Jobs are going, going, gone... and will not be back. "Work",
however, will of course stay with us. People are often inclined to believe
that the more mechanized, computerized and robotized our society will become,
the less work and effort will be required to attain our objectives. It seems
obvious, but it is a total fallacy, because our new objectives, when we
define them, will be as hard as ever to obtain.
Hopefully we, as a society, will choose also to work as hard as ever, because one of the reasons we are leaving the null-p. orbit with some urgency is to get back to work before some friendly neighbor societies zoom ahead of us. We need work, and work will stay with us... but jobs will never be back. The job framework is dead.
The Rule of Autonomy means that self-employment is the way of the future. We can get on with the work at hand, and obtain from workers the hyperjob-style motivation we will need to move ahead in the Age of Creativity, only if we accept "professionalization" and promote a new framework of self-employment for human work-activities. We must take a "gambit on leisure "
Leisure, in its most obvious connotation, could mean that we all go to the beach. The leisure we have in mind here, though, is not collective farniente but a more subtle twist to the work game: acceptance that what "work-for-man" remains to be done in our society, in the fields of Education, Culture, Health, Research and other services, simply does not fit the current job framework and will have to be done "at one's leisure", the way of high professionals... and hyperjobs.
Why will work, in the Age of Creativity, necessarily have to be done at one's own leisure? Because our material needs have been fulfilled to the point where further improvement to our welfare cannot come anymore from the repetition of previous production models. Evolution, now, begs for creative inquisitiveness; the ingenuity and motivation needed to identify as well as satisfy the demand for intangibles does not fit the job framework. More basic still, because the very nature of the human work we still require now makes the actual job framework obsolete. For this type of work, it is cumbersome and uncompetitive.
Thought is the greatest of multipliers. Even to-day, more and more people are getting paid for "thinking"... but nothing can replace leisure as a proper environment for original thinking. It's been told often how great men have discovered the solutions to problems while they were dreaming: we have reached the point where we, as human beings, must all have time enough to dream.
The leisure gambit is not a revolution but a normal step in human evolution, the ineluctable conclusion of the Industrial Age. Creativity has made "jobs" irremediably obsolete and we will go beyond the employment structure we have inherited from the early Industrial Age. Professionalization will grow and permeate the whole labour market.
Beyond the gum-drop framework
The fundamental reason that jobs will be replaced by self-employment is that the job framework is not adequate for the kind of work we need in the future. What is a "job"? It is a work-package that can be sold as a commodity; the objectives of a job must be known, its targets pre-determined, and its execution planned in detail.
"Work-as-a-commodity", like any other commodity, must be subject to some kind of quality control that should be easy to apply, if the employer is to take into account productivity, figure out his costs, fix his selling prices, project his profit and behave like a good manager. A job must have precise standards of performance and, to have practical meaning, these standards somehow must be quantified: your job is to produce this much of this, or that many of these, each item in turn being a proper object for quality control.
When producing goods, standards of performance are a proper tool for control. You should do your job in a given time frame, for a given price. It is reasonable to expect that a change in the quantity and quality of the "work/input" will also reflect measurably on the quantity and quality of the "product/output", so the employer may check the output of the workers, and pass judgment on the work performance: just count the gum-drops every day and, for good measure, chew one once in a while.
In a job, get it right once, then right always, since the best way to do the job and produce more gum-drops soon becomes known and the repetition of the most efficient behavior becomes the rule. Don't think, don't feel, don't relate... Just do the job! A well-planned job should eliminate the i factors, because they mean unnecessary risks and delays in mass-production. Jobs, during the Industrial Age, could provide the perfect framework for the repetitive activities of a great number of interchangeable workers toiling as servants to the machines. It is a very efficient way to produce, if you and I produce shoes or gum-drops.
As demand for production in the industrial sector was satisfied and more services were required above the Prestige Barrier, though, systems had to be developed to provide these service, and jobs were created, within these new systems, just as if they had been an extension of the industrial framework. To-day, with much more jobs of "services" than jobs of "production" on the labour market and this creates a problem.
The problem is that the job framework is not adequate for services. When we began providing services to the population on a large scale, concepts like control and performance became fluid. The real objectives could not be predetermined, the way they had been in the industrial sector. Just try to eliminate the i factors in services and trouble begins, because the real goal of "services" is not the visible production of this or that, but the client's final satisfaction. Since we are in no position to count and chew all these intangible services, how will we measure productivity in procuring final satisfaction? How will we control their production?
