The week@work – good lives without good jobs?, good vs. great leaders, Yahoo hacked, and are university rankings hurting higher ed?

The workplace is changing, and politicians are beginning to recognize the impact of the shift on long term policy planning. This week@work a ‘think tank’ fellow considered the possibility of good lives without good jobs, a professor found leadership is not a continuum, Yahoo announced 500 million users accounts were hacked, and Irish universities missed the top tier of international schools for the first time, generating a debate on the value of global rankings.

New America Fellow, Michael Lind suggested “Politicians should tell working Americans what they need to hear, not what they want to hear. And what they need to hear is that it is possible for all Americans to have good lives, even if they can’t all have good jobs.”

Writing in The New York Times Sunday Review he asked, ‘Can You Have a Good Life if You Don’t Have a Good Job?’

“…the political problem remains. Even if center-left and center-right policy wonks agree that the goal should be good lives for all workers, even those with bad jobs, many Americans do not agree, to judge from the rhetoric of politicians, who know their audiences well. The replacement of a world in which one or a few lifetime jobs in a paternalistic company that provided benefits during your working life and a pension after your retirement by a future in which individuals struggle to survive by piecing together “gigs” and “tasks” with a bewildering variety of federal, state and local social programs may strike many workers as a dystopian nightmare. The price of increased flexibility may be increased stress.

The unelected policy experts who envision a future of multiple job types and a greater, if hidden, role for government in maintaining minimum incomes and providing health and retirement benefits are essentially right. The elements of a “good job” — adequate income, health insurance and retirement benefits — that were once combined in the package that a Detroit automobile manufacturer provided to a unionized male steelworker in 1950 are likely to be provided, for most American workers now, by some combination of employer and government.

Until most American workers are persuaded that they will not be worse off in a system characterized by flexible work arrangements and partly socialized benefits, they may continue to make unrealistic demands that 21st century politicians restore something like the occupational structure of the 20th century.”

Which of the folks vying for U.S. President will have the courage to deliver this message? It may depend on their leadership style. Professor James R. Bailey of George Washington University’s School of Business examined ‘The Difference Between Good Leaders and Great Ones’ for HBR digital.

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“That anyone can develop as a leader is not in question. What I dispute is the stubborn resolve that great and good are points along the same stream. That just isn’t so. Great leadership and good leadership have distinctly different characteristics and paths. Leadership is not one-dimensional. It can be great and good, or one but not the other, or neither.

The tug between great and good leadership is one of perpetual and dynamic coexistence. There is great — a force that is often inexplicable, occasionally irrational, and, importantly, intermittently ungovernable. Then there is good — a direction that is north-star true, providing the point of values of mutual benefit.

It’s natural to think of leadership as running from one end to the other. To do so, though, is to mistake what great and good leadership are. They’re fundamentally different. Separating them, thus upending the ever-convenient continuum, seems counterintuitive. But it’s absolutely necessary for understanding the very elements that explain leadership’s operation and impact. Great can be vital but destructive; good can be compassionate but impotent. The coexistence of the two is the best hope for leadership — without good we should fear.”

Switching gears, to privacy – it came as no surprise when Yahoo announced a massive data breach. Kara Swisher reported for recode in advance of the public disclosure.

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“Earlier this summer, Yahoo said it was investigating a data breach in which hackers claimed to have access to 200 million user accounts and one was selling them online. “It’s as bad as that,” said one source. “Worse, really.” 

…this hack, said sources, which became known in August when an infamous cybercriminal named “Peace” claimed on a website that he was selling credentials of 200 million Yahoo users from 2012 on the dark web for just over $1,800. The data allegedly included user names, easily decrypted passwords and personal information like birth dates and other email addresses.

At the time, Yahoo said it was “aware of the claim,” but the company declined to say if it was legitimate and said that it was investigating the information. But it did not issue a call for a password reset to users. Now, said sources, Yahoo might have to, although it will be a case of too little, too late.”

