Category Archives: organizations

The School of Misdirection

* Masquerade *

“If you have knowledge, let others light their candles in it.”
– Margaret Fuller

“Misinformation works.”
– Rand Paul

Before I became a computer programmer I was a student at a tech school. It was a fast-paced track that promised to teach employable programming skills in under a year.

On the first day the students in my class were also promised that many of us would drop out. That is what had always happened on this tough track.

But it didn’t happen to us.

The stereotype of introverted computer geeks hadn’t taken hold in the culture yet. Sociability was fairly high in the class and many of us hung out together, had lunch together, or had drinks together after class. We studied together. This group was very open, no one was excluded.

Along with a few others I was getting straight A’s and would help anyone who asked, answer anyone’s questions, keep trying to explain for as long as needed. We learned very quickly that doing this helped us to learn the material better. Things become clearer when you think them through and make them simpler.

Helping other students definitely helped me to improve.

And talking about the material made everything more interesting and studying was actually fun.

At graduation time they told us that we were the biggest class to make it through the course and we had the highest class GPA. We had a record number of students finish with an A average and few or no dropouts.

My class had gelled around a sense of mutual support.

Recently I’ve been told that some educational tracks are cut-throat. The students compete with each other for grades and ranking and the tactics can be vicious. A few weeks ago a United States Senator advised medical students to sabotage each other with bad information. Apparently within some fields of study knowledge is a zero-sum game and the incentives reward hoarding it for oneself and trying to prevent others from accessing it.

A few years after graduation I was looking for a better job. One of the students from my programming class spotted my resume on her boss’s desk. She told him that she remembered me from that class and that I’d helped her with the coursework.

I got the job.

In my career since then I’ve always tried to share whatever knowledge I have and tried to help and answer questions and offer ideas. In my spare time I became involved with a local technical group dedicated to spreading know-how and networking, and I served on the board of directors. Sharing has always enriched my life and I love it when I can make something clear enough that I can actually see the light in another person’s face as connections are clicking together.

Occasionally I’ve also encountered people who hoard knowledge or even are outright saboteurs, intentionally giving bad information in an attempt to cause the other person to fail.

I’ve found that people remember the ones who helped them and learn to distrust saboteurs.

As the use of social media rises, employers are catching on to the value of teamwork and sharing. Knowledge hoarders will find that they must learn to share or they won’t fit in.

And saboteurs? Saboteurs will find that misinformation will follow them.

Image:
Masquerade * by pareeerica, on Flickr

Connecting Across Spaces

Construction

We spin out our webs, weaving a structure for others to cross between or after us, if they happen to chance upon them.

There must be tracks to span the spaces between worlds, between my world and yours and anyone else’s. How else can we reach?

When structures fail us, that’s when we fall. That’s when the homeless find themselves huddled on an uncaring street. That’s when the suicide grasps at the blade as if flailing for a line, because solid structure can’t be found; if it exists it’s unseen, unfelt, tragically unknown. The strand that was followed ends here, the trail fades out, drops off.

The tracks our lives leave are what matters. Our lives are short but the tracks we leave behind may support scores after us.

Without them our lives are written on the wind.

Image source :
http://www.flickr.com/photos/34439637@N08/3199422889/” title=”Construction by ook.com.sa, on Flickr”

Conformity Kills

dominos

Conformity Kills People

Bullies enforce it, suicides are driven by shame from it, hate crimes are committed for it, riots break out over it, war crimes are fueled by it.

Conformity Kills Ideas

No one ever achieved a break-through innovation by conforming or by letting a conformist kill it.

Conformity Kills Organizations

Companies cling to obsolete processes and products, keep trying to do the same things only more. Boards don’t recognize the need to change, executives fall into groupthink and make terrible decisions because no one steps out of line to point out flaws that should be obvious.

Conformity is dangerous when conditions change dramatically.

Conformity doubles down on losses again and again.

Conformity can be as comforting and as dangerous as falling asleep in the snow.

Image: dominos by greg westfall., on Flickr

This Action Is Not Easier Done Than Said

DSC00001

They say that some things are just easier said than done. That was true when the first doubter thought it and it’s still true. It will always be true.

Easier said than done.

Because “said” represents the expression of an idea but “done” is about the behavior that it will take to make that idea happen. And in that sense, it is true and will always be true that everything that is or can be SAID is much less easily DONE.

Keep that in mind, Sayers.

Image: DSC00001 by Santacreu, on Flickr

Do employers hire for Narcissism?

Ruth St. Denis in The Peacock.

Narcissists can be very successful. Often tireless self promoters that excel at getting important people to notice and like them, they make friends everywhere and may effortlessly climb the hierarchal structure in any given organization. Their workplaces value them right up to the moment that their inflated ego and sense of entitlement brings them to commit an unforgivable act, like raping a hotel maid or toppling a company with an over large misplaced bet. Narcissists don’t concern themselves with ethics.

In a study of Facebook profiles by a researcher at Western Illinois University, a correlation was found between a narcissism measure called “grandiose exhibitionism” (GE) and Facebook self-promotional behaviors such as frequent changes of profile pictures and a high number of friends.

Researchers at Northern Illinois University found that Human Resource types could judge the hiring desirability of a candidate by looking at their Facebook profile. Among the features found attractive were frequent photo postings and a high number of friends.

Of course there’s more to narcissism than just self-promotional behaviors but the intersection of these two studies support the dangers of assessing character traits based on a superficially winning personality. Or as the saying goes, don’t judge a book by its cover.

Sources:
Facebook’s Dark Side Topic of Study by WIU Communication Professor – University Relations – Western Illinois University

Social Networking Websites, Personality Ratings, and the Organizational Context: More Than Meets the Eye? Journal of Applied Social Psychology, 1 Feb 2012

Image: “Ruth St. Denis in The Peacock.” by New York Public Library, on Flickr