There are entire levels of people whose only real purpose seems to be putting together PowerPoint presentations for other people. Literally producing entertainment for others who spends most of their time consuming that entertainment.
I'm glad other people have observed this too. It makes me feel more sane. I hope to be back in a small tech company soon.
The problem, of course, is the establishment of true independence for the evaluating entity. Ideally a "score" or index should incorporate reproducibility way way way over which journal is publishing the research. Include funding sources, track record, institutions, and also reviewers!
In bioinformatics, I tried reproducing models from Cell papers and others, noticing that it's pretty much impossible to get the same results with the same data (!) according to described methods. Things like arbitrarily configured sets of R-scripts look more like someone tried to push certain results over actually investigating natural phenomena with the help of software.
The paramount experience is convincing authors to reveal their source code. Most are suspiciously reserved because they know they published "pretty" bullshit that journals like Cell were glad to publish, because the biology part of the paper has some "big names" on it.
In many cases engineers evaluate scientific output by making things. Some results are too theoretical to be useful in the near term and that's fine, but if all the science is that abstract we have a problem. We're at the point where science is feeding into science rather than into the real world.
The most people you have reporting to you the more status you have in the organization. What do you make all those people do? Statistics and power points that you can show in meetings with other important people.
Training an activity will probably reduce the error rate in that particular activity, but it doesn't do anything for contract negotiation or whatever the senior banker later does where mistakes can be costly.
Which employee best demonstrates the ability to thoroughly review their own work? Which would you want as a senior reviewing other peoples work before sending/presenting it to clients?
They're not training a specific activity, they're training an attitude towards mistakes in all cases.
This somehow reminds me of the "proof of work" in cryptocurrencies. You are not doing any useful work, you are just showing that you have the power to do it (by burning that power).
I wonder if all the waste from bitcoin mining is just an analogy of similar waste in the corporate world... and ironically, now that human work is no longer involved in the loop, people suddenly care more because the old excuses such as "it builds character" no longer make sense.
This is so true for mate selection in animal kingdom e.g. the gelada baboon male has a bright red spot on its chest and females choose the male with brightest and largest red spot, though it is has no useful biological function. Expending energy to maintain an unnecessary function, hints at superior genes similar to your IB example.
More seriously, some people think that by a similar mechanism human intelligence has evolved. That in its first stages it was simply a costly (more difficult childbirth because of larger heads, more precious energy burned by brain function) and mostly useless mate-attracting thing. Until at some moment a critical threshold was crossed, and human culture became possible; and then it became dramatically useful.
So yes, there is a more general mechanism of how value gets burned in signaling competitions. Robin Hanson built his entire blog on finding examples in human society: www.overcomingbias.com
But then there is another general mechanism, where the heaps of waste accumulated by the aforementioned processes suddenly become a new niche to exploit for something useful. Such as people who build huge bitcoin-mining machines in Siberia, where the wasted heat warms their homes. So perhaps on another level there is something good to be gained from the corporate bullshit jobs.
Actually, I suspect what it could be... if your job is bullshit, it is less noticeable if you take some time off to browse a web. It could turn out that bullshit jobs are actually a huge factor driving today's culture. -- If you would remove bullshit jobs, for example by reducing the working time to 20 or 15 hours a week, many popular websites (including Hacker News) would lose most of their traffic. Because most people would spend their free afternoons differently, e.g. with their kids, or doing sports. I am not saying it would be worse... just different, maybe in ways we can't predict.
I mean he may think it is, I mean "true" as in that it actually works. I doubt it, at least in this specific case. I see two levels: On the intellectual one and on a deeper brain level, system 1 and 2 in Kahneman speak, I fail to be convinced that flipping through a hundred slides impresses either part of anyone's brain.
I think all explanations given here (or, ever) should be viewed under that light. Just because they are given (as explanation) does not actually make them an explanation. After all, one of people's greatest strengths is coming up with convincing stories for anything! That was one of the problems of coming up with the "scientific method" to overcome that very strong tendency, both the one to create stories, but also the one to believe them.
I think I agree, however.
A hundred slides might not impress anyone, but it means that anyone who wants to attack the presenter has too many targets to pick from. This is especially true if many of the terms in the slides are unfamiliar to the listener.