Over 500 million accounts have been reported hacked…about that earlier article on good/great leadership and “another blemish on the record of CEO Marissa Mayer”.

On campus, this week@work, university presidents and deans awaited the verdict of the annual ‘World University Rankings’.

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Grainne Loughran reported on the implications of the new rankings for The Irish Times.

“Another week, another set of university rankings as the Times Higher Education releases it league table. It follows others recently published by Quacquarelli Symonds (QS) and the Academic Ranking of World Universities (Shanghai).

The organisations may differ, but the pattern is broadly the same: Ireland’s best higher education institutions are in free-fall.

The decline in rankings has been alarming university presidents for the past six years. But while rankings are of significant reputational importance worldwide, they only take into account a tiny proportion of the picture of how universities stand.

Lack of understanding of what they actually measure has resulted in the rankings gaining an unwarranted notoriety and position to influence policy, with the potential to harm higher education institutions in Ireland and worldwide.

There are about 20 global rankings of higher education. All have varying methodologies and in some cases give vastly different weightings to the factors they have in common.”

This week@work also marked the anniversary of ‘The Death of the Phone Call’. Timothy Noah looked back on a moment in history.

“The phone call died, according to Nielsen, in the autumn of 2007. During the final three months of that year the average monthly number of texts sent on mobile phones (218) exceeded, for the first time in recorded history, the average monthly number of phone calls (213). A frontier had been crossed. The primary purpose of most people’s primary telephones was no longer to engage in audible speech.”

Also this week@work – two stories from Silicon Valley:

‘Zuckerberg, Chan Start $3 Billion Initiative to Cure Disease’ Sarah Frier for bloomberg.com “Mark Zuckerberg and his wife, Priscilla Chan, are pledging to spend more than $3 billion over the next decade to work on curing diseases.

“Can we work together to cure, prevent or manage all disease within our children’s lifetime?” Chan said Wednesday onstage at an event in San Francisco for the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative. “Mark and I believe that this is possible.”

‘How Tech Companies Disrupted Silicon Valley’s Restaurant Scene’ Nicole Perlroth for The New York Times “All told, more than 70,000 square feet of Palo Alto retail and restaurant space were lost to office space from 2008 to 2015, as the tech bubble drove demand for commercial space downtown.

It is a story playing out across Silicon Valley, where restaurateurs say that staying afloat is a daily battle with rising rents, high local fees and acute labor shortages. And tech behemoths like Apple, Facebook and Google are hiring away their best line cooks, dishwashers and servers with wages, benefits and perks that restaurant owners simply cannot match.

Silicon Valley technologists love to explain how they have disrupted the minutiae of daily life, from our commutes to the ways we share family photos. But along the way, they have also managed to disrupt their local restaurant industry.”

Finally, from The New York Times Magazine survey (September 18): “In an eight-hour workday, how much time do you spend actually working? 44% 4-6 hours, 43% 7-8 hours, 7% 1-3 hours, and 6% less than an hour.”

 

Photo credits: Yahoo, Lisa Werner/Getty for Wired

The week@work – Brexit, #Regrexit, Euro2016, Christo’s floating piers, Bill Cunningham’s photos, Goldman Sachs’ video recruiting strategy, and education for a jobless future

I was a history major, so the past week@work included an inordinate amount of time spent in the company of various traditional and social media portals, monitoring the results of the Brexit vote and its aftermath.

In between, there were intervals of soccer, viewing both Copa America and Euro 2016. There was also art in Christo’s installation in Lake Iseo, Italy and reflected brilliance in the photography of Bill Cunningham, who died this weekend. Goldman Sachs announced a new campus recruiting strategy (good news for history majors), and a journalist asked if education is preparing students adequately for a jobless future.

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On Thursday evening I watched part of CNN International’s ‘Brexit’ election coverage, which included an animated discussion between anchor Christiane Amanpour and historian Simon Schama. As it became clear that ‘Leave’ was overtaking ‘Remain’ in the vote count, Schama cited the referendum results as one more example of “a world phenomenon of tribal nationalism”.

