I was Interview by Jonathan Pritchard (ALWD)

ALWD 008: Leadership Interview with Ken Wrede

I had a podcast interview with Jonathan Pritchard over at A Life Well Designed. Jonathan uses design principles to analyze challenges in life and business, then applies design techniques to find elegant, effective solutions.
(For some reason I had a tough time enunciating, but I hope the messages were clear.)

I enjoyed the interview immensely, thanks Jonathan!

EOM,

Kenneth Wrede

(http://www.alifewelldesigned.com/podcast/alwd-008-leadership-with-ken-wrede/)

Why are We Assessing Leadership Roles and Styles?

Personality (0)What is the point of all of it?

Millions of dollars are spent each year on personality assessment tests.  But, nobody can express a clear reason why.

“Two and a half million Americans a year take the Myers-Briggs. Eighty-nine companies out of the US Fortune 100 make use of it, for recruitment and selection or to help employees understand themselves or their co-workers.”[1]

Almost 90% of Fortune 100 companies perform these tests.  This is amazing to me.

I have taken these assessments.  After receiving my results, my first thought always is: interesting, but so what?

I see a lot of commentary and articles on how to assess leadership styles and roles.

  • Are you a democratic leader, authoritarian, or somewhere in between (here)?
  • What is your personality type (FIRO-B, MBTI)?
  • What is your role as a team member (Belbin)?

Are these useful tools?  Can we use them to predict behaviors or successes? Continue reading

Is the NSA Really Your Biggest Problem?

Why do we fear the NSA?Bed Shark (0)

Why do we fear sharks?

Why do we fear anything?

Here’s some context:

  • Shark attacks in 2014: 72 unprovoked attacks with 3 fatalities.[1]
  • A 2006 Time article stated that more than 600 people die annually in the US alone by falling out of bed.[2]

Which should you fear more, the creature whose main potential for attack is within swimming distance of shore in salt water or the item that is the featured item in every single bedroom? Continue reading

Chris Hadfield’s Guitar

Guitar, Martin DX1 (0a)I, like everyone else, was vastly entertained and totally engaged by Chris Hadfield during his missions assigned to the International Space Station (ISS).

It was a great piece of public outreach that I think captured the world’s attention on science and space.

So, why does this topic show up here? 

Think of it as a thought experiment.

A way to exercise critical thinking skills and follow a line of research.

As I watched Chris’ videos I thought to myself “where the hell did he find a guitar?”
“Did NASA waste money just to get the instrument up there just for Hadfield?”

This is nothing more than an example of following a simple thread of thought that I found interesting.  An example of posing a question (or two) and trying to find reasonable answers. Continue reading

Bill O’Reilly (Memory Challenge)

One of the hardest comments for anyone to say when speaking of Bill O’Reilly is “I have no opinion about the guy.” He makes it almost impossible to separate the messenger from the message.

Human bias is not part of an intellectual process, it is an emotional one. Almost everyone has a bias regarding O’Reilly. If the bias is positive, people agree with him automatically because he resonates with them emotionally and reinforces the group opinion (several documented biases come into effect that strengthens group membership). If the bias is negative, another group of people disagree, also automatically, with biases that enforce their group feeling.

Full disclosure on my part… My own biases of O’Reilly stem from my perception of his abrasiveness and my lifelong cynicism of self-appointed experts and authorities.

I have to put those aside. Ignore the news hype and make a fair analysis so I can fairly judge O’Reilly and ask the question…

Was Bill O’Reilly really lying?

I recently discussed Bill O’Reilly’s media crisis (here).  He responded to his critics and the crisis terribly.  I also discussed Brian Williams’ crisis and the mitigating circumstances that I believe contributed to a faulty memory recollection that blew up into a media frenzy (here).

Does O’Reilly deserve the same benefit of doubt that I feel Williams deserves?  Do the same mitigating circumstances apply?? Continue reading

Ice Station Zebra and the Human Eye

The color green is important here.Night Shot with IR lamp, 04

If you are alive today and watched any kind of television in the last 20 years you’ve seen the green screen of night vision recording: war reporting, “ghost hunters”, traffic helicopters, numerous movies. The pictures are instantly recognizable as having mediocre resolution, but clear enough to see the creepy reflection of light from retinas of the filmed subjects.

The color red is important here.

One of my favorite action movies growing up was “Ice Station Zebra”, a Cold War espionage thriller based on the 1963 book by Alistair MacLean.

One of the scenes that stuck with me was when the crew made preparation for night watch on the conning tower bridge. Before the watch crew went on duty, everyone was wearing red-tinted goggles to protect their night vision. The memory is vivid and it was reinforced through to adulthood: red flashlight filters and maps designed to be readable at night with a red filter (quick explanation: night viewable maps have features depicted in red ink, the assumption is that everyone will use red filters at night and the red ink becomes near invisible when viewed with red light).

Spies, submarines, arctic setting, Super Panavision 70, no kissing… woooohoooo!  The perfect Saturday afternoon movie fare for a kid. (It is rumored that Howard Hughes watched the movie 150 times on a continuous loop, if it was good enough for Howard… well, I digress.) Continue reading

Recommendation “Rationally Speaking Podcast”

I like to sometimes recommend resources that I enjoyed which offer a broader range, more insight, and greater detail than I can possibly cover in 1000 words.  More importantly, I like to recommend resources that have greatly improved my decision making skills.

I have mentioned before that decision making is one of the important topics covered in many leadership courses: the decision cycle, decision methods, etc.  I have yet to come across critical thinking as it applies to decision making.  Specifically, how information (evidence) is gathered and weighed; and if decisions are made in a rational and unbiased manner.

I gladly introduce the podcast “Rationally Speaking”, the official podcast of the New York City Skeptics.

The podcast focuses on rational thought, philosophy, science, and the nonsense that often claims to be the former three.  The topics can be sometimes a bit esoteric, but to become good at something, you have work at a level above your current capability.

“Rationally Speaking” is the bi-weekly podcast of New York City Skeptics. Join hosts Massimo Pigliucci and Julia Galef as they explore the borderlands between reason and nonsense, likely and unlikely, and science and pseudoscience. Any topic is fair game as long as we can bring reason to bear upon it, with both a skeptical eye and a good dose of humor!”

Continue reading