up at polling stations, democratic governments will heed their views. And when the millennials start calling the shots more widely in society, they will do so for a long time. For thanks to steady advances in medical technology, they will remain healthy and able to work for longer than any previous generation. Indeed, if scientists’ efforts to crack the “ageing code” in human genes bear fruit, many of them will live past 120.”

Where are the jobs? That’s the question the experts try to answer each year, identifying the best jobs and best places to work.

U.S. News and World Report announced their 2016 Best Jobs Rankings and glassdoor.com ranked the 25 Best Jobs in America. Orthodontist, dentist, computer systems analyst, nurse anesthetist and physician assistant led the U.S. News Top 100. The glassdooor.com list’s top five included data scientist, tax manager, solutions architect, engagement manager and mobile developer.

It’s always good to have a snapshot of market driven job titles, but it doesn’t help if your ‘dream job’ doesn’t make the list, or even exist. The myth of these lists lie in the impermanence of work. The top jobs this year may vanish from the list next year. It’s about the work you want to do, and the job title you imagine or may create.

Three additional stories this week were reported by journalists at The New York Times: an analysis of the success of Iowa’s economic development, commentary on the career of a veteran NFL quarterback who found joy in his sport but will now have the long off season to consider lessons from a loss, and advice on how to raise a creative child.

‘In Iowa, Jobs Are Plentiful but Workers Are Not’ Patricia Cohen

“At 3.4 percent, Iowa’s unemployment rate is among the lowest in the country. With major metropolitan areas — crowded with hard-hat construction sites — painting an alluring picture of steady economic progress, business leaders here retain a sunny optimism that is rarely heard from the presidential candidates.

But now that Iowa has achieved a tightening labor market that is the envy of most other states, many companies are confronted with a different set of challenges pushing them to rethink everything from recruiting to economic development.”

‘Carson Palmer’s Memorable Season Ends With a Forgettable Night’  William C. Rhoden

“I’ll look back at this season at some point, but not tonight,” Palmer said. “This is the only game that’s on my mind, not the other 16, 17.”

Despite Sunday’s disaster, this was a season in which Palmer reclaimed some of the joy that the business of football and the grind of the sport had taken away.”

‘How to Raise a Creative Child. Step One: Back Off’  Adam Grant

“Child prodigies rarely become adult geniuses who change the world…What holds them back is that they don’t learn to be original. They strive to earn the approval of their parents and the admiration of their teachers. But as they perform in Carnegie Hall and become chess champions, something unexpected happens: Practice makes perfect, but it doesn’t make new.”

 

The week@work – Davos, Sundance, transparency and the benefits of procrastination

This week@work world leaders and policy gurus headed to Davos, Switzerland for the annual World Economic Forum, actors and directors arrived in Park City, Utah for the Sundance Film Festival and the rest of us enjoyed a snow day without the airfare. Transparency was suggested as a way to close the pay gap and provide a fair balloting process for the Oscars. And finally, for you procrastinators, research finds your approach to problem solving is more creative.

Of all the tweets emanating from the World Economic Forum, the most stunning came from Sharan Burrow, participating on ‘The New Climate and Development Imperative’ panel. Ms. Burrow is General Secretary of the International Trade Union Confederation. In discussing the drivers of action for development and climate targets she stated, “For workers, there are no jobs on a dead planet.” If that doesn’t bring home the reality of climate change to each global citizen, I’m not sure what will.

One of the ten major global challenges identified by the WEF poses the question, What does the world of work look like today and what will it look like in the future?

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“The scale of the employment challenge is vast. The International Labour Organization estimates that more than 61 million jobs have been lost since the start of the global economic crisis in 2008, leaving more than 200 million people unemployed globally.

Nearly 500 million new jobs will need to be created by 2020 to provide opportunities to those currently unemployed and to the young people who are projected to join the workforce over the next few years.

At the same time, many industries are facing difficulty hiring qualified staff. One 2015 survey found that, globally, 38% of all employers are reporting difficulty filling jobs, a two-percentage point rise from 2014.

Put simply, we need jobs for the hundreds of millions of unemployed people around the world, and we need the skilled employees that businesses are struggling to find.”

Two additional perspectives of the Davos conference were provided by Alexandra Stevenson for The New York Times, ‘Glass Ceilings at Davos, Now on the Agenda’, and Anne Marie Slaughter‘s ‘A Tale of Two Feminisms at Davos’.

Several time zones west, the Sundance Film Festival began its ten day run in Park City, Utah. Since 1978, it has been the place for independent film makers to show their dramatic and documentary films. A number of these films eventually became Oscar nominees, which brings us to a conversation on transparency.

For the past two weeks, since the announcement of the Academy Awards, the major recognition for those who work in film, the conversation has centered on the lack of progress in diversifying the industry and its major export, films. How many of us even knew how the voting was done as we mindlessly watch red carpet arrivals and comment on fashion, performances and our bets to win?

Glenn Whipp of the LA Times shared ‘Here’s How Oscar Voting Is Done’.

“Who nominates the actors for the Oscars? And how does the voting process work? Here’s a step-by-step primer:

The Motion Picture Academy of Arts and Sciences has 6,261 voting members. The entire body votes for best picture.

Nominations for most of the remaining categories are determined by the balloting of the academy’s various branches. A committee selects the foreign-language film nominees.”

The full article, though short, will definitely make your hair hurt, and prompt the question, why the delay in reform?

Film mogul, actor and producer, Tyler Perry offered his solution “If the Academy – I think all this would go away if they revealed the votes,” Perry said. “If you look at a movie like ‘Straight Outta Compton’ right and just say it got 1,000 votes and ‘The Revenant’ got 1, 001 votes, is that racism or is it just this is the way the votes went?”

We might all benefit from transparency and a clear set of rules beyond the intersection of Hollywood and Vine. Claire Cain Miller proposes we “publish everyone’s pay” as one answer to ‘What We Can Do to Close the Pay Gap’.

“When the comedian Ricky Gervais joked that he was paid the same to host the Golden Globes as the actresses Tina Fey and Amy Poehler — combined — his barbed humor most likely resonated in many workplaces.

When employers publish people’s salaries, the pay gap shrinks.

Jake Rosenfeld, a sociologist at Washington University, has found that salary transparency raises wages, in part by lending legitimacy to employees’ arguments in wage bargaining. “Even being cognizant of gender pay disparity being an issue can change norms,” he said.

That has been true in the public sector, where disclosing pay information is often required. Alexandre Mas, an economist at Princeton, studied the effects of a 2010 California law that required cities to publish municipal salaries. It prompted pay cuts, but only among men.

Women might have been spurred to negotiate after seeing that their salaries were lower, he theorized, or cities might have made salaries more equitable to avoid lawsuits.”

Bottom line, there are a lot of global and domestic problems to be solved and they require serious thought, teamwork and creativity.

Wharton professor Adam Grant shared the benefits of re-thinking his pre-crastination habit in ‘Why I Taught Myself to Procrastinate’, and found “..while procrastination is a vice for productivity, I’ve learned — against my natural inclinations — that it’s a virtue for creativity. It turns out postponement can encourage divergent thinking.

A few years ago, though, one of my most creative students, Jihae Shin, questioned my expeditious habits. She told me her most original ideas came to her after she procrastinated. I challenged her to prove it. She got access to a couple of companies, surveyed people on how often they procrastinated, and asked their supervisors to rate their creativity. Procrastinators earned significantly higher creativity scores than pre-crastinators like me.”