The Luddites were 19th-century English textile workers (or self-employed weavers) who feared the end of their trade and protested against newly developed labour economizing technologies, primarily between 1811 and 1816.
The stocking frames, spinning frames, and power looms introduced during the Industrial Revolution threatened to replace them with less-skilled, low-wage labourers, leaving them without work. Because of this, they reasoned that owners of automated capital would leave them, as well as the majority of the working class, powerless before capitalists who would pursue cheaper labour than they could afford.
Since then, Luddism has become a byword for opposition to technology (erroneously as Luddites were not anti-technology). This was based on the idea that automated labor will displace human workers, leaving them without any method of gaining income. The Luddite fallacy, claims that automation destroys jobs.
However, this has been proven false.
Throughout history, the use of labour-saving machines has led to the creation of more jobs that had not been possible before. This requires learning new skills, and thus creates a tree of employment that extends far beyond the original displaced workers.
As automation becomes more complex, higher-level skills become more sought after and valuable, and thus even more jobs arise. This works to improve the lives of labourers at large and expand the economy. It can be summarized as thus -- as technology becomes more complex, the number of jobs needed rises and the skill-set required expands.
Josh argues that the introduction of technologies are squeezing sales margins and decreasing a persons ability to make money so we should upend compensation structures to ensure the lives of our very own luddites are not impacted.
This type of argument is dangerous. It promotes individual mediocrity.
Those of us who work in dealerships know people who make 300k a year and never touch the CRM. If technology is truly the enemy of commission sales then these people should be dead on the battlefield. Yet here they are, thriving. On the flip side we also know people who live in the CRM and make 30k a year. This leads me to believe that technology does not breed better workers.
Our stores are flooded with disinterested, low skilled workers because we’ve allowed it for years. We believe that by having more employees, we will always have more coverage for the ifs and whens.
But those days are few and far between.
As technology has allowed our customers to become self informed and self qualify, the need for Luddite order takers has decreased. Adjusting compensation to non commission is simply a stop gap to the real elephant in the room.
The need for many lower skilled luddites is decreasing while the need for less but more highly skilled workers is growing.
Technology is not the enemy of a commission. Technology is the infrastructure that gives the skilled worker what they need to be more effective while giving the organization the security it needs to be relevant.
“Humans who do not (don’t have the wherewithal to) control those machines can only compete among each other to deliver an ever-decreasing slice of lower-utility goods and services. And they are compensated — given a slice of the pie — based on the steadily smaller amount of utility they can deliver. Left to itself, the market will provide many with a sub-subsistence level of compensation.” - The Luddite Fallacy Fallacy
Thus, leaving our industry with the cream of the crop and filtering out all the fluff.
If the efficacy of our industry is going to grow, the elimination of commission sales plans is not its linchpin.
This post orginally shown at The Next Up Blog