Passivity in the Workplace

In addition to our tendency to inadequately empathize, assuming similar past experiences is another common tendency. In our minds, all our past experiences become similar to everyone else’s, and we don’t customarily imagine, say, a victim of abuse or neglect or some other heinous criminal act as standing or sitting right there beside us, quietly keeping that traumatic experience from becoming known. On the flip side of that notion, we don’t customarily imagine the possibility of some deviant individual standing or sitting right there beside us, working hard at gaining your trust, say, to take advantage of that later. Note that this is not an issue of paranoia; this is about possibility. You’re a professional; thinking in terms of possibility is part of your job now. Forget about what is probably true. You must now consider the BIG picture

….people often distort their thoughts about reality in order to make themselves feel more comfortable or happier. — (Norman) Stuart Sutherland, Irrationality: Why We Don’t Think Straight!, 1992.

People like to kid themselves.
— Detlof von Winterfeldt and Ward Edwards, Decision Analysis and Behavioral Research, 1993.

It is now time to turn your brain on and start recognizing possibility over probability. Billions of personalities in our world, with only one — yours — to comprehend them.

II. Policy and Procedure

Three problems plague the workplace:

• Rules that don’t take into account certain, specific possibilities

• Employees — superiors and subordinates — who either just don’t try imagining or simply choose to disregard alternate possibilities other than those currently addressed

• No means in place by which an alternate possibility or exception could be discreetly suggested and appreciated


A. Rules that don’t take into account certain, specific possibilities 
There is an exception to every rule … almost. You should always be suspicious of any rule written without at least one exception, because it more than likely sanctions or dictates some course of action that should be avoided in some particular situation. What happens if … or in the case of …? Brainstorm to eliminate all possible irrational consequences that could result from a poorly thought out rule before one surprises you some day.

We inhibit learning when we view people as machine-like, suggesting that they follow instructions like a machine, and force them to justify behavior exclusively in terms of previously articulated plans…. People do not simply plan and do. They continuously adjust and invent. Managing this process means managing learning, not managing application of a plan.
William J Clancey, “Practice Cannot be Reduced to Theory: Knowledge, Representations, and Change in the Workplace,” 1995, in Organizational Learning and Technological Change, by S Bagnara, C. Zuccermaglio and S. Stucky (Editors); papers from the NATO Workshop held September 22-26, 1992 in Siena, Italy.

B. Employees — subordinates and superiors — who either just don’t try imagining or simply choose to disregard alternate possibilities other than those currently addressed 
EMPLOYEES! Don’t let your personal mood interfere with your professional outlook. Don’t make excuses and perform according to how you “feel” or according to “what the policy is,” but aspire to take a step back, analyze the situation and consider the possibility for an exception to the rule. What is the right thing to do here? ..the responsible thing to do? ..any safety concerns? ..quality of life issues? Learn to CARE. You may not always be able to empathize depending on your own personal prior experiences, but you can still IMAGINE possibilities.

We lead our lives day-to-day, typically, in a relaxed, easy state. Our thoughts revolve around information picked up by our senses and analyzed in a cognitive manner or style shaped by our experiences and influenced by our personal emotional attitudes. This is passive thinking.

Passive thinking finds no safe place among professional decision makers. Professional decision makers have learned how to brainstorm and use their imaginative abilities to the utmost in the way of arriving at unforeseen solutions. They recognize their own personal attitudes and beliefs and disallow those thoughts from shaping or influencing professional decisions constituting their own individual responsibility. Instead, they stick to the tried and true scientific method of formulating hypotheses and conducting carefully controlled experiments to test their validity.

Professional decision makers don’t expect good ideas to just “happen.” They search for them, create them, imagine every possible contingency surrounding them and prepare for them before they even practically exist.

Similarly, professional decision makers don’t expect themselves to be immune to bad ideas or erroneous thinking. We’re all human; we all make mistakes. But professional decision makers know how to study their ideas to root out the bad ones so as to safeguard themselves and others from possible unwanted or undesirable consequences. The idea is to rack your mind and use your imaginative and analytical capabilities to the fullest to recognize all the possibilities and discover what other possible approaches there may be so that you can compare and contrast their feasibilities, pros and cons before trying to do something that you may later regret.

There is nothing magical going on here. Just self-discipline and putting your own mind to work even when you don’t want to, doing what you have to do to get a job done … professionally. It centers on CARING about what you do and how well you do it: caring for all those who will be affected by your decision, before you decide to implement it.

