Posted By Prucia Buscell,
Thursday, July 24, 2014
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tend to choose friends who share our interests and outlooks, but our
selections may have less conscious and more ancient roots. Recent
research suggests friends share genetic similarities and that resulting
social networks play an important role in human evolution.
In their paper "Friendship and Natural Selection," published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science, Nicholas Christakis, a physician and social scientist at Yale, and James Fowler,
a professor of medical genetics and political science at the University
of California at San Diego, write that the number of genetic markers
shared by two friends is about what they would have if they were fourth cousins.
That amounts to about one percent of a human's genetic markers. That doesn't sound like much, but Fowler explains in a Washington Post story
that has huge implications for human evolution. Researchers found the
genes that friends have in common seem to be evolving faster than other
genes, so our social environments and social networks could be a key
no gene for friendship, and no way to predict friendship among people
because of a particular genetic trait. But the genetic data of two
people provides clues to whether they will become friends. The
researchers developed a genetic "friendship score" that suggests the
likelihood of friendship. Individuals don't consciously recognize these
similarities, but they are statistically measurable in huge data sets.
are likely to share genes associated with the sense of smell. Being
drawn to the same scent could attract us to certain environments, the
authors suggest: people who like the smell of coffee might be drawn to
coffee shops where they meet others who like the smell. The authors
think our sense of smell may be one of the mechanisms humans use to
identify genetically similar friends, though they emphasize more
research is needed to discover how that happens.
and Fowler examined genetic information and details of social
relationships documented among nearly 2,000 people who participated in
the Framingham Heart Study
that began in 1948. They and colleagues analyzed nearly 1.5 million
markers of gene variations, and compared the data for pairs of unrelated
friends and pairs of unrelated strangers. Because nearly all the people
in the study had similar European origins, the findings weren't
explainable by the tendency to gravitate to others of similar
friends are less likely to share genes associated with immunity to
specific diseases, the authors note, and that that could be an
evolutionary advantage. We're somewhat less susceptible to the things
that sicken our friends.
In their book Connected,
Christakis and Fowler write that social networks are in our genes.
After studying friendship networks among 1,110 twins drawn from national
health data of 90,115 adolescents, they discovered that social network
structure was influenced by genes: kids located at the center of their
networks had a different genetic makeup than those located at the
periphery, and those whose friends were closely connected had different
genetic make than those with friends in divergent groups.
the new paper they discuss the role of genes in a broader social
environment where we interact and collaborate with friends and
strangers. "Our results support the idea that humans might be seen as metagenomic
not just with respect to the microbes within them, but with respect to
the humans around them. It may be useful to view a person's genetic
landscape as a summation of the genes within the individual and within
the people surrounding the individual, just as in certain other
Posted By Prucia Buscell,
Thursday, July 17, 2014
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technologies allow us to be "in a persistent state of absent presence"
that can erode empathy and connection, according to Virginia Tech
fact, researchers found just having a mobile device within easy
reach-even if you're not holding it or using it-can lessen the quality
of a face to face conversation, reduce empathy among friends, and
deflect our attention from what is happening right before our eyes.
"Mobile phones hold symbolic meaning in advanced technological societies," a research team led by Shalini Misra of Virginia Tech wrote in an article in the journal Environment and Behavior.
"In their presence people have the constant urge to seek out
information, check for communication and direct their thoughts to other
people and words."
the study, 200 participants were divided into pairs and asked to chat
for 10 minutes on either a meaningful topic or a trivial one. Nearby
researchers recorded their nonverbal behavior and the presence or use of
any mobile device at any time during the conversation. Afterwards,
participants were asked about their feelings of personal connectedness
and empathy with their conversational partners. When a mobile device was
visible, participants rated the encounter less fulfilling and less
empathetic. That finding held for trivial and substantial topics, and
the negative relationship between the presence of devices and empathy
was even more pronounced when the conversation was between people who
knew each other. Apparently the mere presence of a mobile device can
derail the natural empathy between friends.
Earlier research by Andrew Przybylski and Netta Weinstein
of the University in Essex in the UK produced similar findings. Pairs
of strangers conversed while seated facing each other. A nearby table,
out of their direct line of vision, held a book and one other item. When the other item was a cell phone, participants reported lower connectedness and a lower quality encounter than when the other item was a notebook.
