Monday, March 28, 2011

Group Intelligence

The researchers find some quite intriguing – and counterintuitive – correlations between properties at the level of the individual and the level of the group. For example, one might “pre-theoretically” think that group intelligence is a function of the average intelligence of that group’s members. And one might “pre-theoretically” think that a group with a single exceptional individual would have a higher group IQ than one with, say, three above average but non-exceptional members. However, Woolley and her colleagues find only a statistical correlation between the intelligence of groups and these two member-level properties. In other words, it’s not possible to accurately predict how well groups will perform on a range of cognitive tasks simply by averaging the IQs of its members, or by noting a single exceptional individual within the group. These features aren’t linked – or at least not robustly – to group IQ, despite what intuition might suggest.

What, then, determines how smart a group of collaborating individuals is? The researchers find three individual-level features that correlate in a statistically significant way to collective intelligence.

First, the greater the social sensitivity of group members, the smarter the group. Second, the more turn-taking within the group, the better the group performs.
And third, the more women in the group, the higher the group IQ.

For any reader who works on projects in groups, this is good information to know!

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

The Problem with Healthcare

My daughter needs eye surgery. Nothing major, she was born with a tear duct issue that causes teary eyes. Because she was born with 2 other health issues, the eyes fell to the bottom of the priority list. Now we are ready to deal with it and have been to 3 surgeons to determine the best approach and hospital. The first stop we made was to Boston Children’s who recommended an outpatient procedure. Being self-employed, we do not have great health insurance coverage so we knew we would likely be out-of-pocket for the majority of the cost. So we asked if we could get an all-in cost estimate (the surgeon, the anesthesiologist, the OR, – the total expected cost of the surgery) and were told no: they couldn’t provide it because they didn’t know how to create an estimate.

The third opinion was at Dartmouth Medical Center where we received a similar diagnosis and recommended out-patient procedure, so again we asked for a cost estimate. This time, they were able to give us an estimate (it took almost a month to get it) – are you ready? We were quoted $30,000 to $35,000. I was stunned when I heard the amount. I called the surgical coordinator back to get a breakdown and try and understand how a 10-minute outpatient procedure could possibly cost so much. After leaving 2 messages for her, another 3 weeks later I still did not have an answer. I kept thinking that if I were calling a car dealership about purchasing a $35,000 Lexus I would have a call back the same day.

So I called the surgeon directly and told her my story. She said she had no idea how much even her own fees were and when I told her the quoted amount of $30,000 to $35,000 she herself gasped. She said she had no idea how much it cost to have any of the procedures she performed. Despite follow up, it has been almost 2 months since our original appointment and no one can give us the breakdown of the estimated costs for her procedure.


The providers don’t even know how much they are charging. The healthcare system doesn’t know how to accurately create an estimate for services. The patients aren’t asking for cost information. What other industry can get away with this? I can’t imagine my clients asking about my fee structure and me saying, “I have no idea”.

My daughter needs this surgery but also feel that I have a responsibility to manage how much I will pay and how much my insurance company will pay for a routine procedure. If you are a patient and haven’t been asking about the costs of your healthcare, start asking. If you are a provider and don’t know your own fee structure, start learning. We all need to take a role in assessing reasonableness in cost of care. This is ridiculous.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Delegating For Development

Development Activities vs. Job Duties

Once you have identified some employees with high-potential that you would like to groom and develop, consider small actions you can take to maximize opportunities that allow your employee to learn while they work toward accomplishing job duties.
Important things to consider:

Development activities should come with added levels of support. As the employee learns, they will have questions. Pre-plan whom they should go to first and what sources are available to them. You may also suggest some “hands off” sources if you know there is a risk of them learning bad habits first. You will need to make yourself available on a predictable schedule so the employee has access to you as they learn.

Development activities must allow room for failure. Don’t assign a super-sensitive, high visibility project to your employee as a stretch assignment. Pick something that has a long deadline, that you may have time to review and finalize before it goes public, or something that has minor risk if it isn’t “perfect.” Think about how you would explain “perfect” to them as you delegate. Paint a picture of what a perfect outcome would be in your mind. And then be ready to accept less than perfect.

Development activities need a post-mortem. In today’s rush-around, no-resource world we complete projects, check them off the list and move on to the next thing. After a development activity is assigned, schedule a formal meeting to discuss process, roadblocks, successes and key learnings. It can be as simple as “what worked/what didn’t work”. Use it as an opportunity to spring board to the next assignment. Test your employee to see if they are continuously incorporating their new skills into their daily work; this is a way to measure their learning agility.

Most organizations today are relying on “on-the-job” (OTJ) training to develop employees to increasing levels of skill and competence. For OTJ to be effective, it requires a different approach to delegation and categorizing job tasks into development activities. This process aids learning, allows the employee autonomy and accountability, and minimizes risk of failure.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Type A personality: It's not all bad news!

Type A Personality: It’s not all bad news!

People with Type A personalities are known for being impatient, aggressive and high-stress. They often get a bad rap. But recent research suggests that if you have some Type A characteristics, there may be benefits – especially when it comes to your work life.

Here's what some studies say:

  • A study in the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine suggests that employees with Type A personalities are often effective leaders and have lower levels of work stress.
  • Research presented in the Journal of Applied Social Psychology found that people with Type A personalities tend to be more ambitious. As a result, they have higher levels of job satisfaction.
  • A study in the Scandinavian Journal of Psychology found that Type A employees are more likely to be engaged in their work and less likely to report burnout.
  • Research conducted in Finland found that the leadership component of Type A personalities is related to several positive traits, including high standards, perseverance and self-esteem and and being well liked among friends and co-workers - traits that may even help lower the risk of heart disease.

Source: Mayo Clinic Health Solutions