It goes by too fast. If you have an objection on slide 43, then by the time you get an opportunity to object you're already on slide 76. Maybe you forget all of the details that you were upset about. And the presenter can claim that your specific objection is handle somewhere in the other 99 slides. Somewhere that you're unlikely to fully understand the details and/or terminology.
Nobody likes the guy who gets hung up on one tiny detail and refuses to let it go even though the presenter claims other details resolve the issue. And everybody knows that nobody likes that guy. So everyone is going to be much more reserved about raising objections.
You could alternatively attack the presentation holistically, but this becomes potentially exponentially hard as the length of the presentation increases. Depending on how the details interact.
Sure, he might believe that the clients only want to know that the vendor is able to create all those slides. And this might be because when they present the slides they get the deals. But the reality might be that when they present the slides the result is that the people who would make important objections are intimidated into keeping quite. And that's why the deals are going through.
"Man who catch mistake in power point with chopstick, accomplish anything"
No, this hasn't been going on very long at all...
You haven't been working in corporate america very long if you think powerpoint presentations are entertainment. :-)
There are people who do nothing but put together powerpoint presentations because a) someone has to create easy-to-consume version of technical work for executive consumption and b) its a hell of a lot cheaper and faster to have one low-level designer adapt my sketches than it is for me to stop my work and spend a week tweaking fonts and vector graphics.
Specialization has benefits to the company as a whole even if some of the specialists (in isolation) do not seem to be contributing much from the perspective of an observer. They are force-multipliers for the people who truly do. I have grown to respect the value that executive assistants provide even though it seems like all they do is schedule meetings, its a huge context shift and time suck to do it myself.
Why? This seems to be true, but I honestly don't fully understand why.
People like you and I should make side companies that make a small amount of money without having a sales or HR or management department.
It's just you, the code, and users. You improve the product, the users enjoy it so much that they pay you directly, and you'll never feel the pressure to hire anyone or do bureaucratic things.
Sales skill is 90% prospecting and 10% being a trusted adviser.
It's really easy to be a waiter- it's very difficult to herd cats into your funnel.
Of course, good management is supposed to find that energy and channel it into a more constructive collaboration, but if management is in alignment meetings 40 hours a week, there's no time to keep tabs on engineers caught in the rhapsody of dead end innovation.
And yet the company was constantly talking about how great they were at their social media presence and using social media Analytics to keep their customers happy.
I guess a sending out a monthly PDF on social media is self-explanatory to the value of if. So many people involved in something that was zero value.
If you consult for any of them you quickly realize there are like 5 people running the entire company and 49995 somehow pushing forward through inertia.
The sad thing is when some clueless manager on a power trip, or just trying to reorganize in the most clueless way, threatens someone vital to operating the company without knowing it. It can escalate quickly as the employee realizes how undervalued they are compared to their contributions, and a small local panic may set in for other people that see the train wreck that's fast approaching and its possible ramifications for them.
Your 40,000 are the "checked out losers".
"Eventually, as value hits diminishing returns, both the Sociopaths and Losers make their exits, and the Clueless start to dominate. Finally, the hollow brittle shell collapses on itself and anything of value is recycled by the sociopaths according to meta-firm logic."
That has a sort of cynical beauty to it.
AFAICT I'm a loser-turned-sociopath as I now sell to the highest bidder on a strictly short term basis, and don't believe in anything apart from my bottom line.
The problem with small companies is... the lack of inertia! You get the CEO reading an article and decide to 'rebrand', throwing away whatever plan there was in motion to do the previous fad.
Then he goes to a show, and comes back all bouncy about the new cool stuff we HAVE to start integrating or else we won't be relevant when coming to market.
Been there, done that, got a whole pile of t-shirts ;-)
Builds another social network
I've witnessed this in gaming teams as well.
LI is a self-updating rolodex, has killed business cards. Invaluable to keep track of where people move.
Our sales people would hate for LI to go away. Happily pay themselves for Sales Edition.
You just convinced me to go kill my LinkedIn account from whenever ago.
Most B2B companies are pretty hard to get any relevant information out of.