Research by Sara Konrath and colleagues, reported in Scientific American and at the University of Michigan website,
indicates college students of today are less empathetic than they were
30 years, ago, and that empathy has declined the most in the last
decade. Konrath conducted meta-analysis combining the results of 72
different studies of American college students between 1979 and 2009.
While reasons are uncertain, researchers note the trend has accompanied
the rise of social media and mobile communications.
scientists say those results aren't necessarily discouraging. They show
our brains are plastic and subject to experiential influence. And as
Konrath writes in a Psychology Today blog
mobile communications can make people feel closer to distant loved
ones, and that they have tremendous still fully untapped potential to
help people manage physical and mental illnesses. She notes that
paradoxically the same technology associated with our being stressed and
distracted can be used for people to provide electronic encouragement,
kindness and support to each other.
Posted By Prucia Buscell,
Thursday, July 10, 2014
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Descartes' mind-body duality. A more recent perspective known as
embodied cognition is based on growing recognition that thinking isn't
confined to our brain cells. Our understanding of the world is
profoundly influenced by our bodies and our experiences in physical
reality. Research shows even the way we use our hands offers clues to
how we think, what we know, and when we're ready to learn.
a psychology professor at the University of Chicago, studied hand
gestures used by adults and children and discovered that when gestures
accompany language, they can provide visual and intuitive evidence of
important meanings not explicitly put into words. She reports an
experiment in which young children were asked whether two identical rows
of checkers had the same number of pieces. The experimenter then spread
out the second row and asked again whether the number was the same. One
child said the number was different because the checkers were moved,
and made a spreading gesture with her hands. The answer is wrong but the
gesture matched the speech. Another child gave the same answer, but
pointed at the first checker in each row, and continued moving his
finger between the rows. In that case, the child's gesture conveyed
different information from what he said, so speech and gesture were
kids who mismatched benefited more from instruction, and learned faster
than kids who matched. Further, when experimenters taught a strategy
for solving a math problem correctly, with matching and mismatching
gestures, kids taught with the mismatching gestures were more
successful. Why? Goldin-Meadow wrote in Current Directions in Psychological Science
that a conversation in gesture seemed to be taking place along side a
conversation in speech, perhaps adding information, perhaps lightening
the cognitive load, and perhaps aiding memory. Gestures let speakers
convey thoughts they may not have words for, and mismatches may signal
readiness to change a thought or learn new information.
Researchers from Michigan State
showed 184 elementary school children a video about mathematical
equivalence (an equation: 7+2+9=7+__________.) Half of the kids saw the
teacher sweep her left hand beneath the left side of the equation as she
spoke about that side, and her right hand under the right side when she
spoke of the "other" side. The rest of the kids just heard her talk.
When the children were given a different problem based on the same
principle, those who saw the hand gestures were more successful.
Annie Murphy Paul, in the Business Insider Brilliant Blog,
notes that the act of gesturing "seems to accelerate learning, bring
nascent knowledge into consciousness" and aid understanding of new
concepts. She cites Goldin-Meadow's work and a 2007 study by Susan Wagner Cook of the University of Iowa, in which third graders who gestured as they learned
algebra were three times more likely to remember what they learned than
classmates who did not gesture. In another study, Cook found that
college students who gestured as they retold short stories remembered
the story details better.
Posted By Prucia Buscell,
Thursday, July 03, 2014
Updated: Friday, July 04, 2014
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Clayton Christensen, the business scholar who developed the
concept of disruptive innovation, and historian Jill Lepore are Harvard faculty
colleagues. The two professors don't agree on much, and Lepore's sharply written
assault on Christensen's theory has ignited an uproar in academic and business
In his 1997 book the Innovator's
Dilemma, Christensen lays
out his theory of disruptive
innovation, which holds that products or services that begin simply and
inexpensively at the bottom of market, often using new technology, can
eventually displace those of established companies that seem to be doing all
the right things to maintain their success.
