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从未来学家到蜡笔传教士,那些奇怪头衔

更新时间:2015-10-30 11:20:46 来源:纽约时报中文网 作者:佚名

Your Job Title Is … What?
从未来学家到蜡笔传教士,那些奇怪头衔

Late last summer, I traveled to San Francisco to give a talk at a conference on corporate communications. There, one speaker identified herself as a “corporate storyteller.” Her job, she explained, is to help companies develop a “humanizing narrative.”

夏末时,我去旧金山在一个关于企业沟通的会议上演讲。有个发言人说自己是“公司讲故事员”。她说自己的工作就是帮助公司建立一种“人性化叙事”。

Next up was a “story strategist,” who advises brands on how technology can help them tell such narratives. Both used pictures of cave paintings in their presentations to emphasize humankind’s ancient connection to the craft.

接下来发言的还有个“故事战略师”,他为品牌就科技如何帮助他们建立人性化叙事提出建议。两人在演讲中都用了洞穴画的图片,强调人类自古以来就会讲故事。

Batting third was Robert Scoble, a “futurist” at a cloud computing company called Rackspace. Mr. Scoble showed slides of virtual reality headsets, and a device that looked something like a TV remote control that will provide detailed information about objects around you.

第三个人是“未来学家”罗伯特·斯科伯(Robert Scoble),他在云计算公司Rackspace工作。斯科伯展示了虚拟现实头戴式装置的幻灯,还有一个有点像电视遥控器的装置,它可以提供你周围各种物品的细节信息。

“You can aim it at a box of Cheerios, or even a dog,” he told the audience, then referred to the annual Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, saying, “It’s going to be huge at C.E.S.”

“你可以用它对准一盒麦片,甚至是一条狗,”他对观众们说,然后又谈起拉斯维加斯的年度消费者电子产品展(C.E.S.),“它在展会上一定会非常火爆的。”

I don’t mean to judge — my own job is hardly less opaque. I am the vice president for content at Contently, a company that helps brands expand their content online and publishes commentary on the changing media landscape (including that of The New York Times). Or, as my mom tells her friends, “Sam works for one of those start-up companies that nobody knows what it does.”

我不想去评判他们,我自己的工作也同样晦涩。我是Contently公司的内容部门副总裁,我们公司专门帮助品牌扩展他们的在线内容,帮助他们就不断变化的传媒界(包括《纽约时报》)发表评论。或者正如我妈妈对朋友们说的,“山姆在一家创业公司工作,就是那种没人知道他们在干啥的创业公司。”

Me and everybody else, it seems.

我和其他人好像都是这样。

I have had meetings with brand ambassadors (a bit like celebrity endorsers, but with more tattoos). I have coffee with thought leaders (those with “authority” in a given field) and customer happiness managers. (Your guess is as good as mine, but I assume that it used to be called “customer service.”)

我曾经和“品牌大使”们一起开会(他们有点像品牌的名人代言人,不过身上文身更多)。我曾经和“思想领袖”一起喝咖啡(他们在特定领域内很有“权威”);还有什么“客户幸福主管”(我也不知道,不过我觉得这个职位原本的名字好像叫“客服”)。

A few months ago, I walked into a company where the sign on the receptionist’s desk identified her as the “head of office experience.” A friend worked in a company whose human resources manager was called, simply, “VP, people.”

几个月前,我来到一家公司,接待员桌上的牌子说她是“体验办公室负责人”。还有个朋友,他公司里的人力资源部主管被称为“副总,人”(VP, people)。

And don’t get me started on how many “influencers” and “trend strategists” I have met, few of whom can describe with any degree of coherence what it is they do each day. I bet their moms don’t know either.

更不必提我见过多少“影响者”或“潮流战略师”了,他们大都说不清楚自己每天干什么。我估计他们的妈妈也说不清楚。

“I’m personally branding myself according to what I want to do in the world,” said Maya Zuckerman, a transmedia producer (that is, a producer who works across digital platforms) whose LinkedIn profile identifies her as a “Media Entrepreneur, Story Architect, Culture Hacker.” “But to be honest I change the title on my LinkedIn every few months and try to see what hits.”

