June 27, 2012
Swedish researchers have discovered that elite soccer players achieve higher scores on certain tests of cognitive ability than their lower division colleagues, and both sets of players do better than the general public!
Over the moon
It seems it’s all about ‘executive functions’ and working memory. Specifically that successful players are able to constantly assess the situation, compare what’s going on with past experiences, create new possibilities and make quick decisions. In short it’s all about making fast decisions under extreme time pressure. Sounds great! Do the England team know about this?
Sick as a parrot
Of course, there may be a physical explanation. Sports psychologists have known for a while that cognitive abilities are correlated with aerobic capacity. So it may just be that footballers, and other athletes, do better simply because they’re fitter. Mind you, if all this is true, it’s a good argument for getting out there and doing a bit more exercise…
Read the article here.
January 3, 2012
As I try to manage a four-way video-conference on my Dongleberry I suddenly realise how much technology is getting in the way of genuine human interaction. So let’s just think about what can happen in a traditional face-to-face meeting that cannot occur if we all choose to sit in different rooms gazing at little cameras. Here’s a short list:
- Authentic human contact. Whichever way you cut it, the only way to really connect with another person is when you meet them in the flesh.
- Informal promises. This is the stuff that happens on the side, in the form of favours, promises and bits of negotiation. It’s all part of developing a relationship that’s both personal and informal, and best done when you are with another person.
- Non-verbal understanding. Most technology is not up to the job of capturing all the subtleties of gestures, voice, facial expression and so on; let alone giving you the opportunity to study the expressions of all the other people present at a virtual meeting!
- Real-time information. Don’t you just love it when it all freezes up, or is just a little bit out of synch…
- Social identity. It’s much easier to know where you stand in a group (or an organisation) when you can interact properly with other people. Status is harder to understand if you try to construct it from the fragments of a cyber conversation.
- Discovering norms. No virtual conversation is ever going to help you appreciate the unwritten rules and norms that drive an organisation; or for that matter any strange or idiosyncratic aspects of its culture.
- Bonding & commitment. You need to share something meaningful to bond – it really is all about being there in person.
- Emotional support. The virtual world might be fine for transmitting information, but it’s not a good place for providing meaningful emotional support – and you might well need this from your colleagues if the going gets tough.
- Honesty & trust. It’s very difficult to know if someone is being honest, or to trust them, without experiencing the full weight of their communication and interpersonal skills.
- Tapping into the lighter side. Come on, it can all be a bit stiff and formal. In ‘real life’ humour is frequently needed to get things going, and this can be harder to use when you can’t easily check the reactions of others; and of course the very act of organising something like a tele or video-conference tends to give the proceedings a gravitas that’s not necessarily helpful.
None of this should be any surprise. Humans are social animals and we need to get information through all our senses in order to make proper sense of the world, even the digital world.
Photo credit: Daniel St Pierre/FreeDigitalPhotos.net
January 12, 2011
Silo thinking, silo working, silo vision, silo mentality… I expect if you’re a consultant you’ve said rude things about silos, or the apparent lack of communication, cooperation and understanding between the various bits of organisations – those units, departments and fiefdoms that seem to do what they like, when they like. And I bet that you’ve banged on, given the opportunity, about the joined up benefits of ‘systems’ thinking, and nodded sagely when people have talked of the Fifth Discipline. Because let’s face it, the ‘silo’ word only seems to have negative connotations. But is this right? I’m changing my mind because I think silos often represent the USP of an organisation. That’s not to say that they’re always healthy, or indeed constructive, but you take them apart at your peril. And one guy I think has something useful to say on the subject is Venkatesh Rao (Venkat). Try this piece on his Ribbonfarm blog:
Photo credit: Dan/FreeDigitalPhotos.net