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dbaur31
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Re: Minneapolis - St. Paul Business News (TARGET talk here)

Postby dbaur31 » March 10th, 2015, 2:57 pm

Not sure why I'm commenting, but I guess some part of me just wants to. I left Target last July after just shy of 3 years, not specifically because of the problems people are speculating about but because I wanted to go in a completely different career direction. I will say that the Brooklyn Park move was sort of the straw that broke the camel's back for me. I was sent up there last March and only lasted about 10 weeks before giving my notice. I hated it, but then again I live in the North Loop and am commenting on a forum for urbanism nerds. I took the job originally in large part BECAUSE it was downtown.

From about six months in I felt we were really management heavy in TTS (IT), and it seemed it was that way elsewhere as well. My role involved looking at how we staffed projects, kept track of their progress, and shared that data with both senior leadership and across teams. Looking around my own team seemed completely redundant, and I felt for a long time like our group needed to completely change focus or just plain go away. We had really good people, but not a real strong purpose. When the first small batch of layoffs hit in fall 2013, I really believed it was just a small sign of bigger things. The data breach just a couple months later exacerbated things of course because it led to a lot of house cleaning at the senior leadership level, including both the CEO and CIO. I felt a bit like a crazy street prophet sometimes, but I kept telling people I really felt there was a bloodbath coming. Most people seemed not to buy it, and I attribute that to the fact that many, if not most, TGT employees were pretty relentlessly optimistic. I mean that as a sincere compliment. My Target experience was largely positive. While I recognized a lot of the stuff back in that Gawker article, I didn't understand the anger in it. Still, I can't say that this was really surprising to me, but there's no doubt it sucks. I think the senior-most leaders at Target knew there was a need to reduce layers of complexity for a long time, but it's hard to do that slowly and strategically rather than in one fell swoop. Today does the Target image no favors, but would it have been better to eliminate a couple hundred jobs here and there every few months for the last few years? I don't know, but I doubt it.

I'm not feeling that much doom and gloom ultimately, and I saw no real effort to decentralize from MPLS while there. Apart from the Canada debacle, the company is still quite profitable. I think this is a major course correction that's been a long time coming. It's the kind of thing that new leadership finds much easier to do than entrenched leaders. After all, who wants to admit they hired too many people and failed to organize their teams successfully? Again, today sucks and it's not good news by any means, but I don't see a reason to panic when looking at the bigger picture.

acs
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Re: Minneapolis - St. Paul Business News (TARGET talk here)

Postby acs » March 10th, 2015, 3:03 pm

^So since you seem to be the closest we've got to an insider, any feelings on when/if Target will completely move its headquarters to BP?

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Re: Minneapolis - St. Paul Business News (TARGET talk here)

Postby Tyler » March 10th, 2015, 3:05 pm

acs wrote:^So since you seem to be the closest we've got to an insider, any feelings on when/if Target will completely move its headquarters to BP?
dbaur31 wrote: I'm not feeling that much doom and gloom ultimately, and I saw no real effort to decentralize from MPLS while there.
Towns!

dbaur31
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Re: Minneapolis - St. Paul Business News (TARGET talk here)

Postby dbaur31 » March 10th, 2015, 3:22 pm

Well, never say never, famous last words, and all that, but even with 1,700 fewer employees the BP campus would need a good deal more build out to support the entire team member base. Plus, the company owns the Target Plaza buildings, which are still in pretty nice shape, so why ditch those? I think consolidation is possible across some of the secondary office locations that aren't owned like Retek and TCW (the 394 building).

Also, moving to BP wouldn't just affect Target. It would affect all of the partners it does business with downtown as well. I'm dubious that whatever potential 'savings' the company could realize by moving would be worth the headache. Right before I left, the interim CIO talked about what a huge mistake he thought it was that the company "pushed us off onto an island" or something like that in terms of taking the tech teams away from their internal customer. I agreed with him and still do. Last I'd heard, there were teams that were scheduled to move to BP that actually stayed downtown because of that thinking. I mean, I certainly don't have any inside information, but it seems pretty unlikely to decamp for BP entirely.

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Re: Minneapolis - St. Paul Business News (TARGET talk here)

Postby RailBaronYarr » March 10th, 2015, 7:21 pm

My wife (thankfully) kept her job today. She's been there since Jan 2012, and I can echo dbaur's overview of the CIO's comments. The former head of real estate (not sure on official title) had been let go a 1-2 years ago and the general feeling was the whole BP decision was overall not great. The general feeling my wife got was every VP pushed back hard on relocating there and few employees were thrilled if moved (Maple Grove/BP residents aside). I just don't think there's any reason to think the long-term strategy is to shift a larger share of workers out there.

