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Archive for November, 2010

cross posted on my new blog: Service Driven

This service-oriented road trip, Service Driven, has been in the our minds for about a year, but a new twist was added just over a month ago.  On the IBM Service Jam in October, one of the participants mentioned that StartingBloc was a really successful new program for young social innovators.  Having never heard of it before, I checked it out and was impressed by the people associated with it and their stories of social change.  I applied, and two weeks ago I found out that I was accepted!

Learn more about StartingBloc from this Fast Company article, or by watching this 2 minute clip:

So now I will be spending the middle of February in Los Angeles, surrounded by 109 other young people who are just as energized about making a difference and having an impact as I am!  I am hopeful that it will be the perfect precursor to our adventure.

If you would like to support me in attending the Social Innovation institute, you can sponsor me HERE.  This would also be a great alternative this year to Christmas or birthday presents since we are downsizing in anticipation of our trip.

To support StartingBloc in offering more scholarships for 2011 Fellows, vote for them in the Pepsi Refresh Challenge HERE.

 

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When the work is structured in such a way to separate thinking from doing, to assign one person to think, while another person must produce based on someone else’s thoughts, it will breed discontent.  As Matthew Crawford puts it in Shop Class as Soulcraft, “wherever the separation of thinking from doing has been achieved, it has been responsible for the degradation of work” (p. 37, Crawford 2009).

The development of the organization as a machine and the separation of thinking from doing took shape in the turn of the century.  The movement into scientific management, sparked by Frederick Taylor, led the rallying cry for separating thinking from doing.  As Stewart’s analysis in The Management Myth uncovers, the benefits of Taylor’s restructuring was falsely reported (pp. 27-42, Stewart 2009).  Whether there were any substantial benefits for production is debatable, but what was clear, was the inter-group and inter-class conflict which arose from this type of restructuring.  As Crawford eloquently describes the transformation to assembly line factory work, “scattered craft knowledge is concentrated in the hands of the employer, then doled out again to workers in the form of minute instructions needed to perform some part of what is now a work process.  This process replaces what was previously an integral activity, … animated by the worker’s own mental image of, and intention toward, the finished product” (p.39, Crawford 2009).  This is exactly what was occurring in our simulation.  The design workers and the production workers were being asked to perform their part of a work process without a vision of, or a personal connection to, the final product.  As Crawford further explains, Taylor’s recommendations for restructuring did not necessarily increase the efficiency of labor in terms of time, however, they allowed factory owners to reduce the costs of labor, because extracting the cognitive elements of the job allowed the factory owner to pay the production workers less.  The thinking was monopolized in a few high paying jobs.  As Taylor himself put it, “’the full possibilities’ of the system ‘will not have been realized until almost all of the machines in the shop are run by men who are of smaller caliber and attainments, and who are therefore cheaper than those required under the old system’” (p. 39, Crawford 2009).  Those men in the shop, our production workers, felt this degradation of their work, and resisted.

With the rise of menial “non-thinking” jobs, there was also a new industry built up around the “thinking” side of the organizational chart.  Stewart, who looks at emergence of the management consulting field explains that, “Strategy took hold because it provided an intellectual superstructure that explained and justified the functioning of ‘top management’ in the new M-Form corporations” (p. 155, Stewart 2009).  I found myself using the word “strategy” and “strategic” throughout the simulation.  Thinking that any decision I made, being President, was clearly “strategic”.

References:

Crawford, M.  (2009).  Shopclass as soulcraft: an inquiry into the value of work.  New York: The Penguin Press.

Stewart, M.  (2009).  The management myth: why the experts keep getting it wrong.  New York: W.W. Norton & Company.

 

 

 

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