Regulators are now pushing back. Having studied the issue, as required by the Dodd Frank act of 2010, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is likely to propose a rule which would ban class-action-blocking arbitration clauses in businesses the agency oversees, such as credit cards and payday loans. Business would challenge any such rule in court, says Alan Kaplinsky of Ballard Spahr, the lawyer who came up with the idea of arbitration clauses. They are “not a conspiracy”, as plaintiff lawyers contend, but “a way to level the playing field”, he argues. The problem is education, he says: consumers shy away from arbitration because they don’t understand the benefits.
Here’s some advice for your next meeting: Hold thy tongue. Total freedom of speech, new research shows, has the potential to squash creativity. As it turns out, if you’re in a group of both men and women, abiding to standards of political correctness can help generate far better ideas than simply letting the conversation run wild.
This is a surprise. For years, conventional wisdom has suggested that anarchy breeds creativity, says lead author Jack Goncalo, an associate professor of organizational behavior. But in reality, it seems like a bit of structure can go a long way: “Anything that reduces the uncertainty,” Goncalo says, especially for mixed-gender groups, helps get the juices flowing. The Cornell researchers who figured this out tasked 483 students of both genders with a problem: What business should be built in an empty lot? The groups that were politically correct — for instance, who avoided sexist language — generated a greater number of ideas, and more novel ideas, than groups operating without the norm.
When Ronald Jackson found a text he thought was rude and inappropriate on his then-12-year-old daughter’s phone in September 2013, he took the cell away. But the child’s mother, Michelle Steppe, balked at his action — and she called the police.
27 By Amanda Hoover @amahoover Boston.com Staff | 01.25.16 | 8:52 PM Two Brookline police officers who say racism in the department made them fear for their safety have rejected the chief’s public appeal urging them to return to work for mediation.
In an email sent to Chief Daniel O’Leary and the town’s five selectmen, officers Prentice Pilot and Estifanos Zerai-Misgun reiterated their skepticism of O’Leary’s offers to mediate the conflict, saying that “racism cannot be mediated.”
“The Chief and the Selectmen would like us all to believe mediation would resolve this problem,” Pilot and Zerai-Misgun wrote in the letter. “However, the problem is that Brookline has a systemic racism problem that remains unaddressed.”
Both men left work in December after Pilot reported another officer used a racial slur in conversation with him. Zerai-Misgun filed a complaint regarding racism last year. O’Leary claimed that an independent investigation into discrimination and workplace safety began earlier this month in attempt to address the complaints.
Still, both men have emphasized that they don’t feel the department has taken their complaints seriously, and that they believe their safety is in jeopardy.
When you stop playing your familiar role, you implicitly invite them to stop playing theirs. You can’t directly control the other person, but you can change the environment around them – in this case, your own response. This makes it likelier the other person will respond differently in turn.
“Improvise!” does not mean, “Anything goes.” You know that certain responses are likely to be harmful. It doesn’t count as improvisation to express your familiar anger in slightly new ways. Rather, the realization that an old story is repeating, looked at in this way, becomes an opportunity: your chance to come up with something completely fresh.
In the last two years, my supervisor has fired and written up multiple employees for small and large grievances. I admit that some of the employees deserved their write-ups or being fired, but the turnover here makes me feel like I don’t dare make a mistake or I’ll be next.
Worse, she likes to “talk over” her reprimand and termination decisions with other employees. She’ll approach you, ask what you think about a co-worker and then dish the dirt herself. I never know what to say.
Fate of names is up for debate after a longtime Grand Canyon concessionaire applies to trademark them.
Rob Duke's insight:
Excerpt: Xanterra applied for the trademarks just before its contract to manage South Rim hotels, restaurants and mule rides expired at the end of December. It later won a temporary contract and can bid on a new one expected sometime this year.
The Greenwood Village, Colorado-based company and its predecessors have operated at the Grand Canyon for more than a century. Places like the famed El Tovar Hotel, which overlooks the canyon, were housing visitors before the Grand Canyon became a national monument and, later, a national park.
Experts say the intent of the trademark applications is clear: to stifle competition for the upcoming concessions contract or earn money for the value Xanterra has created in the names.
"They're just playing a card," said Kristelia Garcia, an associate professor at the University of Colorado Law School.
-Create opportunities for less-experienced colleagues to observe the expert in action -Encourage team members to keep a log of what they’ve learned from the expert and, more importantly, to practice new skills and behaviors -Make training and coaching part of the promotion process in order to motivate experts to mentor possible successors before they leave
-Panic— determine the timeframe and the scope of the knowledge that needs transferring to figure out which strategies will work best for your team -Bother asking the departing expert to write a lengthy how-to manual — instead, ask him to share stories of how he handled problems in the past -Treat the person like a traitor for leaving the organization — use the off-boarding process to demonstrate your respect
The inheritors of 240 acres of homesteaded property in the Mat-Su are fighting with the state to keep people off their land, which includes a portion of the historic Iditarod Trail claimed by the state.
We rarely grow alone. In fact, some psychologists have made a compelling case that we only grow in connection with others. However, we don’t need to learn with others in formal training or development programs: we can architect our own opportunities to gain insight, knowledge, and skills that move us on an upward trajectory. We can have more control over our learning at work if we make building high-quality connections a priority.