C. No means in place by which an alternate possibility or exception could be discreetly suggested and appreciated.

Quality never comes easy. Professional decision-making entails a lot of hard work that cannot possibly be accomplished by any single person in every single situation. In most cases, it entails a formidable job for even a group of dedicated individuals and over a very lengthy period of time. Although optimal solutions may take some time to arrive at good, safe, viable solutions can usually be found which can be improved upon in time, assuming that we will later possess the ability and motivation to do film porno gratis so.

But how can you ever hope to find that optimal solution if you stifle creativity among your subordinates? Ideas can hide in the most inaccessible places sometimes, well beyond your imaginative reach. Listen to and consider other perspectives! If you cannot prove that some particular idea bears no further scrutiny, allow for that possibility, regardless of your own personal beliefs or attitude. Appreciate and encourage all suggestions. You’re gonna’ get an outstanding one some day!

As true as that may be, still you must recognize a possibility for some timidity among the personalities in your gang. Even if they all seem to be outspoken individuals, certainly at times some things shouldn’t be blared out for everyone to overhear. The means of communicating ideas (and complaints!) should be a discreet — and anonymous — one if so desired.

Speech recognition heads to portable media players

The structure of applications follows the type of user interface used. The first interactive apps in PC-DOS days were text-based console apps. An application would ask the user a set of questions, one at a time, ending with the ubiquitous Are you sure? Y/N. A poor user who mis-typed an item would press N, and have to fill in the list all over again.

GUIs gave the initiative to the users, who could fill in (or not) fields in any order. Validation could occur on each item as it was entered. A big step forward, if you had a PC handy.
VUIs (voice user interfaces) are a whole different animal. In a VUI you must activate the grammar before you ask the question. It must contain all the possible answers. This complicates the user interface because some data values are open-ended. Consider getting a mailing address from the user.

The State is easy; there is a fixed set of them. Zip code is more open-ended but there is still an underlying pattern (5 digit number in the US, AlphaNumAlpha-NumAlphaNum in Canada) that can be used to create a grammar.

Street addresses are completely open-ended. It has, if you’ll pardon the pun, a large address space.

Heres a sampling:
1. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Ave is the longest street in Albuquerque
2. Ho Road in Carefree, AZ meets Hum Rd at the corner of Ho and Hum pic
3. Akaaka Street is in Oahu
4. not to mention the dreaded Welsh names like Gwernymynydd
The only feasible approach for getting a street address is divide-and-conquer. Ask the zip code first and then, using census data, have grammars for every zip code. Suddenly, your simple feature of getting the callers address requires determining every street name in the country! As discussed before, this is a perfect job for third-party speech objects.

The structure of speech application code reflects this issue. Much of the validation code of GUIs now becomes grammar generation code that runs at the start of the dialog. When the speech dialog ends, theres not much validation to do since the user was picking from lists that we generated. Of course, dynamic grammar generation creates problems its own: caching and avoiding unnecessary grammar reloads.

Apps that do well in an everything is a listbox world are ones that already know about the user. Existing customers call in, enter an account number, and the app already knows their phone numbers, address, GPS co-ordinates.

Two US firms have outlined ambitious plans to enable users to talk to their digital media players instructing them what they want to hear next.

Music library firm Gracenote has teamed up with Scansoft to offer a control system that hopes to give people hands-free access to their digital music collection on the move and make the need for thumbs a thing of the past.

“Voice command-and-control unlocks the potential of devices that can store large digital music collections,” said Ross Blanchard, vice president of business development for Gracenote.

“These applications will radically change the car entertainment experience, allowing drivers to enjoy their entire music collections without ever taking their hands off the steering wheel,” he added.

If the Gracenote name sounds familiar its because it currently provides music library information and ID3 tagging for millions of different albums for music download services such as Apple’s iTunes and Windows Media Player.

“Speech is a natural fit for today’s consumer devices, particularly in mobile environments, and the increasing portability of large libraries of music and video files make speech a necessary interface for safety and convenience for entertainment devices,” stated Alan Schwartz, vice president of SpeechWorks, a division of ScanSoft.
“Pairing our voice technologies with Gracenote’s vast music and video database will bring the benefits of speech technologies to a host of consumer devices and enable people to access their media in ways they’ve never imagined.”

Targeted products include car entertainment, portable media players and home entertainment devices such as media servers. The companies estimate that fully-integrated porno mexicano solutions for hardware and software platforms will be available in the fourth quarter of 2005.

However the companies have not commented on which players will be using the new software.