Category: work

Work for Wired UK in London

My friends at Wired UK are seeking a commercial director to expand their business beyond magazines into events, consulting, and digital touchpoints. Here is one of Europe’s most innovative organisation looking for an entrepreneurial-minded person to join their team. If this is you please contact me and I’ll forward to the relevant person.

Condé Nast is seeking a dynamic and self-motivated Commercial Director for WIRED.

WIRED, launched in the UK in 2009, has rapidly established itself as the country’s pre-eminent voice on innovation, technology, business and design. It has become a multi-platform brand, targeting discrete segments, with different media products, that cut across both consumer and business audiences. What unites these audiences is optimism, fresh thinking and a deep curiosity about the future.

WIRED publishes a monthly magazine in print and digital formats.  It has a website, WIRED.co.uk. It will host five conferences in 2014 – WIRED 2014, WIRED Health, WIRED Money, WIRED Retail and WIRED Next Generation. (A longer slate of events is planned for 2015). It has just launched WIRED Consulting – allowing corporates to access the intelligence and insights gathered by the WIRED network.

The role of this person is to head up and develop the commercial side of all WIRED UK branded entities, managing a small team selling print advertising pages, digital packages, events and wider cross platform sponsorships.

They will collaborate closely with the Editor and Condé Nast’s central resources. They will oversee the marketing of the brand to consumers as well as advertisers.

What are we looking for?

  • The successful candidate will be first and foremost of an entrepreneurial mind-set.  There will be a strong appetite for delivering growth and for building the WIRED business, both in the consumer and B2B space. To this end, the successful candidate must be able to identify new touchpoints where WIRED can engage with consumers and advertisers.
  • They must demonstrate strong leadership skills – bringing energy and creativity, and the ability to inspire others. They will display a deep understanding of the WIRED brand – and of its broad potential – so that they can approach partners with authority, credibility and relevant thinking.
  • They will possess strong organisational skills and will enjoy juggling the various and demanding aspects of the job.

The role reports into the Deputy Managing Director of Condé Nast UK.

This is a hugely exciting opportunity for the right person – a rare, senior level opportunity to run one of the most visionary and highly regarded media brands in the UK.

Digital revolution and labour markets

Man vs machine, the fight is just starting. The Economist is listing three reasons why machines will challenge human workers in the coming years:

First, the rise of machine intelligence means more workers will see their jobs threatened. The effects will be felt further up the skill ladder, as auditors, radiologists and researchers of all sorts begin competing with machines. Technology will enable some doctors or professors to be much more productive, leaving others redundant.

Second, wealth creation in the digital era has so far generated little employment. Entrepreneurs can turn their ideas into firms with huge valuations and hardly any staff. Oculus VR, a maker of virtual-reality headsets with 75 employees, was bought by Facebook earlier this year for $2 billion. With fewer than 50,000 workers each, the giants of the modern tech economy such as Google and Facebook are a small fraction of the size of the 20th century’s industrial behemoths.

Third, these shifts are now evident in emerging economies. Foxconn, long the symbol of China’s manufacturing economy, at one point employed 1.5m workers to assemble electronics for Western markets. Now, as the costs of labour rise and those of automated manufacturing fall, Foxconn is swapping workers for robots. China’s future is more Alibaba than assembly line: the e-commerce company that recently made a spectacular debut on the New York Stock Exchange employs only 20,000 people.

Link

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Jobs vs automation

I was asked in an interview whether automation was killing jobs. It is a deep topic that will demand a lot of research. But let’s start with this piece that says automation has positive effects on jobs in the end.

At least since Karl Marx, people have been predicting that technology would create mass unemployment. However, these predictions were consistently wrong because they ignored the offsetting benefits of automation. For example, during the 19th century, machines took over tasks performed by weavers, eliminating 98 percent of the labor needed to weave a yard of cloth. But this mechanization also brought a benefit: It sharply reduced the price of cloth, so people consumed much more. Greater demand for cloth meant that the number of textile jobs quadrupled despite the automation.

