- Coming June 19: I Don't Understand: II
- Unclear, incomplete, or ambiguous statements are problematic, in part, because we need to seek clarification. How can we do that without seeming to be hostile, threatening, or disrespectful? Available here and by RSS on June 19.
- And on June 26: Appearance Antipatterns: I
- Appearances can be deceiving. Just as we can misinterpret the actions and motivations of others, others can misinterpret our own actions and motivations. But we can take steps to limit these effects. Available here and by RSS on June 26.
This page has links to articles from 2019. For other years:
June 12, 2019
- I Don't Understand: I
- When someone makes a statement or offers an explanation that's unclear or ambiguous, there are risks associated with asking for clarification. The risks can seem so terrifying that we decide not to ask. What keeps us from seeking clarification?
June 5, 2019
- I Could Be Wrong About That
- Before we make joint decisions at work, we usually debate the options. We come together to share views, and then a debate ensues. Some of these debates turn out well, but too many do not. Allowing for the fact that "I could be wrong" improves outcomes.
May 29, 2019
- Newtonian Blind Alleys: II
- Some of our decisions don't turn out well. The nature of our errors does vary, but a common class of errors is due to applying concepts from physics originated by Isaac Newton. One of these is the concept of spectrum.
May 22, 2019
- Newtonian Blind Alleys: I
- When we decide how to allocate organizational resources, we make assumptions about how the world works. Often outside our awareness, the thinking of Sir Isaac Newton influences our assumptions. And sometimes they lead us into blind alleys. Universality is one example.
May 15, 2019
- Entry Intimidation
- Feeling intimidated about entering a new work situation can affect performance for both the new entrant and for the group as a whole. Four trouble patterns related to entry intimidation are inadvertent subversion, bullying, hat hanging, and defenses and sabotage.
May 8, 2019
- Brain Clutter
- The capacity of the human mind is astonishing. Our ability to accomplish great things while simultaneously fretting about mountains of trivia is perhaps among the best evidence of that capacity. Just imagine what we could accomplish if we could control the fretting…
May 1, 2019
- Full Disclosure
- The term "full disclosure" is now a fairly common phrase, especially in news interviews and in film and fiction thrillers involving government employees or attorneys. It also has relevance in the knowledge workplace, and nuances associated with it can affect your credibility.
April 24, 2019
- Big, Complicated Problems
- Big, complicated problems can be difficult to solve. Even contemplating them can be daunting. But we can survive them if we get advice we can trust, know our resources, recall solutions to past problems, find workarounds, or as a last resort, escape.
April 17, 2019
- Gratuitous Complexity as a Type III Error
- Some of the technological assets we build — whether hardware, software, or procedures — are gratuitously complex. That's an error, but an error of a special kind: it can be the correct solution to the wrong problem.
April 10, 2019
- Career Opportunity or Career Trap: II
- When an opportunity seems too good to be true, it might be. Although we easily decline small opportunities, declining an enticing career opportunity can be enormously difficult. Here's Part II of a set of indicators that an opportunity might actually be a trap.
April 3, 2019
- Career Opportunity or Career Trap: I
- When we're presented with an opportunity that seems too good to be true, as the saying goes, it probably is. Although it's easy to decline free vacations, declining career opportunities is another matter. Here's a look at indicators that a career opportunity might be a career trap.
March 27, 2019
- Stone-Throwers at Meetings: II
- A stone-thrower in a meeting is someone who is determined to halt forward progress. Motives vary, from embarrassing the chair to holding the meeting hostage in exchange for advancing an agenda. What can chairs do about stone-throwers?
March 20, 2019
- Stone-Throwers at Meetings: I
- One class of disruptions in meetings includes the tactics of stone-throwers — people who exploit low-cost tactics to disrupt the meeting and distract all participants so as to obstruct progress. How do they do it, and what can the meeting chair do?
March 13, 2019
- Some Risks of Short-Term Fixes
- When we encounter a problem at work, we must choose between short-term fixes (also known as workarounds) and long-term solutions. Often we choose workarounds without appreciating the risks we're accepting — until too late.
March 6, 2019
- A Pain Scale for Meetings
- Most meetings could be shorter, less frequent, and more productive than they are. Part of the problem is that we don't realize how much we do to get in our own way. If we track the incidents of dysfunctional activity, we can use the data to spot trends and take corrective action.
February 27, 2019
- Brainstorming and Speedstorming: II
- Recent research into the effectiveness of brainstorming has raised some questions. Motivated to examine alternatives, I ran into speedstorming. Here's Part II of an exploration of the properties of speedstorming.
February 20, 2019
- Brainstorming and Speedstorming: I
- Recent research suggests that brainstorming might not be as effective as we would like to believe it is. An alternative, speedstorming, might have some advantages for some teams solving some problems.
February 13, 2019
- Grace Under Fire: IV
- People can be astonishingly inventive when trying to harm others. Some strategies involve driving to distraction the target of their malevolence by humiliating the target and lying about the target's character, deeds, or abilities. Targets who recognize these methods are more likely to be able to maintain composure.
February 6, 2019
- Grace Under Fire: III
- When someone at work seems intent on making your work life a painful agony, you might experience fear, anxiety, or stress that can lead to a loss of emotional control. Retaining composure is in that case the key to survival.
January 30, 2019
- Conway's Law and Technical Debt
- Conway's Law is an observation that the structures of systems we design tend to replicate our communication patterns. This tendency might also contribute to their tendency to accumulate what we now call technical debt.
January 23, 2019
- Judging Others
- Being "judgmental" is a stance most people recognize as transgressing beyond widely accepted social norms. But what's the harm in judging others? And why do so many people do it so often?
January 16, 2019
- Guidelines for Curmudgeon Teams
- The curmudgeon team is a subgroup of a larger team. Their job is to strengthen the team's conclusions and results by raising thorny issues that cause the team to reconsider the path it's about to take. In this way they help the team avoid dead ends and disasters.
January 9, 2019
- What Is Hypophora?
- Hypophora is a rhetorical device that enables its users to deliver simple messages with enhanced power. But it has a dark side. The people who read or hear those messages tend to assess them as having more merit than they do.
January 2, 2019
- Issues-Only Team Meetings
- Time spent in regular meetings is productive to the extent that it moves the team closer to its objectives. Because uncovering and clarifying issues is more productive than distributing information or listening to status reports, issues-only team meetings focus energy where it will help most.
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