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Nick
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Re: Minneapolis - St. Paul Business News (TARGET talk here)

Postby Nick » March 10th, 2015, 9:01 pm

Hindsight's 20/20, but I remember saying on here or maybe on Minnescraper at some point a while back that the Brooklyn Park move just seemed so odd. It doesn't feel like it made a lot of business sense. They got a fairly miniscule tax break (some fraction of the cost of buying that chunk of the 1000 block, IIRC) from Brooklyn Park to move a few thousand employees from downtown offices, half of which they already owned, to brand new complex a not-inconsiderable distance from the center of the metro area. I tend to generally think that "all people (esp. every single person under 99 y/o) are DYING to work downtown oh my God" is maybe a little overblown but there's no way that wasn't a pain in the ass for most employees given that for x-majority-percentage it was probably considerably lengthening their commute.

I think of my department at work being spread among five different locations throughout the city by, mostly, the nature of the work, but also a little bit some odd planning decisions a decade ago. I guess we all live in the future now and there are those Cisco commercials with the classroom of kids in Iowa talking to the classroom of kids in India etc etc etc but in practice nothing ever seems to work that way--you have an hour or two long meeting with people from different divisions and they're basically throwing away their whole morning or afternoon on traveling to and from the other office. Target's got people spread among different office buildings downtown four or five blocks apart, that complex out on 394, and Brooklyn Park.

In regards to them generally, that they can take a profitable company and cut 30% (!!!!!!!!) of their corporate employees is maybe a sign in itself that they needed to do that. Not that that's any consolation to individuals who got laid off, but dang we've all read the comment sections of the articles I'm sure.

What is the future of capitalism anyway? How much longer can everyone pretend that there's 40 hours of actual work for everyone aged 18-65 to do?

QuietBlue
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Re: Minneapolis - St. Paul Business News (TARGET talk here)

Postby QuietBlue » March 11th, 2015, 9:07 am

Another former Target HQ employee here (I left a few years back). I was there when BP was just gettting off the ground, and the stated reason at the time for building an office there at the time was that it would help Target recruit in the northern suburbs and exurbs. In all fairness, these areas experienced a lot of housing growth in the late 90s'/early 2000's, so the idea didn't seem as silly then as it does now post-housing crash, and I did work with a number of people who lived in the north or northwest metro. There was also some uncertainty about the leased spaces and whether Target would continue with them in the future.

Another theory I heard floated was that the BP expansion was also leverage to get concessions out of Minneapolis if needed (i.e. give us what we ask for or we'll relocate everyone out there) but I'm skeptical of that.

dbaur31
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Re: Minneapolis - St. Paul Business News (TARGET talk here)

Postby dbaur31 » March 11th, 2015, 9:52 am

^ everything in the last three comments jives with things I'd heard before I left or since from those still there. Consensus seemed to be that BP was not a great move and that Beth Jacob was the only senior executive willing to jump on the grenade.

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FISHMANPET
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Re: Minneapolis - St. Paul Business News (TARGET talk here)

Postby FISHMANPET » March 11th, 2015, 10:56 am

Nick wrote:What is the future of capitalism anyway? How much longer can everyone pretend that there's 40 hours of actual work for everyone aged 18-65 to do?
This is a seriously hard question that I think about a lot. We could easily be a society where only one person in the home works and the other stays home. But if I think about my situation with my wife and I I'm not sure either one of us would be happy staying home all day, her especially since she's working on a PhD [Interesting aside, I was with some friends last night and we were having a discussion about how I would make a great house husband]. But in general I'd think there are a lot of DINK couples that wouldn't be happy with only one person working.

So the other extreme is we go to like a 2 day work week or something like that and everybody works. That'd be fine for something like a janitor, but I'd have a hard time in my white collar position. When would I have meetings with coworkers? Would I forget what I was doing over my 4-5 day weekend? How quickly would I be building professional skills to advance my career if I was only working a few days a year.

A lot of the concept of welfare is built upon the idea that at its base level you should want to be off of welfare and be a productive member of society. And there's enough right wing slant in this country's politics to mean that you have to "work" to be valuable. But what even is work? I'd say if someone spent their entire life writing short fiction rather than ad copy, or painting rather than being a barista, or something like that, that those people are still being productive members of society, just not necessarily in a financial way. I feel like in many ways we're approaching or are already in a post scarcity society, at least as far as the necessities of life goes.

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Re: Minneapolis - St. Paul Business News (TARGET talk here)

Postby David Greene » March 11th, 2015, 4:32 pm

The real problem isn't a lack of work, it's a lack of wages.

Families have two earners mostly because that's what you need to survive today. Over the last century+ the middle class has kept up through working harder.

