Comments on a cultural reality between past and future.

This blog describes Metatime in the Posthuman experience, drawn from Sir Isaac Newton's secret work on the future end of times, a tract in which he described Histories of Things to Come. His hidden papers on the occult were auctioned to two private buyers in 1936 at Sotheby's, but were not available for public research until the 1990s.

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Do We Need to Press the Progress Button?

A Bersin study of the modern learner and employee (26 November 2014). Image Source: Todd Tauber/Dani Johnson via Bersin/Deloitte.

The above infographic comes from Bersin, a human resources analysis site for Deloitte. It explains how technology has transformed the cognition and behaviour of today's employees. It confirms that technology has fragmented time and attention spans, and overwhelmed and distracted people. Technology is also eroding traditional roles and the structure of workplace authority.

Josh Bersin founded the Deloitte-affiliated research group, and gives his 2016 prediction on human talent here. You can download the 2016 report here. Bersin concludes that this year, the worlds of management, human resources, employee evaluation and productivity are in upheaval due to technology; his solution is to make those humans conform more exactly to the technology, rather than investigate the cognitive disconnection evident in that process:
Everywhere I go, from India to China to London, New York and Silicon Valley, I hear people tell me they are totally reinventing the process of performance management. As I describe in the report, the big change here is not doing away with ratings or changing the way we assess people, but rather a completely new way to think about management itself, and the role managers play. This is a profound change in thinking, forcing us to rethink our culture, rewards, the role of managers, and how we direct and align people in the organization. Companies today are turning into “networks of teams” so many of the traditional management practices we developed over the last 20 years are open to debate. ...

We recently had the opportunity to host GE as they described their new approach to performance management. GE, which is rebranding itself as the "leading digital industrial enterprise," has decided that simplicity, focus, and development is core to their new performance management process. The company has radically simplified its process, is experimenting with mobile apps, and is rewriting the book on how to drive a high-performance meritocracy. ...

What started as a small idea (the concept of the “always on engagement survey”) has now become mainstream, as companies in all industries realize that they must compete and operate based on culture. If you don’t know what your culture is and you’re not watching it on a daily basis, you can’t possibly curate and improve it. So the world of pulse surveys, always-on feedback tools, anonymous suggestion systems, and corporate “Like Buttons” is upon us. One of our clients now has a red/yellow/green button people press at the end of their shift, telling management how well their day went every day. We in HR have to take this one on and build systems and frameworks to harness all this feedback so executives can make informed decisions on a regular basis. ...

We are doing a lot of research on this topic right now, and my conclusion is that the current models we use are broken. Books like Leadership BS ... and The End of Leadership ... tell a story: we simply are not building leadership fast enough, early enough, or with enough of an open mind. As I describe in the report, it’s time to accelerate people into leadership earlier in their careers, put a greater focus on mentoring (leveraging the boomers who aren’t retiring yet), and create new models and reward systems for talent mobility. ...

I haven't seen this much disruption in corporate learning since I started as an analyst back in the early 2000s. Employees are now in charge, video learning is everywhere, and hundreds of new learning tools and platforms are entering the market. The L[earning] & D[evelopment] profession and function has fallen behind, and after three years of double-digit growth, it’s time for L&D to focus on digital transformation, learning experience design, and open peer to peer learning like never before. The report gives more detail, but let me simply say that in today’s economy, where income inequality remains a top political issue, “The Learning curve is the Earning Curve” – so your employees and job candidates expect you to turn corporate learning into a magnificent part of your overall employee experience. Lots to do here.
The red-yellow-green button system mentioned above reveals how this 'innovative overhaul' ironically leads to human resources and managerial professionals technologically monitoring and assessing employees within shorter and shorter timeframes. Where it used to be once per year, then once per quarter, now it is once per day - or less - once per hour, once per half hour. The red-yellow-green progress button is an app developed by Microsoft, see here; it is also available from other companies, and progress button systems are now ubiquitous. And so the conceptualization and mechanization of human productivity continues, as a reflection of a computer program. In 2012, PM Times criticized the red-yellow-green button system and suggested there should be a two button system, with the buttons labeled yellow and orange; the yellow-orange system was meant to come closer to a reality of a permanent, low-grade crisis of always falling behind. Looking at the 2014 chart above, that is actually closer to the Millennial reality, but only if productivity is to be measured by the very tools which are undermining and transforming it:
My options are now:

Yellow: The project does not have any known issues but there is still high risk that something could go wrong (as demonstrated by the cone of uncertainty). As with any project in flight, we are managing it cautiously and we are doing our best to deliver successfully.

Orange: An issue has surfaced and the project goals are in jeopardy. We are triaging the issue(s) and at this time we believe we can still be successful Red: An issue has surfaced and we do not believe 100% project success can be obtained due to the discovery. More than likely we will either miss the desired date, or exceed budget, or not be able to deliver the desired scope by the target date.
In short, human productivity is hampered by, and evolving in unknown ways, due to mechanization and technological over-exposure. So the solution is more mechanization and more technological over-exposure? One could assess workers like human beings, operating in a human environment with human capabilities, not as extensions of a software program's progress assessment capabilities; employees should not be considered as though they were so many pre-built agents in a Multiple Agent Simulation System in Virtual Environment (MASSIVE) CGI crowd scene. It is the unreflective exploitation and application of technology, piled on technological assessment and evaluation, within already flooded technological environments, which together are the problems here, not the irreducible fact that human beings naturally find creative ways to evade these overwhelming circumstances.

MASSIVE simulated human actor for cinematic scenes are listed here. They range between USD$3000 and USD$5000 each; but they are also available on 30-day rental contracts. MASSIVE's motto is 'simulating life.' Above, AI-driven character animation in The Dark Knight (2008). Image Source: MASSIVE.

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