Something similar is happening in quite a few occupations today. Because ATMs perform many teller transactions, fewer tellers are needed to operate a bank branch. But because it costs less to operate a branch office, banks dramatically increased the number of branches in order to reach a bigger market. More bank branches means more tellers, despite fewer tellers per branch.

Link

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Bullshit jobs vs productive jobs

Striking numbers on the disappearance of “productive jobs”. There is probably a healthy and passionate debate to be had on this topic, I’m not sure the situation as it is described here is true. But beyond the number themselves, the trend looks pretty clear to me.

A recent report comparing employment in the US between 1910 and 2000 gives us a clear picture. Over the course of the last century, the number of workers employed as domestic servants, in industry, and in the farm sector has collapsed dramatically. At the same time, “professional, managerial, clerical, sales, and service workers” tripled, growing “from one-quarter to three-quarters of total employment.” In other words, productive jobs have, just as predicted, been largely automated away (even if you count industrial workers globally, including the toiling masses in India and China). [...]

we have seen the ballooning not even so much of the “service” sector as of the administrative sector, up to and including the creation of whole new industries like financial services or telemarketing, or the unprecedented expansion of sectors like corporate law, academic and health administration, human resources, and public relations. And these numbers do not even reflect on all those people whose job is to provide administrative, technical, or security support for these industries [...]

These are what I propose to call “bullshit jobs.”

Tricia Wang researching usages of new technologies in China.

“The quality of work decreases when you become institutionalized”

Marc Laperrouza sent me this interview of Lift12 speaker [videoTricia Wang on FastCompany. She explains her job, which consists in watching people on the fringe of society to identify social change and future trends. Towards the end, she answers a question about her job and makes a couple of comments I find typical of how 21st century nomad workers think:

I think I’m a better researcher when I’m able to work in multiple places and for multiple clients. If I were only doing research for one company, one product, or one community, I don’t think I’d be as valuable. The quality of work decreases when you become institutionalized–you start thinking like an institution, you have to sort of conform to the institutional culture. I don’t fit in that kind of situation, nor do I want to. I want to continue bridging the gap between the tech worlds, the advocacy worlds, and the research worlds, even if there’s not an obvious job description or path to follow.

Link

I don’t know if it is a personal trait or a sign of the times, but I heard this fear of being institutionalized from many of my peers, mostly people who grew up around the “internet” values of global collaboration, information sharing, and constant interactions. I used to think that this way of being would take over the world, that generation Y was about to spread this culture of not being “captive”.

A few years later, I am not so sure anymore. I see corporate life and its reassuring sides making a comeback, fueled by the constant flow of economic gloom. After all, a (disputed but still published on major media) survey found that 75% of French youth would like to have a government job. Another survey found a proportion of 1/3rd. Plan B is becoming the plan A for many, and who can blame them?

I am wondering whether the way Tricia wants to work is a luxury that will remain marginal, or if she is a canary in the coal mine, functioning in a way that will soon be widely adopted across society. I certainly have a small idea on which side I would like to see triumph, but that’s not the question ;)

Greece vs the world

CNN: “According to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), the average Greek employee works 2,017 hours per year, more than their counterparts in any other European country”.

Most hours worked for total employment Fewest hours worked for total employment Most Productive Least Productive:
1. Greece
2. Hungary
3. Poland
4. Estonia
5. Turkey
6. Czech Rep
7. Italy
8. Slovakia
9. Portugal
10. Iceland
1. Netherlands
2. Germany
3. Norway
4. France
5. Denmark
6. Ireland
7. Belgium
8. Austria
9. Luxembourg
10. Sweden
1. Norway
2. Luxembourg
3. Ireland
4. Netherlands
5. Belgium
6. France
7. Germany
8. Denmark
9. Sweden
10. Austria
1. Poland
2. Hungary
3. Estonia
4. Turkey
5. Czech Republic
6. Portugal
7. Greece
8. Slovak Republic
9. Slovenia
10. Iceland

Valve, a 21st century company of grownups

Valve‘s “Handbook for new employees” has reached the public a few weeks ago. If what is written in there is true, then here is a corporation that took on the task of creating a positive working environment for talented 21st century knowledge workers. These exact same people who are deemed as unstable, unfaithful and uncontrollable by corporate managers.

