Expert Alumni

Within this section you will find a wealth of additional information, commentary and links that we have collected surrounding the workforce demographics, retirement, the experience gap and other related items. They had all been published on our blog ‘The Battle For Experience’ but we have republished them all here - and will continue to do so. Why not register for updates via Twitter or RSS


Mind The Gap

Around the time I was asked to con- tribute to this section, I had had two com- pletely unrelated conversations with senior executives (one in the oil industry and one in banking), but, in both conversations, pretty much the same thing was said: “I am not sure exactly when I am going to finally retire, but it will not be so far off.” My ques- tion was, “who will replace you—is there a plan?” In both conversations, the answer was, “I have no idea, and it doesn’t seem like there is a plan.” It didn’t stop there. The thing is, they went on to say that they were supposed to be their bosses’ successors, so now they have even less of a clue about what is to be done.
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The Race To The Bottom

Well now – here is an interesting read …. of course it was bound to happen – the race to the bottom always does ….. but flipping it around a bit – not surprising …. people that understand the QUALITY of connections versus the QUANTITY of connections are vastly out numbered.

I know LinkedIN does what it can to advise this very specifically – but it doesn’t stop the flow. My goodness – there are even ‘LION’s out there – who keep pinging us …. and in case you are wondering what that is – A ‘LinkedIn Open Networker’ – someone who basically connects for the sake of it. You can often spot them – since in their profile – they publish the number of connections – as if that makes a difference.

LinkedIN recognize up to 500 connections – after that all people are equal. They get it.

Their users don’t.

Enough Already – Redux

This post was originally written for and published on ODesk. It so caught the imaginations of the readership that though the number of views for the post was in line with expectations at ODesk – the commentaries were off the charts. Some people even went on to reblog and or ‘Scoop It’, like Mary Ellen Ferris.

Of course – over here at Expert Alumni, we weren’t too surprised. The ‘Pay, Purpose, Play mantra that we have been expounding on for a while now makes a lot of sense, and once people start to understand it – then the maths just work.

As always with guest posts for other blogs, we allow time before publishing the content onto our own blog. That time has gone. Read on to see what we had to say. Click here if you want to read the original post on ODesk – along with all the comments.

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In Praise of Being Specific

Having recently made the transition from working (for 14 years) in an organisation to working for myself – often from home; it is interesting to me how specific and organised virtual or remote workers have to be about their work. When I work with my clients it is an imperative to identify the specific deliverables and timescales in our projects together – and as long as I meet those requirements – I have earned my fee, I am happy and so are they. I wish I could have operated like that when I was employed.

This didn’t occur to me until recently but looking back at being an employee, everything about my role was all rather vague. I had a job description and two line managers and targets – I had one-to-one meetings every month – but no-one really knew specifically how the organisation wanted me to reach those targets, what my exact deliverables were and indeed when they could and should be delivered. This was a problem because I sold academic competence. I had all the responsibility for meeting the sales targets but no authority to align the human and other resources.

In my frustration, I realised I had to come up with a solution on my own. There was a business plan containing my “financial targets”. Pound signs and numbers, and I figured out that if I asked what I was being incentivised to sell, I would get an answer that would then logically enable me to align the resources I needed. So I asked both my line managers what they wanted me to sell to get my bonus? Seemed like a simple question to me, but when I didn’t get an answer, I emailed the HR department – and they couldn’t tell me either!

Oh dear, that email got me into big trouble. It caused one of my Line Managers to a) Shout a lot and bang the table with his fist, b) double everyone’s financial targets, c) introduce a 22 page competence framework – and d) impose some awful sales training. But still, no-one was being SPECIFIC about what areas I (we) should concentrate on – I was not alone, my fellow BDM’s were equally frustrated. As time went on, working without enough clarity became a real problem – when the opportunity to take voluntary severance arose – I took it.

For the past twelve months, having returned from a long holiday on the beach – funded by my generous severance package; I have been running my own Sales and Marketing business. It is so different – I don’t allow any lack of focus to happen. For me it is all about tangible results, making sure the client is happy, maximising my time and income.