The Thinkers50, a biennial ranking of the
world's most influential management theorists, last year for the second time
named Christensen the
top "thought leader" in the world, and disruptive innovation has been one
of the most widely celebrated ideas in modern business.
to Lepore, the theory's
celebration is one of its problems: she thinks it has escaped critical
examination and been carelessly applied to explain too much. In her New
Yorker article "The Disruption Machine," Lepore analyzes how we understand innovation and disruption. Every age has its
theory of history, she writes. The eighteenth century had the idea of progress,
the nineteenth had evolution, and the twentieth had growth and innovation. "Our
era has disruption," she writes, "which despite its futurism is atavistic. It's
a theory of history founded on a profound anxiety about financial collapse, an
apocalyptic fear of global devastation and shaky evidence."
used to have negative connotations, she says, but the idea was redeemed by its
use to describe bringing new products to market. Still, she writes, "The idea
of innovation is the idea of progress stripped of the aspiration of
enlightenment, scrubbed clean of the horrors of the 20th century,
and relieved of its critics. Disruptive innovation goes further, holding out
the hope of salvation against the very damnation it describes: disrupt and you will
In his book, Christensen supports his theory with industrial
case histories. Mainframe computer manufacturers were disrupted when they
missed the market for personal computers. Mini steel mills disrupted the operations of big steel companies,
and a healthy department store industry—the number of stores in U.S. plunged
from 316 to fewer than 10—was disrupted by growth of discount stores. Lepore asserts that Christensen
handpicked his examples, and she introduces evidence to challenge or complicate
his much of his analysis. She notes, for instance, that companies and divisions
that dominated the disc drive industry in the 1980s dominate today, despite
facing disruption Christensen describes from makers of smaller hard drives .She
also points out a high failure rate among would-be disruptive start ups.
In an interview with Drake
Bennett at Bloomberg Business Week, Christensen agrees with Lepore that the
word disruption has become a cliché. But agreement ends there. He calls her
story "a criminal act of dishonesty." Slate's
technology writer Will Oremus says that’s overstating his case, which is
what he accuses Lepore of doing. Oremus concludes that Lepore's cherry picked
examples don't overthrow Christensen's theory any more than Christensen's cherry-picked
examples definitely prove it. In a
in Forbes, Clark Gilbert, chief executive of the Deseret News and Deseret
Digital Media, vigorously defends Christensen’s theory and the scholarship
behind it, as does business consultant John
Hegel in his blog.
Leonard, New York Times columnist
Krugman, and New York
Roose, sympathize with Lepore's views with some caveats. Richard
Feloni at Business Insider reviewed reactions, including tweets from Steven
Sinofsky, the former president of Microsoft's Windows division, who suggests
that both professors are right. He says disruptive innovation has plenty of
exceptions but it's still a useful theory.
What do disruptive innovation theory and its critique look
like through a complexity lens? If
you have thoughts on that, we’d love to hear from you.
Thank you Peter Jones, David Hurst and John Kenagy for your thoughts on disruption and innovation!
Peter Jones, PhD, of OCAD University in Toronto, addresses the issues raised by Jill Lepore and Clayton Christensen in his blog post Reproduction of Disruption, How Innovation Regimes Reproduce Culture.
Reproduction of Disruption
Business consultant and author David K. Hurst, BA, MBA has written two parts of a three part post interpreting disruption from an ecological perspective. He comments, "With the continual emergence of antibiotic-resistant bugs threatening to disrupt healthcare, it seems to me that the ecological/complex systems view is essential."
Disrupting Disruption Theory [Part I]: Storm in a Modernist Teacup
Disrupting Disruption Theory [Part II]: Ecological Transformation
See commentary of John Kenagy, MD, MBA, ScD, FACS "Fireworks: The Disruption of Disruptive Innovation" at his m2s2 e club site.
Posted By Prucia Buscell,
Thursday, June 26, 2014
Updated: Wednesday, July 02, 2014
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pictures may record more than milestone events and the little incidents
we love to remember. New technology may help doctors identify rare
genetic conditions by analyzing ordinary digital photos of faces. Facial
recognition software may even be useful in identifying presently
unknown rare disorders with symptoms that baffle families and doctors.
