Corporations and the Future

I went for a walk today and as I was walking I was thinking about my job situation. I’ve also been reading a lot of futurist websites lately, and a lot of them are about Artificial Intelligence, or AI. How do these two things relate?

Consider the following quote:

“The AI does not hate you, nor does it love you, but you are made out of atoms which it can use for something else.” — Eliezer Yudkowsky – http://yudkowsky.net/singularity/ai-risk 

The quote is about AI, the assumption being that unless it is specifically programmed to be friendly towards humans, it won’t be.

A slightly modified version  of this quote could apply to Corporations, in relation to their employees:

“The Corporation does not hate you, nor does it love you, but it pays you money that it could be using for something else.” 

This is true of most traditional, vertically integrated corporations, whether they are publicly held, privately held, or ’employee owned.’

It is possible, however, to organize a corporation such that the first part of my version of the quote is not true. (See, for example, this list: http://www.worldblu.com/awardee-profiles/2011.php ) But the vast majority of  corporations are not organized that way. In most corporations, the low-level employees have almost no idea what is going on at the top, and the top has almost no idea what is going on at the bottom. 

At most corporations, the low-level employees learn about decisions, even major decisions, after they are already made. I’ve been on the receiving end of this several times in the past few years. This is wrong, and completely backwards! It’s also extremely frustrating for the low-level folks.

Unfortunately, my soon-to-be-employer is a corporation that operates this way. I know this because my current boss told us that some of their people that we met with shortly after the sale announcement only knew one day before we did! Lame! This was a major decision. We should have known about this months ago! It may not have changed the final outcome, but at least we’d have had advance warning instead of having it sprung on us at the last minute!

Even better would have been to have a meeting and discuss the possibilities, and maybe, just maybe, have come up with some better ideas. Likely? Maybe not, but possible? Definitely.

So why do so many companies operate this way, and why do so many people (employees) put up with it? I don’t know for sure, but my guess is fear and inertia. Companies are afraid of what their employees might think/do if they knew about decisions ahead of time, and employees would rather put up with it than try to change things or find a new job.

What is needed instead is transparency and courage, two things which are in short supply at most corporations.

It may be time for me to explore my options for working for a better, more transparent, more courageous company, or help my new company become such a company. Wish me luck?

Until next time: Have fun, don’t die, and make mine Marvel!

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About koxl0003

Just this guy, you know?
This entry was posted in and Everything!, Life, The Universe, Work. Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to Corporations and the Future

  1. winonavampire says:

    It is funny, I was just thinking about this from the other point of view. Due to major budget cuts from the state and federal level, my company is going to be making some drastic changes. One of these changes is a “reduction in work force”. Which is the nice way to say “lay off”.

    Well, an email just went through the entire employee email from the Executive Director bringing up some of these points. No decisions have been made yet so my thought was “wow, an email already went out.. I wonder how people will react? Is it too early?” The term “transparent” was even brought up in the email.

    I defiantly like the fact the agency is being very honest and forthcoming, I just wonder how much stress this puts on the employees?

    I am not sure if your current predicament is due to the economy, but it seems we are all being challenged in our work place due to some sort of economical implications of one kind or another.

    I wish people understood that layoffs are not the answer to a stagnant economy. All a layoff does is further lock the economy in a Stasis. And no one seems to be drawing any Islands…

    I wish you luck in your upcoming future…

    • koxl0003 says:

      Thanks. Funding cuts suck. Especially when the funding your company gets is such a tiny amount relative to state and federal budget total expenditures.

      Good luck in your future too.

      I’m not an economist by any means, but you make a good point about the implications of layoffs. I agree that they can’t possibly help the economy as a whole. In fact, I’ll do you one better. Layoffs hurt the economy. Laid off workers end up with less income while they are laid off. Less income leads to less spending. Less spending means less money in the economy. Less money (traditionally) leads to more layoffs.

      The real question is how to break the cycle.

      We should definitely compare notes on stress vs. transparency levels. It just may be that there is no time that telling people bad news is not going to cause stress. I certainly think sooner is better, though I admit to only having experience with learning news later rather than sooner, at least where my work is concerned.

      l8er

  2. winonavampire says:

    Ya know… the way I see it… Economists haven’t been able to fix anything… Lets let the English and Psych people take care of it ; )

    We couldn’t possible do any worse right now…

  3. Steve L says:

    Interesting about the takeover transparency.I my case,I heard rumors in late July that “something” was going on.Asked my boss,his boss,ans his boss’s boss if anything was going on.I have/had connections to the top of corporate structure but it was quiet.Finally when I got hint of a corporate name in early August,a simple search of the net let me know that on June 4 there had been a news release/public notice of the event.

    Ah well…………………

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