“我根据自己在这个世界上想做的事来打造自己,”玛娅·扎克曼(Maya Zuckerman)说,她是个“跨媒体制作人”(意思是说她在各种数码平台上担任制作人),她在Linkedln档案上描述自己是“媒体企业家、故事架构师、文化黑客”。“但诚实地说,我每隔几个月就在Linkedln上换一换职位头衔,看看哪个管用。”

My younger brother is a lawyer, with no such issues.

我弟弟是个律师,他就没有这种麻烦。

Job titles as we traditionally know them — vice president for marketing, or East Coast sales manager — emerged in the 1930s as a way to define roles in organizations that were becoming increasingly complex, said Peter Cappelli, the director of the Center for Human Resources at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania.

宾夕法尼亚大学沃顿学院人力资源中心主管彼得·卡佩利(Peter Cappelli)说,传统意义上的职位名称――“市场部副主管”、“东海岸销售主管”之类――是从20世纪30年代兴起的,用来描述人们在日益复杂的公司结构中扮演的不同角色。

That started to change in the 1990s, when employees began to be concerned with how their job titles might be interpreted.

到20世纪90年代,事情开始发生变化,雇员们开始关心自己的头衔可能被如何诠释。

“There was a time,” Dr. Cappelli said, “when employees actually had two sets of business cards: one that identified you within the company, and another for people on the outside.”

卡佩利博士说:“有一个时期,雇员们有两套商业名片:一个是你在公司内部的身份,另一个是给公司之外的人看的。”

These days, two business cards would hardly be enough. Employment is ever more fragmented, freelance, entrepreneurial and digitally focused, and there are plenty of jobs that never existed before.

如今,两套商业名片估计已经不够了。雇员们日益碎片化,兼职化、创业化、数码化,有很多职务是前所未有的。

In many cases, the roles are changing faster than the titles can even reflect.

在很多时候,角色转变得太快,职务头衔还来不及反映出这种变化。

“I don’t really know anyone with a traditional title anymore,” said Leslie Merinoff, a former brand manager whose current title at the Noble Experiment NYC, the Brooklyn-based rum distillery, is “Thing 2” — a reference to “The Cat in the Hat.”

“我身边已经没有拥有传统职务头衔的人了,”莱斯利·莫林诺夫(Leslie Merinoff)说,她曾经是品牌经理,如今,在布鲁克林的朗姆酒酿酒厂“纽约尊贵体验”公司,她的职务是“Thing 2”,这个名字是从《戴帽子的猫》(The Cat in the Hat)里来的。

“My boss was having a hard time figuring out what the titles should be, so she told me to come up with one that would encompass everything I’m doing,” Ms. Merinoff explained. “And Dr. Seuss had a really big influence on my life.”

“我的老板分不清应该用哪个头衔,所以她让我起一个能概括我干的所有事情的名字,”莫林诺夫说,“而苏斯博士(Dr. Seuss,《戴帽子的猫》原作者)对我的影响真的很大。”

The company was founded in 2012, which may help explain the laissez-faire attitude. Start-ups often bear the brunt of the blame for the sheer range of bizarre jobs, and often for good reason. They start small, with little to no structure and roles that shift week to week as the company evolves.

公司是2012年成立的,所以有着这种自由放任的态度。创业公司往往首当其冲地被指责弄出了各种稀奇古怪的职位,但他们往往有着很好的理由。这些公司起步时都很小,几乎没有结构和角色分工可言,而且角色还随着公司发展不断变化。

In such a company, you can go from being the chief marketing officer in a morning meeting to the head of business development in an afternoon sales call.

在这样的公司里,你上午开会时可能是市场部负责人,下午的一个销售电话中就变成商业发展部经理了。

In that kind of environment, a title seems like at best an afterthought and at worst a hindrance. (Early-stage start-ups are often populated by iconoclastic types, as well — which may help explain the preponderance of “wizards,” “ninjas” and “hackers.”)