A company that actively creates and shares interesting content on HN will have a much better brand image than one that does the same on Twitter. HN's smaller, self-selected audience will also land you better quality leads with less noise as compared to a large social platform
This is a massive driver for giving you "Bullshit Job" thoughts. If my end products are not being used, why the hell do they even exist?
Thoughts, analysyes and ruminations can be fun, but ultimately if they don't suggest an action: either initiating a new action, or modifying an action that is unfolding, then they are without purpose.
 The Buddha even suggested that they are stressful.
That movie might have been a metaphor for corporate work places.
Another thing is that in a complex organization there are many internal zero-sum mini-games - bosses that employ people only to increase their own importance, etc - then the job of these employees must be kind of useless. But the root cause of that is the same - it is the job of the boss of the boss (or maybe the CEO, or the board or the owner) to reduce that, but they don't because the complexity hides it. And then those mini-games add to the complexity itself creating a positive feedback loop.
Jobs like lobbyists or corporate lawyers or much of PR departments are also about zero-sum games - but in a bigger organization - the nation as a whole. Military is a zero-sum game on yet bigger scale.
Graeber call these jobs "bullshit" or "useless", he doesn't to my knowledge call them zero-sum (and I didn't see that term used in the article?).
My point was to agree with you that these jobs seem useless, but probably aren't, because exactly as you describe, of complexity (generally, of course, individual instances may well prove to be useless).
Having a military as a means to fight wars could then also be understood as negative-sum -- but having a military as a means to not fight a war (deterrence) can be considered positive-sum. It certainly ain't zero-sum.
Graeber seems to have a rather naive view of "goons". Yes, it would be nice if there was no need for military (or police, or security guards etc), and you can imagine a world where this is the case, and that world is certainly massively desirable. But until we do bring about that world, "goons" do serve a practical purpose.
Whether those things combined with the negatives all add up to a net positive is another question, but the point is modelling military size and spending as a game of Risk is too simple.
Somehow I cannot comment deeper in this thread - so I'll comment here.
Defending territory is not making it prosperous. If nations did not attack each other with their armies they would not need armies to defend them from that, and they all would be more prosperous.
I suggest you look into https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Prisoner%27s_dilemma
> Somehow I cannot comment deeper in this thread
You can if you click the time on the comment. That will take you directly to a text box where you can reply. I never understood why HN works like this.
Britain did very well off the back and resources of foreign countries due to their military from southern Asia.
See Spain in Latan America. France in West Africa. US picking up the pieces of the remnants of the Spanish empire.
These things were not accomplished due to the kindness and beneign-ness of the dominating force - regardless of what the home country was told (Britain: civilising the natives, US: bring democracy etc etc)
The military is about as far from zero-sum as you can get.
Gear is manufactured, used, worn out and discarded, at surprisingly high cost overall.
Soldiers are recruited, trained, serve, and leave. Training funds, time, and gear are necessary but never recouped.
Every military operation of any scale uses food/fuel/every other supply imaginable - all used and lost from other productive use.
Every 'build a civilization' game ever assigns expenses to military units created, never any production value.
(Ok, military R&D is sometimes practical and useful outside of the military... a small sop in an other wise large sinkhole.)
If the other guy has no military, we need no military. If the other guy builds a bigger military, we build a bigger military.
If the other guy doesn't spend on marketing, we don't need to spend on marketing. If the other guy invests heavily in marketing, we need a bigger marketing push.
There's only ever a gain in the system if there's an imbalance. Looking at it simplistically, if everyone collectively decided to stop at once, there'd be no need for those things anymore.
You rarely buy power to really exert it, more often it's just for the possibility.
"Everybody who supports single-payer health care says, ‘Look at all this money we would be saving from insurance and paperwork.’ That represents one million, two million, three million jobs [filled by] people who are working at Blue Cross Blue Shield or Kaiser or other places. What are we doing with them? Where are we employing them?"
So it seems that Obama didn't pursue a single-payer system because keeping 2-3 million "bullshit" jobs was more important than efficiency in the health care system, or at least it was part of his reasoning.
Also, if I remember correctly, the ACA is similar to but not identical to a GOP plan from the 90's and the state plan adopted when Mitt Romney was governor of Massachusetts in the way you describe - continuing to use existing insurance companies.
