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On Bullsh*t Jobs | David Graeber | RSA Replay - YouTube
"In 2013 David Graeber, professor of anthropology at LSE, wrote an excoriating essay on modern work for Strike! magazine. “On the Phenomenon of Bullshit Jobs” was read over a million times and the essay translated in seventeen different languages within weeks. Graeber visits the RSA to expand on this phenomenon, and will explore how the proliferation of meaningless jobs - more associated with the 20th-century Soviet Union than latter-day capitalism - has impacted modern society. In doing so, he looks at how we value work, and how, rather than being productive, work has become an end in itself; the way such work maintains the current broken system of finance capital; and, finally, how we can get out of it."
davidgraeber  bullshitjobs  employment  jobs  work  2018  economics  neoliberalism  capitalism  latecapitalism  sovietunion  bureaucracy  productivity  finance  policy  politics  unschooling  deschooling  labor  society  purpose  schooliness  debt  poverty  inequality  rules  anticapitalism  morality  wealth  power  control  technology  progress  consumerism  suffering  morals  psychology  specialization  complexity  systemsthinking  digitization  automation  middlemanagement  academia  highered  highereducation  management  administration  adminstrativebloat  minutia  universalbasicincome  ubi  supplysideeconomics  creativity  elitism  thecultofwork  anarchism  anarchy  zero-basedaccounting  leisure  taylorism  ethics  happiness  production  care  maintenance  marxism  caregiving  serviceindustry  gender  value  values  gdp  socialvalue  education  teaching  freedom  play  feminism  mentalhealth  measurement  fulfillment  supervision  autonomy  humans  humnnature  misery  canon  agency  identity  self-image  self-worth  depression  stress  anxiety  solidarity  camaraderie  respect  community 
january 2019 by robertogreco
Against Editors
[similar situation to education… teacher : writer :: administrator : editor]

"Here is the traditional career track for someone employed in journalism: first, you are a writer. If you hang on, and don't wash out, and manage not to get laid off, and don't alienate too many people, at some point you will be promoted to an editor position. It is really a two-step career journey, in the writing world. Writing, then editing. You don't have to accept a promotion to an editing position of course. You don't have to send your kids to college and pay a mortgage, necessarily. If you want to get regular promotions and raises, you will, for the most part, accept the fact that your path takes you away from writing and into editing, in some form. The number of pure writing positions that offer salaries as high as top editing positions is vanishingly small. Most well-paid writers are celebrities in the writing world. That is how few of them there are.

Here is the problem with this career path: writing and editing are two completely different skills. There are good writers who are terrible editors. (Indeed, some of the worst editors are good writers!) There are good editors who lack the creativity and antisocial personality disorders that would make them great writers. This is okay. This is natural. It is thoroughly unremarkable for an industry to have different positions that require different skill sets. The problem in the writing world is that, in order to move up, the writer must stop doing what he did well in the first place and transition into an editing job that he may or may not have any aptitude for. It is impossible to count how many great writers have made the dutiful step up the career ladder to become an editor and forsaken years of great stories that could have been written had they remained writers. Journalism's two-step career path is a tragedy, because it robs the world of many talented writers, who spend the latter half of their careers in the conceptual muddle of various editing positions.

It is also a farce. The grand traditional print media system—still seen today in top-tier magazines and newspapers—in which each writer's story is monkeyed with by a succession of ever more senior editors is, on the whole, a waste of time and resources. If you believe that having four editors edit a story produces a better story than having one editor edit a story, I submit that you have the small mind of a middle manager, and should be employed not in journalism but in something more appropriate for your numbers-based outlook on life, like carpet sales. Writing is not a field in which quantity produces quality. Writing is more often an endeavor in which the passion and vision of one person produces a piece of work that must then be defended against an onslaught of competing visions of a series of editors who did not actually write or report the story—but who have some great ideas on how it should be changed."



"When any industry fills itself with middle managers, those middle managers will quite naturally work to justify their own existence. The less their own existence is inherently necessary, the harder they will work to appear to be necessary. An editor who looks over a story and declares it to be fine is not demonstrating his own necessity. He is therefore placing himself in danger of being seen as unnecessary. Editors, therefore, tend to edit. Whether it is necessary or not.

