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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
I’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
At one time, Stephen King decided to stop selling a relatively popular book called “Rage”. The novel was the first book published under his pseudonym, Richard Bachman, and was written decades ago. It’s the story of an angry teenager who shoots teachers and holds classmates hostage.
For a while after the book was published, King defended his story, saying that it did not cause anyone to go off the deep end. Over time, however, the book was found in the belongings of four perpetrators of school shootings, and around 1997, King allowed the book to fall out of publication and apparently asked publishers to remove existing copies from sale. A few years after that, many applauded his decision, although others thought he should have stood up for the rights of the artist.
This isn’t the only story of how people use their influence to create a better world. Continue reading
A few weeks ago, a friend of mine told me that she is training herself to stop saying, “I’m sorry” at work. At first, this seemed ludicrous to me, now it seems like genius. Business people, most particularly businesswomen need to get out of the habit of apologizing. As a good girl, who prides herself on being “raised right”, this feels a little callous and rude, but there’s an important lesson here. Continue reading
It’s a well known maxim – “the corporation has no soul”. I believe that with my whole heart. People have souls, enterprises don’t. Sometimes, the culture of an organization allows the collective souls of its employees to set a shining example, but those efforts are still led by feeling, thinking humans.
There are lots of reasons for business to exist, but the overwhelming and primary reason is to make money. And… if a corporation focuses on that goal without wavering, they will do a lot of good along the way.
Most of us understand the basics of the enterprise. Every business in the world – from Campbell to Planters – has followed one script… Continue reading
I’m regularly surprised by questions about how to justify a sustainability program. It’s an easy answer. It takes time and money to run a sustainability initiative and you justify it in the same way you justify ANY company expense.
Business “value” is quantified in just a few ways. Revenue and current cost savings are considered hard value. Productivity gains and cost avoidance are soft value. Goodwill and reputation value are even softer still.
Hard Value. Discussions of hard value are easy. Continue reading