Paid Work - Challenges & Path Forward

On my way to lote, I serendipitously bumped into Patrick and Stephen who were traveling from London for the same. Being edgeryders, we dived into the topics that were being discussed on the platform immediately and a comment that Patrick made resonated with me in a profound way – “Should we treat ourselves as resources to be utilized by others (organisations, corporations etc) or should we utilize ourselves for our own satisfaction?” This I believe is the pivotal question in understanding some of the challenges confronting us when it comes to livelihood.

‘Making a living (paid work)’ session made a lot of the challenges apparent and the solutions that came about, heard unified voices. It also answered Patrick’s question and gave me the most valuable learning from lote – “I am my own resource”.

Now, let me dive into giving this a context.

Both, society and the individual are going through a shift – adjusting or adapting to changing needs and standards. While the individual is moving at a faster pace, society is stuck in a paradigm of old rules that it is trying to apply to the changes happening around it.

Some of the problems that stood out given this context -

  • Unpaid apprenticeship – results in a learning curve and therefore will not be monetarily rewarded. While this is acceptable, today the standard has changed to using the apprentice for ‘donkey work’ with no learning and no pay. With a high number of graduates in the market, an unpaid intern is dispensable and can be replaced with another without changing the circumstances. In such a scenario, an individual is an asset only in the context of existing institutions.
  • Specialization is good – Corporations find specialized employees stable and less risky. Majority of projects that require cross or multidisciplinarity are outsourced to consultancies. T-shaped employees or hybrids are therefore, not preferred within large corporations and the arena of consulting is extremely competitive – this was identified as one of the major problems in finding paid work as more and more individuals are or consider themselves hybrids. Hybrids are people who have expertise in one area and a general understanding of related fields giving them the ability to be inter- or trans-disciplinary. Society favours classical titles and hybrids fit none making it difficult for them to find a place in the traditional job market. Once again, the individual is an asset or resource in the context of existing institutions.
  • Have we acquired new skills that don’t fit old rules anymore? This was a highly debated topic during the session. The answer still needs discussion but I do believe we found a starting point for it. The question is not of new skills – the skills remain largely the same. However, the issue is of competency. As mentioned in the earlier point, individuals are moving towards acquiring more than one skill. Hybrids are thus called because they work in between stratas. Individuals are moving towards inter or trans-disciplinarity while most institutions have not made this transition. In this scenario, individuals have started recognizing themselves as resources for their own benefit and not just as assets wrt an existing institution.
  • The case of intrinsic motivation – Another point that stood out in the discussions was that most hybrids consider themselves intrinsically motivated. What drives them is continuous learning, passion for their work and creative/personal satisfaction. Money was not a driver but was seen as something that is required to sustain oneself enough to continue satiating the above-mentioned drivers.
The solutions that echoed though the session came about to alleviate the above mentioned problems through 3 possible ways that need to work in tandem and not in silos –
  • Dialogue – Most participants believed that starting constructive dialogues is the need of the hour that transforms hybrids from outsiders in the traditional system to insiders. What we need is a multi-stakeholder issue based approach.
  • Entrepreneurship – The intrinsic motivation drivers are powerful for some hybrids to start their own companies or work as freelancers to satiate their creative needs as well as monetary needs to sustain themselves. However, not every hybrid is an entrepreneur and therefore a majority is still stuck without a way out.
  • Network economy – the 3rd option that was most voiced is the idea of a network economy that connects dots in silos and creates a thriving environment to collaborate, share skills, create alternative methods of self-sustainability. In this scenario, the individual becomes his or her own resource and works to benefit oneself through collaboration. Within this idea of network economy, the exchange can happen is two ways – 1. Pure barter: e.g. “I will design your website for space to live”; 2. Create a  new kind of organization that is multi- or trans-dsiciplnary thus changing the traditional models and create employment within this new model for the growing number of hybrids (this is also attached to entrepreneurship).
The discussion here is still rudimentary, I believe and needs validation. Can we do that, edgeryders? Hope to hear what you think and engage in further value-enriching discussions from here on.
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Where’s the report?

