The consequences of transverse selection are now being exposed in the US military, with one Air Force colonel complaining that the Service’s physical fitness standards select against too many airmen who excel at their actual job requirements.
Of course, physical readiness is certainly important to military readiness, but it is no longer the cornerstone of most military occupations, particularly in the Navy and Air Force.
Like those archaic pike and musket formations that still guide our social construction of what military discipline is all about, the over-emphasis of physical over mental readiness is a lingering trope that desperately needs reform.
In the Information Age, “fit for service” means much more than body fat percentage and push-ups per minute, and clinging to out-dated social ideals of the perfect warrior drives a bad selection process that costs us good Service members, which costs lives, and could one day cost us a war.
Phaticized work is defined as a covert and often unconscious form of corruption in which organizational resources are diverted to personal ends by way of social instincts.
Phatic is a term borrowed from linguistics, where it refers to speech that serves a social function rather than conveying information. For our purposes, phatic refers to any workplace activity that perhaps appears to serve the organization’s mission, but actually serves a social function that either does not genuinely support the mission or undermines it.
Today’s example of phaticized work is gladhanding.
University of Pennsylvania social network researcher Lynn Wu recently discovered a perfect example of transverse selection.
After analyzing several years of anonymized electronic communications from 8000+ employees of a tech firm, she found that while instrumental communications about practical matters drove productivity, social communications about sports and primate food-sharing rituals—like lunches and coffee breaks—drove retention during lay-offs.
More importantly, she found that these two types of communication were substitutes for each other, meaning that they can’t occupy the same network space at the same time.
In simpler terms: practical thinkers did the mission, but social thinkers kept their jobs when push came to shove.
Not to stray too far into politics, but one of the purposes of New Gov Office is to save government from the corruption and paralysis of tactical obsession.
Recent events indicate a lot of upside-down thinking in our approach to the Ebola crisis.
We occasionally need to bring our organizational discussion down a notch in intensity, and talk about some rather mundane principles of communication.
There’s a growing trend to refer to constant business operations as 24/7 rather than 24×7. For math-savvy individuals, this is a headdesk-worthy trend.