We may ask, or presume that final satisfaction will be related to the occurrence of some external event, of some tangible result that can be identified and measured; but this, in daily practice, is a dubious proposition. We may very well achieve the symbolic tangible results in a way that will leave the customer quite unhappy and will thus defeat the original purpose..., we may use unknowingly so much of the worker's inner resources to obtain the result that it is not cost effective..., we may induce great temporary "satisfaction" in a misinformed manic client, "dissatisfaction" in his misinformed depressive neighbor, and inadvertently ruin long-term goals for immediate small profits, in a way that was not possible when the target was simply to produce more and better shoes or gum-drops.
How to control is a problem; but, even more important is the problem of who will control? The worker in a job, if he thinks at all about evaluation, thinks of his boss' opinion... and knows that his boss evaluates him most of all in terms of tangible, immediate results. It is incidentally only that he will receive good or bad marks in terms of the end-user's final satisfaction; yet, this is the criterion that should really matter. The reason a job is inadequate for services is that, in a job framework, the direct control link is broken between the providers and the recipients of services.
Finally, what will we control? When standards for evaluating the worker's performance are applied to jobs in services, the only aspects of the job that are evaluated accurately are the immediate, tangible, quantifiable results. Unfortunately, most of all in fields like medicine or management, these happen precisely to be the programmable aspects of the activity! The essence of the services which the consumer wants - the Initiative, Imagination and Interaction (like sympathy!) which would procure him real satisfaction - are left out and even eventually neglected, because these cannot be measured until it is too late for job evaluation of the worker's output by his supervisor, and so are often not even considered to be a real part of the "job".
We may well treat patients in factory-like hospitals, teach and train children in factory-like schools, but statistics and diplomas do not mean that patients and students - or the population as a whole - are happy with the present medical and educational systems, nor that these "services", medicine and education, are really the best that we could have if our society really cared as much as it should.
Because it is impossible to plan a smile, and that 9-to-5 sympathy is not really what the child in school or the terminal patient wants, their needs are unsatisfied and will remain so in the factory-like, jobs-staffed schools and hospitals, until we realize that there is no all-purpose critical path to achieve the unprogrammable, and that a gum-drop efficient job framework does not necessarily work well to provide services.
What's so obviously true in the fields of Health and Education is true also for all creative activities. True for every significant bit of work that will still be needed after Helots have taken over. The requirements of unprogrammable activities, specifically the necessary reliance on i factors, oppose the use of strict controls, and workers who must rely on intensive application of these factors cannot perform adequately in a job framework. They need more autonomy and their increased bargaining power will get them the autonomy they need.
Therefore, the way to solve the employment problem is not to try to create more "jobs" that will straight-jacket people in a framework fit for other purposes, and bound them in a job in which they will have to fight a losing battle to express feelings, creativity and entrepreneurship . The way is not for "more jobs", and it is safe to assume that, from now on, "jobs" as we have known them will represent a diminishing part of society's productive activities, that each job will not be so time consuming... and that the "job" will not be at the core of productive life as it has been in the past.
Whatever the nature of the tasks that will be designed from now on to satisfy our needs, they will have to take into account the new Rule of Autonomy and to fit into a new framework for creativity. The way out of our present problems is not "more jobs", it is growing professionalism in and out of the employment structure.
Lone Worker in the outside
It will be mostly "out". Because the creative imperative may have those who remain in the employment structure become more professional, more mobile and independent, it may bring about increased autonomy for them at all decision levels to reflect this new situation, but these advantages will be as nothing compared to the great opportunities that will be offered to the professional workers "outside" the job framework.
A gambit on leisure means more than renouncing the gum-drop framework for services, more than the professionalization of a large segment of those who remain within the employment structure; it means self-employment as the rule rather than the exception. Many workers, indeed, will not only push the traditional production system towards creativity from within, but will decide to compete with it from the outside.
Because machines have already made all the rest trivial, the hottest demand on the market, even to-day, is not for what behemoth machine-tools can produce; it is for the delivery of "symbiotic" services that Helots, at last, are now about to make plentiful. The bonanza is in "high services", of course, but also in what used to be the turf of "quasi-jobs" holders. It is more than a publicity stunt, when chairmen of fast-food franchising chains resign to operate franchises of their own!