Funnily enough, one of my clients is my previous employer – they are using me because they know I am good! However, now we work differently – with specific agreed outcomes and a contract…..and they are getting the results they have asked for and I am loving it.

It’s Not About Balance. It’s About Enough … The Right Amount …

John has been posting some very interesting articles on work from home, or not working from home

How many times have we heard about “Work-Life Balance”? The suggestion has been that people balance work and life, with an inference being that we should do both in equal measure. In many (not all I hastily add) cases it has been lip service from well meaning HR people who needed to say something to both sides.

Well, for me, it is not to do with balance but much more to do with ‘enough’. The right amount. That means from a persona point, we are getting what we need. If my need is accumulating money for the next 12 months then having a lot of play time, spending money is not helping me.

So, to the posts.

Back to balance, or rather – enough. From my perspective this is a classic pendulum reaction. Over emphasis of one aspect or the other of just about anything will cause a reaction in the opposite direction at some stage in the future.

It was of course very trendy and potentially effective for business to have people to work from home. I question the rationale for many of these decisions and suspect that a few were well thought out. In the middle of a major economic crisis the desire to reduce overhead on office space became a huge driver to justify the – well why not work from home choice.

One has to wonder if the same decisions would have even been considered in absence of a boardroom demand to reduce overheads? Of course, overhead reduction is a reasonable reaction in hard times, but the effects of remote working were not always properly thought through.

Reaction to difficulties at Yahoo may well be in part remedied by pulling everyone together but as is so often the case, perhaps it is in part to do with how such things are executed. There is little doubt and plenty of evidence to suggest that working remotely is effective. There is plenty of evidence too, to show that the converse is also true.

So in another offering, Amazon’s James Hamilton works and lives on his boat. Fantastic. But read on. He also goes to the office.

The fact is, there are some kinds of work that lend themselves to remote working and there are some people who can do it. Not necessarily all of the time. This is a complex subject and we will be adding more pieces on this but the reality is, companies and people need to get the right mix and situation. For our part, we see an ever increasing number of people who will work not just remotely but also in a Portfolio Life. This means doing a range of things – for Pay, Purpose and Play. Both companies and people need help to get it right, otherwise, as is clear from the reaction at Yahoo, there is a very real chance that as the pendulum of over reaction swings back, some big players will get knocked out!

The Flip Side

Remember this post yesterday ?

It was all about how Marisa Meyer has decided that no one at Yahoo will be able to work from home / telecommute etc …. Life is changing at Yahoo.

Many pundits are writing pieces about it being the wrong / bad decision or the right / good decision.

I fall into the camp of huh ?

And I fall into it since every single company that I know of are downsizing their offices, reducing costs by having people work at home. In fact one of the core things that people talk about in ‘Future of Work’ scenarios is that people won’t go to an office anymore. (I also happen to think that is an extreme POV).

But what I do wonder is whether there is an under current at Yahoo along the lines of nobody really understanding what people are doing and this is a clumsy way to start to examine the solutions ?

Just like outsourcing – working from home works very very well when you are totally on top of what results are expected in return for a sum of money. The process is not time dependant – it is value dependant. I give you x – you give me value of y – and we both have our own equation for whether that is a good deal.

If I don’t have a good idea of value – I ask what your hourly rate is. Now I can assess my value. (Except you can’t since in an hour, you have no idea what someone can truly deliver – if you don’t understand what is going on).

But if you are at home – how do I know how long you are working ?

I know that nobody at Yahoo is saying they are returning to a punch in punch out mentality of workforce management – but it sure does fell like it. I think Yahoo is trying to work out what it is doing. Of course – at the other end of the scale you have Amazon – who seem to have taken telecommuting to a whole new level …..

Meet James Hamilton, a distinguished engineer who is responsible for keeping Amazons $4.5 billion tech infrastructure business running while inventing new ways to make its data centers more efficient.He’s responsible for keeping a giant portion of the Internet up and running. Sites like Netflix, Pinterest, Reddit and Airbnb all rely on Amazons web services.

and he does all of this on a boat !!

