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Archive for 2014

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Here are links to all previous issues of Point Lookout, a weekly email newsletter. Bookmark this page. Or browse this archive by topic. Subscribe now.

A metaphorical depiction of the creation of artificial intelligenceComing April 30: Office Automation
Desktop computers, laptop computers, and tablets have automation capabilities that can transform our lives, but few of us use them. Why not? What can we do about that? Available here and by RSS on April 30.

A virtual meeting of a particular fancy typeAnd on May 7: The End-to-End Cost of Meetings: Part I
By now, most of us realize how expensive meetings are. Um, well, maybe not. Here's a look at some of the most-often overlooked costs of meetings. Available here and by RSS on May 7.

This page has links to articles from 2014. For other years:

April 23, 2014

Eugene F. Kranz, flight director, at his console on May 30, 1965, in the Control Room in the Mission Control Center at HoustonDesign Errors and Group Biases
Design errors can cause unwanted outcomes, but they can also lead to welcome surprises. The causes of many design errors are fundamental attributes of the way groups function. Here is Part II of our exploration.

April 16, 2014

Ice on Challenger's launch pad hours before the launchDesign Errors and Groupthink
Design errors cause losses, lost opportunities, accidents, and injuries. Not all design errors are one-offs, because their causes can be fundamental. Here's a first installment of an exploration of some fundamental causes of design errors.

April 9, 2014

Rachel Hoffman, for whom Florida's Rachel's Law is namedOn Snitching at Work: Part II
Reporting violations of laws, policies, regulations, or ethics to authorities at work can expose you to the risk of retribution. That's why the reporting decision must consider the need for safety.

April 2, 2014

Elia Kazan, award winning film directorOn Snitching at Work: Part I
Some people have difficulty determining the propriety of reporting violations to authorities at work. Proper or not, reporting violations can be simultaneously both risky and necessary.

March 26, 2014

An artist's conception of a planetary accretion diskWhy Scope Expands: Part II
The scope of an effort underway tends to expand over time. Why do scopes not contract just as often? One cause might be cognitive biases that make us more receptive to expansion than contraction.

March 19, 2014

The Bloomingdale's store in Stamford, Connecticut in January 1955Why Scope Expands: Part I
Scope creep is depressingly familiar. Its anti-partner, spontaneous and stealthy scope contraction, has no accepted name, and is rarely seen. Why?

March 12, 2014

The Great Wall of China near MutianyuScope Creep and Confirmation Bias
As we've seen, some cognitive biases can contribute to the incidence of scope creep in projects and other efforts. Confirmation bias, which causes us to prefer evidence that bolsters our preconceptions, is one of these.

March 5, 2014

A Carrick MatChanging Blaming Cultures
Culture change in organizations is always challenging, but changing a blaming culture presents special difficulties. Here are three reasons why.

February 26, 2014

Gachi Fernandez and Sergio Cortazzo, professional tango coupleScope Creep, Hot Hands, and the Illusion of Control
Despite our awareness of scope creep's dangerous effects on projects and other efforts, we seem unable to prevent it. Two cognitive biases — the "hot hand fallacy" and "the illusion of control" — might provide explanations.

February 19, 2014

A visual illusionScope Creep and the Planning Fallacy
Much is known about scope creep, but it nevertheless occurs with such alarming frequency that in some organizations, it's a certainty. Perhaps what keeps us from controlling it better is that its causes can't be addressed with management methodology. Its causes might be, in part, psychological.

February 12, 2014

Nemesis by Albrecht DurerSome Hazards of Skip-Level Interviews: Part III
Skip-level interviews — dialogs between a subordinate and the subordinate's supervisor's supervisor — can be hazardous. Here's Part III of a little catalog of the hazards, emphasizing subordinate-initiated skip-level interviews.

February 5, 2014

Three Card Monte, Jaffa, IsraelSome Hazards of Skip-Level Interviews: Part II
Skip-level interviews are dialogs between a subordinate and the subordinate's supervisor's supervisor. They can be both heplful and hazardous. Here's Part II of a little catalog of the hazards.

January 29, 2014

J. R. R. Tolkien (aged 24) in army uniform. Photograph taken in 1916.Some Hazards of Skip-Level Interviews: Part I
Although skip-level interviews have their place, they can be dangerous, explosive, and harmful to the organization. What are the dangers?

January 22, 2014

RaspberriesHuman Limitations and Meeting Agendas
Recent research has discovered a class of human limitations that constrain our ability to exert self-control and to make wise decisions. Accounting for these effects when we construct agendas can make meetings more productive and save us from ourselves.

January 15, 2014

A Canada Goose nestingBig Egos and Other Misconceptions
We often describe someone who arrogantly breezes through life with swagger and evident disregard for others as having a "big ego." Maybe so. And maybe not. Let's have a closer look.

January 8, 2014

A ray of light passing through and reflected from a prismWhen Somebody Throws a Nutty
To "throw a nutty" — at work, that is — can include anything from extreme verbal over-reaction to violent physical abuse of others. When someone exhibits behavior at the milder end of this spectrum, what responses are appropriate?

January 1, 2014

A view of the South Canyon Fire near Glenwood Springs, Colorado, at noon on July 4, 1994The Nominal Fallacy at Work
Using logical fallacies at work — intentionally or otherwise — costs real money. The nominal fallacy is probably responsible for much delay in addressing our real problems.

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The Workplace Conflict Awareness Month KitIn April, increase awareness of conflict in the workplace, and learn how to convert destructive conflict to creative conflict. Order the Workplace Conflict Awareness Month Kit by 30 Apr 2013, New York time, at the special price of and save USD 10.00! Check it out!
The Collected Issues of Point Lookout: 2001-2012Looking for insights, tips, and concrete suggestions for the conundrums and kerfuffles of workplace life? The Collected Issues of Point Lookout is a collection of articles from my weekly newsletter, all in a single ebook of 1263 pages, searchable and cross referenced. Check it out!
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