This is not to say that editing is not a legitimate job. It is. It is also a necessary step in the writing process. But it is not the most important role in the writing process. That would be writing, which any honest editor will tell you is much harder than editing. (An editor who will not admit this is not worth listening to.) Reporting is a difficult chore. Writing is a psychologically agonizing struggle. Editing is not easy, but not as onerous as either of the two tasks that precede it. You would never know that, though, by looking at the relative salaries of the people who do the work."
journalism  writing  editing  administration  middlemanagement  administrativebloat  teaching  management  leadership  careers  careerism  2014  hamiltonnoland  thisisaboutteaching  education 
august 2014 by robertogreco
Disciplined Minds - Wikipedia
"…book by physicist Jeff Schmidt, published in 2000…describes how professionals are made; the methods of professional & graduate schools that turn eager entering students into disciplined managerial & intellectual workers that correctly perceive & apply the employer's doctrine & outlook. Schmidt uses the examples of law, medicine, & physics, & describes methods that students & professional workers can use to preserve their personalities & independent thought.

Schmidt was fired from his position of 19yrs as Associate Editor at Physics Today for writing the book on the accusation that he wrote it on his employer's time. In 2006…it was announced that the case had been settled, with the dismissed editor receiving reinstatement and a substantial cash settlement. According to the article, 750 physicists & other academics, including Noam Chomsky, signed public letters denouncing the dismissal…"

[ http://www.amazon.com/Disciplined-Minds-Critical-Professionals-Soul-battering/dp/0742516857/ ]
intellectualworkers  workplace  bureaucracy  control  employment  labor  noamchomsky  cv  professionals  disciplinedminds  institutionalization  mediocrity  management  managementstudies  middlemanagement  criticalthinking  personality  law  medicine  physics  2006  2000  unschooling  deschooling  independentthought  independentthinking  professionalization  jeffschmidt 
november 2012 by robertogreco
The Corporatization of Higher Education | Dissent Magazine
"If corporatization meant only that colleges & universities were finding ways to be less wasteful, it would be a welcome turn of events. But an altogether different process is going on, one that has saddled us with a higher-education model that is both expensive to run & difficult to reform as a result of its focus on status, its view of students as customers, & its growing reliance on top-down administration."

"At elite schools, 74 percent of the student body come from the top quarter of the socioeconomic scale, while just 3 percent come from the bottom quarter."

"The professor who takes time out from teaching & research to devote him- or herself to administration for a few years increasingly is an anachronism. A new, permanent administrative class now dominates higher education."

"In the last forty years…[faculty grew by] 50 percent…number of administrators has risen by 85 percent and the number of staffers required to help the administrators has jumped by a whopping 240 percent."
administrativebloat  administration  bloat  middlemanagement  tuition  admissions  top-down  hierarchy  corporatization  competition  2012  nicolausmills  usnewsandworldreport  us  priorities  rankings  wealth  finance  money  highereducation  highered  education  via:sebastienmarion  corporatism 
november 2012 by robertogreco
Hello Etsy Berlin - Douglas Rushkoff on Etsy - Livestream
"Everybody thinks that because they can blog, they should blog."

"Why do I want to scale? The only reason to scale is to get out of the business I'm in."

"What would you rather do? Would you rather do something or would you rather manage people who are doing that thing?"

"perverse corporate capitalism of the 1990's, the Jack Welch, General Electric, Harvard Business School model, which is get out of any productive industry and become more and more like a bank"

"What Jack Welch realized is that Marx was right…whoever is creating the actual value through their labor is the slave"

"what you want to do is get as far away from those guys as possible and get as close to the bank funding that activity as possible."
douglasrushkoff  economics  p2p  work  labor  2011  etsy  currency  slavery  jobs  corporatism  history  banking  finance  digital  exchange  internet  peertopeer  capitalism  karlmarx  meansofexchange  hierarchy  localcurrency  biases  doing  making  facebook  social  advertising  jackwelch  ge  generalelectric  sharing  scale  scaling  growth  business  entrepreneurship  self-employment  creativity  management  middlemanagement  middlemen  addedvalue  localcurrencies 
september 2011 by robertogreco
Venkatesh Rao's answer to How might we build an education system that is centered on creating rather than replicating knowledge? - Quora
"The short answer to your question is that to create MORE and BETTER knowledge, paradoxically, we need to TRY to create FAR LESS."

"It's too late for you and me. But if we want the giants to return, we have to do one single, simple, and incredibly important thing:

We have to deprofessionalize discovery, and return it to amateur status.

Paradoxically, to get back to "giant-driven" discovery, we have to focus on teaching and preservation.

We have to turn off entirely, or significantly reduce, the cocaine of indirect cost support that flows through the veins of research universities.

Grow thinkers, not buildings.

Let institution builders get back to doing their own damn fund-raising, instead of leeching off thinkers and knowledge creators through what is in effect, predatory taxation that enslaves them."

