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This post is an email from Domingo T. Ligot:

In his book entitled “The Tipping Point” Malcolm Gladwell wrote about a campaign slogan a long time ago about cigarettes which read “Winstons taste good like a cigarette should”. Slogans like these are coined by highly paid experts employed by advertising agencies who sell their services to anyone wishing to promote something like an item or product for sale including a candidate seeking public office. Mr. Gladwell recounts that the Winston slogan successfully “stuck” in the minds of cigarette smokers in America first then the rest of the smoking world that steadily Winston started to gain ground and eventually begun to outsell its competition like Philip Morris, L&M, and other brands. It goes without saying that the study and coining of effective slogans certainly requires an understanding of its target market. The market for Winston cigarettes and its competitors Philip Morris and L&M clearly would be a higher strata of the smoking public than perhaps smokers of Bataan Matamis, Gold Coin, and Fighter, local cigarette brands then that were cheaper (1/2 the price of Winston etc. or cheaper for those who still remember) so that the slogan for Winston must appeal to a more sophisticated motivation to choose this cigarette from its competitors than slogans promoting the cheaper cigarettes. It will not be unusual therefore to find slogans aimed at lower strata markets like the poor sounding unsophisticated, inane, and ridiculously simple because, lets face it, they would’nt be able to understand or appreciate a sophisticated slogan anyway. (Do you recall a sound bite for Bataan Matamis that aired over the AM radio many years back which even sounded like a “ngo-ngo” speaking? The idea perhaps was to promote Bataan Matamis to the real poor even a “ngo-ngo” who is a ridiculed but amusing fellow likes it). An ad agency which does not know or appreciate this basic reality will fail in its business.

With the foregoing as background let us now examine certain political slogans of the recent past. Candidate Joseph “Erap” Estrada used the slogan “Erap Para sa Mahirap” when he won the presidency and more recently candidate Noynoy Aquino had the slogan “Kung Walang Corrupt Walang Mahirap” when he won the presidency. Glaringly common in the two slogans is the word “Mahirap” betraying that the target of both slogans are, you guessed it, the “Mahirap” or poor. Going back to the Winston slogan analysis above, it makes sense that when your target market for a slogan are the lower strata of society it must by necessity sound inane and ridiculously simple otherwise it will not be effective or, in the words of Malcolm Gladwell, it will not “stick”. If we are to ask their promoters whether the candidates sincerely believed or meant what their slogans said, we will probably just get a shrug and a “who cares they won did’nt they” retort. But unfortunately the “Mahirap” will swallow these slogans as true albeit inane and insincere, just look at how Erap remains popular among the poor despite his shenanigans while he was in office, and in the case of President Noynoy you can see how the poor currently resonate with his supposed anti corrupt campaign they have become like mindless hooligans out to lynch GMA at whatever cost. The lamentable thing however is many of those who should know better ride on this ignorance and instead of promoting calm and orderliness they serve like rah-rah boys egging the poor to proceed in their mob mentality (Recall who were on platforms with microphones egging the “masa” to invade Malacanang during the so-called EDSA III and those now in congress, especially the party list kind, and priests who love to run and those who love to appear in media every chance they get who are dressed and speak nowhere near being poor). Are the poor really in the hearts and minds of these powerful people, are they concerned that the poor are just being exposed to more harm than good? Who cares, they won didn’t they!

The ad agency and the expert who came out with the slogans must have gotten a hefty bonus and a rousing celebration after the elections for coming up with the winning slogan, now they rest until the next election, that is simply how it works.

Domingo is a retired lawyer from the Philippines. He has worked in various capacities as a lawyer in both the private sector and Philippine government.

 

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The International Institute of Management (IIM) released a white paper on the symptoms of dysfunctional organizations and dysfunctional leadership. Bad politics is a disease that can drain organizations of productive potential, and the IIM white paper also proposed some possible cures to help afflicted organizations out of the rut and back to health.

The white paper describes symptoms of bad leadership, which upon reading, have a strong correspondence to a lack of critical thinking:

3. Performance Diagnosis Checklist

Even fast-growing and profitable companies can develop bad internal politics and unproductive work habits that will eventually lead to declining performance. It is true that the larger the organization, the more susceptible it is to the breakdown of communication, the emergence of management silos and misalignment. Yet, in my experience many of the smaller companies also suffer from similar problems. When management tends to focus so much on one management area, e.g., sales, and has no time to manage the internal organization challenges, dysfunction creeps in and takes hold. To build and sustain high-performance teams, leadership and human resources managers should keep an eye open for the following symptoms and treat the root causes before it becomes too late.