The historian has been actively engaged on Twitter and in an interview with NPR’s Robert Siegel described the vote as “a turning point for Great Britain”.

Here’s a sample of the conversation:

SIEGEL:” Culturally, there is a generation of educated young Europeans – and I include Brits in that – who think of themselves at some level as being European. Maybe it’s not their only identity. Do you think that goes away in Britain and does a different identity take shape, or do those people grow up and change in this country?”

SCHAMA: “No, I think they’re in distress. I mean, I’m sure you’ve said, it’s very striking that the 18 to 24s voted something like 75 percent to stay in. And I suppose it depends where you are in London. We have more immigrants than anywhere else, and we’re least bothered by it. And I think when the shock subsides a bit, the young may well fight to be at least as European as they’ve been led to believe they are. That’s my hope, actually.”

SIEGEL: “If you can imagine a historian 50 years hence writing the sentence that will sum up what happened on this day, what do you think it’ll be?”

SCHAMA:” The greatest act of unforced national self-harm yet known in modern history.”

It’s always helpful to have a historian in the house. And it’s stunning to realize the generational split in voting: “Among 18-24-year-olds, the age category that’s going to have to live with the consequences of this vote for all of their working lives, 75 percent voted to stay.”

As to #Regrexit, writer and comedian, John Oliver reminded his countrymen, “there are no f______do-overs”.

In 2004 journalist Franklin Foer wrote ‘How Soccer Explains the World: An Unlikely Theory of Globalization’. Seemed like a good read to revisit after Brexit and an opportunity for a diversion while following Copa America and Euro 2016. The book treats soccer stories as globalization case studies. And I think we could use some ‘best practices’ right about now.

Full disclosure, I am rooting for the Welsh National Football Team as they face Belgium on Friday. My favorite work/life balance photo of the week – Wales’ Gareth Bale and daughter after the team advanced to the Euro 2016 quarter finals.

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Art is another outlet for expression in chaos and ambiguity. A new Christo work debuted last week. The Guardian reported on the popularity of the ‘Floating Piers’ in Lake Iseo in northern Italy.

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“A giant floating walkway made out of fabric on an Italian lake has had to be closed at night after tens of thousands of visitors began to wear it out.

The 1.9-mile (3km) walkway of 200,000 floating cubes covered in orange fabric was created by artist Christo and has proved a major attraction since it opened on Saturday on Lake Iseo.

However, 270,000 visitors have flocked to see the free installation – called “the Floating Piers” – in less than five days, far exceeding organisers’ expectations of about 500,000 over 16 days.”

On Saturday, The New York Times chronicled the career of one of their ‘house icons’, photographer Bill Cunningham.

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“Mr. Cunningham was such a singular presence in the city that, in 2009, he was designated a living landmark. And he was an easy one to spot, riding his bicycle through Midtown, where he did most of his field work: his bony-thin frame draped in his utilitarian blue French worker’s jacket, khaki pants and black sneakers (he himself was no one’s idea of a fashion plate), with his 35-millimeter camera slung around his neck, ever at the ready for the next fashion statement to come around the corner.

Nothing escaped his notice: not the fanny packs, not the Birkin bags, not the gingham shirts, not the fluorescent biker shorts.

In his nearly 40 years working for The Times, Mr. Cunningham snapped away at changing dress habits to chart the broader shift away from formality and toward something more diffuse and individualistic.”

Two stories about the transition from school to work round out this week@work.

On Friday, bbc.com reported “Goldman Sachs is scrapping face-to-face interviews on university campuses in a bid to attract a wider range of talent.
The US investment bank will switch to video interviews with first-round undergraduate candidates from next month.

“Edith Cooper, Goldman’s global head of human capital management said: “We want to hire not just the economics or business undergraduate but there is that pure liberal arts or “history major that could be the next Lloyd Blankfein.”

