Dog Days Aren’t Over
It’s The Same Old Song
Normally, I get my inspiration for these because I come across some interesting topics that spark some ideas I want to share, or I come across some complete and utter bollocks that I want to rant about. (You might think it’s more of the latter than the former. I couldn’t possible comment.)
But this week, nothing’s come up.
I haven’t been sparked off by anything interesting but maybe I just haven’t been paying attention. We all have off weeks!
As for utter bollocks being said and written, there’s been the usual shed-loads of it. It’s just that I’m kind of out of outrage. I’m tired of having the same buttons pushed and responding unthinkingly like Pavlov’s dog. I’m bored of the same tedious arguments, the same false binaries set up by the same lazy journalists and biased commentators. I’m just done.
Which is rather odd because, underneath this calm and reasonable exterior (no, really, ask my friends), I’m quite angry. This is a realisation that has become more and more apparent to me. Even though I am ‘doing the work’ on myself and it is getting better, my responses still surprise me at times and I’ll remark to myself “Oh, wow, I’m still quite angry aren’t I?”
But right now, I am just bored. We seem to have been stuck in a doom loop for the past few months, going around the same old circles. The same people make the same opinionated, fact-free assertions about work, make the same demands for this or that pattern of working (‘fixed hybrid’ anyone?), get the same response from their employees (which is to largely ignore it), get the same outcome, go back to the start with a slightly toned down version in the vain hope that it might stick this time (and we all know the definition of insanity, don’t we?).
What we are watching is the slow and inevitable decline of a system, a ‘ruling class’, a power structure and a model of working. We are watching gradual decay in real time, which is even less interesting than watching paint dry. Until it reaches the point of precipitous collapse.
Wake me up when the crash happens.
Don’t Look Back In Anger
What is it that makes me angry? Oh blimey, where to start? We are, after all, in a rolling omni-crisis, with ecological, political, economic and social systems all under extreme pressure and heading for failure. Mostly for stupid and entirely avoidable reasons. The workplace is just a microcosm of that lot.
I could get angry about the continuing denial of the science by those in power because they don’t want to make the changes needed or they are too arrogant to listen or they are totally self-serving toads. I could get angry about the lies, deceits and gaslighting that are deployed to protect the status quo, whilst we all head for hell in a handcart. I could get angry about the inequality and the abuse of power by those at the top who grab an increasingly bigger share of the pie.
But what really makes me angry is the wanton damage being done to millions, if not billions, of people. The massive waste of human potential. The countless lives damaged and ruined unnecessarily. (Yes, I’m still just talking about work here.)
Things don’t have to be this way. There are alternatives. Look, I’m realistic to know that human nature drives some of this. There will always be bad actors, narcissists and psychopaths that will inflict pain and suffering on others - but we don’t have to have systems that they thrive in.
We can do better. We should do better.
As the saying goes, “If you’re not angry, you’re not paying attention.”
I’m A Believer
OK, there was one thing that made me laugh this week, in an exasperated way. An article about Snapchat hiring people in Toronto included the following:
‘Back in November 2022, Bloomberg reported that Snap Inc. staff were asked to be back in the office four days a week starting in February.
The move was all part of the company's "default together" policy, which asks employees to work in an office at least 80 per cent of the time (an average of four days per week) to build the company's culture, reinforce values, and serve the community better through "dynamic collaboration."
"I believe that spending more time together in person will help us achieve our full potential," CEO Evan Spiegel wrote in a memo reviewed by Bloomberg. "What each of us may sacrifice in terms of our individual convenience, I believe we will reap in terms of our collective success."
"We've been working this way for so long that I'm afraid we've forgotten what we've lost -- and what we could gain -- by spending more time together," Spiegel said.’
I mean, there’s so many types of wrong in this.
Will getting everyone in 4 days a week ‘build company culture’? Well, it will definitely impact culture but not necessarily in the way anticipated. And, of course, there’s no explanation of how regular (forced) proximity will build culture, or why that couldn’t be done in other ways. Because ‘the office’ is the only answer allowed.
‘reinforce values’ (my highlight). Kind of think they weren’t supposed to say the co-ercion bit out loud. Conformity, of course, is great for innovation, right?
‘serve the community better’ - er, what? Where? How? What’s this even doing in here?
And what exactly is ‘dynamic collaboration’? Does that mean you all run around whilst doing it? As opposed to static collaboration, no doubt, where you play statues for 10 minutes at the start of each session and once you’ve sat down you can’t getup again.
The fact that the CEO starts his comment with “I believe …” just tells you everything you need to know. A opinionated, fact-free assertions is coming right up.
Then comes a real doozy "What each of us may sacrifice in terms of our individual convenience, I believe we will reap in terms of our collective success." And how exactly is the success shared out, Evan? Is it the same way as how the inconvenience is shared out? Or is it more of what you’d call an inverse relationship, where the least inconvenienced get most of the rewards?
There’s a bit of a Lord Farquaad “Some of you will die but that’s a price I am willing to pay" vibe going on here.
However, what made me laugh is ‘the company’s “default together”policy’, a euphemistic phrase of such glorious nonsense but at the same time with an underlying tone of menace. Which is pretty much where most corporate policy is these days.
But I’m not going to think about that too much because it will make me angry.
I’ve rather made myself sound like the Incredible Hulk here, haven’t I? Which is odd, because green really isn’t my colour. I loved the Hulk comics and TV series as a kid but I haven’t got into the films.
My favourite film is actually ‘Groundhog Day’, which seems rather apt - and rather current! Perhaps I’ll follow the journey of the Bill Murray character, who gets very angry with world but mellows out over the course of the film.
You can find out for yourself what I am like in person (ish) by coming to my Decrapify Work Webinar on 8th March, at 12.30 or 18.00 GMT. If you haven’t already booked, you can do so on this form.
I’l also be emailing you about an event I’m taking part in called “Lead Up to Create Success!”. As one of 10 experts from around the world (it says here), I will be speaking on the topic of Leadership and Organisational Culture. This free event runs from 13th - 17th March and if you can’t wait for the email you can register for this Free Docu Series here https://bit.ly/LeadUP2023
I know that’s two extra emails in a couple of weeks but I won’t make it a habit! I appreciate your attention and want to respect your time, so it will only be for occasional special announcements.