Thought vs. Performative: I wouldn’t hire 95% of people cheesing on LinkedIn …

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In all my years of work, my friends never knew what I did.  I was like the character ‘Tommy’ on the old Martin show.  No one knew what ‘Tommy’, played by the late Thomas Mikal Ford, did for a living.

And I liked it that way.  I always believed that it was the individual’s personality and values that were of tantamount importance in a personal relationship.  That view, however, should end at the doorway to your office building.

What the Great Pandemic exposed that too many people were getting away with leveraging their personalities at work.  Master networkers had been building books of contacts versus books of business.  Nothing wrong with that as we need strategic partnerships in the work place in order to exchange ideas and garner advocates for the ideas we want to sell.  But in a shifting global competitive production environment, is that going to be enough?

The images I see on digital social networks like LinkedIn, a division of Microsoft (NasdaqGS: MFST), tell me that selling personality is given higher priority by some employees and too many job hunters and college graduates. 

From a resource perspective, I have very little to no knowledge about a LinkedIn subscriber’s productive capacity.  It is exceedingly rare where job hunters display their portfolios i.e., book of past business, former clients, products they have designed or built, etc., It is even worse for recent graduates who share, at the most, that their faith in a higher power or the Flying Spaghetti Monster got them through a dissertation or what not.

Sharing job promotions or graduation celebrations is being used by subscribers to digital platforms as a derivative of the only asset that matters: the ability to critically think and produce a good or service that solves a problem.  These performative acts provide me no insights into whether these individuals can critically think and provide solutions.

It is not difficult, given today’s digital technology, to establish one’s self as a thought leader.  For example, Mark Cohen, chairman of The Digital Legal Exchange, encourages every lawyer to blog. Why? Because digital content is easier to access than law review journals gathering dust on a library shelf.  More importantly, a law blog provides the lawyer the opportunity to share knowledge that demonstrates her ability as a thought driver. 

Thought is the genesis of everything in our world, physical and metaphysical.  It underlies insights and innovation.  It is the most valuable currency.

I think if America is to compete effectively in a changing global environment, it will have to severely de-emphasize performative activity of its labor force and promote the thought sector.  We are in a new era of work.  It is time to celebrate the thinker.

Alton Drew

11 June 2022     

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