Mon, 16 April 2018
Behind The Scenes At Freshbooks: “Blind Dates” With Coworkers, Creating A Secret Competitor, Being The Longest Living Cocktail Party, And Much More
Mike McDerment is the founder and CEO of FreshBooks, the world’s #1 cloud accounting software for self-employed professionals. Headquartered in Toronto, Canada, it was built in 2003 after he accidentally saved over an invoice. McDerment spent 3.5 years growing FreshBooks from his parents’ basement. Since then, now with around 300 employees, over 10 million people have used FreshBooks to save time billing, and collect billions of dollars.
McDerment mentioned that an employee at Freshbooks told him that the culture of the company feels like summer camp and that is something McDerment is thrilled about. Why?
When a child comes home from summer camp, they are mentally and emotionally fit. They have been challenging themselves all week – both physically and mentally. This produces a very high level of self-esteem and excitement. This is what they want employees at Freshbooks to experience each day. They believe it will lead to a sense of personal growth and self-esteem.
The culture of Freshbooks works to be like the ‘longest living cocktail party on earth.’ Why?
Generally, when you go to a cocktail party you have been invited by someone you like. There you will find some people you know and others you don’t. This environment creates a feeling safety and of being welcome.
One of the ways they have worked to create this culture is to set up people on professional blind dates – in groups of 3 or 4. They ask employees if they would like to participate and then they match up employees who normally would not connect with on another on a day to day basis. This is one way to help the company feel smaller no matter how much they grow in size.
One piece of advice McDerment gives to larger organizations is to focus on reinforcing the behaviors you want perpetuated. Make sure to celebrate those things.
What you will learn in this episode:
Fri, 13 April 2018
There is no question about it, AI and Automation have been at the center of many debates and discussions in the workplace. Many people are asking what the role of AI and Automation will be in the future of work. Will they create more jobs than they replace, or will they replace more jobs than they create.
If you look back at history, you can see that new technology, such as electricity or steam power, has always created more jobs. But today there seems to be a lot of fear surrounding this topic. I think there could be a solution to alleviate this fear.
Unlike times in the past when new technology was introduced, we have something at our fingertips that could be the solution. We have the internet which allows us to have continuous discussions around this topic. We are able to see the impact of AI and Automation around the world at the click of a button. We can read articles, see it on TV, and search for discussions on the internet. We’ve never had access to all of this in the past when new technologies were introduced to the workplace.
Is the very fact that these conversations are happening at a global level be the actual fix to helping make sure that we don’t see this massive job displacement in the future?
Mon, 9 April 2018
Artificial Emotion Intelligence: How It Can Enhance Our Lives, Advances Over The Past Few Decades, And Some Valid Concerns
Mary Czerwinski is the Research Manager at the Visualization and Interaction (VIBE) Research Group at Microsoft. She worked in computer-human interaction for Bellcore, the Johnson Space Center, and Compaq, and also held an adjunct position at Rice University while at Compaq. She moved to Microsoft in 1996, as a usability tester in product development.
Czerwinski’s research focuses primarily on emotion tracking, information worker task management, and health and wellness for individuals and groups. Her background is in visual attention and multitasking. She holds a Ph.D. in Cognitive Psychology from Indiana University in Bloomington.
Her research group of 10 has very diverse talents. One area that they work on is information visualization – how to see patterns in large amounts of data. Another area is to look at tools for programmers as well as making the environment better and more productive for them.
What is an intelligent system? It is a system that uses algorithms to characterize your behavior. It is a software system that can get to know you personally to help you focus and get work done. For example, perhaps there is a piece of software that is making you frustrated. The software developers want to know this so they can work on adjusting and modifying the software based on that feedback.
Another use for the intelligent system can be to create an assistant that is more personal. They are trying to make assistants that will interact in a more human, personal way –ways in which people find more natural.
One example Czerwinski shared is when a person uses Cortana. If the person says, “Hey Cortana!” in a cheerful voice, then Cortana should answer back in a similar happy tone. Or if the person says something to Cortana in a panicked voice, then she should come back in a calming tone.
Czerwinski says, “This takes a lot of data and training but it is not clear to me that humans are not that much better [at understanding emotions]. Humans hide their emotions a lot – especially at work.” So it takes long user studies to approach this level of detail.
Czerwinski’s advice to listeners is to stop being scared about machine learning and algorithms. Over the next 5 – 10 years we will see some amazing changes in technology that will allow us to get more work done which may encourage some of us to become consumed with working, but she encourages everyone to remember to take time to go for walks and spend time with loved ones.
She also believes we need to manage the technology thoughtfully to make sure we avoid some of the concerning aspects that come with technological advances.