- Child labor
- Overtime
- Multliple jobs
- Women in the workforce

We're now at the point where the middle class doesn't have any more resources to put toward more work hours. Even if we didn't have a work hours shortage coming, we'd be in big trouble.

I don't think you can say we're in a post-scarcity society when so many families are on the edge.

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FISHMANPET
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Re: Minneapolis - St. Paul Business News (TARGET talk here)

Postby FISHMANPET » March 11th, 2015, 6:33 pm

You're talking about distribution though, which is what I was actually getting at.

America has enough food to feed all its people. I don't think there's anywhere in this country, outside of disasters, where there literally isn't enough food in an area to feed everybody. But we suck at distributing it. 1000 years ago, yeah, you needed all hands on deck just to survive. And certainly in any of the new American colonies it would have been hard work to survive, again requiring everyone to pitch in. But now a farmer in America feeds 150 people. So we're at this weird point in time with an economic, political, and moral system where everybody needs a job, but with the means of production where we don't need 100% of workforce participation to actually produce the things we need for day to day life.

So that's my original point. How do we reconcile this idea that politically everyone "needs" to work 40 hours a week to be productive with the industrial-economic idea that we don't need everybody working 40 hours a week to produce the goods and services that sustain us.

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Re: Minneapolis - St. Paul Business News (TARGET talk here)

Postby WHS » March 11th, 2015, 8:51 pm

I think the key here is that there's no "correct" level of goods or services that need to be produced. It's possible to imagine a more materially prosperous society than ours where everyone has 40+ hours of work; alternatively, if individual consumption today were the same as it was in the year 1800, you could "sustain" society with much less labor than is presently put to use.

Another way of saying this is that there are different ways of organizing society-wide consumption, independent of technological capabilities, and some of those ways are going to allow (or necessitate) higher labor force participation than others. Structural unemployment is the consequence of path dependency in the economy and policy decisions to not put inactive labor to use, as much as it is the consequence of technological advancement.

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Re: Minneapolis - St. Paul Business News (TARGET talk here)

Postby David Greene » March 11th, 2015, 9:12 pm

FISHMANPET wrote:]So that's my original point. How do we reconcile this idea that politically everyone "needs" to work 40 hours a week to be productive with the industrial-economic idea that we don't need everybody working 40 hours a week to produce the goods and services that sustain us.
Right. Our definitions of "moral" and "productive" need to change. For starters, we need to drop the rugged invididualism myth.

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Re: Minneapolis - St. Paul Business News (TARGET talk here)

Postby mamundsen » March 11th, 2015, 9:20 pm

I think this all feeds into my recent feeling that I don't really work a 40 hour work week. I'm at the office but I'm not so buried with work that I can't breathe. Most of my friends have it the same. Especially the ones that have the ability to work from home occasionally. Those 8 hour days have about 2 hours of work done. At best.

To relate this to Target, I always hear about their culture being focused on team and many people having 1/2 workloads.

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Re: Minneapolis - St. Paul Business News (TARGET talk here)

Postby Didier » March 11th, 2015, 9:33 pm

http://www.startribune.com/business/296003431.html

And the race to hire ex-Target employees is on.

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Nick
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Re: Minneapolis - St. Paul Business News (TARGET talk here)

Postby Nick » March 11th, 2015, 10:57 pm

David Greene wrote:The real problem isn't a lack of work, it's a lack of wages.

Families have two earners mostly because that's what you need to survive today. Over the last century+ the middle class has kept up through working harder.

- Child labor
- Overtime
- Multliple jobs
- Women in the workforce

We're now at the point where the middle class doesn't have any more resources to put toward more work hours. Even if we didn't have a work hours shortage coming, we'd be in big trouble.

I don't think you can say we're in a post-scarcity society when so many families are on the edge.
All pretty much/technically true, though, I dunno. Are people working harder? Some people are definitely working hard, though my assumption/observation is that there is an inverse correlation between actually working very hard and talking about how hard you're working. You know who works hard? Someone who's washing dishes at two restaurants for minimum wage 29 hours a week each, and those are generally not the people we're talking about here. I will be the first to absolutely admit that my grandpa certainly worked harder than me (hard to compare with my dad with his being in the military) and shit his grandpa must have farmed the hell out some potatoes or whatever on the island in the Adriatic where they lived.