A New Scientist story by Andy Coghlan
explains that while genetic tests exist for common conditions, such as
Down's syndrome, genetic tests for many more unusual conditions aren't
available because the gene variants that cause them haven't been
discovered. A story in The Independent by Charlie Cooper explains that 30 to 40 percent of genetic disorders involve some kind of change to the face or skull. Software developed at Oxford University
by medical researchers collaborating with the university's Department
of Engineering Science was initially "trained" by analyzing thousands of
photos of people diagnosed with eight genetic disorders. Coughlin's
story explains that the computer "learned" to identify each condition
from a pattern of 36 features in each face.
who designed the software with Oxford colleague Andrew Zisserman,
believes it can help family doctors and general pediatricians make
preliminary diagnoses of health conditions that may have puzzled them.
In the future, Nellaker told The Independent, a doctor anywhere
in the world should be able to take an ordinary smartphone picture of a
patient, run a computer analysis, and find out which genetic disorder a
patient is likely to have. The technology isn't meant to replace
traditional diagnoses, but to aid it by giving doctors information not
otherwise available to them.
Alastair Kent, director of the Genetic Alliance UK, a charitable organization dedicated to helping people with genetic disorders, told New Scientist
that because few physicians are skilled in the diagnostic use of facial
analysis, families often wait years to learn the cause of their
children's problems. Many of the combinations of facial characteristics
that have diagnostic significance would be undetectable to a layman.
Oxford database now has nearly 3,000 photos, and the software can
recognize 90 disorders. As the database grows, the software will enable
researchers to study groups of patients with undiagnosed problems who
share similar facial features and skull structures. That could allow
researchers to identify presently unknown disorders and the explore the
gene variants that cause them, which could potentially improvement
Posted By Prucia Buscell,
Thursday, June 19, 2014
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music carries you melodically into dreams and reveries, and some
conveys sadness, joy or a sense of peace. Then there's music that
bounces along with skips and hops and you just have to dance, snap your
fingers or tap your feet. Certain kinds of rhythm induce an almost
irresistible urge to move.
A few years ago, Maria Witek,
a neuroscientist at Aarhus University in Denmark, who studies emotion
and loves music, created an online survey to try and figure out what
music impels people to start swaying and dancing. She pursued the
subject and described her findings to Michaeleen Doucleff in an NPR interview.
Pharrell Williams' song "Happy," which was just chosen as the new advertising theme song for the New Jersey Lottery, and The Meters "Hand Clapping Song" are examples of what her research shows. So is Chuck Berry's"Rock and Roll Music," especially the version he performs with Tina Turner. Try and sit still when you hear these!
says when the rhythmic structure has gaps, or spaces in the underlying
beat of the music, we are provided with "an opportunity to physically
inhabit those gaps and fill those gaps with our own bodies." In a recent paper,
she suggests that has to do with the way we hear music and the way the
brain processes it by anticipating its structural patterns. In her
survey, Witek asked respondents to listen to drumming pieces that ranged
from simple rhythms with regular beats to very complex patterns with
many gaps where beats might have been expected. She found people all
over the world agreed on which patterns made them want to dance. They
were the ones in between the very simple and the highly complex. People
wanted to physically engage with the rhythm when there was enough
regularity to perceive the beat and enough complexity to make it
interesting without being totally unpredictable. They danced to the
music that was layered with predictable beats and syncopated ones, she
said. The layering can be provided by numerous musical combinations of
claps, drums, other instruments, voice, and lyrics.
In a New York Times essay on rhythm, Nicholas Wade
says Darwin thought that before our human ancestors developed speech,
they discovered that musical notes and rhythm could charm potential
mates. He says Darwin thought that music's origins in courtship explain
why it can arouse strong passions. Wade notes that in his 1997 book How the Mind Works, Harvard scholar Steven Pinker
called music "auditory cheesecake"-a happy accident we enjoy though it
has no survival value. But Darwin theorized, according to Wade, that
anything that enhanced courtship promoted survival by helping to
perpetuate parental genes in a new generation. Read Wade's essay here. Thanks to Bruce Waltuck for the NPR story.
Posted By Prucia Buscell,
Thursday, June 12, 2014
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who think they will die young are more likely to do dangerous things
such as using drugs, fighting, and having unsafe sex and
self-destructive things such as dropping out of school.
counselors and other youth workers have often heard teens-especially
boys from impoverished neighborhoods-say they don't expect to live
beyond 25 or 30, but the impact of that perception has only recently
been studied. And the research is cause for both alarm, because the
feeling is so prevalent, and hope, because envisioning a future life can
inspire more beneficial choices.
