Digital Defiant Studios

Published: 2013-11-26 00:00:00 -0800

The Workforce Imperative

This is very much an extension to a previous article I wrote. I think it's vital we start changing the way our workforce handles day-to-day activities. We are so used to working a traditional 8-10 hour workday, we rarely have time to do any reasonable introspection or self-improvement. Just imagine if we spent that time improving our selves, both mentally and physically. The problem of not being able to do so is not a “that’s just the way it is” situation, but rather a systemic design flaw in our current socio-economic system.

It’s a bold statement, but I strongly believe the reason we still work a traditional, inflexible and fixed workday is because we are just too afraid to challenge the “norm”.

We live an unsustainable quality of life, here in the first-world, and with a growing world-wide population, we can’t keep it up for long. It’s important that we try to maximize our time each day in the pursuit of solving new and important problems, rather than maintaining an existing brittle infrastructure.

Solving pieces of the workforce puzzle

The strategy is fairly simple, in the overall view:

  • Start automating tasks where applicable, as much as possible
  • Engineer better solutions for automation, test and improve existing and future automation
  • Elevate education so that the bare minimum is significantly higher than current (read: We have 100% literacy, and the average citizen has a Masters or PhD - imagine that!).
  • Don’t obsess over perfection, but don’t design around planned obsolescence - find a balance between long-lasting and well-thought out practices and products, and reasonable work load.

Tenet 1: Automate tasks where applicable

This tends to happen naturally anyway, as companies use technology to increase their bottom line by becoming more efficient. The difference here is the desire to work together to achieve this automation, rather than making it a class struggle which is naturally inefficient because of the chaos inherent in the battle through competition.

Some examples include: automating physical labor, automating mundane and repetitive tasks, using data science and technological insights to find solutions or efficiencies in remaining workforce duties that can’t currently be automated. This means, tasks that require a special kind of intelligence and can’t yet be taught to a machine, can be improved and made more efficient in some of the pieces that make up that task.

Tenet 2: Engineer better solutions, test and improve

This is really an extension to the first item, because it improves upon it. The point I want to make here is the desire for an engineering approach to the problem: create a solution, then periodically test and refine that solution, making it more powerful, efficient, etc… (whatever metric is actually desirable for measuring). The hallmark of this approach is measurement, calculation and test-driven design. Whether it’s a physical creation or simply a way of thinking, this approach can likely be applied.

Tenet 3. Elevate education

The results are profound, but less direct. If we empower our population to be as well-educated, informed and intelligent as possible, they will likely make decisions for the common good, and also beneficial ones for themselves. There is plenty of evidence to support the assumption that well-educated societies have less social discrepancies, more sustainable birth-rates and lower crime or poverty. A well educated population is likely to be a flourishing one. I doubt anyone would disagree with these sentiments, but the fact is, if we don’t follow the first two rules, the rest of the population won’t have time to become more educated, because they haven’t been “elevated” into a better lifestyle.

Tenet 4. Don’t obsess over perfection; destroy planned obsolescence

This phenomena of planned obsolescence is an interesting one. It is borne out of the desire for a capitalist world, and is sponsored by corporations that seek to maximize their return on investment. People have gotten so used to throwaway products, we have all-but-forgotten that it doesn’t have to be this way. It is very much a choice by companies, because technology exists that self-heals or otherwise fixes itself, and there have been products that have been made to withstand the test of time, and have an impressive track record for performing well an impressive length of time.

The flip-side of not having obsolescence and therefore designing things to last as long as possible, is balancing this criteria with a flexible work structure. Iteration and the resulting change is good, and is fundamental. It is important we not stress over perfecting things too much, when they will likely change anyway. Finding the sweet spot is the most important part.

All of which spell a better society

These are some of many things we could be doing, but they are big-picture enough, that I think they cover a lot of what needs to change. These are fundamentals, but that’s what we need to work on in a world like ours. Subtle tweaks just aren’t going to cut it anymore.

I’m curious to hear your thoughts, and what proposals you might have! Feel free to email me: dxdstudio [at] gmail [dot] com.