Sun, 25 September 2016
Ron Storn is the Vice President of the People department at Lyft. Lyft is a ride-sharing company based out of San Francisco, CA that unites technology and humans for more affordable rides. He has been with Lyft for 3 years and he is at the head of all of the recruiting and human resources for the company. Lyft has been around since 2007 and when they started they had 80 employees and now they have 1200.
Over the past 20 years the function of HR within companies has really changed. Back in the 1990s the HR department was more about execution. The head of the company would tell you who to hire and when and HR would do it, no questions asked. Nowadays it is more about being an integral part of the business and the HR department is more involved in the whole process. It doesn’t matter how good your business plan is in theory if you don’t have the people to pull it off.
With this shift in mindset about HR, companies have started spending more time figuring out how to attract and retain talent. The fast rate of growth at Lyft from 80 employees to 1200 in the last 10 years is a testament to their success with attracting and retaining employees. They are doing some really unique and effective things to get the best talent.
One hot topic nowadays is figuring out what Millennials want in a workplace. Storn states that there are three things that Millennials really want; they want to work with top notch people who they can learn from, they want to work on interesting things, and they want to have a connection to the company’s mission. Storn believes that Millennials are enthusiastic and passionate and they really want to make a difference. One of the issues companies have with Millennials is that they want to make a difference very quickly and then move on to the next thing, but the process doesn’t always happen as quickly as they want it to.
Lyft has some really unique internal programs that help create their corporate culture. One example is a tradition they have for new hires. Every two weeks they have an all hands meeting where the whole company comes together for a meeting. During this meeting they do a comedic roast of all of the new people.
Another program they have for new hires is an incentive to get to know other people within the company. They give the new hires a coffee card and tell them to take another employee who is not in their department out for coffee.
Storn says Lyft is set apart from their competition by their experience. They believe it is important to share stories with the employees to show that what they do affects their customers. One example of how a driver impacted a customer is shown in a story about a driver who was driving a passenger on Valentine’s Day. The driver handed the passenger a note that said Be My Valentine and the passenger started crying. The driver pulled over, turned off their meter and talked to the passenger for awhile. A few weeks later a friend of the passenger wrote a letter to Lyft thanking that driver for saving their friend as their friend had been contemplating suicide but felt touched by what the driver did.
Lyft also puts a lot of effort into creating a unique working atmosphere. At one of their buildings they have a secret Willy Wonka room where you push a picture to open up a door into a secret room. Their new building in Seattle will have a secret coffee bar. They also have a mixture of open and closed working spaces that allow employees to work in a space that is conducive to what they are working on. They really encourage collaborative working, so no one has an assigned office.
Lyft has four core values that they use to shape their corporate culture and employee experience. The four core values are be yourself, create fearlessly, uplift others, and make it happen. They want employees to come to work and be the same person as they are at home (they even allow dogs in the office). They encourage workers to feel empowered to fix problems on their own, focus on the team instead of I, and to do things instead of sitting back and waiting.
When it comes to attracting and retaining the best talent Storn advises managers to change their mindset and meet employees where they are at. It is important to appeal to what the employees are looking for. Make them feel like they are adding value to your company. For employees who are looking to have a better work experience Storn says make your voice heard. If you are looking for a new job, don’t focus on the job alone look at the company as a whole. He says, “Pick the company, not the role. The role will follow”.
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Link From The Episode:
Sun, 18 September 2016
So in this EM world, what would EMs do? In Hanson’s view they would take over all of the work form the humans. Some EMs would do virtual jobs and some would do physical jobs, therefore they would be able to switch from a physical form to a virtual form in an instant as we are able to get in and out of our car to go somewhere. EMs would live mostly in city centers and interact with each other as humans do.
And what would humans be doing during this time? Well, first they would all have to retire. After EMs are around humans wouldn’t be able to compete for jobs so they would retire to live off of their savings and live a life of leisure. Hanson believes some humans would have money from creating EMs, because in the beginning the people who are the best in their fields would be sought out to scan their brains for EMs earning big money. Later on younger people would most likely be sought out to create EMs as they would be able to learn new things the quickest. Some may also make money from investments or have money saved up. Those who don’t have money at this time probably wouldn’t survive, it would just depend on how areas would take care of each other, divide money, and provide for humans. EMs would most likely run 1,000 times faster than humans so they would evolve much more quickly than humans have. Therefore, the EM Age may only last 1-2 years so in that time humans probably won’t have time to change much.
