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Archive of Point Lookout for 2024

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A well-festooned utility poleComing June 26: Additive bias…or Not: I
When we alter existing systems to enhance them, we tend to favor adding components even when subtracting might be better. This effect has been attributed to a cognitive bias known as additive bias. But other forces more important might be afoot. Available here and by RSS on June 26.
A close-up view of a chipseal road surfaceAnd on July 3: Additive bias…Not: II
Additive bias is a cognitive bias that many believe contributes to bloat of commercial products. When we change products to make them more capable, additive bias might not play a role, because economic considerations sometimes favor additive approaches. Available here and by RSS on July 3.

This page has links to articles from 2024. For other years:

June 19, 2024

Stacks of booksRescheduling: the Politics of Choice
When the current project schedule no longer leads to acceptable results, we must reschedule. When we reschedule, organizational politics can determine the choices we make. Those choices can make the difference between success and a repeat of failure.

June 12, 2024

The Impossible Trident visual paradoxRescheduling: The Paradox of Politics
When the current project schedule no longer leads to acceptable results, we must reschedule. Sometimes political factors compel us to not only delay our results, but also to produce those results in ways that accommodate organizational politics.

June 5, 2024

A switch in the tracks of a city tramwayThe Reactive Rescheduling Cycle
When the current schedule is no longer viable, we reschedule. But rescheduling is unlike devising a schedule before work has begun. People know that we're "behind" and taking time to reschedule only makes things worse. Political pressure doesn't help.

May 29, 2024

The Leonard P. Zakim Bunker Hill BridgeRescheduling: Project Factors
Rescheduling is what we do when we can no longer honor the schedule we have now. Of all causes of rescheduling, the more controllable are those found at the project level. Attending to them in one project can limit their effects on other projects.

May 22, 2024

Satrun during equinox — a composite of natural-color images from CassiniRescheduling Collaborative Work
Rescheduling is what we do when the schedule we have now is so desperately unachievable that we must let go of it because when we look at it we can no longer decide whether to laugh or cry. The fear is that the new schedule might come to the same end.

May 15, 2024

Typing a text message on a smartphoneShould I Write or Should I Call?
After we recognize the need to contact a colleague or colleagues to work out a way to move forward, we next must decide how to make contact. Phone? Videoconference? Text message? There are some simple criteria that can help with such decisions.

May 8, 2024

NASA's Mars Climate Orbiter, which was lost on attempted entry into Mars orbitAntipatterns for Time-Constrained Communication: III
Recognizing just a few patterns that can lead to miscommunication can reduce the incidence of problems. Here is Part III of a collection of antipatterns that arise in technical communication under time pressure, emphasizing contextual factors.

May 1, 2024

A dangerous curve in an icy roadAntipatterns for Time-Constrained Communication: II
Recognizing just a few patterns that can lead to miscommunication can reduce the incidence of miscommunications. Here's Part II of a collection of antipatterns that arise in communication under time pressure, emphasizing those that depend on content.

April 24, 2024

Three gears in a configuration that's inherently locked upAntipatterns for Time-Constrained Communication: I
Knowing how to recognize just a few patterns that can lead to miscommunication can be helpful in reducing the incidence of problems. Here is Part 1 of a collection of communication antipatterns that arise in technical communication under time pressure.

April 17, 2024

Old books, the standard symbol of knowledgeHow to Answer When You Don't Know How to Answer
People engaged in knowledge work must often respond to questions that test the limits of their knowledge, or the limits of everyone's knowledge. Responding effectively to such questions advances us all.

April 10, 2024

Franz Halder, German general and the chief of staff of the Army High Command (OKH) in Nazi Germany from 1938 until September 1942Managing Dunning-Kruger Risk
A cognitive bias called the Dunning-Kruger Effect can create risk for organizational missions that require expertise beyond the range of knowledge and experience of decision-makers. They might misjudge the organization's capacity to execute the mission successfully. They might even be unaware of the risk of so misjudging.