Lieberman is certainly worth of endless condementation, but trying to pretend Obama didn't do everything he could to kill single-payer and a public option in order to implement Romneycare is just wrong.
The political situation and polarization of the country certainly got a lot worse when the ACA was passed and that is arguably the biggest political problem the U.S. has had since, affecting basically every policy decision the U.S. makes.
To bring it back to jobs without purpose, not wanting to quickly rearrange an entire sector of the economy is a completely cogent reason to oppose a change you would otherwise vote for if it were applied differently.
Now it seems rare, the Maginsky Act sanctions and the Iraq War powers are the only consensus votes that come to mind.
My personal take is that a bunch of these pointless jobs would get shoved into government sector.
So I would gladly layoff most healthcare administrators and have them figure out what to do, by themselves. It's their fault and their fault only if they can't. “That’s what freedom is all about: taking your own risks.”
Fuck them, this is America, you 'own' your career. I mean, this is the universe I'm currently working in, why shouldn't they be subjected to the same thing? Especially when they chose to work in a parasitic system? If my skills lag behind, I'm unhirable in my industry. Coupled with my increasing age, IT'S ALL MY FAULT AND MY FAULT ONLY if I get fired/laid off and end up with no healthcare.
A significant reduction in overhead would free significant funds into the hands of the consumers, who would employ them to improve their lives, generating economic growth and demand in other economic areas that would pick up the slack. Granted, it's not comfortable for the workers made redundant, hence the tendency to band together as a special interest group and put political pressure to keep things inefficient (that's all assuming single payer is indeed an efficiency improvement, an entirely separate discussion).
If the facts on the ground were that it was actually possible to get single payer passed, I think those questions would have been easily answerable. It just wasn't tactically necessary to answer them in the context of what was achievable because of one horrendous (sorry Lieberman, but you really blew it) person.
The statement was clearly entirely political, of course.
"What will happen to them" doesn't have to mean preserving a broken system, it just has to mean caring humanely for those affected.
Also according to that article, former coal miners are more open to retraining where other industries have jobs readily available and/or where coal has no credible chance of comeback in that area.
None of that contradicts my suggestion as applied to the health insurance industry, which isn't really part of any cultural identity, and which would clearly not be about to rebound quickly in a single-payer world.
Retraining could even be pretty quick if they retrained to other forms of insurance, especially life insurance (which still cares about individual health) but there are many other kinds too.
I mean, sure, it's easy to setup negative incentives if you setup a welfare system and you aren't paying attention, but that's really a different sort of issue... and one that can be solved by looking at those negative incentives. (the earned income tax credit is a good place to start if you want to look at real-world attempts to amelerate the negative incentives that come with "you lose all benefits if you earn more than X dollars" style need-based plans. I'm just bringing it up because it's a real-world attempt to solve that problem and because there is real-world research on it.)
An imaginary way to deal with those negative incentives is Milton Friedman's "negative income tax" or even the 'basic income' people are on about.
But point being, the negative incentives are a thing that you have to watch for with welfare programs... but they don't negate the good done by, you know, allowing poor children to access medical care, food and education.
The discussion here was between welfare and bullshit jobs, not welfare or starving.
The pointless job sucks out many hours of productive hobbies and caretaking, space to think, innovate and organise.
This might be the desired effect - one of the means to control the population.
I tend to be more optimistic and think that the problems arise by our current model of unemployment rather than the idleness by itself, but I can't pretend I know the answer.
The incredible thing is that this happened without being a master plan of any government or even a cultural meme (an ideal like recycling, minority rights, literacy).
No one sat in a meeting room in the 1950s and said, "Well, we're going to have massive unemployment in the decades to come, so let's start creating lots of meaningless jobs."
It just happened. Gradually and without anyone noticing. Amazing.
Conversations, about obsolete personnel, become awkward verrry quickly, so to shift attention away from the massive elephant in the room, compromises must be struck.
The middle of the 20th century killed enough people to fill many multiple cities. All of that awkward disintigration of civility was the friction of people getting their fingers caught in the doors on the wrong side of the air locks, as the space ship fired up its jets.