Mr Blankfein, the bank’s chief executive, went to Harvard, one of America’s elite Ivy League universities, where he studied history.”

On Tuesday, Washington Post contributor, Jeffrey J. Selingo asked ‘Are colleges preparing students for the workforce?’

“While students are often encouraged to major in job-ready fields like STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math), graduates of those programs are unlikely to find employment without solid grounding in the liberal arts and experiences outside the classroom to build their soft skills.

In the future work world, it’s critical that new graduates stay one step ahead of technology and focus more on what computers can’t yet do well: show creativity, have judgment, play well with others, and navigate ambiguity.”

It was a good week to be a history major.

 

 

 

 

The week@work – guaranteed basic income, college grad stats, internet trends and the world’s longest tunnel opens

This week@work the Swiss electorate rejected a ballot measure to provide a guaranteed basic income for citizens, the college graduate unemployment rate is 2.4%, with history majors matching mid-career salaries of business school grads, Mary Meeker projected her 2016 internet trends and 2,600 workers completed 17 years of work to open the world’s longest tunnel under the Alps.

On Saturday Swiss voters rejected a proposed plan to provide an unconditional monthly income of 2,500 francs by a margin of 77% to 23%.

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Philip Oltermann surveyed the growing economic trends toward guaranteed basic income, ‘State handout for all? Europe set to pilot universal basic incomes’.

“Universal basic income has a rare appeal across the political spectrum. For those on the left, it promises to eliminate poverty and liberate people stuck in dead-end workfare jobs. Small-state libertarians believe it could slash bureaucracy and create a leaner, more self-sufficient welfare system.

In an increasingly digital economy, it would also provide a necessary injection of cash so people can afford to buy the apps and gadgets produced by the new robot workforce.

Crucially, it is also an idea that seems to resonate across the wider public. A recent poll by Dalia Research found that 68% of people across all 28 EU member states said they would definitely or probably vote for a universal basic income initiative. Finland and the Netherlands have pilot projects in the pipeline.”

The New Yorker contributor, Mark Gimein summarized recent discussions on the topic, comparing U.S. views to European counterparts.

“…when they look further into the future, Americans talk about a national minimum income in the context of a jobless future, an employment apocalypse in which workers compete for fewer and fewer good jobs. Robert Reich, the former labor secretary, sees a national guaranteed income as the most likely endgame in an economy with “more and more people getting pushed out of the middle class into the personal service sector of the economy getting lower and lower wages.” When the Swiss talk about basic income, they’re talking about a utopian vision. When Americans like Reich talk about it, it’s a last bulwark against national impoverishment.”

‘The Upshot’ analyzed the May unemployment numbers and drew a positive spin on disappointing results. “A better gauge of the underlying rate of jobs growth is to take an average over the past three months. By that measure, the labor market is creating around 116,000 jobs per month. This is a notable slowdown from jobs growth in the 150,000-250,000 range over most of the past five years. But it’s a slowdown and not a sudden stop.”

Here’s the good news for college grads. In a separate post, the folks @UpshotNYT posed this question: “What do you think the unemployment rate is for 25-to-30-year-olds who graduated from a four-year college?”  Most folks guessed high. The actual rate is 2.4%, without a four-year college degree it’s 7%.

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While we’re on the topic of debunking ‘value of college myths’, let’s turn to a story about the much maligned history majors. (Full disclosure, I was one)

Writing in the LA Times, James Grossman, executive director of the American Historical Association lamented the decline enrollment in undergraduate history programs and countered with new research that suggests undergrads might want to reconsider their choice of major.

“Over the long run, …graduates in history and other humanities disciplines do well financially…after 15 years, those philosophy majors have more lucrative careers than college graduates with business degrees. History majors’ mid-career salaries are on par with those holding business bachelor’s degrees. Notably these salary findings exclude those who went on to attain a law or other graduate degree.

