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Reviews reboot

7 Apr

I came across a really interesting site called The Page 99 Test with the subtitle “Open the book to page ninety-nine and read, and the quality of the whole will be revealed to you.” –Ford Madox Ford Definitely sounds intriguing and I will try it out in my reviews.

Above is a quote from my second post here. A good idea I am putting in place now. Subject is

Scaling up Excellence by Robert Sutton and Huggy Rao

Published by Random House Business Books

Page 99 title is CUT COGNITIVE LOAD. There are three paragraphs. Here is most of it:

scaling entails subjecting people to an onslaught of unfamiliar, difficult, and upsetting changes and chores. The sheer volume and complexity often overwhelms the “working memory” of individuals who do it, which produces blind spots and bad decisions and saps (individual’s) willpower.

Researchers call this condition “cognitive overload”, and it’s unfortunate effects are well documented.. An experiment is recounted claiming that extra mental effort required induces people to take the easy way out and gobble down the less healthy cake.

Seven is the “magic number” for memory researchers. In 1956 , psychologist George Miller showed that people could hold “seven, plus or minus two” numbers in short-term memory. Yet organizational designers rarely head the implications of Miller’s Law or thousands of subsequent studies on the hazards of overtaxing our brains. As organizations expand and mature, rather than rationing or subtracting load, leaders and teams often pile on so many metrics, procedures, and chores that people lose the capacity and willpower to do the right things. There follows example of Office Depot where the new president faced clashing facts: “mystery shoppers” evaluations were at all time high, yet store sales were falling. After many visits to stores Peters found that clerks and managers felt so pressured to do tasks like sweeping floors and stocking shelves that they routinely ignored customers’ questions and needs

Summary.. Too much information is bad for you and those who depend on your decisions. Designing systems in organizations to deal with complexity is essential but almost never done. It is no wonder people make choices that turn out to have effects opposite of the intended ones.

From Present to Future Orientation or Seeking Balance

31 Oct

It is sometimes unbelievable to discover how quickly time goes. For instance, last time I posted here was almost nine months ago! Long enough to have a baby- and yet no book reviews.

Instead, I will post some points from the webcast I was listening to with Prof Philip Zimbardo, Stanford University social psychologist who was broadly talking about the themes covered in his new book The Time Paradox: The New Psychology of Time That Will Change Your Life (Paperback). Instead of this specific webcast I recommend Prof Zimbardo’s talk on this topic at Commonwealth Club available on

Perhaps the best recommendation for the learning opportunity that his talk offered is my return to this blog just a few hours after hearing what Prof Zimbardo had to say. He has developed a scale which looks into past, resent and future orientation which can be found at his website along with some reading resources. It is instructive to take it and reflect on the results in conjunction to the optimum.

I was impressed by his generosity to share with the us, his unseen audience. Lovely and alive person though he is 76y old!