Re: Work

John McCreery (jlm@TWICS.COM)
Wed, 2 Oct 1996 08:20:34 +0900


>Rather than adopting the illusory hope that many Meads,
>Benedicts and Batesons exist as undiscovered gems and that some may take the
>public by storm (well, probably just college students and maybe their
>parents), I think that expanding on the anecdotal material I provide above
>might be fruitful. That is, what can I learn about my friend's experience
>and where do I think some big ideas might lead him?
>How about some raw speculation? My friend's fieldwork, teaching, and
>learning experiences, understanding of another culture and willingness to
>learn a new (mathematical) language are hallmarks of flexibility,
>risk-taking, and 'vision'. Corporations value these traits (well, this is
>the current buzz). Could it be that he might be a perfect candidate to
>manage corporate functions in locating new sites for factories in expanding
>markets? How about providing services after a factory or an office is up
>and running?

>What are the big ideas here? His knowledge of kinship organization, culture
>& behavior, ethnicity, socialization, education and economic organization in
>the local community. Gee, sounds like social anthropology. (Feel free to
>supply your pet definitions for these terms; I know that you know what I mean.)
>How are these ideas presented? My friend would probably: sit in meetings,
>prepare memos, develop plans, send email, write reports & argue for his
>point of view. This sounds like, um, regular work, even if it is more like
>committee work than teaching.
>To whom will the ideas be presented? The audience is important here. Since
>(in the example) it consists of 'hard-nosed' business people who are not
>necessarily receptive, educated or willing to treat people (local employees)
>with dignity or understanding, he must demonstrate, through _results that
>pay off_, that his presence helps reach corporate goals. Could this be any
>more difficult than working to get tenure? Probably not. Further, I'll
>point out that in both cases the bottom line is continued employment.

Speaking from personal and current experience, your friends biggest problem
in looking for a corporate job (if that's what he wants to do) will be that
corporations like universities like to buy talent young and cheap. To be
over 40 and without a track record in business will be a very hard sell.

Must we, then, despair? No. It may be that we have to stop looking for jobs
and start asking ourselves what our businesses are? In an age of portfolio
careers, we have to look at ourselves and say what do I, yes "me," the guy
with a living to make before he has a life to lead, have to sell that
people want to buy. Jim is right. If we want to sell consulting services,
for example, we will have to learn the art of relating our "soft" knowledge
of kinship, socialization, etc., to the bottom line; how to construct an
argument that says because you're doing X you're spending Y. If you do it
this way, it will save you Z. Or, you're doing X and only making Y. There's
an opportunity here that should make you Z. And because the bottom line is
numbers, we'll have to learn to deal with that. It's one thing to say, in a
mushy way, that if we do X people will be a little happier. It's another to
say that if we do X, I estimate the return will be,say, $2,553,318.25 and
be responsible for that. Again speaking personally, it's not the rocket
science that's hard--the rocket's only a firecracker.It's putting myself on
the line.

Rule No. 1: It's the customer's need you think about. (That's why I've got
to run.)

John McCreery
3-206 Mitsusawa HT, 25-2 Miyagaya, Nishi-ku
Yokohama 220, JAPAN

"And the Lord said unto Cyrus, 'Shall the clay say to him who moldest it,
what makest thou? Let the potsherd of the earth speak to the potsherd of
the earth." --An anthropologist's credo