Monday, February 26, 2007

Intelligence in the workplace

This post from Headshift mentions a BBC article which identifies information over-stimulation as a factor which can adversely effect employees. Distraction by email and phone and other sources can reduce a person's functional intelligence. John Adams told his son, "A scholar is made alone". Reflection is a mental space where intelligence can grow and be nurtured.

Does this present a paradox when contrasted with argument of the popular book Blink? The premise of this idea is that people make excellent decisions based on split second intuition. So which is it? Do people think best by reflection or by immediate intuition?

I think a balance seems likely. To everything, turn turn, turn. We need to find ways for the workplace to foster both short-term decision-making and long-term reflection.

On a related note, this article from LiveScience.com about American job satisfaction paints a grim picture. Fewer than half of Americans are satisfied with their jobs, and the problem gets worse as study subjects get younger. And the problem is on a downward trend.

Just as we are starting to try to design our way out of a climate crisis (or at least its worst effects), we have a responsibility to try to design work environments and processes that are healthy and appealing to us. A maxim of software design is that software should change to meet the needs of the user, not the other way around. The same is true of our workplaces. The workplace should be shaped not to force us into unnatural processes, but rather should nurture and unlock our innate creative and productive potentials.

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