The Brief No. 30: Feedback Loops, Goliaths, and How to Destroy Them

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March 13, 2019

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Recent trends in workplace analysis can seem contradictory. One headline announces that hiring agents are placing more value on soft skills, while the next screams the future of hiring is AI and algorithms. Can quantifiable measurements and soft skills be reconciled in hiring? Enter psychometrics: the practice of assigning a tangible value to complex and often underappreciated mental capabilities. In this week’s blog, find out how psychometrics quantifies psychological capabilities, traits and sentiments --  and why Myers-Briggs is like astrology for psychology.

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O Captain, Why Captain? Many leaders cite course correction - recognizing their team’s weakness, developing a strategy to improve it, and providing the proper guidance- as a vital responsibility. But, research from the Harvard Business Review suggests that feedback (not to be confused with instruction) can actually harm employee performance ... and sometimes reveals more about the giver rather than the receiver. Businesses may agree. The proliferation of online reviews has placed tremendous power in subjective judgment that has a tangible economic impact, with small businesses being particularly vulnerable to a single bad review. The Federal Trade Commission has even taken an interest in the more dishonest methods companies have taken to boost positive online reviews and attack competitors.

Afternoon Worms: If you shudder at the bristling chirp of your Radar alarm tone, you’ve likely been on the receiving end of a sermon from that percentage of the population known as “morning people.” You’ve heard the stories about how early-rising improves quality of life, witnessed night owls become early birds, or trembled in terrified admiration at Mark Wahlberg’s preposterous daily itinerary. If that’s the case, then take solace in this piece from Inc.’s Jeff Haden, who contends that you don’t have to be a morning person to be a successful one. Haden suggests that a consistent schedule, not an early one, is the key to success. Catering your agenda to when you feel most effective, which calls for diligent planning, will optimize your productivity and enable you to work efficiently on your own schedule.

Meanwhile, Back at the Ranch: As the next generation of managers takes the reins, remote work is gaining more support. In addition to immediate conveniences like flexible working hours and a greater potential pool of employees, remote work is producing secondary benefits. Whereas talented young professionals have traditionally flocked to major cities for lucrative employment, technology is increasing the reach of successful companies beyond metropolitan zip codes. This means greater opportunities in rural areas and a potential boost to the rural economy as a whole.

Loading a Slingshot: If the late 1840s are considered the Gold Rush, the 2010s may well be known as the Data Rush. Unlike 19th century prospectors, tech experts struggle to attach a fixed value to data collection; but few will refute that companies who possess extensive data currency yield equally immense power. With the emergence of Google, Facebook, and Amazon as tech behemoths and informational black holes, many are concerned about the threat of a “data cartel.” What can be done to curtail the growing dominance of these entities? 2020 Presidential hopeful Elizabeth Warren has proposed a plan to break up large tech companies, forcing them to fracture into smaller parts more reminiscent of the pre-merger landscape. In the meantime, the Federal Trade Commission has launched a new task force to promote healthier competition in the tech industry and avoid the kind of extreme growth that the FTC believes has led to negligence in regards to data handling. Still, critics doubt the task force’s ability to carry out its stated mission.

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If you’re not paying close attention, it can be hard to sift through all the tech news and gauge its significance. Will new software change the way you interact with the world? Will popular trends stick around? With “Tech in 60 Seconds”, WIRED editor in chief Nicholas Thompson offers his take by answering tech’s most pressing questions. Check out the latest video where he tackles Facebook’s privacy manifesto, toxic Twitter, ethical AI, and folding phones.

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