The juicy profit margins, now, exist in the booming market for services high and low and all intangibles. The race to corner this market is already on amongst to-day's corporate giants; just look around and see all of them switching priority from hardware to software as fast as the traffic will allow. For about the last two centuries, "BIG" in production held all the trumps; so we might have expected Big Business to be alone in this race; To-day, though, the Rule of Creativity has turned the table. There is a new dark horse in that race.
In the market for these services that a man with his Helot can produce, the new ways of working tip the scales against the giants of industry in favor of any competent self-employed professional working on his own outside the employment structure. The production system will evolve and try to adapt to the demand for intangibles; but, to recoup their investments in industrial production, giants will have to do it slowly... and it will be much too slowly! The workers themselves, working on their own, will get at this new demand long before the system does!
The workers exiled in null-p. will come back with a sweet vengeance, joined by those who will renounce employment out of sheer boredom, and they will all begin to work on their own as technicians, repairmen, salesmen, therapists, middlemen, tutors, advisers, consultants, counsellors, guides, experts and helpers at anything, from living to loving, to getting to Heaven. They will be a formidable threat, but the system must expect a more devastating punch still, far below the belt, when Helots begin to multiply.
When the average worker will realize that he is slipping into Parkinsonian leisure, it is illusory to believe that he will sit dumbly by his Helot and daydream. Bet that he will rise to the challenge, jumping into his own hyperjob or, more probably, working on the side. More competitive by far than the traditional self-employed, the employees in Parkinsonian leisure themselves, in their spare time - and even on the job as much as they dare! - will begin to devote most of their energy and "leisure" providing professional services that they will sell. They will compete with the system and win, cornering the market for software and grabbing, before their employers do, an increasing share of the market for the unprogrammable services and intangibles. When the race really gets into the final stretch, put your bet on Lone Worker and watch it coming in on the outside...
The question is not whether workers will do it, they already do whenever they have a chance. Workers are craving to fill their leisure: they always do... The question is whether we, as a society, will accept the challenge to let people fill their leisure with constructive work rather than trivia. This may not be that easy to accept, because it will close the avenue for expansion of the present production system. Our decision will be known as we redefine our position on work "on the side" and accept or condemn work after hours: moonlighting.
A gambit on leisure will mean removing the taboos against work after hours and lifting the ban against moonlighting, accepting that those who will remain captives of the job framework do creative work side by side with their traditional jobs. We cannot accept that they operate their own business on their employers' time, of course, but we must agree that they do what they like on their own free time, "at their leisure". As a consequence, contracting rather than hiring will become the reasonable first choice of wary employers. More work, less jobs.
If we favor creative work on the side, both for people in the job framework and, as we shall see later, for all the transfer payment recipients, you can trust growing affluence together with a reduced workload to lead workers, at their own leisure, in productive activities that will both increase global welfare and match their aspirations. Give people security with leisure, leave them free to obey the new Rule of Autonomy and they will all do it: we will flow smoothly from the job framework into a framework for creativity. The creative imperative will have brought not farniente, but entrepreneurship.
On the other hand, if we go on prohibiting or actively discouraging work on the side work to protect the job framework, what can we expect the workers to do in their free time but to fly to hyperjobs for a while... and then to throw in the towel? Resist the Rule of Autonomy, and Helots will bring despair, not only to unemployed workers who will feel the dice are loaded so heavily against a return to productive employment that they will not even try anymore, but also to an increasing number of people who will drop out and to those still employed who will do a bare minimum of work and slowly withdraw from it all.
Our society of positive reinforcement and affluence has few credible threats to wave and few promises of more bounty to make. Work without sticks and for intangible carrots is a risky proposition... unless you can rely on ambition. If nonsense prevails and the door to entrepreneurship - including "moonlighting" - is not at least left ajar, what will fuel the drive towards creativity? Workers will have the time, but will they have the "dream"?
The way out of our present problems is to design a new framework for creativity. We must monitor autonomy, and regulate the phenomenon of moon-lighting, rather than prohibit it or let it go wild, allowing the very same working conditions (financial security with leisure) which have led to hyperjobs for the few in some sectors to apply, now, to the whole labour force. Productive leisure must become a normal part of the working life of all workers.
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