Dysfunctional leadership symptoms and warning signs:

  • Dictatorial Leadership: Management that does not allow disagreements out of insecurity or arrogance.
  • No 360 Degrees Feedback: There is limited or no leadership performance feedback.
  • Personal Agendas: Recruitments, selections and promotions are based on internal political agenda, for example hiring friends to guarantee personal loyalty at the expense of other highly performing and more-qualified employees.
  • Political Compensation: Stock options, bonuses and perks are not fairly linked to performance.
  • Inefficient Use of Resources: Budgets are allocated between business units or departments based on favoritism and power centers rather than actual business needs.
  • Empire-building Practices: Managers believe that the more people they manage and the bigger the budget, the higher the chance that they will be promoted. This results in raging battles around budgets, strategies and operations.
  • Unequal Workload Distribution: You’ll find some departments are underutilized while other departments are overloaded.
  • Too Much Management: There are many management layers in the organization, thus, hindering communication and resulting in slower execution.
  • Fragmented Organization Efforts: Interdepartmental competition and turf wars between rival managers lead to the emergence of silos, which results in communication gaps. Management silos almost always result in fragmented and duplicated budgets and projects, thus wasting valuable company investments.
  • Too Much Talk: Plans are heavy on talk but light on action. In a political corporate culture, image management becomes far more important than actions.
  • Ineffective Meetings: Argumentative and heated cross-divisions meetings with discussion and language focusing on point scoring and buck-passing rather than sharing responsibility and collaborating to solve the problem
  • Lack of Collaboration: Every person for himself/herself. Low sense of unity or camaraderie on the team. The key criterion for decision-making is What is in it for me?
  • Low Productivity: Management wastes more time and energy on internal attack and defense strategies instead of executing the work, innovating and overcoming challenges. Critical projects fall behind on deadlines, budgets and performance targets (e.g. sales, market share, quality and other operational targets).
  • Constant Crisis Mode: Management team spends most of their time on fire fighting instead of proactive planning for next-generation products and services.
  • Morale Deterioration:Muted level of commitment and enthusiasm by other teams. Even successful results cannot be shared and celebrated due to animosity and internal negative competition.
  • Backstabbing: Backbiting among the executives and managers becomes common and public.
  • Highly Stressful Workplace: There is a high rate of absenteeism and a high employee turnover rate.

The IIM paper provides a good basis of how critical thinking can help (or the lack of can destroy) organizations from a practical perspective. 

Read more here.

Download the paper here.

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We’ve discussed some of the more popular personality disorders under the DSM-IV before. However, excluded from that list are some diagnoses that for some (Millon) are considered valid, but since they were excluded or deleted from the DSM definition, do not have a concrete diagonistic criteria.

When subjects do not readily fit into the formally clustered disorders, a differential diagnosis of “not specified” may be offered. This may have referred to personalities that fall within the following types. These types of disorders are also referred to as categories requiring further study.

  1. Depressive personality disorder - is a pervasive pattern of depressive cognitions and behaviors beginning by early adulthood.
  2. Passive-aggressive personality disorder (negativististic personality disorder) – is a pattern of negative attitudes and passive resistance in interpersonal situations.
  3. Sadistic personality disorder - is a pervasive pattern of cruel, demeaning and aggressive behavior.
  4. Self-defeating personality disorder (masochistic personality disorder) – is characterised by behaviour consequently undermining the person’s pleasure and goals.

What we can see from the examples provided is how subjective the diagnoses can be, especially when no specified concrete and agreed criteria is prevalent. However it is the goal of future diagnostic query to find more statistically valid bases for classifying personality disorders.

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In 2006, Focus Consulting Group published a case study on Berkshire Hathaway, the holding company of billionaire investor Warren Buffett. The article expounded on key behaviours which were the management style of Buffett and his vice-chariman: Charlie Munger.

What is fascinating is that many of the behaviours identified by Focus that were integral to Berkshire’s success as a company have close ties to the behaviours associated with critical thinking.  Read the article below and see for yourself.