People know that gobs and gobs of money filter through hands and fan out in distribution channels, so the real game isn't to sequester it all, but to properly skim incredible amounts of it, without raising eyebrows. Then, after a lagoon of reserves opens up all the essential opportunities to reinforce the system as it is, levers and control surfaces appear, and anyone without their hands on the affordances for operating guidance are basically shit out of luck in terms of bucking the system while it's healthy and strong.
It didn't just happen. Operators intervened.
Milkman, elevator operator, and Linotype operator are a few that employed a lot of people.
How many jobs do you think “social media analytics” actually creates? Probably not a 'ton'.
Everyone not beholden to a company for their living wage now gets off the treadmill of "keep employed" for its own sake.
I've never quite understood how UBI fixes the 'problem'. Can you (someone) explain why current prices wouldn't simply adjust to reflect the introduction of the 'helicopter money'?
Isn't this the very issue found w/ exploding U.S. tertiary education costs?
UBI is a compelling way to get lots of people out of that "gotta" hole and enable a much wider range of options and opportunities. Perhaps not a complete fix but certainly a helpful step.
Right, can you say more about why this is "compelling"? What I'm pointing out is that the 'savvy' business people will likely view the introduction of the UBI money into the economy as a reason to raise/adjust prices, i.e. inflation.
Having spent (too) much time speaking w/economists and the occasional central banker, who regularly debate the merits of QE (effectively targeted at the asset-rich) vs. "helicopter money", I'm not sure that society wouldn't end up right where it is now based on what I mentioned above about the 'savvy' business people.
If you're interested, someone broached the 'UBI/helicopter money' issue w/ Bernanke a couple of weeks ago as part of a broader conversation. I've linked to the video in another thread.
The increase in numbers going to higher education reduced those available in the workplace. Rather than everyone aged 16-65 being available for work (say 50 million), half of those ages 16-22 went to university, meaning about 2-3 million were taken out of the pool of available people.
> and the introduction of tuition fees
Tuition, when Labour first introduced it, was charged upfront - albeit at £1700 a year (in today's money).
When they tripped it in 2005, to £4300 a year, it started being repaid on every penny over £18k (in today's money). However this came from the same repayment as the cost of living loans, which meant the treasury only got a return on the tuition when the graduate was earning a decent wage when they were much older (if tuition was £100k or £0k, you paid the treasury the same amount per year until you'd repaid your £20k of cost-of-living loans)
When Cameron changed them to £10k a year (in today's money) in 2012, the repayment threshold was higher - if you unless you earn an average of £40k (median salary is £27k) you don't pay a penny back in tuition.
Since Labour introduced the 2005 tuition increase, tuition has been a graduate tax in all but name.
> was intended to keep unemployment down and get people to take on the financial burden of keeping themselves off the dole.
The number of unskilled jobs will only decrease in the future. However undergraduate degrees isn't the solution. While jobs on a supermarket checkout vanish, and jobs assessing insurance claims, an even legal jobs, electricians and plumbers aren't going to be automated away any time soon.
A big problem is that there is still a mentality that you need a degree to do a job of a given level - even if you're age 40.
My own company seem to be doing well here, we employ apprentices at age 18, and giving them a lot of training and some university based education, and at the end they come out as a qualified broadcast engineer, with a degree. They've had 3 years of real world experience, but also have the piece of paper which serves as an insurance for obsolete companies in the future who won't look at a CV which doesn't have 'bsc' at the top.
My favorite excerpt:
> Overall, I fear that Graeber’s managerial intelligence is not up to par, or at the very least he rarely convinces me that he has a superior organizational understanding, compared to people who deal with these problems every day.
Daydreaming here a bit, but suppose the 3 developers banded together, went to the top decision maker in the company, and proposed that they fire 8 or 9 of the managers, keeping the best 1 or 2, and that the developers' salaries be immediately doubled going forward. It could be stated or left unstated that the developers are willing to quit (which is still better than being eventually fired if the project fails, or becoming burnt out). If the project is truly important, and the situation really is 10 non-technical managers pushing 3 developers, why not try something audacious?
When people started quitting after being demoralized by repeated benefit cutbacks and layoffs, they said "We heard you, you said you want raises (after a year of no bonuses and two years of no raises), we're going to get them to you!"
