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Work Futures - Planning For The Unexpected

Dealing with asymmetric threats, Survey on sexual coercion and assault by angel and VC investors, Wor

Work Futures

October 19 · Issue #1013 · View online
The ecology of work, and the anthropology of the future.

Dealing with asymmetric threats, Survey on sexual coercion and assault by angel and VC investors, Workplace diversity improved by AI, You have to go slow to go fast, The leap from vertical markets to horizontal ecosystems

Beacon NY - 2018-10-16 — A lot of great feedback on Evolution of the Platform Organization, the keynote I presented at the 2nd International Renhanheyi Model Forum, held on 20 September 2018, and sponsored by Haier. That has led to me uncovering a stream of additional research into ecosystem economics and platform organizations. Stay tuned for more in that regard. See the short take from Tanvi Mody, below, for example.
This was posted on 16 October 2018, but I omitted to mail it! Apologies.
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Long Takes
Planning for the Unexpected | Paul Wolfowitz, Kristin Rivera, and Glenn Ware paint a stark picture of organizational and institutional blindness to asymmetric threats: crises that get amplified by additional factors, like escape routes being blocked in antural disasters:
Most catastrophes have some asymmetric aspect. The devastation rarely happens the way people think it will: It isn’t possible to keep track of all the factors or anticipate how they will combine. With destructive wildfires, for example, factors such as wind velocity, the materials of the underbrush, and the temperature at night interact in ways that physicists don’t fully understand, and that make the blaze unpredictable. In other natural disasters, escape routes can be unexpectedly blocked — as they were during the eruption of the Kilauea volcano in Hawaii in May 2018. Even in deliberately generated threats, such as some of the cyber-attacks of early 2018, there are surprises. Millions of home Wi-Fi routers in the U.S. and Europe were targeted, a move that wasn’t widely anticipated.
While 73 percent of CEOs expect to be hit by a crisis in the next three years,
Yet for all the time and money spent on crisis prevention, companies and communities are still regularly blindsided by terrible events that somehow slip through the cracks.
The authors argue for a resilient, agile approach to the unexpected:
Even though the precise time, place, form, and effects of these events can’t be foreseen, such events can be better prepared for. This requires a fundamental mind shift from a focus on battling specific threats to a threat-agnostic approach. When you take this approach, you focus on what might be called meta-readiness: preparing your own innate ability to handle any type of crisis that emerges. You develop the ability to judge when a crisis is imminent; to respond to it swiftly and effectively; to receive and send critical information at the speed of business relevance; and to take whatever actions are required in the moment — with flexibility and the kind of organizational muscle memory that comes from multiple rehearsals.
In short, you build up your capabilities to manage the chaos that follows any large-scale upheaval.

They go on to analyze four classes of asymmetric threats, and guidelines on how to prepare against them, but they don’t offer any assessment of how many – or how few – companies are actively applying those guidelines. My sense is that few companies are, while these capabilities need to be baked into the DNA of the business.
Survey of YC female founders on sexual coercion and assault by angel and VC investors | Y Combinator reports on a survey by Callisto, a non-profit the venture firm created toward ‘building tech to combat sexual assault and harassment’. They discovered a great deal of abuse of power by VCs and angel investors in their relations with female founders in the Y Combinator community.
1 - 88 YC female founders completed the survey
2- 19 founders experienced one or more inappropriate incidents by angels or VCs:
  • 18 experienced unwanted sexual overtures or sexual badgering
  • 15 experienced sexual coercion or quid-pro-quo
  • 4 experienced unwanted sexual contact
3 - When founders did report, their main reason was to protect others:
  • “I wanted to make sure that other founders funded by this VC would NOT be in contact with this person, so I shared.”
  • “I wanted other people to avoid being preyed upon by the same people.”
4 - When founders did not report, their main reason was to protect their company, or fear of retaliation:
  • “Did not want to endanger my company’s funding prospects”
  • “I was afraid of the consequences for my ability to get future funding.”
  • “VCs would penalize women for coming forward by icing them out of social and professional situations and denying them funding opportunities, meaning the bad behavior rarely got outed.”
Venture-backed companies are clearly not operating in a special context, free of workplace sexual harassment. If anything, VCs represent a significant threat to female founders because of the power imbalance in the relationship, and perhaps, a culture of abuse that persists even after the #MeToo disclosures.
Read the rest of the report to discover the actions Callisto and Y Combinator are taking as a result of this and other research.

Short Takes
Textio helping Cisco, Atlassian improve workforce diversity | Textio’s ‘augmented writing’ tool attempts to make job descriptions gender-neutral and to avoid jargon that discourages diversity. Atlassian has seen a shift from 10 per cent women applying to technical roles to 22.9 percent over three years of using the tool. Another example of using AI to avoid human bias in hiring.
Help Your Team Do More Without Burning Out | Merete Wedell-Wedellsborg rediscovers the martial arts insight that you have to go slow to go fast:
You can actually speed things up by slowing down. There is no doubt that being energetic is contagious and therefore a short-term source of momentum. But if you lead by example all the time, your batteries will eventually run dry.
This is pitched to 'leaders’ but I think the insight is for us all.
The Industry Leap from Vertical Markets to Ecosystems | Tanvi Mody distills key observations and research into a concise argument for ecosystems in business.

Quote of the Day
Every opportunity to talk to the board is an opportunity to get fired.
Tina Nunno, of Gartner, who has heard more that one CIO state the existential threat of presenting to their board of directors. Boards are pushing hard on digital transformation, which is another existential threat.

Crossposted from
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