The Technology Control – Revealing the 800lb Gorrilla

Nielson as quoted by Olsen, Pederson, and Hendricks (2009) in an amazing fit of alacrity, makes several points where technology and workers interact. Namely, technology allows for employee control and the disparity between developed societies and developing societies being able to see the same information via the Internet, but remaining disparate. Regarding the former point, the current employee/employer model hinges upon a small few controlling the masses employing tacit and explicit knowledge, combined with technology, and enforced by rigid discipline. More importantly and in connection to the control of employees is the lack of knowledge in developing worlds to advance.

Technology is available, the information to employ that technology, and centuries of knowledge is now at the fingertips of millions across the globe. Yet, the same environment from the early days of the Industrial Revolution remains in every nation and society across the globe; namely, agrarian subsistence living where technological innovation has not spurned an improved society. Lin-Hua and Nielson still quoted from Olsen, Pederson, and Hendricks (2009) brings the keys to the problem and hint at the solution. The key to the problem is not more technology, but training in using that technology. Before training can occur and be effective, two things must transpire value in the technology must both be seen and be personal. Second, governmental controls must reduce to increase individual freedom. Like the employer using technology to control masses of employees, governments employ technology to control citizens, stripping them of dignity, worth, and in many cases actively showing hostility towards their citizens for personal power. Lin-Hua from Olsen, Pederson, and Hendricks (2009) implies organization is also required to bridge the gap between possessing access to knowledge and technology and effectively employing knowledge and technology to improve society. Several times China receives mention in Olsen, Pederson, and Hendricks (2009) as examples of technology, organization, and knowledge. China remains a wonderful example as thief’s of technology and knowledge (Clarke, 2012), totalitarian governmental system (Christian, 2013), absolute control exercised over citizenry through common fear and high technology (Christian, 2013), along with a culture breeding “Middle Kingdom Complex (Kennedy, 2011).” Clearly, the solution is not more government, but less. The solution is not more technology, but experience and time to explore current technology. Knowledge, both tacit and explicit, requires familiarity. Familiarity breeds from both time and exposure, mixed with training and desire.

References

Christian, R. (2013, November 21). China’s positive reforms and it’s enduring totalitarian tendencies. Millennial. Retrieved from: http://millennialjournal.com/2013/11/21/chinas-positive-reforms-and-its-enduring-totalitarian-tendencies/

Clarke, R. A. (2012, April 2). How china steals our secrets. The New York Times. Retrieved from: http://www.nytimes.com/2012/04/03/opinion/how-china-steals-our-secrets.html

Kennedy, S. (2011). Beyond the Middle Kingdom: Comparative Perspectives on China’s Capitalist Transformation. Redwood City, CA: Stanford University Press.

Olsen, J. K., Pederson, S. A., & Hendricks, V. F. (2009). A Companion to the Philosophy of Technology. West Sussex, UK: Blackwell Publishing.

© 2014 M. Dave Salisbury

All Rights Reserved

Benefits in the Workplace – Or, shifting the paradigm on worker compensation

While discussing the shift of employment paradigms with a fellow traveler, the question was raised that if everyone is an independent knowledge worker, what about fringe benefits and non-wage compensation.  Whether these are called benefits, perks, bonuses, fringe benefits, the end result is the same; competition in non-wage areas is employed to attract talent to an organization.  The history of benefits can be directly traced to the Federal Government requiring, by legislation and non-legislation, business organizations to compete without direct wage compensation to attract and hire an employee.  Therefore, wage compensation cannot be used to compete for talent pursuing or attracting qualified employees.  The sources for this requirement can be found in several legislated actions, the most important being the War Labor Board during WWI and the New National War Labor Board during WWII both of which carried presidential power and were not legislated.  These two periods of wartime effort formed much of the landscape found in modern employment situations; namely, classes of employment with specified wage ranges, equal pay for all sexes, the mandated eight-hour workday, the forty-hour workweek, and non-wage benefits.  Frequently, the definition of benefit is challenged, attacked, and litigated.

The dictionary holds several definitions for the term ‘benefit.’  Those with direct application are “to derive … advantage,” “a payment or gift,” and “something that is advantageous (Dictionary.com, n.d.).”  A follow-on question often asked is, “If the benefit offered does not provide an advantage to you personally, why not choose something different?”  For example, medical insurance is often offered as a workplace benefit.  However, if wages are not sufficient to allow participation, if premiums are involuntarily removed from paychecks, if employment requires membership, and if the offered ‘benefit’ is not used, is advantage really enjoyed; of course, not.  Yet, the cost of the unused ‘benefit’ is not compensated in employee wages because of wage laws and the possibility of litigation or accusations of unfair labor practices.  Although adapting a diversity of plans to meet a diversity of employee needs is preferable, the costs of customization are, frankly, exorbitant and extreme.  Yet, the buzzwords in employee benefits are always customizable, morale boosting, and game changing, as benefits are tools to compete for talent.