With all that money you saved by laying off like 30% of the entire multinational corporation? Great! These should be decent raises! After the raises were finally granted, it wasn't even enough to cover a cost of living increase for a single year, let alone the two years that had passed with frozen salaries. And then they congratulated themselves in a corporate email sent to everyone for "listening to their employees and giving them what they ask for".
Oh, and they're still closing offices and laying people off, and expecting everyone to still keep serving paying clients (other corporations) at the same level of service they did with 5%-50% of the staff they had beforehand.
Any money they save, just stays in the corporations' hands. They don't care to give any of it to the peons. They're totally interchangeable cogs anyway, right?
The people at level n+1 to you in an organisation are there because they have the support of people at level n+2 and so on.
If you want to pull a stunt like this you need the support of someone level n+4 in a different department who hates whoever is n+3 in your own reporting line.
Which, true, means they would be better off than before.
Management are like a cult. They've all gotten to where they are because manager A has dirt on manager B, and so on. There should be no non-technical management in tech, and they should be the first to be automated.
Even if the managers like your idea and follow through with it 1) the friends of the lower-level managers take umbrage at having been bypassed;
2) the top decision maker might choose to view such bold action-takers as a threat to his/her own position.
This also goes for product suggestions, process improvement ideas, etc. People like hierarchy and don't want it (their place in it) threatened.
So, if the 3 developers are willing to band together, they should just do so to quit and form their own company.
I've done that exact project for like 6 giant pharma companies.
It isn’t, of course. It’s made up of managers who want to look like they’re doing something big so that they gain status and get a pay raise (“I led the company’s first blockchain initiative!”). It’s made up of employees who want to cover their own asses by recommending that a brand-name consultancy be added to their project. And so on.
Each individual in a corporation acts in accordance with her or his own incentives, which may or may not be well aligned with those of the company’s shareholders.
That's not dissimilar to the food you buy and throw away, the antique furniture you bought planning to restore but never got to it, the stack of book you wanted to read but other things occupy your time.
When you as an individual don't feel any sense of doing better for your organisation. How can an organisation composed of diverse set of people think of your cause?
But the organization itself? Nah. Corporations aren't people, no matter what the courts say.
So much this!
I've seen many outsourced multi-million-pound projects that would have been quicker, cheaper, and better as in-house projects for a few hundred thousand.
A senior manager doesn't want "In charge of a £100,000 3-month project" on their CV. They want to be able to write "In charge of a £20,000,000 2-year project". It doesn't matter that the cheap one works and the expensive one doesn't.
The true currency in the work world isn't money it's status.
Money is only important as a proxy for status.
Having a lot of people reporting to you confers status.
It's a different story to say "we analyzed a market and decided against pursuing those opportunities because of x, y and z" (an activity that produces lots of shelves full of reports) than to say "we didn't pursue some opportunities and we never bothered to look into it" (an activity that never occurred because nobody was filling shelves with reports).
"Give me everything we know about foo" is only possible if somebody has been collecting shelves full of things over time.
Step 5. Consultants get hired to digitalise the process of reporting.
Now a good consultant can make the leap to step 1 and start redirecting value to something else. A shitty consultant milks the company for $ without ever undermining the sorry people stuck at step 3.
Probably a difficult thing to study, though.
If, on the other hand, your company of 500 employees introduces profit-sharing, then there's probably no point to even trying. Too many decision makers pulling in too many politically motivated directions.
For the latter, putting a spotlight on people's jobs will send a message to all other works.
The large consultancies think that they’re the ones who’ve managed to crack this code. “We only hire The Best!”, they say. But once you get past a certain size, that’s just not possible.
You might have The Best front-line customer-facing champs, but Bob down in Payments Processing still lives with his mom and he’s dragging the whole lot down with him.
We joked that the big 4 just had a Markov chain managerial speak program, and all they needed to do was enter the number of pages they produced, and it would spit out pre made reports with the latest buzzwords of the required lengths.
So I printed off random "techy" stuff and some cat pictures online and gave it to them to see if they even opened the document up. To this day they never noticed anything and I did that for 2 years before I left. I still did what I could at my job, but the time spent on those reports dropped to nothing after my test.
The was government though, but I have seen the same thing at many schools I worked at before.