Charanya, sorry… this mission report appears to be titled and tagged, but it has no text! Could you upload the text  again? Let me know if you need any assistance. :frowning:

It seems to have gone missing

I save the report but it disappears somehow :frowning:

I will write this one out again.

Finally, it is up!

To participants of this session - please feel free to add.

To everyone at lote - more perspectives, the better - hope for a healthy discussion up ahead!



Resources to read

Understanding disciplinarities -

Transdisciplinarity and T-shaped people -

Future work skills -

Thinking about this…

Charanya, thank you, just read it this morning and it put me in some sort of deep thinking mood…

I have a hard time believing that businesses and corporations would go for the specific skills rather than hire people with an amplitude of skills, potentially more dynamic and open to learning new ways… some may even hire you for your potential to learn, even when some qualifications are missing.

do you have or know people in this session that mentioned concrete examples…? T shaped is already becoming the norm, especially for non-techs fields… and I doubt top level managers don’t know that.

Can it be that more traditional settings and public sectors go for this way of hiring people, but not the private?

Specific vs Multitude of skills

Noemi, i was in a similar flux when i started noticing this trend but my experiences over the past 6 years working with corporations confirms it. I would like to know as well if this is the case for me or most.

When I started working at 21, I was ‘capable’ but not competent yet. I had the ability to learn skills within an organisation, go through trainings and understand company culture. So I was considered as dynamic and open to learning. I was shuffled around in various depts, functions and finally got into the one that I and the company thought fit me the best.

I took a break and went to acquire cross-functional, cross-indsutry skills and suddenly I was stuck with no job and was considered as an unattractive candidate. I did not fit any checkbox anymore. I was not considered stable. I was a risky invst.

The only way to overcome it was to stop looking for a job and start freelancing or start my own consultancy. The skills I learny over the years were now considered valuable because I work for companies as an outsider - enriching their processes but worth lesser risk than having me inside.

Similar feelings were voiced in the session - but I do agree that this needs more validation but beyond that a change.

Perhaps we can shed some light on this by looking at the new hiring policies of the eu, often there are young people under qualified hired to positions of importance, it is not because of their expertise, but rather their malleability that makes them the ‘safe’ choice. The multi disciplinarian has an idea of the harmonic of true things as they begin to chime from one discipline to another, making their minds inherently more creative and quite often threatening or others. Specialisation and goal structures in general have countless times been shown to reduce people’s ability to think creatively or accomplish tasks that mans higher order problem solving, on the other hand t shapes are exceptional learners and creative thinkers.

in martial arts the master completes all stages, is awarded the highest honor and then, in the practice of sustained humility, goes back to the first step to begin again, this process is refined further and further as it is repeated. It takes a lot to able to accept a basic position of incapacity along with the challenge of the new, a lot of people are frightened by what they can not reconcile with their own path, this goes to judgement and in the long run, gets us nowhere.

I couldn’t have said it better.

“often there are young people under qualified hired to positions of importance”

As I mentioned, they choose capable but not necessarily competent people because of their maleability - the person learns not just the function therefore, but the way of working at this particular company and becomes a cultural ambasador for this workplace specifically compared to others. They work somewhat as evangelists who have been taught and trained rather than them having had these skills before.

I will try to look for a paper i read on this and upload it here if ic an find it.

Network economy

In this scenario, the individual becomes his or her own resource and works to benefit oneself through collaboration. Within this idea of network economy, the exchange can happen is two ways – 1. Pure barter: e.g. “I will design your website for space to live”;

This might work indeed, but this means every individual will be really forced to live “on the edge” between one assigment and another. And sometimes one will have to accept to do whatever because of being hungry ?..

In order to avoid exploitation, there will have to be a well organized system ,not just individual agreements.

  1. Create a  new kind of organization that is multi- or trans-dsiciplnary thus changing the traditional models and create employment within this new model for the growing number of hybrids (this is also attached to entrepreneurship).

This sounds good ! I’d love to learn more about this.

