The continuing political crisis in Kenya, as reported at The Independent among other places, continues to surprise some and disappoint many who have been to Kenya for business or pleasure. Having visited Kenya 12 times since 2004, to attempt to offer hope to refugees at the Kakuma Refugee Camp and to serve as a resource to leaders seeking a sustainable resolution to the, until late 2007, somewhat latent conflict in Kenya, I have been disappointed yet not surprised by the recent dispute between Kenya’s President and Prime Minister. This time the conflict appears to be over the authority of the Prime Minister to discipline Cabinet Ministers; this may be the symptom rather than the underlying problem. As with 2008’s post-election violence in Kenya and other episodes of conflict in the world today, a primary issue seems to be ineffective leadership.
In recent research for my doctoral dissertation, a leadership model emerged from the consensus among 375 leaders in Uganda’s Acholi sub-region that may apply to the Kenya context. Leaders, by what they say and do, and by what they do not say and do not do, define the beginning and end of conflict, the resolution of issues, and the reconciliation of interests and of individuals. Leaders divide people and reintegrate them.
Since the current economic downturn began, roughly coinciding with the announced collapse of Lehman Brothers, pundits and politicians have spoken frequently of the need for job creation as an essential component of economic recovery. Creating work and creating jobs seem to be two different, even if related, objectives and outcomes.
Creation of work implies a shorter horizon than creation of a china job. I create work when I identify one or more related or unrelated tasks for which compensation is appropriate for one or more individuals. Somehow a job implies longevity, if not comparative permanence, to the work. The tasks may be the same, but the duration differs.
If I want to put people to work, I simply need to identify the tasks, the skill set, the appropriate compensation, and the funding source. If I want to put people to work, the only missing components are the identification of an available labor source and the hiring of a sufficient number of individuals from the identified labor pool.
If I want to create jobs, I have a different challenge. For decades, employers have used automation and process improvement to reduce the labor content of their products and services. Some employers in some cases concluded that outsourcing or off-shoring certain jobs or functions had financial advantages that could yield financial advantages in the short or long term. In the interest of improved profitability or price competitiveness, employers made direct and indirect processes leaner with respect to labor and other resources.
I encourage leaders and people who think about what it means to be a leader during the current challenging times to complete the following survey. It is long; it may, however, provide useful insight into the roles, pracitces, and behaviors of leaders as we begin the second decade of the 21st century.
Thank you in advance for your participation in this current research of mine.
In the January 25, 2010 issue of Time, Nina Easton questioned the advisability extending jobless benefits indefinitely. Ms. Easton suggested that allowing eligibility for periods approaching two years may extend unemployment while providing a modest cushion to the unemployed who would prefer to be working. Ms. Easton’s article raises in my mind the question of the extent to which jobless benefits and job creation and economic stimulus are, and should be, synchronized.
Why is nothing said about creating sustainable jobs in sustainable new ventures that have two special objectives in addition to those you would find in most business enterprises: meeting an acknowledged need in the community and providing long-term employment to the chronically unemployed and under-employed?
The official jobs created data at Recovery.gov is categorized as recipient reported or agency reported. Recipient reported data is categorized as contracts, grants, and loans. Agency reported data is reported by ten individual departments: CNCS, DHS, DOC, DOD, DOE, DOI, DOJ, DOL, DOS, and DOT. As of 12/31/09, the federal government’s various recovery programs reported 20,368 contracts, 203,010 grants, and 986 loans.
Of the 20,368 contracts, 9,225 contracts provided no indication of jobs created and 1,437 (12.9% of the 11,143 and 7.1% of the total) that did provide job creation figures indicated fewer than 0.5 jobs created as a result of the contract. The 20,368 contracts totaled $25,081,315,704 in federal government funding to create 33,941.1 jobs for an average of $ 738,965.91 per job. The 5,310 contracts reporting 0.5 jobs created or more totaled $15,501,184,696.22 in funding and 33,684.4 jobs created for an average of $460,188.83/job while the 1,437 contracts reporting less than the equivalent of one-half of a job created received $855,094,999.83 in funding and created 256.7 jobs for an average of $3,330,976.59/job.
After 25 years of speaking with companies about the work associated with positions and about improving the productivity and other metrics associated with those positions, I continue to be intrigued by the on-going conversation about the number of “jobs created or saved” by various economic stimulus initiatives in the United States. I continue to hold the position that people in Washington DC either have no idea what they mean by the phrase “jobs created or saved” or they mean something entirely different than most people I talk to in the private sector.
A job is the work somebody does to earn money. On the surface getting people jobs appears to be a good thing. Get people to work. Get them paid for doing work. Get the money into the economy to pay for other goods and services. In the short run, creating work for people to get paid for doing may be necessary and appropriate. Longer term, however, shanghai job creation may not be sufficient.
One challenge with job, or work, creation by the federal government is that the sustainability of the work may rely on the continuation of funding by the federal government unless the work created has its basis in the underlying economy. Ideally, for a federal government job creation program to be sustainable and, in the long run, a good thing, the created jobs should fill sustained needs within the respective communities. Jobs associated with a stimulus-funded construction project may be a good thing short term, especially for the individuals hired by the firm, but when the project is complete what work fills the new void for those individuals?