Thought Provoking but Obscure Articles from 2014 – 1 Singularly Unique

So little time, so many books, so many articles, so many blogs…

Last year I made a resolution to compose this year’s Thought Provoking but Obscure Articles post much earlier. Thus, I begin on December 31st, making the gross presumption that nothing more of import will appear by the end of the day. An assumption that, ironically, would necessarily include this blog post.

Once again it appears that certain topics have drawn a number of posts and articles all of which cast useful if not informative light on their subject.

In no particular order, then, are the following pieces for Topic 1 that helped make my reading year most enjoyable and often challenging.  I read; I do; I become…

1: Singularly Unique

Ebola: Doctors Without Borders Shows How to Manage a Plague” (Businessweek, 13 November 2014). If you stop and think about how we reacted to the Ebola outbreak, it seems to follow a particular progressive and repeatable pattern that is often associated with a crisis and strongly resembles the following:

If it (the crisis) is contained or limited:

– If no one dies, I’m not interested;
– If someone dies (or a lot die), and it doesn’t affect me, I’m not interested;

If it’s NOT contained or limited, or if we don’t know if it’s contained or limited:

– Sweet Jesus, someone might die; what do I do?
– If someone dies (or a lot die), Holy c**p, I’m next!

Our innate survival instinct creates fear about a crisis, which seems to be a strong function of knowledge (or lack of it), consequences, and proximity. Roughly speaking, it looks similar to this,

FEAR 1 / (what we know)n * (how many die) * 1 / (how far away are we)
(n ≥2)

The response of Doctors Without Borders to the situation in Africa (to say nothing of the response of medical staff in Texas and elsewhere in the US), operating under limited information, great consequence, and great proximity, was remarkable. An excellent story about commitment, decision-making, and perseverance under harsh circumstances.

40 Incorrectly Used Words That Can Make You Look Dumb” (Jeff Haden, LinkedIn, December 3, 2014). There is plenty of research that indicates that competence and proper mastery of one’s native tongue are not related. However, in reality in or out of the workplace we all have a tendency to draw the conclusion that they are related. In the 3rd grade, while struggling to master common grammar, there were plenty of occasions where mistakes were made, but by the time one is in college (believe me, this is true), or out, there is little room left for these mistakes. Why? Because they negatively affect the message one is trying to communicate. These mistakes are ‘filters’ that are completely in our control to eliminate. And since English is becoming (has become) the language of choice for international business, it’s important.

Jeff Haden’s enjoyable post is a rather complete summary of ‘oopses’ that are too often far too common.

ISIS: The Inside Story” (The Guardian, 11 December 2014). If you are wondering how ISIS evolved, this is a fairly in depth article on its origins and purposes from an interview with a former member.

Once again, Values lead to Behaviors, which then have Consequences.

Next: Topic 2 -Career


About Jim Edmonds

I am a husband, father, mentor, who once was a chemist turned physicist turned marketer turned executive turned missionary turned professor. And survived it all.
This entry was posted in 06: Incomplete Information, 14: Behavior, 16: Culture, Lessons from History, Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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