Apple CEO Tim Cook appeared on CNBC last week to deliver some big news: The Company That Steve Jobs Built is placing $1 billion into a fund, which will then be invested in advanced manufacturing companies in the United States. This will presumably help Apple source more components for its computers and phones here.
“We can be the ripple in the pond,” Cook told Jim Cramer. “Those manufacturing jobs create jobs around them, because you have a service industry that grows around them.”
Any leader of a growing company knows that hiring is crucial, and hiring is hard. You need to move fast or you can’t meet goals. But you need to move carefully because the wrong people will run your organization aground.
So far, the new Trump administration, despite its business background, has flunked the hiring test: It has moved slowly, yet it has failed to properly vet its picks, and it now faces a “personnel crisis” (The New York Times). Julie Hirschfeld Davis and Sharon LaFraniere write: “Many federal agencies and offices are in states of suspended animation, their career civil servants answering to temporary bosses whose influence and staying power are unclear, and who are sometimes awaiting policy direction from appointees whose arrival may be weeks or months away.”
235,000 more jobs in February: That’s the latest number from the Labor Department (Bloomberg). It means President Trump’s first month extends the trend of the long Obama recovery, which over the last five years averaged an addition of 205,000 jobs a month.
Trump is already taking credit for the rosy statistic, even if it almost certainly reflects the policies and choices of his predecessor (The Washington Post). The president has promised to create 25 million jobs in a decade, so this is roughly the pace he’s going to have to maintain through two terms (plus an additional two years of someone else’s term) to meet his goal (Vox).
As we’ve been saying here since the election, neutrality is becoming nearly impossible for American businesses in Trump’s America. You are either with him or against him, and if you try to sit on the fence, circumstances will push you off.
Look at the L.L. Bean brouhaha (here’s Digg’s summary): The venerable outdoor-wear catalog merchant emphatically insists it’s apolitical. But Linda Bean, a scion of the family that owns it, is a major Trump donor and supporter. That landed the company on an anti-Trump boycott list. In response, Trump himself sent out a tweet Thursday urging people to “Buy L.L. Bean.” Free advertising! But with a catch.
Tech innovation is killing jobs, not foreign scapegoats, and revolt after Trump will be Luddite
The tech industry played an influential role in the outcome of the US Presidential election. Not just in providing the medium for Fake News and propaganda.
The root cause is job destruction by Automation — that drove a base of dissatisfied rust-belt voters to support Trump. Job destruction is accelerating, and if Tech doesn’t get ahead of this problem, there will be a significant populist backlash against the industry and it’s ability to progress.
A quarter century ago, Marc Andreessen pioneered the web browser, and as a venture capitalist today he remains a fount of capitalist optimism. In an interview with The Verge, Andreessen says he still hears a “steady drumbeat of empowerment and opportunity coming underneath what looks like a very stressed, very angry time.”
He also thinks the autonomous-vehicle-driven future may take longer to arrive than we expect — the transition will be slow and complex, as NewCo’s John Battelle has argued. But flying cars might well come sooner than you think. “I don’t know if they’ll get them to work,” he admits, but if there’s a breakthrough in battery tech, get ready.
Sandwiched between individual contributors and line managers on one hand and executives on the other hand, middle managers get satisfaction neither from tangible creation, nor from setting strategic direction. Instead, their role is to translate executive vision into an executable plan, hire/manage a team and set the processes and culture to ensure delivery.
In large corporations, middle management is the black hole where sizable input (brain power, time, $, energy) results in questionable output. It’s the place where careers stall and many former rising stars fizzle out. It’s also the layer — like our midriff — that has a tendency to expand stealthily, if kept unchecked.