I agree that it would be better if someone would read them and give actual feedback based on your actual performance. But looking at my own little episode in academia, the most was learned while writing stuff.
I've accidentally participated in making their lives more tedious for the sake of generating numbers people look at but do not use for anything but complaining about the numbers. And now all my development time on that tool is spent rearranging the numbers. We could at least be using that data to make actionable decisions, but no one is interested in that.
And lots of travel in my experience.
This is the most irritating aspect of any company I've worked for. I can deal with the fact that certain people are "duct tapers", people who take pick up the slack, "box tickers", etc. But people's belief that others need to be managed, especially when those others are already motivated, is demoralizing and destructive on so many levels.
The bias of management creates a feedback loop when the employee does the work the way they would have done it had management not been looking over their shoulder, and the manager thinks to themself "It's a good thing I'm here, because nothing would get done!"
My role is often times just to ask people what they think they need to do. often they know, often they just need to speak to department x and work together. for whatever reason they don't so my department herds the cats together and works to focus on what is the right problem to solve.
Feeling good about "making money" isn't something that lasts. Eventually it's just that thing you have to do to maintain your completely normal lifestyle that you now take for granted. At that point you'd better hope the thing has more meaning than just "making money".
I freaking love my job and would do it for funsies of there weren't companies prepared to pay me to do it, but my job has been completed bullshit for as long as the role has existed. When the revolution comes I'll be the first against the wall against the wall alongside the digital marketing managers and the agile coaches.
Maybe your product sucks in your eyes? What about the frontend for couch surfing? Helps people connect with locals when they travel. Or OkCupid? People have been married through it.
However as far as modern frontend work goes? somebody with a grasp of XML could build a perfectly functional frontend. Everything else is tinsel and glitter.
We used to use Fraedom for our expense software. Everybody hated it. Now we use Concur. Everybody loves it.
Same functionality. Radically different outcome. It affects people! My boss' quality of life improved measurably.
Full-time SCRUM-masters won't last the first 30 minutes of the revolution.
The fact that I used framework x over framework y? Pretty irrelevant on the grander scale.
A lot of it boils down to the Protestant Work Ethic having no place in the modern world. It made sense for situations where 'work' was physical labor. That benefits from perseverance and endurance. Mental work does not benefit from perseverance and endurance. It suffers tremendously from them. The brain simply does not work that way.
(One of the things that pisses me off in modern UI design on the frontend is designing resource-intensive pretty UIs. They look great on mockups. They work well on testing. Throw some actual, real-life data at them, and they slow your browser to a crawl. This directly limits the usefulness of a product.)
Consider that even small sandwich shops consider it worthwhile to hire a guy to stand on a street corner waving a sign or dressed as a pickle.
I suppose we as a society have decided to do this rather than guaranteed minimum income or any other livable social safety net.
Is it necessarily true that a bullshit job has to server no purpose? I think a doorman is like the safety video. It makes the product feel more expensive. I agree it's a bullshit job, but it contributes to the impression your company is making. Maybe a well produced Analytics Report makes a sort of impression like this too. At a glance you can prove you are a high end company that has everything together, and produces sophisticated reports as evidence. Even if it's a bullshit report, spending 5 figures to make the report is worth it, if it secures a bunch of 6 figure customers.
I'm not saying we should secure bullshit jobs, I'm just trying to voice some more perspective.
I'm only familiar with Air New Zealand's productions, but they are totally marketing / patriotism / more marketing. In that sense they form a very important function: they do some crazy video that gets them in the news again, reminding people they exist and solidifying the idea that they are a fun airline you should totally pay slightly more than the competition to fly with.
(full disclosure, I am a New Zealander who will fly AirNZ if given the opportunity, so clearly it worked on me!)
This passage starts getting into why these jobs have to exist.
1. There are fewer useful things that need doing than employable people, so not everyone can get a useful job.
2. Everyone needs some kind of income.
3. Basic Income and welfare are politically difficult because of our Protestant cultural belief that income must be earned through work.
If 1, 2, and 3 are true, then bullshit jobs must be created, or people starve/riot.
I think it's shit - down with private property and all that. There is going to be a point in the next hundred years where we won't be able to justify millions of jobs, and none of my representatives seem to have any sort of plan in mind for when that happens.