Tag Archives: Work

Revisiting Using Pitchers on Short Rest: Long-Term Ramifications

A couple of weeks ago, I wrote about the Los Angeles Dodgers’ strategy of using their best pitcher (and one of the best pitchers in baseball) on short rest to pitch in a non-elimination game. The Dodgers ended up winning that game and the series, but the debate over the strategy doesn’t end there.

In my post from a couple of weeks ago, I compared the Dodgers’ decision to my younger years when I was playing baseball in double elimination tournaments. This wasn’t a perfect comparison, but I the spirit of the decision to use your best pitcher was there in both. A few nights ago, the Los Angeles Dodgers were eliminated from the postseason. All but one of the thirty teams are eliminated, so this isn’t earth-shattering news. However, the fashion in which they lost is.

In Game 6 of the National League Championship Series, the Dodgers started Clayton Kershaw. Yes, the same one who started in Game 4 for the Dodgers in the National League Divisional Series. This time, Kershaw’s start didn’t go so well. In fact, Kershaw only pitched 4 innings before pulled by the manager, Don Mattingly, but not before Kershaw gave up 7 runs. So, the question might be warranted: did using Kershaw on short rest affect his ability in Game 6? It turns out, this was a thought that had crossed some minds before Kershaw made the start in Game 4.

As they say, hindsight is 20-20, but it does seem a bit prescient. McCarthy’s hypothesis makes sense, but it’d be hard to test. One may point to Kershaw’s start in Game 2 of the NLCS. He tossed 6 innings and allowed 1 unearned run. Shouldn’t he have unravelled in that game if he were fatigued from the short rest start in the NLDS? One could argue that, but the way that McCarthy’s argument is setup leads one to believe that the “fatigue” could happen later and later. So, if the Dodgers won Game 6 and won Game 7, would McCarthy have expected Kershaw to unravel during one of his starts in the World Series?

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Let’s see if we can apply this lesson to decisions in other arenas. The analogy I used for the other post doesn’t really hold anymore. We’d be better off thinking about a decision for a business. Using Kershaw in the way the Dodgers did was almost like using a certain machine in the factory to fill some rush orders. The machine might only be able to fill a certain number of orders per week, but because it’s the holiday season, the boss thinks that running it on overdrive is necessary. Initially, the machine churns out the widgets just the way the boss would have expected, but next week when you use the machine, the widgets aren’t as high a quality. And then the week after that, the widgets aren’t even of a high enough quality to give away. It’s clear, the machine needs a break and some recalibration. In weighing the risk, the boss thought that using the machine more than usual was worth it for it potentially shutting down.

There are other ways we can map out this scenario, but I want you to think about how you might be overdoing it. Maybe the machine you use at work is fatiguing. Maybe you are fatiguing from working too hard.

You’re Not Supposed to Hate Work

About a month ago, there was a rather disturbing headline that came as a result of a Gallup study: “70% of americans hate their job.” When I first read that, I thought, that can’t be right, can it? 70%!? That means for every person who likes their job, there are at least 2 people who hate their job. Do you like your job? That means that 2 of your friends hate their job.

Even now, reflecting on this, I find it hard to believe that this many people would stay at a job they don’t like. There would have to be an overwhelmingly compelling reason to stay at a job that one hates. A few things that come to mind: mortgage, children’s college fund, student loans, etc. I suppose we could talk about some of these big-ticket items weigh on the minds of people, but I’d rather talk about work. Why is it that we can’t all be doing something that we like to do?

Assuming that there are as many jobs out there as there are people, couldn’t we reach some sort of Nash equilibrium where everyone’s doing something that they like to do and no one’s doing anything they don’t? Part of the problem with reaching Nash equilibrium would be that some people are motivated by different things or are coming from different situations. So, I might really like construction, but I’m not very good at the things that you need to work in construction. If I have a degree in accounting, I might become an accountant, even though I’d rather be working in construction. There may be someone who’s in just the opposite situation, too. If we could switch jobs, we’d both be moving from miserable situations to desirable situations.

I haven’t really touched on the health implications of hating your job, but that’s an important factor to consider, too:

‘Our analysis clearly established that there was no difference in the rates of common mental disorders, such as anxiety and depression, between those who were unemployed and those who were in the poorest quality jobs.’

I think it’s a misnomer to say that work is supposed to “suck.” Why can’t we do what we love? Maybe for some folks, they don’t do what they love “full-time,” but they can gradually work their way into doing what they love full-time. Ken Robinson, noted TEDTalk speaker, wrote a great book a few years ago about finding your passion. If you’re working in a job that you hate (and statistics would tell us that you probably do) or you know someone who is, I’d recommend taking a look at Ken’s book. It just might change your life…

I’d Love to Get Inside Marissa Mayer’s Head: The End of Telecommuting at Yahoo

By now, you’ve no doubt heard that Marissa Mayer is ending telecommuting at Yahoo. There’s been lots of opinion written about why what she’s doing is wrong and lots written about why what she’s doing is right. In general, I think that the research supports the plethora of pros to working from home, but of course, a blanket generalization across all situations stating that working from home is better than being in the office would be near-sighted. There are two articles that I want to highlight.