The issue of shifting the employment paradigm regarding fringe benefits and non-wage compensation is a two-fold issue.  By no longer requiring organizations to invest precious capital in non-wage compensation, the business organization possesses the freedom to contract with another small business owner, i.e. the worker, as an equal.  This means that the right to control what is offered as compensation rests as a negotiation tool for contracted services.  The worker has the freedom to reject or accept terms offered to find a perfect match.  This also places the worker in a unique position to be accessible as an equal with other companies vying for business.  Being equal with other business owners provides an entirely new market for many companies vying to do business solely with other businesses.

Innovation, freedom, and empowerment are words that are bandied about often, but, when one side of the equation has had their freedoms and rights stripped in exchange for a paycheck, innovation, freedom, and empowerment are muzzled.  This is exactly what has transpired in the modern workplace.  The Federal Government squeezes employees into a one-size-fits-all mold and employers are forced into complying in exchange for favorable employment law interpretations that Labor Unions constantly and expensively attack.  The costs are passed onto consumers who are already forced into the traditional role of ‘employee’; the vicious cycle turns and the only winners are politicians and political appointees.

A paradigm is nothing more than a pattern, a mold, or method.  A paradigm shift is nothing more than changing the mold, pattern, or method.  Many paradigm shifts, especially where data is understood, refer to changing the perspective of understanding, interpreting, or analyzing.  Kuhn (1996) offers logic points that detail the paradigm shift argument while detailing how paradigms are chosen, created, and clung to.  A logic point worth considering is that rules can overturn paradigms.  The paradigm is the mold or pattern, but rules are processes that people cling to like traditions, this does not say that paradigms are not clung to, as the human psyche does not like change.  When paradigm shifts meet rules, rules rule; but, only until a crisis occurs can rules be disregarded for a new paradigm.  A paradigm is created first by thought; these thoughts become actions in a specific pattern.  The specified pattern, repeated, becomes habit, which become processes when taught to another.  Processes become procedures when written down and applied to a larger audience through training.  The training done in accordance to specifications is the paradigm molding the future.  Employment has become a pernicious and hostile paradigm draining freedoms from individuals, capital from business, and producing waste, which invites government to legislate more restrictions on personal power.

Yet, it is asked, where is the crisis that will provide the impetus for changing paradigms?  The answer lies in the current economic and government state of decay and overregulation.  Here is a conundrum of a crisis.  Businesses cannot financially afford to retain sufficient employees to satisfy consumer demands; however, businesses cannot afford the consequences of an insufficient number of employees to perform the necessary work.  Look at one of the exorbitant, non-wage costs of an employee workforce: medical benefits have quadrupled in less than four years.  This is a 100% increase in year-over-year costs for the last four years, and the forecasts say this is going to continue for the foreseeable future.  This is a crisis in employment driving a shift in paradigm thinking.  Right now the answer lies in reducing employee hours, which cramps budgets for workers, reduces payroll, and wreaks havoc.  The retail industry has reported the largest drop of employee hours, down to 30.2 for full-time employees.  This does not mean that 9.8 hours are no longer needed by those previous full-time employees, those employees simply now must either stretch their dollars farther, make more familial budget cuts, or get another job.  Putting this into greater focus, this means a stay-at-home caregiver is out of the question.  If both parents are working already and had their hours and wages cut, this means both parents are now working part-time jobs on top of reduced full-time work.  The added tax burden of the second job, does not improve the financial lot of the family, nor will it sufficiently cover the lost wages of the cut hours.  Since wages are not going to go up for less work, a second job is not going to be the value-added solution, a different answer to the paradigm must be found.  This is a prime example of lost freedom, lost ‘Right to Control,’ and lost liberty, all in the name of old paradigms.

Another fellow traveler postulated that no freedoms are stripped in the modern workplace; his argument being that sacrificing the ‘Right of Control’ is expected as a condition of employment.  The counter argument is that the employee should never have to sacrifice his ‘Right to Control’ for a paycheck.  Businesses gain and benefit from professional and credentialed knowledge, experience, efficiency, and education of those aligning themselves with a brand or business organization, and, therefore, lose nothing, but rather embellish and enlarge the scope of the organization with greater opportunity for success and profit.  The requisite of employment to disavow a person’s inalienable right to freely and rightly pursue his work in a manner subsequent to his credentialed preparation and professional experience as he sees appropriate is foundational to his basic rights.  This is the first paradigm needing to be shifted in the modern workplace.  In shifting this paradigm, much of the problems and costs inherent in human capital are reduced or eliminated entirely.

References

Benefit. (n.d.). Dictionary.com Unabridged. Retrieved May 06, 2013, from Dictionary.com website: http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/benefit

Kuhn, T. S. (1996). The structure of scientific revolutions. (Third ed., Vol. VIII). Chicago, ILL: The University of Chicago Press.

