Bullshit Jobs

It’s been years since I’ve live blogged. But I’m at a session at the RSA with anthropologist David Graeber speaking about  Bullshit Jobs. So here goes:
People are often apologetic about what they do for a living – often because they’re literally doing nothing. That’s why you get people playing games and watching cat videos while they’re working.

Robots have bee taking our work for 100 years or so but instead of redistributing work we’ve made unnecessary stuff up. This includes whole industries, things like corporate lawyers which don’t really need to exist. The appropach is perpetuated by those in power buying loyalty of structurally unemployed by giving them false management positions. Clerical, administration and supervisory positions often seem to be the worst affected.

YouGov did a survey on this – 37% of people in the UK don’t think they make a useful contribution to society. Note this is almost certain to be an under estimation of the true figure for the proportion of useless jobs.

I thought many of David’s points were over exaggerated, but I agree the fundamental point – we can do more and better. Job design needs to be seen as more fundamental aspect of organisation design that it often is.

So although I’ve not read David G’s book, I think David Bolchover’s book potentially provides a more accurate summary of the situation.
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I graduated from Imperial College, London in 1987 and joined Andersen Consulting (now Accenture) as a systems development consultant. After ten years in IT, change and then HR consulting, I joined Ernst & Young as an HR Director, working firstly in the UK, and then, based in Moscow, covering the former USSR.More recently, I have worked as Head of HR Consulting for Penna and Director of Human Capital Consulting for Buck Consultants (the HR consultancy owned by ACS).

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