The first doesn’t specifically state that what Mayer’s doing is “right,” but does lend credence to her decision:

So when Mayer decrees seven months into the job that she wants people to, you know, physically show up at work instead of telecommuting — or else — I’m pretty confident this reflects a data-driven decision more than a cavalier command. In all likelihood, Mayer has taken good, hard looks at Yahoo’s top 250 performers and top 20 projects and come to her own conclusions about who’s creating real value — and how — in her company. She knows who her best people are.

Certainly, this makes sense. It’s unlikely that the executive team of Yahoo woke up one day and said that we need to bring those telecommuters into the office because they’re not working hard enough!

The second is of the opinion that Mayer and Yahoo might be erring in their decision:

The working-from-home ban also reveals that Mayer doesn’t know how to measure her workers’ performance. Swisher quotes a source who says that Mayer has been “irked about Yahoo parking lots that are slow to fill in the morning and quick to empty by 5 p.m.” This is a classic bad-manager misconception—that a full parking lot means people are getting stuff done. And it’s easy for employees to game that system. If my boss makes it clear that she’s looking for my car in the parking lot in the evenings and on weekends, all I’ve got to do to get noticed is spend a lot of time at the office. Sure, this will ruin the rest of my life, but otherwise it’s easy—as long as I’m in the office, even if I’m just playing solitaire, I know I’ll be making a good impression.

An important point, indeed.

As I said earlier, in looking specifically at this situation at Yahoo, I don’t know which side I come down on. In fact, it’s really impossible to know, unless I could get a hold of the data that Mayer used to make this decision. That being said, based on the research that supports working from home, part of me wonders if the data that Mayer used to make this decision isn’t accurately capturing what Yahoo thinks that it is.

If You’re Sick – Rest – It’s as Simple as That

I’ve spent more than half of the last week, taking up residence on the couch watching movies and old episodes of TV series ( and , if you’re curious). I wasn’t , but I also wasn’t myself. I was — what most of the world would call — sick. I honestly couldn’t remember the last time being sick, so I suppose it was kind of a ‘gift’ to get to experience what it was like to be sick again. There were some definite takeaways from being sick (that I didn’t remember from previous times I’d been sick).

Most of the time, when people are sick, they try to “push through” their illness. “Oh, I”m fine.” “I’ll be ok.” “Don’t worry about me.” Given the and the staying above 8% for the first time since the early ’90s, it’s not altogether surprising that people would try to push through their illness. Nobody wants to lose their job – much less, because they were sick. But have we considered the possibility that one might lose their job because they are working when they’re sick?

In a study published in the ten years ago, researchers came to the that, “In sicker hospitalized patients, performance on seven tasks of judgment was similar to that among children younger than 10 years of age.” Not that I don’t think 10-year olds are smart, but do you really want the 10-year old version of yourself trying to do your job? Probably not.

Another interesting study on this topic comes from research in , which is often associated with chronic fatigue syndrome. Researchers attempted to see if there were cognitive disorders within Fibromylagia. They used standardized neuropsychological tests and were able to conclude:

Compared with the Spanish population for age, sex and educational level, FM [Fibromyalgia] patients showed high frequency of cognitive dysfunction which could be included as mild cognitive disorders according to the [World Health Organization] (1992).

Like I said earlier, I don’t remember the last time I was sick, but this time, I noticed a definitive decrease in my cognitive function. It was kind of like feeling , but without the euphoria that most people associate with drunkenness. My partner would ask me simple questions and I couldn’t think up a response. It was a very sobering experience. In doing the background research for this post, I was surprised to not find more articles about impaired cognitive functioning when sick. Maybe it’s something that researchers aren’t interested in. I suspect, it’s more a function of . Which corporation would want to do research on this?

Some shifting the workweek from 5 days to 4, and some have even provided research that this is to our . While I am an advocate of the reduction of work, not in this way. I don’t think we should be working less days and more hours in those days. I think we should be working fewer hours. I’ll elaborate on this more when I address labor in my series on in America. Suffice to say, the harder we work ourselves, the more likely we are to breakdown. Humans are not machines, but we can use this analogy to understand the point. Eventually, from wear and tear, a machine is bound to breakdown (just as a human is, especially when it is overworked). If you use a machine when it instead needs to be mended, there could be irreparable damage. The same goes for a human. When one is sick, and one works, there could be irreparable damage.

What Will They Think Of Us?

