Friday Faves – What We’re Reading This Week
Friday Faves is our weekly blog series highlighting a few select pieces from the REG team’s reading lists. You can catch up on past Friday Faves on the archive.
The Future of Work
Anne says: This week I’ve been listening to podcasts rather than reading. I’ve selected a recent podcast from Radio National, Big Ideas: The Future of Work as my recommendation or must listen. It’s about 1 hour, so you may want to tackle it in chunks, or take some time out over the weekend to listen to it end-to-end. The topics are diverse and wide ranging, but all have relevance and impact on how we think about the future of work now and how we will prepare ourselves and our businesses.
The panel are an informed group of practitioners and academics: Tim Dunlop – author, writer and academic; Jan Owen – social entrepreneur, innovator, child and youth advocate, CEO of the Foundation for Young Australians; Judith Sloan – economist, contributing Economics Editor at ‘The Australian’; Jenny Brice – Human Resources executive; Maurice Newman – businessman, former chair of the board of the ASX, former Chancellor of Macquarie University.
They tackle the challenges and opportunities without the hype and sensationalism you frequently encounter in mainstream media (like the robots taking over our jobs and the world). There’s also an element of retrospection that views current attitudes against historical perspectives – and surprise, surprise – not much has changed… or has it?
Jim Carrey: I Needed Colour
What you do in life chooses you… you can choose not to do it. You can choose to try and do something safer, but your vocation chooses you.
Nat says: This is the opening statement made by Jim Carrey as part of a short documentary film that celebrates the actor’s use of art as a means of expression and self-discovery. As someone doing their PhD, I see the ultimate goal of all philosophy as fundamentally an artistic endeavour. Modern day scientists are regarded as modern day philosophers, so if philosophy is about the nature of knowledge and reality, art is something that allows us to experience that reality outside of our own level of understanding and experiences in the world. If we didn’t have art or travel, we wouldn’t be able to break free of routine and see the world from a different perspective.
The wonders of life arguably sit at the intersection between science and art. As famously put by Picasso, “Art is the lie that enables us to realise the truth”. However, in current academic contexts, I doubt that other scholars would view art as their ultimate goal; especially since the modern day philosopher is a practical person who goes to the University between the hours of 8am and 5pm and “does research”. So in a way I am sharing this documentary to remind us all about the role art plays in our lives, and of course the people behind such art’s creation.
In a University commencement speech Carrey made a few years ago, he stated:
My father could have been a great comedian but he didn’t believe that that was possible for him, and so he made a conservative choice. Instead, he got a safe job as an accountant…When I was 12 years old, he was let go from that safe job, and our family had to do whatever we could to survive. I learned many great lessons from my father, not the least of which was that you can fail at what you don’t want, so you might as well take a chance on doing what you love.
As I am studying organisations, the question of whether or not employees really want to be inside their office walls is seldom discussed explicitly, but always lurks in the back of my mind. Which is worse – to have succeeded or to have failed in an occupation you spend forty years hating? Jim and his art reminds us to follow your passions. The journey is long and arduous, but experience becomes the teacher, and you end up finding art as your redeemer.
When “Wrong Thinking” is Exactly Right
Jakkii says: I enjoyed this short piece on HBR about enhancing our creative problem solving process by employing a counter-intuitive technique: coming up with the worst idea possible to help us find better solutions. Challenging ourselves to think differently about problems is not a new idea, but embracing the worst ideas as part of the process? For many of us, that’s new. And it’s certainly counter-intuitive.
The article provides a famous historical example: Sanger & DNA. As told, Sanger’s breakthrough came when he flipped the problem on its head, trying to build DNA, rather than break it. While I’d probably argue that’s not exactly embracing the worst solution to a problem, it is a great example of flipping a problem and approaching it from a different angle. Would we be more effective in our problem solving at work if we stepped outside of our heads and flipped the problem, or worked forward from the worst way to solve the problem?
