As response to the rising competitiveness of industrialization, companies adhere to this process of further subdividing work that is both advantageous to organizations and transformative to their protocol. Coined as hyperspecialization, it is a manner of segmenting work into smaller tasks that are performed by numerous and highly specialized workers.
Contrary to its euphony, highly specialized workers may not mean as good as it sounds. Workers who are “highly specialized” translate to workers who contribute to only a single portion for the whole of the task. That means if your agency is planning a concert for let’s say Adele #wishfulthinking and you are a badass at making presentations, a polished and visually appealing PowerPoint may be your only contribution to the project—even though you can contribute to the planning or to the concert’s logistical process. Because work is subdivided into bits and because communications have now become so cheap, companies easily hire people who are more competent for a particular part of a job.
Same protocol, new technology
Harvard Business Review sees hyperspecialization as a new #BigIdea. But we cannot disregard its similarities with traditional management. Industrial revolution during the early 20th century also gave rise to breaking of work into smaller parts so that workers have a special task in a single operation (e.g. Adam Smith pin factory metaphor). That time as well, managers hold more power as to allocate whom to do what without or with little questioning in return. And through time we have learned that employees should not be regarded as machines because it is unproductive, counter-innovative, and ultimately, dehumanizing.
Hyperspecialization therefore promises to commit the same mistakes that we have already learned through time—only today with new labels, with more advanced technology, and with higher convenience.
In another perspective, rigid division of labor probably did not work during the earlier days because we did not have the proper technology to functionalize this type of procedure and early managers were not as skilful as managers are today. And as employees now have different priority as employees today (organizational loyalty is not as highly regarded now as it was before, so it is easier for employees today to leave their jobs once they get bored with it), maybe it is really time for the newly repackaged Hyperspecialization to work.
Hyperspecialization in the Philippines
With communication technology, it would not be hard for giant multinational corporations to knock on our doorsteps to seek for employees to do their menial jobs. It is then a challenge for legislators to extend the rights of these workers so that they will be protected to the potential perils that this “new age” will give. #