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    « Paul Revere is Terrible and the Unintended Consequences of Games | Main | From the Friendly Skies: A Lesson in Workforce Planning »
    Wednesday
    Nov142012

    The Future Performance Enhanced Workplace

    We all know, and if you are like me, have probably grown sick of, the Lance Armstrong saga.

    The long story is really long, (and about as boring as a 200 mile bicycle race), but the tale more or less breaks down like this:

    1. Armstrong begins his cycling career and has some initial success

    2. Armstrong is diagnosed with and successfully battles testicular cancer 

    3. Armstrong wins more cycling championships - including 7 consecutive Tour de France titles

    4. Lots of folks think he must have been 'cheating', i.e. using performance enhancing drugs or other banned non-natural methods to have such sustained dominance and excellence

    5. Armstrong denies all accusations and charges - primarily relying on the fact that he never failed any actual drug tests

    6. Eventually, and in the face of what they claim to be overwhelming evidence of Armstrong's guilt, the cycling authorities strip Armstrong of his cycling victories due to this (still alleged) cheating

    Your reaction to the Armstrong story, and similar stories about the use of (usually) banned Performance Enhancing Drugs by athletes in other sports like baseball, football, and track might be to simply shrug it off as a 'sports' story, and not particularly relevant to the real world, and certainly to the real workplace.

    Or you might be some kind of 'purist' and feel a measure of outrage, indignation, or disappointment in how Armstong, (allegedly), and other 'cheating' competitors have sullied the games they play, and made it difficult if not impossible for honest, 'clean' athletes to have a chance to compete on a level ground.

    Or perhaps you may be a realist or cynic and conclude that Armstrong was a cheater, but so were all the other top racers, and that in order to compete at the highest levels of the sport that is what was required. If you feel that way, then you probably still respect Armstong's accomplishments - cheater or not, he did win all those races.

    But what if the ethical and medical issues surrounding the use of Performance Enhancing Drugs move from the world of sports, and into more mundane and routine forms of endeavor, and more workplaces, maybe even one that looks like yours?

    Check out a recent piece from the BBC titled 'Concern over 'souped-up' human race', which describes how Performance Enhancing Drugs might potentially play a more significant role in the workplace of the future.  From the BBC article:

    Four professional bodies - the Academy of Medical Sciences, the British Academy, the Royal Academy of Engineering and the Royal Society - say that while human enhancement technologies might improve our performance and aid society, their use raise serious ethical, philosophical, regulatory and economic issues.

    In a joint report, they warn that there is an "immediate need" for debate around the potential harms.

    Chairwoman of the report's steering committee Prof Genevra Richardson said: "There are a range of technologies in development and in some cases already in use that have the potential to transform our workplaces - for better or for worse."

    There may be an argument for lorry drivers, surgeons and airline pilots to use enhancing drugs to avoid tiredness, for example.

    But, in the future, is there a danger that employers and insurers will make this use mandatory, the committee asks.

    An interesting take and one that poses new and more important ethical and moral questions in the workplace than whether or not Roger Clemens should be elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame.

    Could you see a future workplace where your front line staff is enticed or even required to take or leverage some kind of supplement to be more alert or mentally sharp?

    As the workforce gets older, could you envision the use of workplace Performance Enhancing Drugs become more prevalent?

    And in this potential future Performance Enhanced workplace what about individuals that want to work 'clean?'

    Or is this all just crazy talk?

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