February 5, 2018•452 words
I’ve had a broken experience with employment. And these experiences have led me to believe that employment as is traditionally done today is broken. Others may have different experiences, and some others might even swear by their job. I don’t doubt it. Yet I know a lot of others who have succumbed to the slow rotting of what I could only describe as profoundly subtle misery.
I think employment can be made to work. But in the interest of squeezing every last oozing drop of utility from an employee, companies have made the entire arrangement utterly inhospitable. But assuming you manage to get by the unreasonable request of dedicating your life entirely to a schedule forced on you by someone else, where one has to seek grave and even apologetic permission to take time off, the most excruciating aspect can be the repetitiveness of it all.
Titles definitely don’t help. Your signing of the contract is your birth in a company, and you’re immediately stamped some ultimately restricting role like “front-end developer” or “ui designer”. So you come in, excited to perform your ceremonial duties, and you excel at oozing utility in the direction set upon you. How long before you yearn to do something else? Anything else. I'll start fantasizing about the most mundane jobs, and think how much happier I would be. Ah, imagine if I could just quit and drive an uber, or, What I wouldn’t do to be a waiter at this restaurant. It's a deeply visceral and unjustifiably biological craving for something new. And if I've learned anything, it's that our mind is possessed with an uncanny ability to manipulate reality to get what it wants.
This problem could have easily been solved for me by the employer were they not so washed up in how everyone else in corporate america has done it for a hundred years. Worked for them.
I like the idea of denoting every employee with a general title like “problem solver”. Each person wears a shirt of tags on them (figuratively. Or maybe literally?) that specify the nature of problems they are well-geared at solving.
“front-end design” “python” “writing” “high-level ideation”
The company then maintains an open board of “available problems”, each possessing a list of tags that may be required to solve it. Employees, now honorably known as problem solvers, apply or announce their candidacy for tackling a problem, either individually or cooperatively.
A problem can be anything.
Open Problems (43)
Name: Mobile App
Estimated problem size: 3-4 months +/– 2 years.
I don’t know about you, but just the thought of this arrangement has me salivating.