This week we worked on various aspects of the Future of Work. The future of work and the associated worry about Automation and where we need to direct the labor force is a topic that is heavily debated and discussed. At Draup, we are extremely optimistic about the role of humans in the Future of Work. In other words, while machines will continue to Automate and AI will advance, this will create newer and newer roles and tasks for Humans. But such an anxiety about Automation and, more importantly, Cognition is not necessarily misplaced. The great Albert Einstein said this in 1931.
“Man-Made Machines which were meant to liberate human beings from drudgery and toil, were instead poised to overwhelm their creators.”
Automation has always been met with resistance. When Carpenter James Hargreaves first built the modern spinning machine, some records show neighbors broke in and destroyed the spinning machine. A lot of this anxiety is valid, but we are responsible for seeing how more opportunities can be created in the organization as leaders. This anxiety is also because we have for a very long looked at the Labor Market incorrectly. The labor market has always been looked at as a function of People and Jobs. The conventional labor theory assumed that as long as more people got jobs, we increasingly flare well. While this is true to a large extent, it negated the effect of advancement in Technology. Let us take this example
- An AI solution to detect and flag breast cancer is around 92% accurate
- An Expert doctor studying manually, the accuracy is around 95%
- Together (Man+Machine), the accuracy is 99%!.
So the machines enable us to excel. Also, technological advancements create more opportunities. Many of the jobs we see today, Omni Channel Support, Curbside Logistics Support, Search Engine Optimization, Inside Sales, Responsible Design, and so many jobs, did not exist just a decade ago. We have analyzed and studied many of these jobs at Draup on an ongoing basis.
But as leaders, responsible for your team and enterprise, you have to understand one important Labor Theory called ALM Labor Model. A group of MIT economists developed the ALM Model – David Autor, Frank Levy, and Richard Murnane. Built around the 2007 time frame (an evolving hypothesis difficult to pin downtime), this model said two things. We cannot look at Labor Market as Jobs, but we have to look at them as Tasks. Skills need not come from Formal college education alone. The ALM model is very complex, but the two important findings are as follows:
- The labor market is not the sum of jobs, but Sum of task (or Workloads as we define at Draup)
- Level of Education is not Synonymous with how skilled your resources are
This theory opens up many possibilities for an enterprise. Let us consider your company as a large nation, for example, and the employees are its citizens. Now the people at the two ends of the spectrum –your top technologists, creative professionals normally do not have to worry about their jobs. Similarly, at the other end of the spectrum, the folks like cleaning crew, security folks, cafeteria normally do not worry about their jobs. In the middle, the folks in clerical duties, call center works, support jobs in sales and marketing, and quality testing typically worry about their jobs (the middle layer). Now, as leaders, we have the responsibility to create opportunities for this middle layer.
Technology is your friend in this journey. Look at the jobs that we can offer this middle layer
- Many secretarial folks can become Search engine Optimization (about three months of training – no need to learn complex technologies)
- Call Center Agents can be repurposed into Inside Sales
- Many project managers can become Agile Coaches
- That reporting analyst who is relentlessly doing manual data entry can now be a BI Analyst!
- People who do customer surveys can now become Product Communications Specialists
- And so on.
All this is possible only through the rapid advancements we have made in the last ten years. The only requirement for such a transformational journey is we have to be inclusive. Many companies have realized this, and being inclusive (across education levels, economic backgrounds, Race, Gender, and all other aspects ) can only be very beneficial for an Enterprise. This month is Black History Month, and I have meant to write about this for a while. Black History Month is an annual observance originating in the United States, where it is also known as African-American History Month. It has received official recognition from governments in the United States and Canada, and more recently, has been observed in Ireland, the Netherlands, and the United Kingdom. According to the Digital Undivided report (project Diane), Black and Latinx founders raised well over 3 Billion in Venture capital in 2020. (This was 1 Billion in 2018). This is 3X growth. So things are definitely in the right direction. But we still have a lot of work to do.
At Draup, we studied over 35 black technology professionals globally to understand how they have been super successful. In other words, how did they break the barriers to emerge strong? We are still writing a report on this but here are some of the factors
- Passion for building a website of some sort at a very young age (could be family recipes or some support group websites). Many successful Black technologists have built websites of sort at a young age
- Deeper connection to Games. Access to self-taught portals on AR/VR. (tied to gaming and the interest it created around that)- (developer.oculus.com as an example)
- Parents who are Engineers driving up the passion
- A greater sense of History (all of them narrated some story about their Ancestor struggle in a positive way in one way or the other)
- Reading books of powerful authors like Isabel Wilkerson (author Warmth of the Other Suns and many other books)
Our goal at Draup is to throw more light into these aspects on an ongoing basis. We will be publishing a report as well soon. We came across a company called Gebeya media in our research. G-Media is an Animation & Advertising studio HQ in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. They produce some of Africa’s most original and inspiring content. These are such inspiring stories, and we are super thrilled to learn about the potential