What are high-quality connections? They’re the connections with other people in which we feel positive regard, mutuality, and vitality. Positive regard is the sense that someone sees the best in us, even if we are only connected for a short time. Mutuality means we feel a sense of responsiveness and openness from another person. Finally, vitality captures the heightened sense of energy we feel when deeply connected to someone else — as if we are more alive in the moment.
Daniel Reisel studies the brains of criminal psychopaths (and mice). And he asks a big question: Instead of warehousing these criminals, shouldn’t we be using what we know about the brain to help them rehabilitate?
Put another way: If the brain can grow new neural pathways after an injury … could we help the brain re-grow morality?
Corporate boards, the US Congress, and global gatherings like the just-wrapped World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, are all built on a simple theory of problem solving: Get enough smart and powerful people in a room and they’ll figure it out. This may be misguided. The very traits that compel people toward leadership roles can be obstacles when it comes to collaboration. The result, according to a new study, is that high-powered individuals working in a group can be less creative and effective than a lower-wattage team.
The first thing most of us do when working with people from a new culture is to learn about differences. And there are very sensible reasons to do so. It helps you avoid cultural faux pas. For example, if your Korean employee will likely be embarrassed if you praise him in public, it would be good to know that ahead of time so you can anticipate his reaction and alter your own behavior plan. Similarly, if you know that an American employer expects you to look her in the eye, give a firm handshake, and speak positively about yourself, it’s important for you to know that as well, even if those very same behaviors would be considered inappropriate where you come from. Focusing on cultural differences also helps you learn to correctly interpret and make sense of the behavior of others.
When you’re trying to convey the quality of your mind to your boss, or to a company that’s considering you for a job, your best ally may be your own voice.
Although some people may assume that their ideas and intellect would come across much better in written form, it turns out that using your voice can make you sound smarter.
This insight comes out of our broader research investigating how people discern what’s going on in others’ minds despite the fundamental human inability to directly observe another’s thoughts, beliefs, or motivations. We’ve learned that spoken language is a highly effective tool for this. It’s the communication form that most clearly reveals not only what people are thinking but also their thinking ability.
What Kind of Thinker Are You? HBR STAFF We all aspire to work better together. Technology is making some of that effort easier. But digital tools are only part of the answer. It’s people who ultimately make the difference.
The problem is that technologies for collaboration are improving faster than people’s ability to learn to use them. What can be done to close that gap? A year ago we set out to find the answer, drawing on the collective experience of dozens of collaborative communities and learning organizations. Here’s what we found.
In most organizations, there’s a standard set of tools we use to form, lead, and manage teams. These include personality tests, skill profiles, and team roles. When you put a team together, you consider people’s personalities: are they an introvert or extrovert, risk-taker or risk-avoider, analytical or intuitive? You consider their skills: What is their specific area of talent, experience, or expertise? And you consider their potential role on the team: What will their contribution be to the team’s purpose?
We normally think of roles as being about what people do, such as team leader, project manager, or researcher. When you need a decision, you go to the team leader. When you want a status update, you go to the project manager. When you need something investigated, you go to the researcher.
But in today’s marketplace, the smartest companies aren’t those that necessarily out-produce the competition. Instead, it’s the organizations that outthink them. And while there are plenty of tools that help us quickly understand what our teammates do, it’s harder to tell how they think. Research shows that it is ultimately how teams think together that most determines their performance.
We therefore propose that just as team members today have assigned doing roles, there should also be thinking roles. By knowing how other members of your team and organization think — and by others knowing how you think — everyone can be more energized, more engaged, more creative, and more productive.
One aspect of collaboration is about getting people aligned in what they do. But there is another dimension about getting people aligned in how they think.
So how should you evaluate about how you and your team think? There are frameworks for how you personally think or how you influence others one-on-one. But we didn’t find any simple assessments that would help people connect, communicate, and collaborate based on how they think. So after a lot of co-creation and trial-and-error, we developed a three-step method that delivers practical and meaningful results.
Focus. The first step is to identify the focus of your thinking in a particular context or setting. Do you tend to pay the most attention to ideas, process, action, or relationships? For example, in the morning as you contemplate the day ahead, do you tend to think about the problems you need to solve, the plans you need to make, the actions you need to take, or the people you need to see?
This isn’t about picking one to the exclusion of the other. It’s about where your focus naturally lands. Just like when you consider watching a movie or reading a book, do you tend to go for action, romance, drama, or mystery?
Orientation. The next step is to notice whether your orientation in that setting swings toward the micro or the macro — the big picture or the details. A good way to identify this orientation is by thinking about what tends to bother you in meetings. Are you more likely to complain about getting dragged into the weeds or about things being too general and not specific enough?
These dimensions are complementary to personality, skills, and traditional roles. Some project managers are more inclined to focus on process and others on people. And some extraverts are big picture and others more detail oriented.
The third step is to combine these two dimensions and see the thinking style at work in whatever context or setting you chose.