 

© 2012 M. Dave Salisbury

All Rights Reserved

Shifting the Employment Paradigm – Or, “I do not want to be an Employee”

The largest tax increases in history are inundating every business organization in America.  With President Obama’s re-election more taxes and problems are developing as anti-business, big government, politicians and are going to keep on attacking the golden goose of business until everyone is beholden to the Federal Government.  This is a cold, hard, ugly truth.  Maybe, it is time for business to strike back by shifting the paradigm.  Small business owners complain that even with current order demands, lay-offs must occur.  Medium size and large business organizations echo the same problem with ever increasing magnitude.  Business owners, decision makers, stakeholders, lend a moment of your time.

The formula for knowledge has always been education plus experience multiplied over time.  [(Ed + Ex) = K]  Returning to these roots is paramount to getting business back on track in a hostile government situation.  Every day consultants are hired and invited into business organizations for a synopsis and opinion.  Taking this thought one step further, consider those currently labeled as traditional “employees” and rebranding them as contracted knowledge consultants is simply an extension of a thought that can return American Business back to its roots.  Before WWII’s industrial capitulation to the Federal Government, what workers knew, how hard they worked, and their willingness to sign-on for the long haul were paramount to a successful organization.

These days are not that far gone, nor are they not able to return.  Employees cost big money.  The taxes, the benefits, the tools, the resource drain, all form a dubious risk, with little return, and a constant headache of hiring more people to now watch, manage, and interact with the employee.  What happens if this paradigm shifts?  Instead, of hiring employees, Human Resources begins to arrange human capital who freely associate with your business brand as they grow their own business brand as independent contractors, knowledge vendors, or knowledge working consultants.

Consider the secretary, administration assistant, or executive assistant.  Their skills are unique, the knowledge possessed valuable, and their methods for working in a storm invaluable.  Co-opting them into knowledge vendors does two things:  raises their status and allows innovation into an arena stifled by paperwork and business processes.

Call centers; replace the phone reps with knowledge consultants.  The task shifts from simply answering the phone to having a personal interest in remaining affiliated with a brand.  Consider the change in attitude apparent to the customer from the first interaction.  What are the possibilities of a customer service rep abusing a customer when the rep is now a vendor, affiliated with your brand, knowing their personal brand is both reflected in their take home pay and future contracts are dependent upon current actions?

Long has responsibility and accountability been missing from the manufacturing employee and the construction employee regardless of union membership.  How many times would manufacturing employees destroy company property and waste production time and construction employees work intentionally slow to delay projects and increase costs if they knew their reputation and future contracts are dependent upon current actions and knowledge and, therefore, have a personal stake in the business outcome.

This model eliminates much of the middle management landscape as their roles have diametrically changed.  Those remaining as traditional employees in this organizational model would possibly be restricted to a small core of individuals oriented as service delivery officers knowledgeable for their expertise areas on the corporate level, i.e. IT/IS, HR, CFO, Operations, etc., wholly customizable to organizational needs, security concerns, and future goals.  Their role has changed from management of numbers and data to leaders of people.  This new organizational model places business owners and service delivery officers into partnership with the knowledge contractor.

This idea means the average employee right now will need assistance in understanding contracts, and human resources will need to ramp up to fill a new market of vendor management and contract negotiations, central to their role in human capital development, and both of these skills sets are trainable and easily conquered.

Instead of laying-off an employee, present to the employee the opportunity of becoming a knowledge consultant affiliated with your organization, explain the plan, co-opt their ideas into this rough outline, and grow your organization.  The best ideas will come from your current employees desiring to become knowledge contractors for a customized solution to your organization.  Your company and individual consultants singularly contract these negotiations.  Over time patterns in contract negotiations, will emerge bringing efficiency and additional cost savings.  By working with employees, honestly communicating, and searching for answers outside the box, dynamic change will come back to America and business will see a better day.

This concept is not new; benchmark current commission sales reps and current vendor contracts.  The training is available through public sources online.  Many organizations stand at the ready to assist in a transition to this model and are local to your organization.  Additional assistance and information is available.  Please contact me using email.

Dave Salisbury is pursuing is PhD in Management as an Organizational Psychologist.  He possesses a dual Masters in Adult Education and Training and an MBA in Global Management specializing in Human Resource Management.  He is available at mdavesal@gmail.com.

© 2012 M. Dave Salisbury

All Rights Reserved

Hello world!

Welcome, I am glad you are here!

cropped-logo-3.jpgThe intent of this blog is to provide ideas, discuss new options, and drive business thinking forward.  As a project manager, business professional, and lifelong learner, it has become apparent that current thinking is sinking opportunities, wasting resources, and opening business to attack from government agencies intent to ruin achievers.

I aim to change this by publishing that which can provide new thinking on old topics.  All I ask is that when reading, you employ an open mind.  When commenting, use professional language.  By banding together, standing firm, and continuing to work hard, America can begin to become a place of innovation, manufacturing, and developing the ideas for tomorrow again.

With an MBA in Global Management specializing in Human Resources, a Masters Degree in Adult Education, and in pursuing a PhD as an Organizational Psychologist, this blog covers business topics, training topics, government, and ideas for improving American Society.

Are we in trouble?  We didn't do it!!!
Are we in trouble? We didn’t do it!!!

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