University of Minnesota researcher Iris Borowsky, MD, PhD, and colleagues found that one in seven adolescents interviewed believed they would die before age 35,
and that this belief strongly predicted future risky behavior. Kids who
envisioned a long life were more likely to graduate from high school
and stay out of trouble. Boroswky and colleagues analyzed data from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health,
a sample of more than 20,000 kids in grades seven through 12. A
fatalistic belief in early death was most common among minority kids
from poor families: 29 percent of adolescent American Indians, 26
percent of teen African Americans, and 21 percent of teen Hispanics
reported they expected to die young, compared with 10 percent of their
Alex R. Piquero,
a criminology professor at the University of Texas at Austin, studied
1,354 youth offenders charged with serious crimes from Maricopa County,
Arizona, and Philadelphia over a seven year period. In the beginning,
Piquero asked all the subjects how many years they thought they would
live. His team found those who expected to die young were more likely to commit more crimes, and more serious crimes, and go to prison. Those who anticipated long lives were less likely to re-offend. Piquero's study "Take my License and All that Jive, I can't see ...35" appeared in the journal Justice Quarterly.
The Minnesota study of general population youngsters found no
relationship between actual early death and expectation of dying young.
But by the end of Piquero's study, 45 youngsters had died of non-natural
causes-violence, suicide or other tragedies.
Eduardo Porter, writing in the New York Times, describes a school program designed to give kids a vision of living many future years. Tim Jackson works at Harper High School,
in one of the toughest neighborhoods in Chicago's South Side. As a
counselor for the Becoming a Man program, he tries to train boys to have
a "visionary goal" worth saving themselves for. It's a daunting task,
given the neighborhood's gangs, joblessness and violence. In 2013 alone 29 current and recent students were shot. In one recent weekend in Chicago three young men were fatally shot, and at least 25 people-many of them teens-suffered gunshot wounds.
danger is just one reason youth are fatalistic. Porter writes that
today's rich-poor income gap is bigger than it was at its peak in the Roaring
Twenties, raising suspicion that economic opportunity is available only
to the lucky or unusually talented. A National Bureau of Economic
Research paper shows young men of low socioeconomic status are most
likely to drop out of school when the incomes of families at the bottom tenth of
the income distribution are furthest from the incomes of families in the middle.
Studies have also shown that teenaged girls are most likely to become
pregnant when the gap between the bottom and the middle is biggest. Porter says that creates a condition researchers call economic despair, which means opportunity isn't just out of reach, it's unimaginable. Porter tells how Jackson opened a recent a session
with his students with a story. He was stopped at a traffic light when a
car occupied by three angry drunk men rear ended his car. Should he
confront them? He didn't. He walked across the street and called police.
His students figured out how he made that decision: he thought about
his stake in the future.
Posted By Prucia Buscell,
Thursday, June 05, 2014
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who studied the myriad social exchanges among students, teachers,
principals and parents that make up daily life in schools came up with a
measure they called social trust. They found that social trust
is a key resource for educational reform, and that the level of
relational trust is an even stronger indicator of improvement in a
school than new teaching practices or curriculum design.
Anthony Bryk, president of the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching,
and colleagues spent 10 years looking at relationship dynamics in 400
Chicago elementary schools. They found that in schools with low social
trust, something as routine as arranging a kindergarten graduation can
ignite controversy. In schools with strong relational trust, collective
decision making happened more readily, reform initiatives diffused more
easily, and children's academic outcomes improved. Bryk recorded an
eight percent increase in student reading skills and a 20 percent
increase in math skills over a five year period in the schools where
relational trust was high. In an ASCD article
on educational leadership, Bryk calls relational trust the connective
tissue that binds individuals together to advance educational
achievement and student welfare.
