Room 101 – 2018

The first working week of the new year and the air is full of resolutions of hope and good intentions. At the same time, we’ll all be making assertions about the things to watch in the coming year. Frankly, I’m beyond predictions, who knew what the last couple of years were going to have in stock for the world, no-one saw that coming, right? But instead here’s the things I’d like to see the back of in 2018.

Everything being about AI – Remember big data? Remember how boring that got? Do you hear anyone talking much about it now? Yep, AI and robotics is the new big data – a tedious obsession with something that we don’t really understand and therefore extrapolate to cover a whole multitude of unlikely possibilities. I’m not saying there aren’t advances, I’m not saying the technology won’t be important, I’m saying there are many more pressing issues for us to be facing into right here, right now.

Experts writing books – The first question that should be asked of anyone writing a book telling you how to do stuff is, “when did you actually do any of this?”. You wouldn’t buy a cook book from someone who hadn’t been in a kitchen, or a travel guide from someone who hadn’t been to the country. But HR, management and leadership? All you need to do is have a Mac and a Twitter account and people will ask you to write a book. Just stop. Enough now, already.

The future of work being human – See point one above. A truly vacuous statement. Nothing else to add.

An obsession with the gig economy – Is it good, is it bad? Guess what? Both and neither. Our obsession with debating the pros and cons of zero hours contracts entirely misses the point about individual choice and free determination. That’s the real argument. Arguing that zero hours contracts are the root of all evil is akin to blaming Mr. Smith and Mr. Wesson for every gun related tragedy. Let’s debate the real issues and not the cover image.

Our university-centricity – I have nothing against people going to university, but let’s stop trying to pretend that attendance at a specific institution equates to capability. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, the education system is not a meritocracy. Factors such as wealth, location, parenting play an overwhelmingly significant factor in university attendance. None of these things, to my knowledge, have been linked to genuine potential.

The London bubble – Ok, so a big one to end, I know. But let me quote the recent report from the social mobility commission, “There is no simple north/south divide. Instead, a divide exists between London (and its affluent commuter belt) and the rest of the country – London accounts for nearly two-thirds of all social mobility hotspots.” That’s right…and not one of the top 65 cold spots is in London. Not one. If businesses want to make a difference, they need to get out of the London bubble.

If we could all just make that happen, I’d be truly grateful. Ok, thanks.