the diminishing returns of productivity culture – Culture Study:

Technology robbed workers of what had been highly valued physical knowledge about a job: the precise way to jimmy a stuck gear, the sound a machine makes when something’s about to break. That knowledge, accumulated over years on the job, had served as leverage over management: if the company refused to come to an agreement with their union, it would take the company weeks, if not years, to find workers with the skills to replace them. The threat of a strike had real power, because workers’ knowledge was precious. 

Sensors and computers took the craft behind that work, quantified it, and automated it — a process often referred to as “de-skilling.” The worker’s knowledge was made obsolete. At the same time, managers were newly vested with quantitative authority over their employees’ work lives. They held the data, and the ability to wield it in accordance with their desires — which meant they also held the power. In this way, technological innovation wrested the most valuable elements of workers’ lives away from them, and handed it straight to management. No wonder workers resented it. 

I feel like the same can be said for the current era’s mania for Automating All the Things.

6 thoughts on “

  1. You’re right. As a relationship-driven manager, I can’t imagine thinking this way, but this is why my teams often don’t have the agile metrics that make the boss happy.

    Do you measure individual/team performance?


  2. Not unless I’m forced to. We talk about what we want/need to do, what the challenges are going to be, and what we’ve learned from previous experiences. It’s not all that different from how I work as a parent, and I don’t mean that in a paternalistic way.

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