Tag Archives: work

A New framework for Working and Learning

Circle of HandsFor many of us the rules of engagement at work are changing, from the traditional approach of being told what to do by “bosses”, to a new more egalitarian approach where a team of colleagues and peers collectively decide what to do. Those traditional “bosses” are being replaced by “managers” who are more facilitative than directive, conveying to us the basic business strategy from the company’s leadership team, making sure we have the time and resources to implement that strategy, and being available to assist when we need their assistance. From all my own experience plus hearsay from other “knowledge workers”, I understand that this has become standard practice in most of the work done in business operations today.

Yet given that new reality, our education system, which increasingly promotes itself as the means for developing our young people into new workers for our businesses, is still operating in the traditional model with teachers and principals as “bosses” and very little if any egalitarian process. This is a disconnect that in my opinion is leading to our young people being increasingly debilitated by their school experience rather than developing the skills to become contributing members of our contemporary business enterprises.

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Towards the 21 Hour Work Week

Sustainability… it will by all accounts be a key theme of 21st century human society. Sustainable agriculture, energy use, carbon footprint, and average family size are already on the table towards informing governmental policy and economic practice. But in order to dial down in these areas we are realizing the need for a sustainable level of economic activity, which includes a finite amount of commoditized work to be divided between an increasing number of people seeking that work.

Put more simply… there may not be enough full-time jobs to go around if we hope to move towards a sustainable human society!

Growth was certainly a key theme of the previous century. The Earth’s human population tripled from under two billion in 1900 to about six billion people by 2000. During that same hundred year time period, according to Wikipedia, the GWP (gross world economic product) increased almost forty-fold (adjusted for inflation). To try and meet the rapidly growing need for food, agricultural practice moved toward monoculture with increasing use of inorganic chemical pesticides, herbicides, and fertilizers which trade short-term increases in land yield for long-term soil degradation. The massive increase in economic activity has led to comparable increases in fossil fuel use (leading to global warming), stress on other non-renewable resources, reduction in the planet’s forests and other degradations to the ecosystem.

Rates of human population growth are beginning to slow due to increasing education, government policy (particularly in China), and the growing empowerment of women to control their own bodies including the number of children they give birth to. But as more and more of the world’s population moves from subsistence to more of a “modern” industrial-consumerist economy, it is now argued that the rate of growth in economic activity needs to slow as well to prevent resource depletion and ecological disaster.

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Keeping My Feet Under Me and Staying Off My Ass

My “day job” (that pays the bills) is working as a “business process consultant” for Kaiser Permanente. Honestly, I have a lot of issues with the U.S. health care industry, particularly the for-profit part of it, because it seems to be more about profiting from illness by selling more pills and procedures than promoting health. KP on the other hand, is a non-profit company and is all about being a “health maintenance organization”. It is successful financially by doing what it can to keep its members healthy. My partner Sally and I appreciate the KP model, we have been members for the 28 years we’ve been married, and KP has helped us through raising two kids plus our occasional health crises.

So like my current employer (and since my personal cataclysm of a bad bicycle accident two years ago followed ten weeks later by removal of a three-centimeter blood clot from my skull) I am all about my own health maintenance. For me, that maintenance includes eating a plant-based, whole-food, low-fat diet; leading as balanced a life as I possibly can; and maximizing the joy while minimizing the stress in my life.

Where I find a great deal of that joy these days is when (literally and metaphorically) I have my feet under me and I am moving forward, rather than sitting on my ass! Though I have what is conventionally a very sedentary job (spending the bulk of ones day sitting in front of ones computer or in a meeting) I don’t accept that conventional framing. I am up, on my feet and moving about as much as I can wrangle at my job site during my work day.

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