April 3, 2024

A meeting in a typical conference roomRecapping Factioned Meetings
A factioned meeting is one in which participants identify more closely with their factions, rather than with the meeting as a whole. Agreements reached in such meetings are at risk of instability as participants maneuver for advantage after the meeting.

March 27, 2024

An informal meeting in a loungeAllocating Action Items
From time to time in meetings we discover tasks that need doing. We call them "action items." And we use our list of open action items as a guide for tracking the work of the group. How we decide who gets what action item can sometimes affect our success.

March 20, 2024

A meeting that's probably a bit too largeTop Ten Ways to Make Meetings More Effective
Meetings are just about everybody's least favorite part of working in organizations. We can do much better if only we take a few simple steps to improve them. The big one: publish the agenda in advance. Here are nine other steps to improve meetings.

March 13, 2024

The S.S. Eastland, in Cleveland, Ohio, around 1911On Anticipating Consequences
Much of what goes wrong when we change systems to improve them falls into a category we call unanticipated consequences. Even when we lack models that can project these results accurately, morphological analysis can help us avoid much misery.

March 6, 2024

Adolf Hitler greets Neville Chamberlain at the beginning of the Bad Godesberg meeting on 24 September 1938Six More Insights About Workplace Bullying
Some of the lore about dealing with bullies at work isn't just wrong — it's harmful. It's harmful in the sense that applying it intensifies the bullying. Here are six insights that might help when devising strategies for dealing with bullies at work. Example: Letting yourself be bullied is not a thing.

February 28, 2024

What most of us think of when we think of checklistsChecklists: Conventional or Auditable
Checklists help us remember the steps of complicated procedures, and the order in which we must execute them. The simplest form is the conventional checklist. But when we need a record of what we've done, we need an auditable checklist.

February 21, 2024

The results of a crash testRed Team Reviews of Uphill Briefings
In preparing for uphill briefings, briefers can benefit from preliminary reviews. When we review the briefing early in development, the briefing team can address vulnerabilities and exploit opportunities. A Red Team review is one style of preliminary review.

February 14, 2024

Walking a tightropeBriefing Uphill
Briefing small groups is a common occurrence for members of most organizations. Briefing executives is one of the more challenging forms of such exercises. Here are 14 guidelines for briefing uphill successfully.

February 7, 2024

A stone cairn that looks impossible to buildResponses to Outrageous Demands
From time to time, we might encounter a powerful person making outrageous demands, possibly accompanied by threats if we don't comply. At first, the choice seems to be between acceding to their demands or flat out refusing. There are other possibilities.

January 31, 2024

An example of erosion of a mountain in Death ValleyImprovement Bias
When we set about improving how our organizations do things, we expose ourselves to the risk of finding opportunities for improvement that offer very little improvement, while we overlook others that could make a real difference. Cognitive biases play a role.

January 24, 2024

A graphical representation of a strategic analysis tool known as the "SWOT Matrix"I Don't Know Where to Begin
Sometimes we find ourselves engaged in debate about how to approach solving a problem. When the delays and costs due to these debates exceed any possible benefit, consideration of the causes of these debates can dramatically improve group performance.

January 17, 2024

A waste container in a parkOn Miscommunication
Some sources of confusion in communications are difficult to detect. Because they escape our notice, they are also difficult to avoid. One example: words that mean different things in different contexts. Another: multiple negations involving prefixes.

January 10, 2024

Stela of Minnakht, chief of the Egyptian scribes, during the reign of Ay (c. 1321 BCE)Six Traps in Email or Text: II
Collaboration requires communication. For many, communicating often takes place in email and text message systems. But much of the effort expended in communication is dedicated to resolving confusions that we created for ourselves. Here are four examples.

January 3, 2024

An old-fashioned typewriterSix Traps in Email or Text: I
Most of us invest significant effort in communicating by email or any of the various forms of text messaging. Much of the effort is spent correcting confusions caused, in part, by a few traps. Knowing what those traps are can save much trouble.

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