The full article is here:
Amazon Engineer lives on a boat and (sometimes) works from Hawaii

All Change At Yahoo

well here is some news I really DIDN’T expect to see today.

This post at 37 Signals and this one from the news organisation KMUW are both essentially saying the same thing.

And that is that ‘working from home’ in Yahoo is no longer going to be acceptable. In a memo from the desk of Marisa Meyer, she said

Being a Yahoo isn’t just about your day-to-day job, it is about the interactions and experiences that are only possible in our offices.

I know what she means, but I dont think it is coming out right. I (we) think we are moving towards an age of the virtual worker, the occasional worker, the portfolio lifestyle – and when someone insists that I need to be on their premises in order to do my job suggests one or more of a number of things.

  • They do not understand what I do – so want to see me around.
  • They don’t believe I am delivering the work that I am being rewarded for.
  • They think they are paying me for my time worked – not my value delivered (which kind of ties back to that top point)

Now don’t get me wrong – I totally totally get the cultural aspects. I really do. They are important . But being in the office cant be the only way to do that can it ? I mean – pop into a coding hot bed one day take a look around.

  • Rooms darkened
  • Screen on
  • Headphones over ears to block out any sound at all
  • All you can hear is the tap tap tap of the keyboards

Tell me about that culture / water cooler thing again.

Of course the flip side of this is that if I can only deliver value to you when I am in your offices – then I guess the work I currently do at home on the weekends and at night time is no longer considered work you need – so I won’t be doing that.

What do you think ?

What do you think the reaction will be ? Will there be employee fall out ?

Measurement Gone Mad ?

Quite exactly when something like this will kick in I do not know – BUT – I do know that aspects of it are here already.

Putting aside the idea of arm bands tracking Tesco warehouse staff – consider a remote worker, coding or writing a script, or developing an image for a marketing campaign ….. how do you know what they are doing.

I would personally take the value argument. I need a piece of work – it needs to be delivered by a certain date – and it needs to have a certain quality. Job Done.

But there’s more – there is already software in place tracking those remote workers, grabbing random screen shots, capturing the stages being worked through, logging the key strokes – strong argument indeed for the notion that Big Brother is watching – watching you to be specific – and just because you are freelance does not mean that you are free of these kinds of controls.

He’s on the cutting edge of the “quantified self” movement kickstarted by Wired’s Gary Wolf and Kevin Kelly. But it’s not just his body and environment that Dancy tracks. He constantly takes screenshots of his work, and everything he does — every meeting, every document he creates, every Tweet he sends, every file he shares, every screenshot he takes — is logged in Google Calendar, providing him with a timeline and his entire work life. If you ask him what he did on a particular day, he can tell you with great precision.

And he thinks every white collar worker will need to adopt a similar regimen soon.

Of course – as I was talking about on one of my other blogs just the other day – the flip side of this is that you do get paid …

Portfolio Life

Delighted to report see our very own Jon Glesinger writing about The Future of Work over at BizCatalyst360.

We hope you like what he has to say – but as a regular reader of this blog, you will recognize some of the themes.

I believe that there are three key factors in Portfolio Life – Pay, Purpose and Play. Pay: we all need money and cash rewards for our efforts. Purpose: we need to be fulfilled, whether helping inner city kids to read, helping in a disaster area or so many other ways that we can improve the lives of others. Play: we need leisure time.

More and more people are combining these as a lifestyle where significant time is spent on each as we balance priorities. Some work, some play and some giving… We call this Portfolio Life. The Portfolio is a series of work, and purpose-filled activities. A far cry from the career ladder and grindstone of the typical work life…

Going forward we hope you will find us popping up more and more on related sites – as we do – we will keep you informed here.

Getting By In A World Without Bosses

In order to stay relevant, companies have to do away with closed door management.

read the full article here :

Getting By In A World Without Bosses [Future Of Work] – PSFK – PSFK.