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Work Futures Daily - Outcomes, not Output

Progressivity, not Productivity | Org Change needed, Execs Clueless | Anti-robot Vigilantes| Willem D

Work Futures

December 14 · Issue #1048 · View online
The ecology of work, and the anthropology of the future.

Progressivity, not Productivity | Org Change needed, Execs Clueless | Anti-robot Vigilantes| Willem Dafoe | Elizabeth Grace Saunders on Productivity for the Rebellious

Beacon NY - 2018-12-14 — I was thinking today about writing a series in 2019 on ‘The New Knowledge Management: Knowledge Sharing’. I was sparked some reading about new technologies and new ways of thinking about smarter organizations. I was feeling good.
Then I read an interview with an organizational behavior professor on productivity, and I was struck by how stuck in the past we seem to be, saddled by industrial era notions:
  • worker productivity being cast as output instead of outcomes,
  • rejection of the stark, scientific evidence that people would do better – and by extension business would too – if our work hours shifted a few hours later in the day, and
  • continued acceptance of bronze age theories of organizational dynamics with clueless execs totally out of touch with the work lives of everyone else in the organization.
I am going to be seething the rest of the day, I know it. (Breathe out… breathe in… breathe out…)
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Outcomes, not Output
I had hoped that Sophie Leroy, an associate professor of organizational behavior at the University of Washington, would shed new insights on ‘productivity’ in this piece on Quartz (see An organizational behavior professor and a marketing SVP discuss our modern productivity predicament), but she immediately embraced the ‘productivity = amount of output per unit of input’ mindset:
The way we define oftentime [sic] productivity is the amount of output per unit of input. So when we look at productivity from a team standpoint we often look at three levels: the quality of the output, the learning and the motivation that individuals get from working on that team, as well as the capability of the team itself growing. Productivity captures those three domains. At the individual level it’s much more: to what extent can I bring all my resources to a task at hand?
This viewpoint is deeply flawed. It might have relevance if you are measuring robots on the factory floor, but when dealing with knowledge-intensive, creative, and cooperative work we need to think about outcomes, not output. That’s why we need to embrace progressivity not productivity, as I have written about in the past.
I think you should take the discussion from Leroy with a grain of salt.
[crossposted from]
Closing the Culture Gap | Although the authors of this essay, DeAnne AguirreVarya Davidson, and Carolin Oelschlegel, adopt the traditional, conservative two-tier mindset of leaders and followers, their research is revealing, and especially the change in sentiment regarding the idea that culture has to change for business to meet its goals, jumping from 51% in 2013 to 80% today.

And there is a huge skew between senior management and the rank-and-file about leadership’s commitment to cultural change:
Survey respondents were asked whether they believed that culture was a priority on the leadership agenda of their organization: 71 percent of C-suite and board respondents answered in the affirmative, compared with 48 percent of those in non-management roles (see “A Culture Disconnect in the Ranks”). In other words, across industries and around the globe, C-suite executives’ opinion of their ability to manage the cultural situation is far higher than the opinions held by people further down the line. This is a remarkable example of the culture gap, and the need to close it is urgent and undeniable. Leaders can’t expect to see results from culture initiatives unless they connect with their organization on an emotional level. They also must work with, rather than against, the grain of how people already think, feel, behave, and work together.
The authors then veer into a review of a book – The Critical Few: Energize Your Company’s Culture by Choosing What Really Matters, by Jon Katzenbach, Gretchen Anderson, and James Thomas – and its prescriptions. They sound sensible at first glance, especially about finding and working with ‘authentic informal leaders’. But the real takeaway is the obvious disconnect here between the leaders and everyone else.
And, just maybe, the change that must happen is the rejection of the implicit two-tier structure in business, with managers making all the big decisions and everyone els being told what to do.
Anti-robot vigilantes in Arizona try to scare off Waymo’s self-driving cars | Tristan Greene looks into reports of individuals taking direct action in protests against Waymo vehicles in Arizona:
One Arizonan, from the city of Chandler, became so fed up with the sight of Waymo‘s vans in his neighborhood that he stood on his lawn pointing a pistol at the human safety driver inside of one as it passed his home. He told police he wanted the person in the car to be afraid, presumably to send the message that self-driving cars aren’t welcome.
He’s one of dozens of citizens (on record) who’ve engaged in wildly dangerous acts provoked by, apparently, nothing more than the idea of a car driving itself.
The Arizona Republic’s Ryan Randazzo writes:
'People have thrown rocks at Waymos. The tire on one was slashed while it was stopped in traffic. The vehicles have been yelled at, chased and one Jeep was responsible for forcing the vans off roads six times.’
TNW reported, earlier this year, that citizens in California were rising up against the machines. In two of six accidents involving self-driving vehicles, the DMV noted that people intentionally caused the collisions.
In both of those cases the drivers then exited their vehicles and screamed at the driverless cars in an apparent fit of rage. In one case a woman slapped the autonomous vehicle.
But, comparatively, California only dabbles in self-driving cars. In Arizona, residents in some cities have become alarmed at the number of autonomous vehicles they see on public roadways. In fairness, for many of these folks even a single robot-driven car is too many.
Why are people so angry at self-driving cars? After all, none of the reported incidents we’ve seen indicate the people attacking machines and harassing their human safety drivers are experiencing road rage. It doesn’t appear as though anyone got cut off by a robot, or got tailgated, or had one sitting at a green light in front of them.
It seems the existential threat that driverless cars represent is the sole catalyst for these outbursts.
I wonder if this is somehow related to all the trashing of electric scooters in the cities where they’ve been deployed? Are people simply opposed to new forms of transportation? Are they so tied to the established model that they feel they have to throw the scooters into creeks, slash Waymo’s tires, or threaten to shoot people involved with the companies involved?
Quote of the Day
I think on some level, you do your best things when you’re a little off-balance, a little scared. You’ve got to work from mystery, from wonder, from not knowing.
Willem Dafoe
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Work Futures Daily - The Future Is Already A Disappointment | 2018-12-12 | Paul Starr on a Disappointing Future | Decider Chatbot | Corporate Rebels on Smartlets | Tim Herrera on Starting What We Never Finish | NPR Temps | McKinsey on African-Americans and Automation
Work Futures Daily - A Kick In The Head | 2018-12-11 | Priya Parker: Wow! | Rededicated | Diversity at Slack | Janelle Monáe loves Slack | AI as Talent Scout | Compliment Yourself | Tom Loosemore on New Ways of Work | Lee Bryant: Change the system, change the culture
From the Archives
Best Way To Increase Innovation And Productivity? Tell Your Staff To Come In Later. | Stowe Boyd 2015 | Pushing back the workday an hour or two is good policy, even if the early morning types will get up and work anyway. For the night owls, the benefits are overwhelming.
Elizabeth Grace Saunders on Productivity for the Rebellious | You can typically get more done in a month when you plan for less. (Great advice!)
crossposted from
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