I remember a couple years ago Fox News ran some bit which I saw, of course, through the Daily Show, where they talked about some study of people who met some qualification for poverty--I don't know if it was the actual poverty line or were just on food stamps or whatever the case--and said, you know, 50% of the poor have A/C and 75% have televisions and 99% have refrigerators and such, and Jon Stewart and the audience just kind of laughed at it, but I dunno, isn't that kind of a good point? I've seen the charts where wages have been stagnant for three decades, and certainly the rich have gotten richer since then, but it feels wrong to say that things are actually getting worse in a material sense--people clearly have more things and do more stuff and experience more and are more secure etc etc etc. I'm sure someone here can/will produce a household wealth chart showing that people have less, but how does that really translate? What's the actual 1980 worth of a $250 2015 laptop that can access the entire planet's information instantly and entertain to no end? Extreme anecdote: I vividly remember taking the bus to the Comcast service center on Plymouth to switch out a set top box and hearing a woman complaining that the line at the office was "worse than the public aid office," which is a p good anecdote.

In regards to the actual middle class, I don't think it would be crazy to get the idea that the huge, prosperous middle class of the United States for the 50 or so years after World War II might just have been a crazy anomaly in the history of the world. And even then, how much of that all did we need? Who needs a four bedroom house with three cars and two TVs for three people? Maybe that just wasn't sustainable and that's not all bad. Two middle class people might be going into the office each day (paying half of one salary for childcare!) to maintain something that ultimately isn't maintainable as a society. Which isn't to tell anyone how they should/must live, but there are plenty of people complaining about "struggling" (?) in "this economy" and it's like, dude, you have a cabin, you'll be fine I bet.

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Re: Minneapolis - St. Paul Business News (TARGET talk here)

Postby David Greene » March 12th, 2015, 9:26 am

Nick wrote:[You know who works hard? Someone who's washing dishes at two restaurants for minimum wage 29 hours a week each, and those are generally not the people we're talking about here.
We're not? Those are the kinds of families that hold down 3-4 jobs.

When looking at amenities people have, context matters. I mean, 200 years ago even the very rich didn't have a car. A refrigerator is required these days. Landlines are pretty much dead so yes, a lot of poor people have cell phones. I don't think it's a crime for someone on welfare to watch television. As the standard of living rises, so does our understanding of "the basics."

I know some people here hate houses but I'll just point out that I pay less in mortgage than many people in the North Loop or along the Greenway pay in rent. I literally pay less than I did for an apartment in the North Loop ten years ago, including utilities.

Families are crazy expensive. Just having kids can take a family from a comfortable place to being on the edge. And no, I don't believe we should blame people for having kids. We should blame our society for not supporting livable wages. Increase wages or decrease costs. Our economic policy has been to avoid deflation at all costs so really the former is the only viable option.

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Re: Minneapolis - St. Paul Business News (TARGET talk here)

Postby IllogicalJake » March 12th, 2015, 10:10 am

David Greene wrote:
Nick wrote:[You know who works hard? Someone who's washing dishes at two restaurants for minimum wage 29 hours a week each, and those are generally not the people we're talking about here.
We're not? Those are the kinds of families that hold down 3-4 jobs.

When looking at amenities people have, context matters. I mean, 200 years ago even the very rich didn't have a car. A refrigerator is required these days. Landlines are pretty much dead so yes, a lot of poor people have cell phones. I don't think it's a crime for someone on welfare to watch television. As the standard of living rises, so does our understanding of "the basics."
Right, and those basics become cheaper. A refridgerator used to require a delivery service for your block of ice, on top of the huge cost of the appliance. TV used to be a one-per-household item, if you're lucky. Now people have 15 in a single house. Why? It's not because people are less poor, it's because that stuff is cheaper - to produce and to buy.
i talk too much. web dev, downtown. admin @ tower.ly

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Re: Minneapolis - St. Paul Business News (TARGET talk here)

Postby EOst » March 12th, 2015, 10:33 am

At the same time, those things used to support a range of low- to middle-income jobs which no longer exist. Who was the last ice delivery man? When was the last time you called a TV repairman? What do those people do now?

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Re: Minneapolis - St. Paul Business News (TARGET talk here)

Postby RailBaronYarr » March 12th, 2015, 10:57 am

Is the increase in standard of living thanks to goods becoming cheaper (3 TVs instead of 1, 2 mini fridges, mass produced furniture) worth the loss of jobs/wages/etc? How about if you factor in the standard of living increase in other poor countries thanks to jobs shipping over there? What about when those places who still aren't as well off as we are have the rug pulled from under them thanks to automation and 3d printed [houses food gameboys DanFogelbergCDs]? Will those gains trickle to those other countries?

I guess it's near-impossible to answer by looking at individual tasks/conveniences. It sure is nice that even low income people can go buy a $100 window AC unit for their baby's room, or I can now read internet listicles on my phone instead of the newspaper while riding the bus and keep my hands clean of ink. Taken as a whole? I have no clue.


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