Been thinking a lot

I agree Luciana, I was thinking about what ways are there for people not so much into ryding edges and taking chances, living by the day or being creative enough to make their own way. Which is why I wrote a report here, curious what you think… To an extent I believe some individual strategies within the system can work, but they are not scalable… so If we are to go for a specific policy what would that be, I wonder…

Pure barter discussion

The pure barter scenario is difficult to cultivate at this stage but not unimaginable. If in the current scenario, we work with pure barter - its is indeed as you said, living on the edge and btw projects. No self sustaining in the most fruitful way.

However, if we can envision and build small social collectives of people - where housing is taken care of and the collective produces its own food, people can become major assets/ resources that enable the barter economy then. ‘Living Social’ would be the way to go. There are discussions happening across cities in doing this - I recently attended one in Berlin. I am game to build this idea further.

What do you think?

It’s a situation of identification as far as I can see, we seem to collectively identify which puts us in stark contrast with the individualist ethic of pure capitalism, it makes sense that we see multi angular social video and these kind of tech developments, the shared perective is e driving force of the time. So , yes I agree that we should do this, build this space, now how do we achieve that?

If anything else is becoming crust al clear at the moment, it is that everyone from the youth in business to any kind of supra cultural ecology, literally every crew are rethinking their organizational structures, our task may well be to simply create the context and the tool box for action, if we know who is where and what resources we have to work with , at an individual level, then we can work in distributed fashion, toward putting that into a manageable mechanism.

Las Indias and especially David de Ugarte, and people like Michel Bauwens of the P2p foundation are we very approachable and very well connected people, I would recommend chatting with them to help find others already with a portion of the work done. Finding and connecting those already at work will make a molehill of the mount Ian we now perceive ahead.

The Tool Box idea is great - a set of actions collated that can be used, changed, adapted in a context-driven scenario.

The Tool Box itself should be kept open source to create a channel of learnings and feedback that can constantly refresh the kit.

What would be interesting would be to have a ‘Best Practices’ attached to the tool box to make contexts clear and approach more accessible.

A platform that can do this, I believe will make the change that we are discussing a reality as it enables us to create new organisation structures and methodolgies that we want to create and use.

I would love to hash out some ideas and get cracking with this if anyone is interested.

Organisational structures

I’m very interested in organisational structures and methods of governance.  I’ve been focusing a lot of research on participatory and open forms.

I’d agree that P2P Foundation and Las Indicas offer lots of good resources.

I’ve been involved in the creation and organisation of a very open and lean co-operative consortia of self employed workers for a few years, which has taught me a few lessons.

I’m particularly interested in how / if swarming dynamics (very transparent and open organisation) can transfer to productive enterprises .  Productive enterprises that are capable of providing some kind of livelyhood for participants.

When you talk about creating a toolbox are you thinking about something like this? -

Take a look over on the las Indias site and on, these people are putting together methodologies of action that focus on the underlaying changes at work in the present, having intel to do with personal hang ups, least of all materialist or power based preoccupations.

It’s not a tool box, it’s a map

So the map and the toolbox seem to be coming together in a big way at the moment, reading this paper is absolutely blowing my mind, in it the authors highlight the transition from the dynastic modes of rule through their dissolution in the rise , via the periodical and the coffee house, of the national identity, a fabrication, but a powerful one. In it there is some very important citation of what is happening when we do this kind of work, in a group of 5 persons a 6th is created and the ethic and moral and way of this 6th becomes that of the 5, how do we communicate our way to that character being crystal clear to everyone?

Here is the link to the essay:

On pages 16-18 the text looks into cartographic practices in the 16-1700s as a means of representing the ideal to be aspired to, they were being used to group people into lingual and exchange groups in such a way as made sense to the development of the nation state. The modern corollary for this is what we are talking about here. This is the mapplication that I have been working on, and it’s function is based on the way that ants seem to communicate and bottom up processes in general, which is to complicate a basically simple yet highly sophisticated process.

Is it a matter of risk for them having you inside (why? why would you be perceived as a less stable employees?) OR is it just that on any given criteria there will be candidates that can have a particular competency more  in depth developed than yourself?