Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Worst idea ever? The committee

Corporate America suffers many inefficiencies that weigh on global competitiveness. Labor and regulatory costs are two of the big ones oft-cited.

But there is perhaps none so revered but so costly as the committee, you know where we all get together and share ideas with the goal of coming up with the best of those ideas. Sounds good.

Problem: it rarely works.

This from some recent studies: http://www.bakadesuyo.com/does-brainstorming-for-new-ideas-really-work?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+bakadesuyo+%28Barking+up+the+wrong+tree%29
Via Jonah Lehrer's wonderful new book Imagine: How Creativity Works:

"There’s just one problem with brainstorming: it doesn’t work. Keith Sawyer, a psychologist at Washington University, summarizes the science: “Decades of research have consistently shown that brainstorming groups think of far fewer ideas than the same number of people who work alone and later pool their ideas.” In fact, the very first empirical test of Osborn’s technique, which was performed at Yale in 1958, soundly refuted the premise. The experiment was simple: Forty-eight male undergraduates were divided into twelve groups and given a series of creative puzzles. The groups were instructed to carefully follow Osborn’s brainstorming guidelines. As a control sample, forty-eight students working by themselves were each given the same puzzles. The results were a sobering refutation of brainstorming. Not only did the solo students come up with twice as many solutions as the brainstorming groups but their solutions were deemed more “feasible” and “effective” by a panel of judges. In other words, brainstorming didn’t unleash the potential of the group. Instead, the technique suppressed it, making each individual less creative.

"And brainstorming's mantra of refraining from judging or negating ideas is equally wrong:

"Which teams did the best? The results weren’t even close: while the brainstorming groups slightly outperformed the groups given no instructions, people in the debate condition were far more creative. On average, they generated nearly 25 percent more ideas. The most telling part of the study, however, came after the groups had been disbanded. That’s when researchers asked each of the subjects if he or she had any more ideas about traffic that had been triggered by the earlier conversation. While people in the minimal and brainstorming conditions produced, on average, two additional ideas, those in the debate condition produced more than seven. Nemeth summarizes her results: “While the instruction ‘Do not criticize’ is often cited as the [most] important instruction in this appears to be a counterproductive strategy. Our findings show that debate and criticism do not inhibit ideas but, rather, stimulate them relative to every other condition.”

Experience leads me to believe the best organizations hire smart, creative people with focused expertise and they the empower them, let them have the ideas and implement them. What happens in committees waters down great ideas due to the dynamics of power, compromise and political correctness.


Sunday, March 25, 2012

Government's Gang Bang of Workplace Privacy - Hypocrisy Unlimited

"The FBI, the CIA, the Department of Homeland Security, the U.S. military and the Federal Reserve systematically monitor social media websites such as Facebook and Twitter. Tens of millions of us have compiled incredibly detailed dossiers on ourselves and have put them out there for the entire world to see.

"The Obama campaign has launched “truth teams" which are scouring the Internet for any rumors that are “not true” (in their opinion) about Barack Obama during the 2012 presidential campaign. So if you post something on the Internet about Barack Obama that the Obama campaign does not consider to be truthful, there is a good chance that a “truth team” will be examining what you have written. (I am sure they have a long list for me.)

"The FBI has hired a company in Virginia to systematically record talk radio programs (including Internet talk radio programs) all over the United States.  The goal of this effort is to collect “potential evidence”, whatever thaissue is looking to develop a Web app that can continuously monitor social networks, including Facebook, Twitter, and Myspace, as well as various news feeds.

"The CIA, not surprisingly, is a long way ahead of the FBI in monitoring social media.  If you are an "activist" on the Internet, the CIA probably knows you very well.  (My name is spelled with a "K" in case you are reading) Indeed, in an anonymous industrial park in Virginia, in an unassuming brick building, the CIA is following tweets — up to 5 million a day. At the agency's Open Source Center, a team known affectionately as the "vengeful librarians" also pores over Facebook, newspapers, TV news channels, local radio stations, Internet chat rooms — anything overseas that anyone can access and contribute to openly."

The Department of Homeland Security has gotten in on the gang bang of personal privacy, admitting they have created fake Twitter and Facebook profiles for the specific purpose of scanning the networks for 'sensitive' words - and tracking people who use them.

One might surmise that the federal government not only has no problem with invading the privacy of individual Americans but encourages it.

And one would be right, and wrong.

Two U.S. senators are asking Attorney General Eric Holder to investigate whether employers asking for Facebook passwords during job interviews are violating federal law. (Seems a lightweight request for a guy who seems to have no problem or apology for government gun-running). Nonetheless, Democratic Sens. Chuck Schumer of New York and Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut (neither whom have objected to government's rampant rape of social media) said they are calling on the Department of Justice and the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission to launch investigations against private employers.

Such in-your-face hypocrisy cannot be missed even by the slowest of pours.

On what strained theory should private employers, not limited by Constitutionsl prohibitions of unreasonable searches and seizures and privacy, be prohibited from doing precisely what the federal government does as its warmup act?

When it comes to private employers, applicants can (and in my opinion should) tell them to pound sand before giving up private social media information. For me, even the request would end the interview.

The federal government is different. There is no way for any of us to deny their requests, because there are no requests, just forced incursions.

We are not even given the courtesy to know when or how we are violated.

*Certain information herein secured from the following sources and sources cited therein:


Saturday, March 10, 2012

Let's Pretend "Job Growth Is Best Since 2006"

By Charles Hugh Smith, www.oftwominds.com

"Instead of just swallowing Ministry of Propaganda swill, let's examine actual data. If we do that, we find job growth is mostly smoke and mirrors.

"The Ministry of Propaganda and its media minions are announcing that "job growth is on a tear" and the "best growth since 2006." How about we look under the hood of the employment euphoria?"

An excellent article by one of today's brightest minds with helpful charts make short work of government's current "all is well" campaign can be found here and I commend it to Your review: http://www.oftwominds.com/blogmar12/pretend-jobs3-12.html