I don’t really remember much of the history I was taught in grade school or high school for that matter. Having been raised in the , I was taught a lot about the history of Canada. From what I remember, there was something about and , and that’s about all I can remember. Oh, one more thing. I remember one of my 8th grade teachers being really passionate about . Some may think less of me for not knowing the history of one of the countries I am a citizen in (and more importantly, grew up in), and to some degree they may be right.

During my undergrad, I took one in history that was called, “.” So, for 16 weeks, 3 hours a week, we covered everything that happened in the world up to the year 1500. Needless to say, I’m sure some things were brushed over. I do, however, remember talking about , , and . I remember covering the , the various kings, and even the . As a class, we really went through the material quite quickly and out of necessity. I wonder what future generations, say, 9 or 10 generations from now, will be studying when they look back on our time?

Will the scold us for being too concerned with our technology? Will they look back and laugh because we killed each other because we wanted money? How about if we killed because we looked different from each other? Will they wonder how we ever lasted so long working 40+ hour work weeks? Will they laugh at the idea of a “work week”? Will they be confused as to why we didn’t treat each other as equals? Will they be confused at how we live with nature? Will they look at our relationship to nature and wonder how we were ever able to get nutritious food from the Earth? Will they read with terror about how we didn’t treat the Earth (read: ) with more care? Will they wonder if we really knew what we were doing this whole time? Will they think we were “that” generation?

I didn’t realize the value of a survey course until long after I had taken it. The very definition of a survey course is that you’re getting a brief overview of a lot of material. I think it is important to have this overview of information to be able to make better decisions about things. Having an overview affords one the ability to better recognize how things interact with each other. For instance, one example from this could be the drive to make more money causes the 40+ hour workweek to be not only pushed from bosses, but welcomed by employees (as they can make more money).

As I remember back to these times I’ve had thinking about history, I wonder what future generations will think of us. How will we fit into the bigger picture of history? Will we be viewed favorably? Will we look foolish? Will we be commended as the generation that ended hunger? What about as the generation that ended war? How about the generation that in one felt swoop, lifted every man, woman, or child, out of poverty, and into a state of abundance? I believe that we can do this. I believe that we have the power and we have the technology.

Given that we have the ability to solve so many of the world’s problems — I wonder what they will think of us… if we don’t.

Figure Out What You Love – Then Do It

“Our work is how we create and contribute and it’s how we make the biggest difference with our lives.” – Mike Dooley

Often times, I hear about people who don’t enjoy their chosen career. They get up in the morning, realize it’s a work day, and immediately, their attitude about the day takes a downward spiral. They clean themselves up, eat some breakfast, and head off to work. On their way to work, all they can think about is how much they’d rather be spending their time doing something else. So why don’t they?

Maybe the role models in their life were such that they thought they had to live through jobs that they didn’t like. Maybe they witnessed their mother or father coming home after being at work all day only to complain about how much they completely abhor their job. Maybe they didn’t have any role models at all and they are just modelling what they have seen their peers do or maybe… they picked it up from watching movies and/or TV.

While where they learned this habit is an important factor, I think it’s more important to note that their continued usage of this habit when presented with stimuli to the contrary.

There are lots of feel-good stories out there about people who change their careers midstream from something they despised to something that they love. There are oodles of books on the shelves explaining to people how to leave their current job and go work in a job they love. I’ve read quite a few of them and many of them seem to start with the same premise:

FIGURE OUT WHAT YOU LOVE

This may seem obvious, but authors wouldn’t continue to make money through books aimed at people who don’t like what they do.

There are lots of excuses that you’ll hear bandied about by people who are in jobs they hate, but believe they can’t leave their job because of the money or some other reason. For those people, those reasons are absolutely true – because they believe them. They think that if they quit their job and try to find a new one, they’ll lose out on money they could have been making.

This seems to be a fair point, but I wonder if those people consider the price at which it is costing their mind, body, and spirit to continue to work at a job they don’t like? They spend all day in a ‘low-energy’ vibe and then come home only to need to ‘relax’ by watching TV or doing something completely mind-numbing, only to get up the next day and do it all over again.

If, instead, those people made 20% less money and worked in a job that they loved, they’d be ‘excited’ about the day and enjoy their time at work. They’d come home happy from what they’d accomplished and not need numb their senses through TV or some other form. This positive cycle would continue day after day, rather than the other version of people continuously getting worse and worse.

The jumping off point, for some, contains lots of fear. How will I make money doing something I love? Is it possible? Where will I find this job? All valid questions, but all questions that are based in fear. I believe there is an element of trust in this scenario. When someone trusts that doing something they love to do will reward them – it will. It’s a bit like a self-fulfilling prophecy, I know, but again, there are many examples of people acting in this way and being rewarded.

When it comes to career, the only clear choice is something you cherish doing that will make you happy regardless of the size of your check.