The article lists three key elements for ‘innovation’ and creativity:
- Be the beginner
- Grant agency
- Do away with hierarchy
The final point is particularly relevant in our changing workplaces – if we are enabling and empowering people to have a voice through their digital workplace, to collaborate and learn and ‘innovate’, we must surely also make room for hierarchy to get out of the way (when appropriate). There are many ways in which leadership in the workplaces of the future (and, frankly, the workplaces of now) need to evolve, such as changing how we measure and reward knowledge work.
Another important shift is in leadership mentality from ‘superhero’ to ‘servant.’ This is the stated premise of an example from Autodesk provided in the piece in which boss became intern and vice versa. It’s also in line with a blog I read this week from SEEK. Though that author’s focus was on letting go of control in favour of trust, it is in fact the same premise – instead of controlling the environment such that you are the superhero at large and in charge (and swooping in to save the day), you move to a mindset in which you not only trust your team to do their jobs and do them well, but to reach out to you for what they need in order to be successful.
In what other ways might we apply ‘wrong thinking’ to find better solutions and outcomes in our workplaces?
This necklace camera livestreams your life so you’re not wasting it looking through your phone
“…a new kind of livestreaming camera (allows you to show) everybody how lit your life is without worrying about being the cameraman.”
Emilio says: Would you livestream your life?
There’s a new livestream camera in the market called FrontRow that’s apparently much better than the one on your smartphone. It’s worn like a necklace – yep, it’s a wearable – which means you don’t have to hold it with your hand like you normally would using your phone, nor use a selfie stick whilst you broadcast yourself to the world. Even better, the ‘lifelogging camera’ links to Facebook, YouTube and Twitter so you can livestream effortlessly and continuously on those platforms.
With all the major social media networks providing live video capabilities, this hands-free device would be perfect for those so inclined to share real-life to their followers.
Yet the idea of livestreaming one’s life got me thinking about its real value, given our propensity to use social media to beam a captivatingly curated, broadcast-quality versions of our lives.
In the now defunct reality TV phenomenon, Big Brother, where the cameras rolled around-the-clock, psychological studies found that ‘performativity’ was evident, in that the participants were engaged in ‘manufactured’ performances, perhaps conscious that they were being watched by an audience. With social media as the stage, and friends, fans and followers looking in, social livestreaming could be no different to the performative tendencies of reality TV.
Social media already acts as a filter in itself for those who use it solely to present their idealised and polished selves. Only when livestreaming is authentic, relatable, inspirational, entertaining and mirrors real-life does it provide value and worthiness of an audience.
‘Dear David’ story is the scariest thing you’ll read this week
Joel says: If you’re a frequent twitter user, there’s a good chance you may have come across Adam Ellis’ story over the last week due to the amount of retweets it is getting.
Adam Ellis, a comic book illustrator, has been live-tweeting a chilling encounter with a terrifying child he claims is haunting his apartment. He claims that his apartment is haunted by an entity known as ‘Dear David’ and that it is trying to kill him. The supernatural saga began when Ellis drew a picture of the child ghost, with a “huge misshapen head which was dented on one side,” seated in a green rocking chair at the end of his bed in a dream.
Months later, Ellis’ two cats stood staring at his front door at midnight for six nights running.
“So, my apartment is currently being haunted by the ghost of a dead child and he’s trying to kill me,” he added.
“He started appearing in dreams, but I think he’s crossed over into the real world now.
“For a while he just stared at me, but then he got out of the chair and started shambling toward the bed.
“I couldn’t move because I was paralysed. (I have sleep paralysis fairly often. It sucks.)
“Right before he reached my bed, I woke up screaming.”
Ellis continues to live tweet as new events happen in his apartment and talks about the methods he’s using to try and figure out what’s going on. It has earned him a ton of new followers over the last week and is being speculated by some to be a marketing stunt for an upcoming book he’s working on, although Adam denies these claims. To follow the story yourself you can visit Adam’s twitter profile here.