If you haven’t yet read Derek Thompson’s excellent essay in The Atlantic about “The Religion of Workism,” I highly recommend it. Thompson’s thesis—that in American society we’ve replaced religion with “workism” as a way to find meaning—strikes at the very heart of many occupational ambitions. (Including, if I’m honest, my own.)
“For today’s workists,” Thompson says, “anything short of finding one’s vocational soul mate means a wasted life.”
A few weeks ago I re-read an article by the management thinker Peter Drucker from 2001 called “Will the corporation survive?” In it, he talks about his assumptions about the next phase of business. Since the 1970s, the economy had shifted to depend on “knowledge workers” — workers who make meaning out of information — and Drucker saw this shift putting power back into the hands of workers.
In case you haven’t heard, Amazon is canceling its much-aligned plans to build a second headquarters in Queens, New York.
Would having a large Amazon footprint in NYC have created jobs? Probably. Would it have helped the local tech economy over subsequent years? Maybe. Would it have exacerbated the already bad affordable housing market? Almost certainly.
In case you were asleep yesterday (read: unplugged from the internet), you may not have noticed the new ad debuted by Gillette this week. The anti-toxic masculinity message was incredible resonant—but not always positively.
In fact, I'd say many men are losing their goddam minds about it.
Elizabeth Warren made headlines last week by outlining several proposals to break up Big Tech, including tighter regulation of acquisitions and mergers, and prohibiting companies from offering a marketplace for commerce and competing in that marketplace—or often choking off competition. (Watch Hasan Minhaj’s excellent outline of how Amazon does this, if you haven’t already.)
The policy proposals seems to have been met with excitement by consumers (including me) who think Big Tech is getting too powerful, and hasn’t done enough to self-regulate. But some of the specifics have been met with criticism.
Last week I attended a one-day conference called “Leading For Good” at Loyola’s Baumhart Center for Social Enterprise and Responsibility, aimed at bringing together social and civic minded corporate executives from around the Chicago area. The connections and conversations were good, but in all honesty, I left frustrated that the conversation still mostly centered around whether or not a business should be doing good, rather than how it should go about doing it.
I guess I shouldn’t have been surprised. We have no common definition of business “purpose”, and no shared ethical framework for how to evaluate whether or not the decisions made by a business can be considered “good.”