[via: http://twitter.comsebpaquet/status/26705003276140544 ]
institutions  highered  education  highereducation  learning  making  organizations  organizationalinertia  middlemanagement  waste  inefficiency  fundraising  gamechanging  small  lcproject  discovery  innovation  creativity  teaching  tcsnmy  cv  obsolescence  venkateshrao 
january 2011 by robertogreco
Marketplace Photo Gallery: Do middle managers really matter?
"Stanford University Professor Nicholas Bloom talks with Kai Ryssdal about a study he conducted looking at the role of middle managers and whether they matter, and how he conducted experiments in Indian factories to find out."
management  administration  leadership  economics  business  middlemanagement  india  factories  nicholasbloom  manufacturing 
november 2010 by robertogreco
The Builders' Manifesto - Umair Haque - Harvard Business Review
"What leaders "lead" are yesterday's organizations. But yesterday's organizations — from carmakers, to investment banks, to the healthcare system, to the energy industry, to the Senate itself — are broken. Today's biggest human challenge isn't leading broken organizations slightly better. It's building better organizations in the first place. It isn't about leadership: it's about "buildership", or what I often refer to as Constructivism. Leadership is the art of becoming, well, a leader. Constructivism, in contrast, is the art of becoming a builder — of new institutions. Like artistic Constructivism rejected "art for art's sake," so economic Constructivism rejects leadership for the organization's sake — instead of for society's. Builders forge better building blocks to construct economies, polities, & societies. They're the true prime movers, the fundamental causes of prosperity. They build the institutions that create new kinds of leaders — as well as managers, workers, & customers."
constructivism  innovation  business  economics  future  design  productivity  umairhaque  leadership  barackobama  middlemanagement  finance  2009  policy  politics  healthcare  creativity  motivation  work  management  administration  builders  organizations  value  evanwilliams  billgates  wallstreet  elinorostrom  matttaibbi  nicholaskristof  maureendowd  benbernake  mohammadyunus  statusquo  sarahpalin  nelsonmandela  power  thomasfriedman 
december 2009 by robertogreco
Undercapitalized « Snarkmarket
"But if you use Haque’s new-economy and Scheiber’s old-economy cri­tiques of cur­rent prac­tices, you get some­thing very pow­er­ful. The pre-managerial, heroic-age-of-capitalism indus­tri­al­ists of the 19th and early 20th cen­turies didn’t always build things that were good, from our per­spec­tive — but they BUILT things, cre­at­ing real cap­i­tal and value along the way, coalsmoke aside. It’s this fifty-year-blip of late uncre­ative cap­i­tal­ism, milk­ing old prop­erty for its dregs, reshuf­fling money to cre­ate some­thing from noth­ing, that has cul­tur­ally really screwed us up."
us  economics  gamechanging  leadership  management  organizations  administration  timcarmody  snarkmarket  umairhaque  manufacturing  middlemanagement  comments  healthcare  2009  finance  compensation  noamscheiber  malcolmgladwell  billsimmons 
december 2009 by robertogreco
The Case for Working With Your Hands - NYTimes.com
"If the goal is to earn a living, then, maybe it isn’t really true that 18-year-olds need to be imparted with a sense of panic about getting into college. Some people are hustled off to college, then to the cubicle, against their own inclinations and natural bents, when they would rather be learning to build things or fix things." ... "Those who work on the lower rungs of the information-age office hierarchy face their own kinds of unreality, as I learned some time ago." ... "A good job requires a field of action where you can put your best capacities to work and see an effect in the world. Academic credentials do not guarantee this." ... "The visceral experience of failure seems to have been edited out of the career trajectories of gifted students. It stands to reason, then, that those who end up making big decisions that affect all of us don’t seem to have much sense of their own fallibility, and of how badly things can go wrong even with the best of intentions"