The utility of disciplines that prepare critical thinkers escapes personnel offices, pundits and politicians (some of whom perhaps would prefer that colleges graduate more followers and fewer leaders). But it shouldn’t. Labor markets in the United States and other countries are unstable and unpredictable. In this environment — especially given the expectation of career changes — the most useful degrees are those that can open multiple doors, and those that prepare one to learn rather than do some specific thing.”

On Wednesday The New York Times announced ‘the Internet is over’. They are changing their style rule to join the rest of the world to lowercase the word ‘internet’.

The same day, venture capitalist Mary Meeker presented her 2016 internet trends report. Inc. contributor, Jessica Stillman cited five ‘take-aways’ from the deck of 200 slides.

“Internet growth is slowing dramatically. Advertisers aren’t spending enough on mobile. Privacy concerns are “a ticking time bomb.”Search is about to be revolutionized…and so are messaging apps.”

Moving from technology trends to engineering marvels, BBC News reported on the opening of the Gotthard Base Tunnel in Switzerland, culminating 17 years of work by 26,000 workers.

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“Swiss engineer Carl Eduard Gruner first imagined it in 1947: a massive tunnel, unprecedented in length, buried a mile and a half under Switzerland’s symbolic Gotthard mountain range.

Nearly seven decades later, after redesigns, political disagreements and the long, slow work of drilling beneath the Gotthard massif, as it’s called, Gruner’s dream is complete.

The Gotthard Base Tunnel — a record-setting 35.4 miles long, and farther below ground than any other tunnel — was inaugurated Wednesday. The occasion was marked with a celebration that promoted “Swiss values such as innovation, precision and reliability…”

Now the completed tunnel, delivered on time and within budget, will create a mainline rail connection between Rotterdam in the Netherlands and Genoa in Italy.

When full services begin in December, the journey time for travellers between Zurich and Milan will be reduced by an hour to two hours and 40 minutes.

About 260 freight trains and 65 passenger trains will pass through the tunnel each day in a journey taking as little as 17 minutes.”

The week@work – leadership lessons from Leicester City, #TonysSoDiverse, exit strategies & the April jobs report

This week@work we visit Leicester, England (think Wichita,KS) to uncover a story of unlikely success, celebrate the diversity of the Tony Award nominees, grasp the value of a positive employee exit process, and review the April jobs report.

At the beginning of the English Premier League season, Ladbrokes, the world leader in gaming and betting set 5000/1 odds that Leicester City would win the title. On Monday, the team beat the odds to hoist the trophy and celebrate their marvelous win.

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There were hundreds of news articles published over the past week, covering the story from every possible angle. Here are a few, examining the business applications and social impact.

‘What do the foxes say?’, The Economist’s take on the champions suggests a future in business school and corporate conference engagements for club manager, Claudio Ranieri.

“In footballing terms, Claudio Ranieri, an affable Italian, has found a way to turn water into wine. Mr Ranieri manages a club in England, Leicester City, which historically has not been very good. On May 2nd his team were crowned champions of the English Premier League, a competition more watched than any other on the planet, and reliably won—including in every one of the preceding 20 years—by one of four much bigger clubs.

…Leicester’s triumph will also spark inordinate interest in the world of business, which has long looked to sport for lessons on management and leadership.

The BBC’s Robert Plummer shared six of ‘Leicester City’s business secrets’. “You don’t need to throw money at the problem. Get the right people around you. Create the right culture. Do the maths. Create the right incentives. Don’t forget your mum’s birthday!”

For a literary, fan perspective, Booker winning author, Julian Barnes wrote ‘My Stupid Leicester City Love’.

“I haven’t always been a Leicester City supporter: there was a time before I could read, or knew how to tune the Bakelite wireless to the voice of Raymond Glendenning on Sports Report. But from the moment I became sportingly sentient – say, the age of five or six – I have been (as they didn’t much say then) a Fox. So, six and a half decades and counting.