There are different views that people have when they read about EMs, either they think it is fun and exciting to learn and think about or they think it is crazy or scary or impossible. For people who think it is impossible, Hanson explains that we have had 3 major eras of humans; Foragers, Farmers, and Industry and in each era there has been a sudden change to bring about the next era. So the next era after ours could be the EM Age. People who lived 1,000 years ago would probably think that the innovations we have today are crazy or impossible. Regardless of what the future holds it will still be strange to those of us who are living in the current era.
Hanson’s book touches on several aspects of the EM Age including the basics, organization, economics, sociology and physics. In the way of physics Hanson touches on things such as the relationship between the body size and mind speed of EMs as well as the energy and cooling usage that the EMs would need.
In the section on economics Hanson discusses many things including the fact that EMs will happen when it is feasible to make them at a low cost. Even if we had the technology now to create them, it would be too expensive. It would have to cost as much as or less than it costs to pay humans to do those jobs now.
When Hanson talks about organization he talks about how EMs will have similar units as we have among humans; cities, families, firms. However they will also have clans. Clans will be EMs that are copies of the same human and they will be more identical than twins. And in the section on sociology Hanson talks about how sex and mating will be different for the EMs. On the one hand they are a copy of humans and therefore it would be ingrained in them to have a need for love, sex and connection. However there would be factors that would make this difficult such as their work drive not allowing them to focus on anything else and the fact that the ratio between male and female probably wouldn’t be equal.
Many people may ask how could we get a future that no one wants. It is hard to imagine anyone in today’s age that would want all humans to have their jobs taken over by machines and the possibility that humans would be without money and therefore not be able to survive. However, it would not be a result of what we all want together. No one is choosing technology collectively; it’s not something we vote on or agree on. It is done by individuals who are innovating things in order to move forward and make money. The EM Age could come as a result of decentralized competition. Each of us trying to individually get what we want could end in all of us together getting what we don’t want.
Link From The Episode:
Mon, 12 September 2016
Arun Sundararajan is the author of The Sharing Economy: The End of Employment and the Rise of Crowd-Based Capitalism. He is a professor of business at the Stern School of Business at NYU. He is interested in researching how digital technology brings about change in our economy and he has published over 50 scientific papers and over 30 op-eds on subjects related to this research.
The sharing economy is a very hot topic at the moment. How will the sharing economy evolve? How will it impact traditional jobs? How many vendors will succeed in this type of economy? Although we are still in the very beginning stages of this type of economy, Arun Sundararajan’s extensive research allows us to take a deeper look into what a sharing economy actually is and what the future of this space looks like.
When asked what the sharing economy actually is, Sundararajan says he believes that a sharing economy has at least 5 characteristics. One of the characteristics is that a sharing economy takes an activity that was once provided by a large institution and takes it to a marketplace type environment. One example of this is shown in hotels vs. Airbnb. Not long ago if you were traveling out of town most likely you would stay at a large hotel chain such as Hilton or Holiday Inn. Nowadays Airbnb has become extremely popular. So instead of staying in a large hotel chain owned by a large corporation, people are using the marketplace type platform of Airbnb to stay in other people’s houses.
Another characteristic is that there is a blurring of lines between personal and professional. Companies like Uber and Airbnb are a great example of this. We are using these professional platforms for things that we used to only do on a personal level with friends or family. We are getting a ride from a stranger or staying in a room in a stranger’s house.
Some of the other characteristics he touches on are that we are using assets more efficiently and therefore there is an increase in impact in capital of labor of assets, there has been a shift in who is providing the services, meaning a job that used to be done by a group of highly trained professionals is now done by a distributed group of people who may not have had any specialized training, and there is a blurring of lines between professional full time work and casual freelance work.
When talking about the sharing economy it is important to note the advances and innovations that have allowed us to get here. One of the important advances that is necessary for a sharing economy is a comfort with digital platforms. The fact that we have become so used to and dependent on digital platforms such as Ebay, Craigslist and Amazon has played into the growth of the sharing economy. We have become very comfortable with using technology in our everyday life.