The Chicago school work is also cited by John Kania, Mark Kramer and Patty Russell, in a Stanford Social Innovation Review article
as an example of the kind of new philanthropic strategies needed in
today's complex world. "Relational dynamics are one of the primary
reasons interventions in complex social systems are so unpredictable,"
according to the authors. "They explain why building system fitness can
accelerate the spread of evidence informed solutions."
philanthropy doesn't fit the realities of complex social change, they
assert, and philanthropists need to adopt an emergent strategy that that
allows for constantly evolving solutions uniquely suited to the time,
place and participants. The authors say McGill University management
professor Henry Mintzberg
was one of the first to capture the dynamic of an intended strategy
bumping against complex realities, "triggering further evolution in
strategy." Emergent strategy, which has to be both rigorous and
flexible, "requires a constant process of 'sensing' the environment to
ensure resources are applied where opportunities are the greatest." Such
sensing also enlarges understanding of how various parts of a system
change in relation to each other and external events, the authors write.
"The concept of sensing and leveraging opportunities without any
certainty about the outcome," these authors say, "is at the core of
The three complexity principles the authors say are needed for emergent strategy are
the strategy and broad participation, working with positive and
negative attractors, and improving system fitness. Fitness requires
improving knowledge, effectiveness, and resilience and building social
trust among all parties.
complex systems are unpredictable, they say, "sources of energy or
convergence within the systems, known as attractors, can be observed and
influenced." In social systems, attractors can be people, ideas,
resources or events that lead a system to move toward, or away from, a
The Rockefeller Foundation,
which in 2008 launched a $42 million initiative to improve the lives or
poor and vulnerable people throughout the world through impact investing,
has also practiced an emergent approach. Impact investing was a new
field the foundation had begun to develop earlier by convening a group
of 30 organizations that created a network of relationships among
boards, committees and memberships. This group was joined by 70 more
organizations from profit and nonprofit investment funds, universities,
consulting firms, international development organizations and government
agencies. Over the years, the initiative evolved to attract new
players, new ways for organizations to become involved, and new
collective action platforms. By 2010, program staff members recognized
changes in U.S. and UK public policy-a new attractor that could be
amplified-and formed an Impact Investing Policy Committee, which
ultimately led to $2 billion in government funding.
With thanks to Liz Rykert for the Stanford Social Innovation Review article. Read Bryk's article "Trust in Schools: A Core Resource for School Reform" and more on impact investing here.
Posted By Prucia Buscell,
Thursday, May 29, 2014
Updated: Thursday, May 29, 2014
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in our fellow humans is eroding, according to polls and surveys, and
nearly a third of Americans reportedly don't even completely trust their
A Pew Survey on social trends found that the Millennial generation,
people ranging in age from 18 to 33, have emerged into adulthood with
considerably lower social trust than earlier generations. Asked the
long-used social science survey question "Generally speaking, would you
say that most people can be trusted, or that you can't be too careful in
dealing with people?" only 19 percent of millennials say people can be
trusted. By comparison, 31 percent of Gen Xers, those born 1965 to 1980,
40 percent of Baby Boomers, born 1946-1964, and 37 percent of those
born in 1945 or before say people can be trusted. The poll, conducted in
February, also showed millennials are less attached to religious and
political institutions than older people.
An AP-GfK poll conducted in 2013 suggests most Americans are suspicious of each other in daily interactions. Fewer than one third
said they trust clerks who swipe their credit cards, other drivers on
the road, or strangers they meet traveling. Only a third of those
responding to the AP-GfK poll said they thought most people could be
trusted. In 1972, half of adults surveyed said others were trustworthy.
Only 69 percent of Americans questioned for a World Values Survey
reported that they completely trust their family members. That places
the U.S. near the bottom of the 55 countries surveyed on that question.
Family trust was reported to be lower only in Ghana, Lebanon, Azerbaijan
and the Netherlands, where just 59 percent of respondents reported
complete trust in their families. Three quarters of Americans think war
is sometimes needed to obtain justice-second only to Pakistan. And 16
percent of Americans surveyed say they carry a gun or other weapon for
security. That sounds low, but it places the U.S. third in the world,
behind only Libya and Lebanon. See the Washington Post Wonkblog charts on world values.
scientists and political analysis say trust is necessary for a civil
society-it helps people work together for the common good, and promotes
cooperation among people who have different beliefs and backgrounds. April Clark, a Purdue University
political scientist, says distrust promotes rancor and incivility.
Surveys appear to confirm we have an increasingly wary view of others.