Valve is flat:

Hierarchy is great for maintaining predictability and repeatability [...] But when you’re an entertainment company that’s spent the last decade going out of its way to recruit the most intelligent, innovative, talented people on Earth, telling them to sit at a desk and do what they’re told obliterates 99 percent of their value.

Employees choose what they want to work on themselves:

We’ve heard that other companies have people allocate a percentage of their time to self-directed projects. At Valve, that percentage is 100. Since Valve is flat, people don’t join projects because they’re told to. Instead, you’ll decide what to work on after asking yourself the right questions. Employees vote on projects with their feet.

The founded father is demistified in the name of collective intelligence:

There are lots of stories about how Gabe [Valve's founder] has made important decisions by himself, e.g., hiring the whole Portal 1 team on the spot after only half of a meeting. Although there are examples, like that one, where this kind of decision making has been successful, it’s not the norm for Valve. If it were, we’d be only as smart as Gabe or management types, and they’d make our important decisions for us. Gabe is the first to say that he can’t be right nearly often enough for us to operate that way. His decisions and requests are subject to just as much scrutiny and skepticism as anyone else’s.

Download the handbook (pdf, 4,1MB)

I wonder if all these commandments are realistic, and whether they scale well. It reminds me of Jean-Claude Biver explaining he is giving bonuses for failure to the Hublot employees. I like the idea, but I also fail to see how it works concretely.

But this document has one merit: it shows a direction, it transpires some of the coolest corporate values I have ever seen. Even if this is not applied, the fact that employees are trying is probably worth it.

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What employees want

I regularly preach that we need to unlearn, and here is another example. If you taught yourself how to do business during the 20th century, you probably think that employees want money, security, and promotions. Apparently reality is quite different.

Dream jobs of pre teens: today vs 25 years ago

A fascinating comparison of pre teens aspirations, today vs 25 years ago. Much of the evolution of society can be seen in these numbers. From middle class, scientific, requiring-long-studies jobs to entertainment, instantaneous, artistic professions.

Careers in teaching, banking and science have suffered the biggest fall in popularity over the last 25 years according to a new generational study which reveals a seismic shift in career aspirations within the space of a single generation.

The study reveals that for many of today’s pre-teens, traditional careers have been superseded by the desire for fame, stardom and celebrity and suggests that the media is now just as influential, if not more so, than parental advice when it comes to potential careers.

Top ten career aspirations of pre teens

Today

25+ years ago

1 Sportsman 12%
2 Popstar 11%
3 Actor 11%
4 Astronaut 9%
5 Lawyer 9%
6 Emergency services 7%
7 Medicine 6%
8 Chef 5% 8
9 Teacher 4%
10 Vet 3%
1 Teacher 15%
2 Banking/ finance 9%
3 Medicine 7%
4 Scientist 6%
5 Vet 6%
6 Lawyer 6%
7 Sportsman 5%
8 Astronaut 4%
9 Beautician/hairdresser 4%
10 Archeologist 3%

Link

What football can tell us about society’s evolution

The BBC has a vizualisation of the evolution of premier league players’ birthplace over the past decade. Twenty years during which workers movements have been liberalized after the famous Bosman Ruling ended the quotas restricting the number of non-nationals on teams. What we see here through the lens of sport is the general trend towards globalization of the workforce, where talent gathers in places it can better be leveraged regardless of political or geographical constraints.

Where the Premier League’s players come from (1988)
All 1998

And in 2009
All 2009

Arsenal in 1988
Arsenal 1998

And in 2009
Arsenal 2009

Manchester United in 1988
MU 1998

And in 2009
MU 2009

During those years, the English Premier League became the most powerful in the world, and reached multiple continents by capitalizing on foreign stars attracting viewers in their country of origin. Why not think about the lessons that can be drawn here, at a moment where borders are being closed to emigrants because of the crisis.