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Dilbert Cartoons have been a classic expression of corporate life since they came about in 1989.

Here’s a short sequence from 1993-1997 that I loved particularly well since I personally know of a colleague that underwent the exact same sketch in the office:

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We reopen our blog posts today by taking AskMen.com‘s advice on the 10 Top TED Talks. We’ve featured TED Talks here before and this Top 10 list is fresh and very insightful material.

From AskMen.com:

The Technology, Entertainment and Design (TED) conferences aim to help foster a better future by mining the ideas of “the world’s smartest thinkers, greatest visionaries and most-inspiring teachers.” Past TED talks have been given by Gordon Brown, Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, and other preeminent figures in their fields. Since 2007, hundreds of talks have been available online in their entirety on subjects ranging from matters of dire global importance to lighthearted comedy.

Described in The New York Times Magazine as a series of “head-rush disquisitions” from “violinists, political prisoners, brain scientists, novelists, and Bill Clinton,” the event isn’t at all limited in its scope, as long as the final product is interesting. The talks to follow are all in some way about men’s issues, though they range from perilous adventure to reflective poetry.

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One of this blogger’s favorite and recurring topics on Planetjan is narcissism. Today alwaysjan talks about it in the context of the TV series Mad Men and its main character Don Draper, beginning with telltale signs of narcissism:

As I read the article by Mary McNamara, I observed the following Red Flags:
1) In three seasons, Don Draper “has not done one single thing that wasn’t driven by rabid self-interest.” 2) “He lies to everyone all the time.”
3) “He cheats on his wife, he cheats on his mistress…”
4) “…the idea that his behavior needs to change does not seem to cross his mind – ever.”
5) He manages to “seem like he’s doing the right thing when that is not his intention at all.”
6) His children exist on the periphery of his life – cardboard cutouts at best

Read more of this post here.

Planetjan talks in depth and at length about narcissism in many posts starting here. We should all learn about NPD–a silent destroyer of relationships, since few people are aware of the disorder in themselves or their loved ones.

This blog also covered NPD and other personality disorders as part of the DSM-IV list as well as in popular fiction like Watchmen. A recent article from the WHO also indicated that personality disorders may be gender-biased.

Have you encountered a narcissist lately?

“Sent from my BlackBerry® wireless handheld”

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Can be taken in two ways.

1. job opening

2. a pursuance of a lunatic that is to be annihilated or kept within inescapable confines

We can add a 3rd way, and that is a joke. Example:

“Lunatic”
by J. H. Hill

I like hunting fossils, a hobby that isn’t exactly my wife’s favorite. On one excursion, I found the petrified bones of a squirrel-like mammal. When I brought them home and told my wife what they were, she squelched my excitement.

“I’ve heard of many a squirrel bringing a nut home,” she remarked, “but this is the first time I’ve heard of a nut bringing a squirrel home.”

Haha! I can’t stop laughing! But let’s go back to the 1st possible meaning which is the job opening. Disturbing, isn’t it? But how prevalent. Perhaps we have ceased to be disturbed about it, too.
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Kedrosky today on risk-aversion between Catholics and Protestants:

We examine the relations between mutual fund risk-taking behaviors and local religious beliefs. We find that funds located in regions with lower Protestant population or higher Catholic population tend to have higher volatilities of fund returns, consistent with Protestants (Catholics) being more (less) risk-averse compared to general population.

More here.

“Sent from my BlackBerry® wireless handheld”

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If you agree that Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus, well, it seems that common Martian mental problems may differ from Venusians.

From our previous (light) discussion on how fictional characters in Watchmen and Batman may indicate various personality disorders and traits, notes from the World Health Organization indicate that even amongst Men and Women there are unique predispositions:

Some of the findings are intuitively easy to accept, such as alcoholism in men:

The lifetime prevalence rate for alcohol dependence, another common disorder, is more than twice as high in men than women. In developed countries, approximately 1 in 5 men and 1 in 12 women develop alcohol dependence during their lives.

And post-traumatic stress from sexual violence in women:

The high prevalence of sexual violence to which women are exposed and the correspondingly high rate of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) following such violence, renders women the largest single group of people affected by this disorder.

Why would this be the case? (more…)

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