Theories differ on why. A USA Today story quotes Robert Putnam, author of Bowling Alone,
who says Americans have abandoned clubs and civic associations in favor
of watching TV at home, thereby reducing common social experiences and
the ties they create. University of Maryland Professor Eric Uslaner
studies politics and trust. He writes that economic inequality drives
distrust. If you believe the world is a good place and that you can help
make it better, you'll be trusting, he says. If you think it's a dark
place run by forces beyond your control, you won't.
says trust has declined as the gap between rich and poor has grown
because more Americans feel they no longer have a shared fate with the
affluent and rich. A 2007 Pew Research Center analysis, showing
minorities and low income adults had lower levels of social trust than
wealthier groups, theorized that people who feel vulnerable or disadvantaged find it riskier to trust "because they are less well-fortified to deal with the consequences of misplaced trust."
a more trusting society emerge? Millennials, the digital natives who
build their own social networks and use social media with ease, hold the
key. Despite their low levels of trust, they are more optimistic than those who've gone before them. The Pew research shows nearly half think America's best years are in the future.
Trust men and they will be true to you. Treat them greatly and they will show themselves great. -Ralph Waldo Emerson
Posted By Prucia Buscell,
Thursday, May 22, 2014
Updated: Friday, May 23, 2014
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is about life at the very top of the world's forests, a distinct aerial
realm where an estimated 30 million species share their space with
leaves, branches, rain, sunlight and wind. Life on the ground is
interconnected with life on the top and everything in between. In fact,
survival of the whole forest depends on the success of the life at every
level. And health care organizations have much in common with forests.
The design team envisioning a new Kirkland Clinic at Virginia Mason Medical Center in Seattle studied rainforest ecosystems
as they considered how different teams of specialists, internal
medicine and family medicine providers could blend individual design
needs for their own patients while working together on whole clinic with
core support services. As a result, the Mountain, Meadow and Beach
corridors in the clinic allow the teams to share resources and operate
autonomously as needed.
In his new book Accelerating Health Care Transformation with Lean and Innovation, internationally renowned consultant Paul Plsek describes Virginia Mason Medical Center's continuing work to integrate Lean
and innovation in pursuit of "the perfect patient experience." Learning
from analogies in nature is one tool. Word play was another.
Participants in a workshop convened for design of another clinic used
the word "lagoon" to temporarily sum up a guiding metaphor. A lagoon is
flexible because it supports both fresh and salt water and while it
looks calm and beautiful it's teeming with life under the surface.
In 2002, Virginia Mason adopted the basic tenets of the Toyota Production System, called it the Virginia Mason Production System,
and integrated it throughout the organization in an ambitious program
to change the way it delivers health care and improve patient safety and
quality. Plsek, a management guru and expert in large scale change in
complex systems, served as the center's chair of innovation. He explains
lucidly and with dozens of examples why Lean and innovation are
complementary. Lean is about standardization that improves flow and
removes waste, and it stretches people's thinking by aiming for
perfection even when that seems impossible. That requires busting myths,
re-thinking basic assumptions, and examining practices in other
industries. During various change efforts, staff members were asked to
study weather forecasting, air traffic control, and computer virus
detection for any key features that might relate to improvement in
hospital care. Inspired by the fast food business, Virginia Mason began
the first drive through flu vaccine program.
tools of lean and the directed creativity described by Plsek brought
about a clinic operation so well designed that patients were seen
immediately, eliminating the need for a waiting room, and an infection
prevention and communication system so efficient that time needed to
identify a catheter associated urinary tract infection was reduced from
seven hours to 11 minutes. Plsek talks about the long commitment to
create a learning organization, where all community members are
introduced to VMPS, all engaged in improvement, and leaders learn to
coach and support learning. Plsek discussesa commitment to andragogy-the
education of the adult learner, who unlike the child or complete
novice, needs opportunities for application of new concepts, dialogue,
and guided reflection in a safe environment that permits the learner to
challenge and unlearn old and deeply held beliefs and assumptions.
Plsek makes clear, none of this is quick or easy. He quotes reflection
by Virginia Mason neurosurgeon Dr. Farrokh Farrokhi who studied the
Toyota system in Japan and came come to understand that the Japanese
after 50 years are still perfecting their system, and the journey of
lean and innovation is infinite. "I now realize that paradoxically, what
you need is patient urgency," Dr. Farrokhi said. Listen to tomorrow's PlexusCall with Paul Plsek and Daniel Pesut.