Another innovation that had to come about before we could have a sharing economy is the GPS. There are several platforms such as Uber that would not work without GPS. Which leads into another innovation that is essential to a sharing economy, and that is the Smartphone. The Smartphone makes it so easy and convenient for people to connect to platforms such as Uber, Upwork, Airbnb, etc…
Another important aspect of our move towards a sharing economy was trust. Even 20 years ago we didn’t have the trust needed to allow a sharing economy to succeed. Platforms such as Ebay and Craigslist eased us into this trust several years ago. People were able to purchase items to be sent to them and the trust needed was fairly limited. You needed to trust that they would send the products on time and in good condition, but there really wasn’t much risk involved. Now, our trust level has gone up to the point where we are now allowing individuals to come into our home to paint or clean or we are putting ourselves into a stranger’s car.
Even though it has taken a lot of innovation and forward moving to get where we are, Sundararajan feels that we are coming full circle back to the work model of the 18th century where transactions were peer to peer. The only difference is now we are putting platforms in between the individuals. The sharing economy is like a hybrid between the 18th century marketplace and the 20th century organization. Sundararajan hopes that people will see the move towards a sharing economy more as an opportunity then a threat. He feels that this shift in our economy will bring us back to genuine human contact in our everyday economic activities.
In the next few years Sundararajan would like to see the sharing economy expand rapidly. However, to have this happen successfully there are two things that he believes are important to focus on. One is funding for things such as paid vacation, insurance, and other benefits. At this time these things are funded by a company or the government in exchange for full time employment, however if we move towards the crowd based capitalism it will be important to find another way to fund these types of benefits. Another thing that is important is getting past the “regulatory conflict” as quickly as possible. He believes that if we can get past both of these hurdles, then the future of crowd capitalism and a sharing economy is promising.
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Link From The Episode:
Tue, 6 September 2016
Thomas Davenport is the President’s Distinguished Professor of Information Technology and Management at Babson College in Massachusetts. He is an author, the co-founder of the International Institute for Analytics, a Fellow at the MIT Initiative on the Digital Economy, and Senior Advisor to Deloitte Analytics. He has spent the last 30 years focused on the Sociology of Information, studying and teaching about how people and organizations use information. He currently teaches MBAs at Babson College about Analytics, Cognitive Technologies, Big Data, and Knowledge Management.
Thomas is the co-author of the new book, Only Humans Need Apply: Winners and Losers in the Age of Smart Machines. In the book Thomas and co-author Julia Kirby discuss the rise of job automation and how humans can secure their place in the workplace in the midst of this shift by using the 5 alternative strategies they lay out.
The move towards automation in the workplace, while not new, is a controversial subject that is becoming a large part of our current work economy. There are two camps of people today, those who are opposed to the move towards automation and those who are embracing it. The people who are opposed are scared about the implications of automating jobs. They feel that this shift in our economy will create chaos and wipe out jobs for humans. The camp of people who are embracing it feel that automating certain jobs could be a good thing and that we will always find a way to create new jobs for humans.
Thomas talks about how reality is somewhere in the middle of the two camps. While automation could cause some jobs to be at risk, it may not be as perilous as some people may think. He talks about how most jobs have several tasks to them, some of them are automatable and some aren’t. In the podcast he gives an example explaining how automation could help lawyers cut down on the time they take to search through documents and contracts for items pertaining to a case. This process probably only takes up about 20% of what lawyers actually do, so as Thomas mentions, this automation wouldn’t completely replace lawyers, but perhaps in a law firm of 10 lawyers, the automation would relieve the workload to the point where they can do with 8 lawyers instead of 10.
In an Oxford study done in 2013 they estimated that 47% of U.S. jobs are automatable. People such as Stephen Hawking and Elon Musk have been very vocal about their concerns with the future of human jobs and our very existence in light of this rapid shift to automation. However, when you look at jobs that have already moved towards automation, such as bank tellers, it shows that the move may not be as rapid as they think. In the 1980s there were a half a million bank tellers, and today, there are still half a million bank tellers despite the invention and implementation of ATMs.
While automation may not take over human jobs at an alarmingly quick rate, it is still something we need to be aware of. Automation, bots, and software are getting to the point now where they are becoming more capable of taking over knowledge jobs, whereas before they were only taking over labor intensive jobs such as manufacturing. Because of this, Thomas and Julia felt it was important to write their book that, first of all, encourages augmenting human labor with smart machines as opposed to completely replacing humans with machines and, secondly, shows people five ways to make themselves irreplaceable in the workplace.
What you will learn in this episode:
Links From The Episode: