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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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Sex is a tricky subject for the reason that any discussion of sex almost automatically involves relationships and it could likely involve moral arguments — in short: ripe ground for subjectivity. Subjectivity is not necessarily the enemy of critical thinking, in fact it is the battleground of critical thinkers since subjective arguments are rarely completely decided by scientific evidence but by (ideally) rational debate. And by that I mean–it’s usually easier said than done.

A relatively recent piece by Charlie Glickman illustrates how sex and subjectivity can be a tricky path for critical thinking. Glickman gives his interesting critique of a NY Times article by Ross Douthat that deals with monogamy:

He (Douthat) seems to think that there are only two paths worth mentioning. There’s sex that’s part of a path that takes you towards marriage and there’s sex that’s promiscuous. Now, he seems to try to soften that by saying that it might be promiscuous or it might be ill-considered, but given that the definition of promiscuous is indiscriminate, or lacking standards of selection, this is another case of someone projecting a false dichotomy onto sexuality.

This is a problem for at least three reasons. First, it not only continues to place “matrimony” on a pedestal (something which is especially fraught with challenges in a political climate that restricts marriage to heterosexuality in most jurisdictions), it also requires that any and all relationships need to be a trial run for marriage. There’s no room to have a relationship for any other purpose- if it’s not going to lead you down the path to marriage, it’s no good.

You can see how the piece heats up in the first few paragraphs (see the rest of the article here). Apart from subjectivity, the other tricky thing about discussing sex is that we are all as human beings seemingly wired to want to talk about it, occasionally at the expense of reason.

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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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Just following the story of the Latin beauty who was allegedly fired from her job due to excessive attractiveness.

Citibank the lady’s ex-employer, is calling Debrahlee a publicity hound, much to her anguish.

Corporate sexism and peer pressure gone absurd. On the other hand, it could be a late function of the last recession.

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“Sent from my BlackBerry® wireless handheld”

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Correlation or causation:

While childlessness has risen for all racial and ethnic groups, and most education levels, it has fallen over the past decade for women with advanced degrees. In 2008, 24 percent of women ages 40-44 with a master’s, doctoral or professional degree had not had children, a decline from 31 percent in 1994.

Read here.

“Sent from my BlackBerry® wireless handheld”

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While I honestly don’t think that humans must deny the beastly programmings for survival, balance, health and feet-on-the-ground purposes, it is interesting to note that jungle principles aren’t the answer to many questions regarding the solutions to the current world problems, and that we do not even know how jungle we are when we are being that. 

 

The following article made me laugh, although not heartily.  “In athletics there’s always been a willingness to cheat,”  Kareem Abdul-Jabbar was quoted as saying, “if it looks like you’re not cheating. I think that’s just a quirk of human nature.

 

A Highly Evolved Propensity for Deceit

Published: December 22, 2008

When considering the behavior of putative scam operators like Bernard “Ponzi scheme” Madoff or Rod “Potty Mouth” Blagojevich, feel free to express a sense of outrage, indignation, disgust, despair, amusement, schadenfreude. But surprise? Don’t make me laugh.

 

Toni Angermayer/Photo Researchers

 

Sure, Mr. Madoff may have bilked his clients of $50 billion, and Governor Blagojevich, of Illinois, stands accused of seeking personal gain through the illicit sale of public property — a United States Senate seat. Yet while the scale of their maneuvers may have been exceptional, their apparent willingness to lie, cheat, bluff and deceive most emphatically was not.

 

Continue reading here: 

http://www.nytimes.com/2008/12/23/science/23angi.html?_r=3

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Just gleaned from Wired and Mashable, a Utah execution covered blow by blow on Twitter.

Ethical and moral questions aside, is this the direction of social media?

Pervasive, invasive, we are truly in the Matrix now.

“Sent from my BlackBerry® wireless handheld”

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