Getting closer to the king
In the very old days , salt was very expensive and was used as a status symbol. At a banquet, salt would be placed in a strategic place on the long narrow tables and at the head of the table would be a very important person such as the king. The closer to the king you were the more important you were and if you were below the salt – you really were nobody.
Enabling people to take responsibility
I have fought running battles with managers and executives, particularly in the Middle East, where every tiny decision needs the signature of the boss – and I thought progress was being made. Getting over the challenges where entire peoples (such as Filipinos in Middle East; most Indians, women, and Northerners and Working Class folk in the UK) were educated to just do what they were told, know their place, and challenge nothing and certainly not to network.
Progress is being made – if you are ‘above the API’ and not if you are ‘below the API’
Today, you’re either above the API (application programming interface)or below the API. You either tell robots what to do, or are told by robots what to do.
Psychologically safe environments
These days you are encouraged to develop your own networks and initiatives, and in theory there is the modern day leader who delegates responsibility to his team in a psychologically safe environment and allows them to experiment , to make mistakes without getting fired and above all gives them the authority to enable them make the decisions, wherever ‘the buck stops’ and your manager supported you. But only if you are above the API . While the upper and middle classes will work though ‘who you know’ it is still positively frowned upon in the working classes who will ‘get there on their own merit without help from anyone’.
Above and below the API
An example of an API is Uber. The app sends a request that includes account data, pickup and dropoff locations to drivers nearby and dispatches one to the customer to fulfil the request. The only two humans involved are the customer and the driver. The skills the drivers develop in driving are not an investment in their future. It’s a dead end job They have no opportunity to progress and no contact with management unless it all goes wrong. So there is even less opportunity than with working in a contact centre where at least you may have contact with the management. There is constant dispute with Uber and similar organisations such as Deliveroo as to whether the drivers are employed or casual It is no great surprise that the drivers are going on strike even in places where it is illegal such as Dubai. Good for them.
It knows you know (tribute to Hilda Baker)
In effect the computer (API) knows when you breathe, how long it takes to pee, as well as counting how many journeys and dinners are delivered, issues you resolve and other times how many people you can get rid of. Does it give you career progression? No. Does it allow you to develop your initiative and self-confidence? No. That’s the world of networking, negotiation, staff retention and freedom which you can get from being above the API and above the salt.
Breeding Populism and Fascism?
People being put below the API and not allowed to challenge, is ideal scenario for breeding populism and fascism. ( and could be a contributing factor to Brexit. )