What You Will Learn In This Episode:
Fri, 6 April 2018
Employee engagement is at the center of a lot of conversations inside of organizations these days. The problem is, investment in employee engagement has never been higher while the employee engagement scores have never been lower. So what is causing this disconnect?
Most organizations want their employees to be happy while working, however they are going about it the wrong way. Instead of redesigning the core workplace practices around the employees, organizations are keeping their outdated workplace practices while trying to give the employees special perks, thinking that will make them happy.
To truly impact your employee experience you must start by redesigning your core workplace practices. When organizations decide to forgo this step with the employees in mind and they choose to simply throw some perks at the employees, it can feel like employee manipulation. If you want to have engaged employees, start with redesigned core workplace practices.
Tue, 3 April 2018
A Look At The Future Workplace: The Role Data Plays, Top Trends, How To Keep Up With The Fast Pace Of Change, And Much More
Gordon Wright is the Senior VP and Global Director of HOK’s Workplace Practice. Based in Chicago, he leads diverse project teams that solve clients’ business and organizational challenges related to real estate business process, strategic planning, workplace strategy and change management. HOK has about 1,800 employees across a network of 23 offices on three continents.
HOK is a global design, architecture, engineering and planning firm. Their mission is to deliver exceptional design ideas and solutions for clients through the creative blending of human need, environmental stewardship, value creation, science and art. Some of their designs include the Atlanta Falcons stadium in Georgia (the first retractable roof of its kind) and the Crick Institute in London, England (used for medical research).
Current trends in design:
The role of VR and the gig economy in design:
Current research says that this generation of workers may have as many as 30 -40 jobs. With that in mind, design of workplaces must be different than at a time when people came and stayed for decades in one job.
Those in the contingent workforce, tend to move frequently between jobs. They are more nimble within the organization. So this impacts the design requirements.
HOK is currently using virtual reality in mapping out their designs. This allows clients to have a digital experience of the space before it is actually created. VR mapping is having a significant impact on their current practice.
Wright gave some examples of the differences between now and years ago in regards to the workspace. One thing he mentioned was that space used to be very personal. It used to be that, depending on your rank in the company, you would have a private office or a cubicle that was all yours. You could make your surroundings yours by putting personal items such as pictures or diplomas. Now we have communal spaces - so there is no longer the option to personalize in the same way. But it allows people to collaborate more and choose what type of workspace they want for the day, instead of being stuck in one room.
Open plan environments have challenges and are sometimes only suitable for some employees. We have now gone beyond just open plans. We have co-working spaces, other amenities, multiple options.
HOK has learned that the best workspaces are those in which there is choice. “Choice is the number 1 indicator in how satisfied a person is in their job”, Wright says.
So now they have a variety of ways that they can curate a space to provide choice for employees. It can fit the needs of each person.
Wright’s advice for managers changing workspace is to pick your design partner wisely. The right partner will work to understand your organization. Also, engage with people within your organization – those that see design is a crucial part of creating a healthy environment
His advice to employees is to be open-minded about changes in your workspace.
What you will learn in this episode:
Fri, 30 March 2018
Running a business used to be all about revenue, profit, metrics and power. That is not the case these days. So what is it that you need to focus on to succeed?
In the past running a successful business was all about revenue, profit, quarterly metrics and being more powerful than other organizations in your field. But the game of business has fundamentally changed and it’s not enough to run your organization the old way.
Now instead of being all about outperforming the competition, it is all about outlasting the competition. You have to figure out how to stay in the game long term while all others fall behind. So how does this change affect the way we get work done? It requires us to look at the bigger picture and to invest in more long term things. This includes looking at your people in a different way. It requires you to look at your workspace in a different way.
Organizations that understand this shift will be better off than those who try to keep playing the game the old way. We are in the long game, if you are focusing on the short game you are going to fall behind. The game of business has changed, are you going to change with it?
Direct download: How_To_Make_Sure_Your_Organization_Outlasts_the_Competition_podcast.mp3
Category:Business -- posted at: 1:59pm PDT
Mon, 26 March 2018
NY Times Bestselling Author And Leading Futurist On AI, The Future Of Jobs, And Universal Basic Income
Martin Ford is a futurist and the author of the New York Times bestselling "Rise of the Robots: Technology and the Threat of a Jobless Future" (winner of the 2015 Financial Times/McKinsey Business Book of the Year Award) and "The Lights in the Tunnel: Automation, Accelerating Technology and the Economy of the Future," as well as the founder of a Silicon Valley-based software development firm. He has over 25 years experience in the fields of computer design and software development.
