Emotion & cognition

Articles and posts about the aspects of emotion and cognition that are distinct to technology groups and how they interact with their business sponsors

Motivating the mercenaries

Posted by on Apr 8, 2014 in Computerworld Columns, Emotion & cognition, Managing projects, Managing teams | 0 comments

Technology projects have long been staffed with a combination of employees and contractors, but now the balance is shifting toward heavier reliance on hired guns. If you’re a manager who’s being told to bring on contractors rather than hire full-time staffers, you need to be prepared for the implications of having a team that skews toward the temporary. Your focus is on getting your projects done, regardless of who is doing the work. To get there, you’ll need to motivate your people to perform, no matter where their loyalties lie. OK, I can hear your objections already:...

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When objectivity is a trap

Posted by on Sep 22, 2011 in Emotion & cognition | 0 comments

While the advantages of objectivity are well known and irrefutable, it’s important to consider that intuition has an important role to play at work, and respect for intuition is very important if you want to build relationships with non-mechanical people. In fact, an absolute adherence to objectivity can hurt your effectiveness in the workplace. For those of us who love things to be objectively verifiable, sometimes we need to be reminded that things aren’t black and white. If objectivity is good, it doesn’t make intuition bad. Nor does it make objectivity always good. This post...

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En-lightening up on each other

Posted by on Sep 14, 2011 in Emotion & cognition, News & commentary | 2 comments

The other day my friend Bob and I got into a warm discussion about discussion. We were both embodying a core difference between geeks and non-geeks, which Paul has called “The Problem with Problems.” Bob said that in order to seriously discuss something, a clear, concise, coherent problem-statement is required. I immediately recognized this (from having read Paul’s book) as a geek preference for framing the world as series of problems to be solved. Geeks like to start with a problem statement, identify the assumptions and constraints, and work toward a solution. It comes from rigorous...

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Two Cheers for the Passionless

Posted by on Sep 13, 2010 in Emotion & cognition | 0 comments

I often hear consultants, writers and managers offering advice about how to elicit passion in the workplace. They talk of strategies to help people find their passion, and they endorse weeding out people without the inner drive that they claim is essential to success. To be blunt, much of this type of talk seems silly at best, self-aggrandizing and delusional at worst. Usually when I hear a manager talk about the passion of “my people,” it seems a transparent and cringe-worthy attempt to prove what a great leader he is. Few ever seem to take a moment to think carefully about the...

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All Decisions are Snap Decisions

Posted by on Sep 13, 2010 in Emotion & cognition | 0 comments

Big decisions seem to be coming fast and furious these days. With the new administration in Washington staring down one of the worst financial crises in living memory and still aspiring to implement an expansive agenda, the choices are mind-boggling. And not to be left out, state governments are being rushed into big decisions, since they, unlike the U.S. government, must balance their budgets each year. Their big decisions are less about what to do than what not to do. But big decisions are not being made only by the government. Businesses affected by the economic crisis are also being...

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How to prevent panic

Posted by on Sep 13, 2010 in Emotion & cognition | 0 comments

The year ahead isn’t shaping up to be a good one for IT, to say the least. As we settle into the recession here in the U.S., budgets are increasingly going to reflect the worsening business conditions. That means a year or more of tough times for all of us. The sad reality is that more of us will be looking for work in the next 12 months. And for those with jobs, it’s not going to be so pleasant either. When times get tough, people feel stressed out, frazzled and nervous. That’s not unreasonable. When people are faced with a combination of resource limits, personal...

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Delusions in Good Times and Bad

Posted by on Sep 13, 2010 in Emotion & cognition, News & commentary | 0 comments

With gloom descending on the global economy, it seems clear that we in IT will not be spared from the suffering of the financial meltdown. If history is any guide, we’ll be in the vanguard of corporate cuts. When things get tough, businesses rarely invest in efficiency, expansion or strategic change. Instead, they cut contractors, projects and employees willy-nilly to husband cash and shore up short-term balance sheets. While these times can be disturbing and scary, they also offer a good opportunity for reflection, and a chance to review our assumptions about our world, our work and...

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