[so much here to quote, see also: http://www.slate.com/id/2218650/pagenum/all/ ]
education  learning  well-being  life  cv  making  doing  crisis  highereducation  colleges  universities  middlemanagement  matthewcrawford  alternative  careers  unschooling  deschooling  careerism  society  class  failure  moralhazard  credentials  gradschool  degrees  meaning  happiness  fulfillment  economics  mechanics  macroeconomics  philosophy 
may 2009 by robertogreco
Not so middle management
"Adaptive Path is structured using an advocate system. ... It's a way of avoiding typical management structures, where you have people reporting up a hierarchy. Our current structure has two levels... Executive management, and everyone else. That "everyone else" doesn't report to the executive management. Instead, the report to one another through the advocate system. Each employee has an advocate. An advocate is like a manager, except they don't tell you what to do. They are there to help you achieve what you want, professionally. Employees choose their own advocates. They simply ask someone if they would be their advocate." + "rotating management"; "Pentagram's organizational structure provides a third possible way of avoiding a traditional system of middle management ... The company is composed of several loosely connected teams that operate more or less autonomously while sharing some necessary services"
management  leadership  hierarchy  business  communication  organizations  middlemanagement  work  productivity  strategy  kottke  organization 
august 2008 by robertogreco
Essay: On the Uses of a Liberal Education (As Lite Entertainment For Bored College Students)
by Mark Edmundson at the University of Virginia (Harper's September 1997)

"For someone growing up in America now, there are few available alternatives to the cool consumer worldview. My students didn't ask for that view, much less create it, but they bring a consumer weltanschauung to school, where it exerts a powerful, and largely unacknowledged, influence."

[…]

"It's not that some aren't nearly as bright -- in terms of intellectual ability, my students are all that I could ask for. Instead, it's that Joon Lee has decided to follow his interests and let them make him into a singular and rather eccentric man; in his charming way, he doesn't mind being at odds with most anyone.

It's his capacity for enthusiasm that sets Joon apart from what I've come to think of as the reigning generational style. Whether the students are sorority/fraternity types, grunge aficionados, piercer/tattooers, black or white, rich or middle class (alas, I teach almost no students from truly poor backgrounds), they are, nearly across the board, very, very self-contained. On good days they display a light, appealing glow; on bad days, shuffling disgruntlement. But there's little fire, little passion to be found.

[…]

"Most of my students seem desperate to blend in, to look right, not to make a spectacle of themselves. (Do I have to tell you that those two students having the argument under the portico turned out to be acting in a role-playing game?) The specter of the uncool creates a subtle tyranny. It's apparently an easy standard to subscribe to, this Letterman-like, Tarantinolike cool, but once committed to it, you discover that matters are rather different. You're inhibited, except on ordained occasions, from showing emotion, stifled from trying to achieve anything original. You're made to feel that even the slightest departure from the reigning code will get you genially ostracized. This is a culture tensely committed to a laid-back norm."

[…]

"What they will not generally do, though, is indict the current system. They won't talk about how the exigencies of capitalism lead to a reserve army of the unemployed and nearly inevitable misery. That would be getting too loud, too brash. For the pervading view is the cool consumer perspective, where passion and strong admiration are forbidden. "To stand in awe of nothing, Numicus, is perhaps the one and only thing that can make a man happy and keep him so," says Horace in the Epistles, and I fear that his lines ought to hang as a motto over the university in this era of high consumer capitalism.

It's easy to mount one's high horse and blame the students for this state of affairs. But they didn't create the present culture of consumption. (It was largely my own generation, that of the Sixties, that let the counterculture search for pleasure devolve into a quest for commodities.) And they weren't the ones responsible, when they were six and seven and eight years old, for unplugging the TV set from time to time or for hauling off and kicking a hole through it. It's my generation of parents who sheltered these students, kept them away from the hard knocks of everyday life, making them cautious and overfragile, who demanded that their teachers, from grade school on, flatter them endlessly so that the kids are shocked if their college profs don't reflexively suck up to them.

Of course, the current generational style isn't simply derived from culture and environment. It's also about dollars. Students worry that taking too many chances with their educations will sabotage their future prospects. They're aware of the fact that a drop that looks more and more like one wall of the Grand Canyon separates the top economic tenth from the rest of the population. There's a sentiment currently abroad that if you step aside for a moment, to write, to travel, to fall too hard in love, you might lose position permanently. We may be on a conveyor belt, but it's worse down there on the filth-strewn floor. So don't sound off, don't blow your chance."

[…]

"Teachers who really do confront students, who provide significant challenges to what they believe, can be very successful, granted. But sometimes such professors generate more than a little trouble for themselves. A controversial teacher can send students hurrying to the deans and the counselors, claiming to have been offended. ("Offensive" is the preferred term of repugnance today, just as "enjoyable" is the summit of praise.) Colleges have brought in hordes of counselors and deans to make sure that everything is smooth, serene, unflustered, that everyone has a good time. To the counselor, to the dean, and to the university legal squad, that which is normal, healthy, and prudent is best.