He has written about the implications of future technology for publications including The New York Times, Fortune, Forbes, Harvard Business Review, The Financial Times, The Atlantic, and The Washington Post. Ford is a frequent keynote speaker on the subject of accelerating progress in robotics and artificial intelligence—and what these advances mean for the economy, job market and society of the future. Check out his Ted Talk on the topic.
Ford’s perspective on what is going on in the world of work:
He believes there will be impact from technology on jobs. Jobs that are repetitive may be replaced by AI. Even beyond those that are commonly discussed, such as traditional ‘blue collar’ jobs may be affected. For example, lawyers or doctors in radiology may be impacted by AI. Jobs that involve creativity will remain for the foreseeable future. About half of the jobs in the economy may be impacted by AI –it could be staggering. So, we need to discuss the possible outcomes.
Ford also believes that this time the transition will be different than it has been in the past, during the first three industrial revolutions. Why? First, because we have thinking machines – in a limited sense. This is different. Machines are beginning to encroach on human work
Second, it is very broad-based. It is difficult to think of what jobs won’t be impacted by AI
3 scenarios of future of work with AI:
Fords advice to executives:
His advice for employees:
Thu, 22 March 2018
In order to go above and beyond, you must learn how to unlock the true potential of your employees. Companies that learn how to do this will stay on top.
There are some companies that just seem to stand out above the rest of their competition. Why is that? Why is it that, even though there isn’t that much of a difference between one bank and another or one grocery store to another, there are a few companies that are able to go above and beyond for their customers?
The answer is the companies who go above and beyond take care of their employees. They invest in the experience of their people which in turn unlocks the discretionary effort of their people. When employees feel that they are being invested in, cared for, and respected it makes them want to go above and beyond for their customers, co-workers and the company.
The problem is most companies don’t generally put in the time and effort needed to create a unique employee experience that fits their company. One of your company’s most important assets is your people. If you really want to have a significant impact inside and outside of your company, start by investing in your people.
Mon, 19 March 2018
Director Of Stanford's New Big Data Program Gives Insight Into The Gig Economy, Big Disruptions Coming In The Future Of Work, Reasons Why AI Is Not The Biggest Threat To Jobs And More
Paul Oyer is a Professor of Economics at the Stanford Graduate School of Business and director of Stanford’s new Big Data program called, Big Data, Strategic Decisions: Analysis to Action. Dr. Oyer is the author of two books published in 2014 – Everything I Ever Needed to Know About Economics I Learned from Online Dating and Roadside MBA.
With big data it’s critical to know what questions to ask. Dr. Oyer says, “Intuition is less important for making the right decision but really important to know what’s the question I need to ask – how do I even begin to ask the right question.” You have to ask the right question before the big data is analyzed. In the competitive environment, if your algorithm is based on your bias then eventually someone will develop one without it - and they will beat it and you.
In the classroom we constantly think about how we take the tools found in big data and how we combine it with good old business sense. That is where the creativity comes from and the big wins come from. Dr. Oyer says, “I am not so worried at all about people becoming so reliant on data that they don’t use their own expertise.”
When asked what future jobs may be taken over by AI, Dr. Oyer explains that if a computer can someday do what you are doing, it may be taken by AI. Some examples are: parking attendant, cab driver, transcriptionist, and foundry mold & core makers.
Worried? Get welding training – in general - get craft and trade training
Retraining is very important but unfortunately we’ve been bad at retraining.
It’s very hard for people to recognize that what they used to do is no longer needed. It is difficult then to go and get trained. People need to be open to training.
The gig economy is big and 40% of people working in this fashion by 2020 is not out of possibility. The statistics vary by how it was reported for full time workers. Two and half times the people are part time gig employees and didn’t show in some of the surveys and data.
Now, over 30% of Americans participate in gig in some way, now. People are from all ends of the economy - all ages, education, etc. are in the gig economy.
What You Will Learn In This Episode:
Links From The Episode:
Sat, 17 March 2018
Although most people don’t think about it this way, your organization’s physical workspace is a symbol. What does your symbol reflect to employees and outsiders?
What most people don’t understand is that your organization’s physical workspace is not just about the artwork on the wall, the material of the floors, the views or whether it’s an open or closed plan. Your physical space is much more than that; it is a symbol. It is what connects the employees to the organization. It is reflective of your organization and what it stands for.
Research has shown that physical workspace has a huge impact and value on our organizations. It help connect employees to a sense of purpose and a sense of belonging. It helps outsiders to get a feel for what your organization prioritizes. It creates an atmosphere conducive to productivity and innovation.
We should be mindful of this when we create our workspaces and we should be careful to not just copy the workspaces that other companies are creating. Your physical workspace should be unique to your organization, your goals, your way of working and your priorities. When people step foot in your organization, what will your symbol reflect to them?