在这种环境下,职务头衔说好听的是一种事后追加,说不好听的,就是一种阻碍(早期创业者往往更喜欢打破习俗的名字,所以现在才有了那么多名叫“巫师”、“忍者”、“黑客”的职务)。

But mystifying job titles have spread far beyond the start-up universe.

但是把职务头衔弄得神神秘秘的做法已经不仅仅限于创业者的世界了。

A search on LinkedIn reveals that over 55,000 people have the word “influencer” in their titles; there are more than 74,000 brand architects and 35,156 professional evangelists. (LinkedIn doesn’t break down how many of those evangelists are associated with an actual religious congregation, but I suspect it is relatively few.)

一项在Linkedln上做的调查表明,超过55000人的职务中都有“影响者”这个词;另外还有超过74000个“品牌架构师”和35156个“职业传道士”(Linkedln上并未标明这些“传道士”当中究竟有多少人同真正的宗教团体有关,但我猜不会有几个的)。

Now, certainly, there is a bit of willful fakery at work. I have known a company where an intern moonlit as the head of marketing, and another where an employee was the editorial director … of an editorial team of one. And there is a whole universe of solo practitioners in a variety of business arts who have a vested interest in making themselves sound as impressive as possible.

当然,有一些是带有故意欺骗的性质。我知道有个公司的市场部经理是个兼职实习生,还有个公司里,有人担任“总编”,但编辑团队只有一个人。各行各业里都有大堆光杆司令为了既得利益,把自己的头衔弄得尽可能好看。

“If given the opportunity, why wouldn’t I choose the most senior title possible?” joked Chris Mohney, the former editor in chief of Tumblr. (He had a team of three.)

“如果有机会选个头衔,我为什么不给自己选择这之中的最高的呢?”Tumblr的前总编克里斯·马赫尼(Chris Mohney)玩笑道(他的编辑团队有三个人)。

Yet it is also true that changing titles reflect real shifts in how businesses operate and, let’s be honest, a very real need to reimagine traditional roles, especially in jobs that involve managing people or that require creativity, according to Dr. Cappelli.

卡佩利博士说,变化的职务头衔也反映出商务运作的真实变化,诚实地说,我们也的确需要重新考虑传统角色,特别是那些涉及到人力管理,或者需要创意的工作。

Sure, it may cause confusion for those used to more traditional gigs. One journalist I know went as far as to create an FAQ page on her website to describe a new job at a tech company.

诚然,这会给习惯了传统职业的人带来困扰。我认识的一个记者甚至在自己的网站上建立了一个问答页面,用来描述技术公司里的一项新职务。

But an inflated title can also be a signal that a company is taking a given function seriously, Dr. Cappelli said. That woman with the Skrillex haircut and “Crayon Evangelist” on her business card may just have the ear of the C.E.O.

但是言过其实的职务头衔也可能是公司严肃对待相关职能的信号,卡佩利博士说。那个留着史奇雷克斯(Skrillex)发型,名片上写着“蜡笔传教士”的女人很可能是首席执行官眼前的红人呢。

As for myself, I will admit that I have drawn my fair share of Venn diagrams on whiteboards and had plenty of meetings about meetings — none of which would have helped my mom understand my job at all.

至于我,我承认我在白板上画过不少公平份额的维恩图表,也开过不少的会,但我妈妈还是理解不了我的工作到底是干什么的。

“I think the vice president of the content is like something from ‘The Phantom Tollbooth’ ”she told me a few weeks ago. “Like the guy that runs the alphabet and is in charge of the letters that make the words. You’re like the head of the alphabet.”

“我觉得内容副总裁有点像《幻像天堂》(The Phantom Tollbooth)里的东西,”几星期前,她对我说,“就像里面那个管理字母表,管理那些组成单词的字母的人。你就是字母表的头子。”

She paused.

她顿了一下。

“Well, I guess the vice president of the alphabet.”

“我觉得应该叫‘字母表副总裁’吧。”

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