An air of caution and deference is everywhere. When my students come to talk with me in my office, they often exhibit a Franciscan humility. "Do you have a moment?" "I know you're busy. I won't take up much of your time." Their presences tend to be very light; they almost never change the temperature of the room. The dress is nondescript: clothes are in earth tones; shoes are practical -- cross-trainers, hiking boots, work shoes, Dr. Martens, with now and then a stylish pair of raised-sole boots on one of the young women. Many, male and female both, peep from beneath the bills of monogrammed baseball caps. Quite a few wear sports, or even corporate, logos, sometimes on one piece of clothing but occasionally (and disconcertingly) on more. The walk is slow; speech is careful, sweet, a bit weary, and without strong inflection. (After the first lively week of the term, most seem far in debt to sleep.) They are almost unfailingly polite. They don't want to offend me; I could hurt them, savage their grades.

Naturally, there are exceptions, kids I chat animatedly with, who offer a joke, or go on about this or that new CD (almost never a book, no). But most of the traffic is genially sleepwalking. I have to admit that I'm a touch wary, too. I tend to hold back. An unguarded remark, a joke that's taken to be off-color, or simply an uncomprehended comment can lead to difficulties. I keep it literal. They scare me a little, these kind and melancholy students, who themselves seem rather frightened of their own lives.

Before they arrive, we ply the students with luscious ads, guaranteeing them a cross between summer camp and lotusland. When they get here, flattery and nonstop entertainment are available, if that's what they want. And when they leave? How do we send our students out into the world? More and more, our administrators call the booking agents and line up one or another celebrity to usher the graduates into the millennium. This past spring, Kermit the Frog won himself an honorary degree at Southampton College on Long Island; Bruce Willis and Yogi Berra took credentials away at Montclair State; Arnold Schwarzenegger scored at the University of Wisconsin-Superior. At Wellesley, Oprah Winfrey gave the commencement address. (Wellesley -- one of the most rigorous academic colleges in the nation.) At the University of Vermont, Whoopi Goldberg laid down the word. But why should a worthy administrator contract the likes of Susan Sontag, Christopher Hitchens, or Robert Hughes -- someone who might actually say something, something disturbing, something offensive" -- when he can get what the parents and kids apparently want and what the newspapers will softly commend -- more lire entertainment, more TV?"

[…]

"My students' answers didn't exhibit any philosophical resistance to the idea of greatness. It's not that they had been primed by their professors with complex arguments to combat genius. For the truth is that these students don't need debunking theories. Long before college, skepticism became their habitual mode. They are the progeny of Bart Simpson and David Letterman, and the hyper-cool ethos of the box. It's inane to say that theorizing professors have created them, as many conservative critics like to do. Rather, they have substantially created a university environment in which facile skepticism can thrive without being substantially contested."

[…]

"Perhaps it would be a good idea to try firing the counselors and sending half the deans back into their classrooms, dismantling the football team and making the stadium into a playground for local kids, emptying the fraternities, and boarding up the student-activities office. Such measures would convey the message that American colleges are not northern outposts of Club Med. A willingness on the part of the faculty to defy student conviction and affront them occasionally -- to be usefully offensive -- also might not be a bad thing. We professors talk a lot about subversion, which generally means subverting the views of people who never hear us talk or read our work. But to subvert the views of our students, our customers, that would be something else again.

Ultimately, though, it is up to individuals -- and individual students in particular -- to make their own way against the current sludgy tide. There's still the library, still the museum, there's still the occasional teacher who lives to find things greater than herself to admire. There are still fellow students who have not been cowed. Universities are inefficient, cluttered, archaic places, with many unguarded comers where one can open a book or gaze out onto the larger world and construe it freely. Those who do as much, trusting themselves against the weight of current opinion, will have contributed something to bringing this sad dispensation to an end. As for myself, I'm canning my low-key one-liners; when the kids' TV-based tastes come to the fore, I'll aim and shoot. And when it's time to praise genius, I'll try to do it in the right style, full-out, with faith that finer artistic spirits (maybe not Homer and Isaiah quite, but close, close), still alive somewhere in the ether, will help me out when my invention flags, the students doze, or the dean mutters into the phone. I'm getting back to a more exuberant style; I'll be expostulating and … [more]
learning  education  society  subversion  teaching  liberaleducation  unschooling  deschooling  highereducation  highered  colleges  universities  markedmundson  alternative  cv  counterculture  capitalism  apathy  passion  challenge  grades  grading  gradeinflation  consumption  consumerism  conformity  culture  marketing  admissions  cynicism  offensive  enjoyable  clubmed  davidletterman  bartsimpson  middlemanagement  thesimpsons  1997  libraries 
january 2005 by robertogreco

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