All posts by Amy Roffmann New

Compassion in the Face of the “Googler” Memo

Recently, a male employee at Google wrote a memo, whose focus appeared to be a criticism of the company’s recent attempts to bring more women and minorities into the overwhelmingly-male tech culture there.

A few days ago, social media exploded with commentary about the piece. In it, the employee – we’ll call him James, because that’s his name – wrote about why he believed a mostly-male culture made sense. He explained that women can’t handle the stress of the job and are generally unfit for the work.

Ummm…
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Good Robot, Bad Robot

Last week, iRobot saw a weird news article about the mapping data in their very popular Roomba vacuums. I have long coveted a Roomba, thinking that one of these days I’m just going to break down and order one. That it would mean that my travertine floors would never again sprout a swirling dust bunny.

But the news stopped me cold, and might have permanently killed my “one day” wishes to own a Roomba of my own. At first, the story was that iRobot was going to begin selling the home mapping data that has been collected over the last few years, detailing many aspects of each customer’s home.
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Let’s Start Playing Fair

Throughout my life of learning, I've come across a lot of concepts that apply to today's politics and unrest, both in the US and the world. One of the biggest (in addition and in relation to empathy, which has also recently caught my interest) is the concept of "fairness".
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How Corporate America Fried My Brain

Have you heard the one about how long term stress reduces brain function? Well I guess I hadn't.

Not so very long ago, I was working a high-stress corporate job. The pace was incredible my team and I spent two years working 10 to 18 hour days to try to implement a global software solution.

I knew things felt harder that they should have been. I knew that I wasn't getting enough sleep. I knew that I barely had enough time to eat. And when I did eat, I knew that I was eating the wrong things.
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Change Is Easy

One of the most frustrating things for me to hear is the often-flippant remark made in the face of challenges: "well… change is difficult".

Hmmm… I think I will disagree. The response is often made in reference to the effect a change would have on employees or other stakeholders. In some cases, people might expect that the change would add hours or work or other inconveniences to an already-packed workweek. Yes, that change will be difficult. But the baldness of the comment makes it sound like anyone who is unenthusiastic about change is just a whiner. As if the knowledge that changes are sometimes "difficult"'should be enough to convince you to get moving.
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Protect the (Human) Machine

Today, I'm going to suggest that you are wasting your resources. Give this some consideration and you can get more done at work, at home and everywhere in between.

Let's say you are a plant manager, for a large manufacturing facility (just bear with me, even if you have never stepped foot into a factory). You have a piece of equipment, purchased recently or maybe even decades ago, that would cost well over $1 million to replace. Would you maintain it?
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Poignant Dreams of Produce Gone By

Tomatoes from GardenIn many ways, I had an idyllic up-bringing.  My parents loved each other, my brothers and sisters were (mostly) fun to be around, and my grandparents were retired farmers.  You would think that what your grandparents did for a living before they retired would have very little bearing on your life.  But when that occupation is farming, well… There’s really no such thing as a retired farmer. Continue reading

Can Government Create Economic Value?

Raining CoinsWe live in “interesting times”.  I’ve heard a lot of complaints from friends, acquaintances and the media lately about how moribund our government has become.  It’s true not just in the US, but around most of the world.  Just when we need leaders to drive forward a variety of human, economic and environmental innovations, our elected officials appear to be uninterested in governing.  So who’s in charge when it comes to creating the kind of value that adds to the economy?

Citizens should be able to count on government to step in for intractable problems. We understand that these issues need a big voice and strong leadership to succeed. But structurally, I don’t think that government – at the present time – has the capability, capacity, or confidence to lead on the truly important issues of our day. Continue reading

The Dark Side of Process Efficiency (Part 2)

New Orleans MintI’m an efficiency expert.  My raison d’etre is to make businesses run better, faster, cheaper.  I love the work, which is challenging and rewarding, in more ways than one.  But in recent years, I see a darker side to what I do.

Efficiency increases the divide between employees who are capable of innovation and those who merely follow instructions.  In an earlier post, I mentioned three examples of how automation is taking away jobs, faster than any of us ever imagined, and in a wider variety of professions and industries.

At the present time, the easiest tasks to automate are the ones that don’t require the ability to think on your feet, or reason out problems, or innovate.  We’ve heard before that the drive toward automation and efficiency is increasing the divide between the educated and uneducated workforce.  The thought is that there are going to be fewer jobs in the middle income strata. Continue reading

The Dark Side of Process Automation (Part 1)

Robot FactoryMy avocation is process efficiency.  I spend my time helping businesses come up with ways to do things smarter, faster, better.  My teams think it a big success to decrease the time it takes to do something by 50% or more.  Yet… I’m concerned about how all this efficiency, including automation and “right-sourcing”, are affecting the long-term prospects for human employment. Continue reading