Feb 282017

What does the future of work really look like? Management consultant Rob Gaunt has some bad new for those looking forward to a future of leisure.

In his book Eliminate, Automate, Offshore; Gaunt looks at how the modern workplace is changing and the priorities of managements and boards in a competitive, globalised world.

Gaunt, who describes himself as a ‘corporate axe man’ warns the reader “you may not approve or like what I do, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t going to happen.”

To start the book, Gaunt gives a potted history of automation in the workforce and how processes can be improved by better management and new technology. He cites his local council garbage collection service which not so long ago would have required eight or nine workers per truck now only needing two.

This trend is coming to the rest of the workforce, Gaunt warns, adding that many of those jobs that can’t be automated can be outsourced.

“When I walk into an open plan office, I look and listen to the activity; if the overwhelming noise is of keyboard strokes rather than human voices, it’s a good clue that much of the functions being performed aren’t location dependent.”

Gaunt goes on to describe how effective outsourcing works with an emphasis on the client having to document their processes before shifting functions or departments to outside contractors as well as the importance of properly scoping and understanding an agreement.

Towards the end of the book, Gaunt examines what roles are likely to survive in higher cost economies along with the skills today’s children are going to need if they are going to avoid being ‘digital roadkill’ in an automated society.

Overall the book is a good read to understand the direction of today’s workforce and the factors driving it. It isn’t a pretty tale.

If anything; Eliminate, Automate, Offshore may be somewhat optimistic about the effects on the skilled trades, professional and managerial sectors as Gaunt probably underestimates how robotics and artificial intelligence are advancing.

Should you read the book, you may want to give your kids – and their teachers – a good talking too. The axe man is ruthless and he’s coming for many of our jobs.

  One Response to “Confessions of a corporate axe man”

  1. Heading off to Dymocks to find a copy – or is that a bit 20th Century?

    Having just ‘fessed up to not having read Rob’s tome I’m mindful of falling into the trap of pre-judging it. But I will repeat the mantra that the focus on cost take-outs rather than revenue opportunity has become a depressing and ultimately zero-sum construct that has served very few outside the oligopoly well.

    Further we have some pretty naive conclusions being drawn. Walk into my office on a Monday morning to hear keyboards humming at full bore – and then later in the day many of us disappearing into client meetings. I was witness to the somewhat unedifying bollocking of a fellow service provider who’d elected to call into a must attend session with a client a week or so back. Client contact and being fully prepared is critical to excellent service delivery – and something outsources generally do poorly – despite their protestations to the contrary. Get used to crappy service or endless contract variations if you want everything out of Bangalore/Hyderabad/Chennai on the cheap.

    With regard to the garbos…….. I was talking to a well-travelled mate last year about that in the Singapore/Dubai context. They haven’t done it. Social cohesion and all that. Not much point the CEO getting an ever-bigger bonus if his house gets burnt down, is there!

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