To be a lifelong supporter of Leicester is to have spent decades poised between mild hopefulness and draining disappointment. You learn to cultivate a shrugging ruefulness, to become familiar with the patronising nods of London cabbies, and to cling to an assortment of memories, of pluses and minuses, some comic, some less so. Yes, we have won promotion to the top division every so often; but the fact of promotion logically implies an earlier relegation. Yes, we did win the League Cup; but what burns the soul are the four times we reached the FA Cup final and the four times we lost.”

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ESPN’s Wright Thompson introduced readers to the diverse “salad bowl” that is Leicester, England, in ‘We’ve come to win the league’.

“This is the first city in the United Kingdom with less than 50 percent of the population identifying as “white British,” which some people see as the inevitable destiny of an island nation that tried to conquer the world, while others see it as a sign of the apocalypse. People here of different faiths and races seem to get along; Narborough Road, one of the main avenues into the city, was named the most diverse street in Britain by researchers. Shopkeepers and small business owners from 23 nations work there.

John Williams lives on a park near the local university where he teaches…He studies the sociology of football and has written many books on the subject. Whenever someone wants to understand the subtext of life on the pitches and terraces of Leicester, he’s often the first call.

“It was a very white space,” Williams said. “It had a sense of foreboding and exclusion about it. The new stadium has none of those memories. Everyone starts with a clean state at the new stadium because you have to make the history. This is a new history being written.”

Janan Ganesh shared ‘Lessons for everyone from the rise of Leicester City’.  “There is more of the Enlightenment than of romance about this story.

Foreign owners, a foreign coach, a polyglot squad, a laboratory of a training ground: far from mounting a stand against the modern world, Leicester is the modern world. Do not hold out against change, this season teaches us, absorb and master it. The lesson is not just for other clubs but also for modest cities adapting to globalisation and for individuals navigating an insecure world.”

And while we are on the topic of diversity, the Tony Awards were announced last week, recognizing the best of the American theater over the past year. Katherine Brooks sent a message to the left coast, ‘Dear Hollywood, Let Broadway Show You What Diversity Looks Like’.

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“The nominations for “Hamilton,” along with other plays and musicals like “The Color Purple,” “Eclipsed,” “On Your Feet!,” and “Shuffle Along,” reveal a picture of Broadway far more diverse than seasons before it. These shows feature actors of color in lead roles, highlight the experiences of women and minorities in the U.S. and beyond, and empower writers and directors breaking barriers in their categories. They prove, along with a litany of shows that weren’t nominated, that this year was a different kind of year for the Great White Way.

…critics across the Internet are using a different kind of hashtag ahead of the theater world’s version of the Academy Awards: #TonysSoDiverse.”

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Heather Huhman addressed the importance of ‘last impressions’ in an article for Entrepreneur. Building and maintaining a positive reputation is key to recruiting talent. How an employer treats people throughout their ‘on the job life cycle’ is often chronicled in social media. Thinking strategically about the exit process can reap long term benefits.

“…the process for offboarding employees should be just as important as the onboarding one, and that companies neglecting the former, integral process may experience negative impacts. Here are a few things to consider, to ensure your formal offboarding program is successful: make saying goodbye positive, go beyond the exit interview, turn exiting employees into brand ambassadors and use past employees in your referral program.

Go beyond the exit interview to establish and continually improve the offboarding process to include exit surveys, strong communication throughout an organization and a plan to stay connected to departing employees.”

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Eric Morath analyzed the recent jobs report for the Wall Street Journal.

“U.S. companies slowed the pace of hiring in April while paying workers only slightly more, signaling a softening of the labor market…

…an increase in wage growth and a pickup in the number of hours worked across the economy could signal solid underlying income growth for workers that would support stronger consumer spending in coming months.

…the easing of job gains could also suggest the economy reached a level where firms will provide workers better pay increases and more hours, rather than hiring new employees.”