For example, on the big picture or macro orientation:
Explorer thinking is about generating creative ideas. Planner thinking is about designing effective systems. Energizer thinking is about mobilizing people into action. Connector thinking is about building and strengthening relationships. Across the micro or detail orientation:
Expert thinking is about achieving objectivity and insight. Optimizer thinking is about improving productivity and efficiency. Producer thinking is about achieving completion and momentum. Coach thinking is about cultivating people and potential.
The names of some of Yosemite National Park’s most cherished and recognizable sites are changing, from the regal Ahwahnee Hotel to the tent-city Curry Village — the result of a trademark battle that could lead to a multimillion-dollar payout to the park’s ousted concessionaire. The company claims the monikers became its intellectual property during the 23 years it ran the park’s lodges, campgrounds and other tourist accommodations. National Park Service officials are fighting a lawsuit that Delaware North filed last year to require Yosemite’s incoming concessionaire, Aramark of Philadelphia, to pay compensation for using the names. [...] with the switchover coming in March, Yosemite officials said Thursday they were heading off potential confusion and simplifying things for Aramark by making the revisions. Curry Village will become Half Dome Village, and the Badger Pass Ski Area will become Yosemite Ski and Snowboard Area. “While it is unfortunate that we must take this action, changing the names of these facilities will help us provide seamless service to the American public during the transition to the new concessionaire,” Yosemite Superintendent Don Neubacher said in a statement. To manage the concessions, the company was required to buy the assets of the previous concessionaire, which had owned the properties, and then turn them over to the park. Delaware North says it transferred the physical assets it purchased, but retained ownership of the intellectual property. In a statement Thursday, officials at Delaware North, also known as DNC Parks and Resorts, accused the park service of changing the names to turn public opinion against them instead of resolving the issue. “DNC Parks and Resorts at Yosemite Inc. is shocked and disappointed that the National Park Service would consider using the beloved names of places in Yosemite National Park as a bargaining chip in a legal dispute ... involving basic contract rights,” said Lisa Cesaro, public relations manager for Delaware North. Delaware North, which runs services at sports arenas, airports and casinos worldwide, will operate Yosemite’s concessions through February. The Ahwahnee was built in the 1920s as the park’s luxury accommodation, and today hosts presidents and dignitaries against the stunning backdrop of Half Dome. The Wawona Hotel, a Victorian-era lodge at the park’s southern entrance, similarly derives its name from the American Indian language. Park officials said that if they succeed in the trademark fight, they’ll look to restore the original names to the tourist sites. Attorneys specializing in intellectual property law believe that the issue, for the courts, will boil down to the details of the original contract between Delaware North and Yosemite that spelled out ownership terms and, to a lesser degree, whether the names’ historical origins means the monikers can’t be owned. The Badger Pass Ski Area is renamed the Yosemite Ski and Snowboard Area.
WHEN Oscar Pistorius was convicted of murder last month, the presiding judge described the case as a “human tragedy of Shakespearean proportions”. The Paralympic athlete’s fall from grace had followed a narrative arc that made this comparison appropriate: overcoming severe disability to reach “Olympian heights”, falling in love with a beautiful model, and, in a coincidence that wouldn’t be out of place in one of the bard’s plays, taking her life on Valentine’s Day. Mr Pistorius’s tragic flaw was an excessive paranoia regarding intruders, which manifested itself in an enthusiasm for guns. His downfall will be complete when he is sentenced in April.
Mr Pistorius’s case is, indeed, peculiarly Shakespearean. But Justice Eric Leach, who delivered the judgement, is but one of a vast horde who have turned to the playwright in times of legal need. In 2012, Britain’s High Court evoked “King Lear” in a trial regarding a “menacing” joke on Twitter—they eventually overturned a conviction on the grounds that social-media users “are free to speak not what they ought to say, but what they feel”. A choice snippet of “Hamlet” ("a little patch of ground that hath no profit in it but the name") was recited in a 2008 boundary dispute; a different chunk was used in a French court when discussing criminal liability (“I here proclaim was madness.”). “Henry VIII” (though wrongly attributed at the time as “Henry IV”) was called forth by Senator Sam Ervin Jr during the Watergate hearings. The condemnation of Dzokhar Tsarnaev, one of the orchestrators of the 2013 Boston Marathon bombings, was sealed with lines from “Julius Caesar”: “the evil that men do lives after them; the good is oft interred with their bones.” These examples illuminate and beautify, and make court proceedings user-friendly. (Sometimes it is mere ponderous showing-off: in 1978, Judge Sir Gerald Fitzmaurice felt the need for a footnote explaining that his use of the phrase “a very positive reply” was lifted from act two, scene two, line 43 of “Romeo and Juliet”.)
The Supreme Court is poised to dent the political power of labor after conservative justices cast doubt Monday on public sector unions' ability to collect fees even from workers who disagree with the union's political or other demands.
By definition, empathy is the ability to understand or share another person’s experiences and emotions – as much as humanly possible. Like any skill, it requires practice. To better understand how to develop and cultivate empathy, I interviewed several leaders at the MIT Leadership Center about how they build connections with their teams and customers. Not surprisingly, what these leaders do to maintain an empathetic culture yields many high-value benefits.
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