Defined by Nature: Planet Earth Habitant, Human, Son of Eladio Rodulfo & Briceida Moya, Brother of Gabriela, Gustavo & Katiuska, Father of Gabriel & Sofia; Defined by the Society: Venezuelan Citizen (Human Rights Limited by default), Friend of many, Enemy of few, Neighbor, Student/Teacher/Student, Worker/Supervisor/Manager/Leader/Worker, Husband of Katty/ Ex-Husband of K/Husband of Yohana; Defined by the US Immigration System: Legal Alien; Defined by the Gig Economy: Independent Contractor Form 1099; Studies in classroom: Master Degree in Human Resources Management, English, Chinese Mandarin; Studies at the real world: Human Behavior; Studies at home: Webmaster SEO, Graphic Web Apps Design, Internet & Social Media Marketing, Video Production, You Tube Branding, Trading, Import-Exports, Affiliate Marketing, Cooking, Laundry, Home Cleaning; Work experience: Public-Private-Entrepreneur Sectors; Other Definitions: Bitcoin Evangelist, Human Rights Peace and Love Advocate. Author of: Why Maslow: How to use his theory to stay in Power Forever (EN/SP); Asylum Seekers (EN/SP); Manual for Gorillas: 9 Rules to be the “Fer-pect” Dictator (EN/SP); Why you must Play the Lottery (EN/SP); Para Español Oprima #2: Speaking Spanish in Times of Xenophobia (EN/SP).
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JPMorgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon said blockchain will have a pivotal role in the future of finance even if bitcoin, the market-leading cryptocurrency that made blockchain famous, is not his “cup of tea.”
Speaking at the New York Times’ DealBook Conference Wednesday, Dimon reiterated JPMorgan’s support for blockchain technology as a potentially transformative financial mechanism.
“The blockchain itself will be critical to letting people move money around the world cheaper,” he said. (His bank made waves recently with the launch of its “JPM Coin” for wholesale banking payments). “We will always support blockchain technology.”
But Dimon refused to give ground on his opposition to bitcoin.
He repeated his longstanding belief that governments will ultimately more heavily regulate it (something echoed recently by fellow billionaire Ray Dalio). Oversight is inevitable for something so large, he said.
Even so, Dimon acknowledged that “very smart people” are buying into the cryptocurrency in the belief that it will outperform gold, the U.S. dollar and U.S. Treasury bonds.
“Let them do that,” he said. “It’s just not my cup of tea.”
4. K. Vasel, “The Dark Side of Working From Home: Loneliness,” CNN Business, April 30, 2020, www.cnn.com. See also J. Mulki, F. Bardhi, F. Lassk, et al., “Set Up Remote Workers to Thrive,” MIT Sloan Management Review 51, no. 1 (fall 2009): 63-69.
5. J.R. Hackman, “Leading Teams: Setting the Stage for Great Performances” (Boston: Harvard Business Press, 2002).
6. R. Wageman, H. Gardner, and M. Mortensen, “The Changing Ecology of Teams: New Directions for Teams Research,” Journal of Organizational Behavior 33, no. 3 (April 2012): 301-315.
7. M. Mortensen, “Constructing the Team: The Antecedents and Effects of Membership Model Divergence,” Organization Science 25, no. 3 (May-June 2014): 909-931.
10. C.N. Hadley, “Emotional Roulette? Symmetrical and Asymmetrical Emotion Regulation Outcomes From Coworker Interactions About Positive and Negative Work Events,” Human Relations 67, no. 9 (September 2014): 1073-1094.
11. A.C. Edmondson, “The Fearless Organization: Creating Psychological Safety in the Workplace for Learning, Innovation, and Growth” (Hoboken, New Jersey: John Wiley & Sons, 2018).
12. Vasel, “The Dark Side.” This tendency is also seen in social media, where depression and self-blame can occur when connections to others are high but fulfilling relationships are not. A. Walton, “6 Ways Social Media Affects Our Mental Health,” Forbes, June 30, 2017, www.forbes.com.
13. S. Wright and A. Silard, “Unravelling the Antecedents of Loneliness in the Workplace,” Human Relations OnlineFirst, Feb. 21, 2020, https://journals.sagepub.com.
14. See, for example, G.W. Marshall, C.E. Michaels, and J.P. Mulki, “Workplace Isolation: Exploring the Construct and Its Measurement,” Psychology & Marketing 24, no. 3 (March 2007): 195-223; and D.W. Russell, “UCLA Loneliness Scale (Version 3): Reliability, Validity, and Factor Structure,” Journal of Personality Assessment 66, no. 1 (1996): 20-40.
15. J. Wimmer, J. Backmann, M. Hoegl, et al., “Spread Thin? The Cognitive Demands of Multiple Team Membership in Daily Work Life,” LMU-ILO working paper, Munich, Germany, 2017.
The COVID-19 pandemic put professionals in a box — a virtual one. Overnight, managers and their teams shifted from in-person brainstorming and ideation sessions to those taking place electronically via Zoom, WebEx, and other tools.
You might assume that major changes in how we work are taking a large toll on business creativity, in light of the loss of more spontaneous face-to-face connections and interactions. One of my most outspoken executive students — a young, data-driven manager at a technology consulting company — seemed to be making that assumption when he asked how I thought virtual work “thwarted” creative processes like those his teams engage in with their clients, such as defining problem scope, exploring solutions, prototyping, and testing. My answer surprised him: Based on research I and others have conducted over the past couple of decades, I believe that the shift to remote work actually has the potential to improve group creativity and ideation, despite diminished in-person communication.1
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Scholars define creativity as the production of novel and useful ideas.2Novel, in this context, means statistically rare and unique; useful means that some stakeholders see practical value in the ideas. In business, innovation is the realization of creative ideas as products and services. Think of the creative process like a river, starting with the upstream generation of ideas, often seemingly outlandish ones; proceeding to the testing and refinement of certain ideas midstream; and eventually moving downstream to the full development of chosen ideas.3
Virtual collaboration needn’t hinder any of that, nor is it at odds with the following well-established ideas about what drives creativity.
Creative ability isn’t fixed or inborn. Creativity is influenced by factors under one’s control. In one study, for example, some participants were told that raw talent and ability determine creative outcomes, while others heard that factors such as motivation and persistence drive creativity.4 Both groups then completed a creativity task scored by judges who didn’t know what participants had been told. The group that believed creativity was under their control significantly outperformed the other. The conclusion from many such studies is that mindset matters. And you don’t need to collaborate in person to embrace a proactive mindset about creativity — you can do that independently, from anywhere.
Individuals are more creative than groups. When I ask business leaders in executive workshops who is more creative, groups or individuals, almost no one chooses individuals. It’s widely believed that synergy among group members generates more creativity than individuals can. But virtually no research supports this. In fact, most studies have found that “per capita” creativity declines precipitously as group size increases.5 Group dynamics can actually diminish overall creativity by stifling certain voices while amplifying others. In contrast to in-person meetings, where people tend to engage in simultaneous cross talk, virtual meetings make it nearly impossible for more than one person to speak at once. We’re forced to focus on individual input, so it’s easier for less vocal participants to be heard than in the physical world, where they’re often drowned out. That addresses at least part of the challenge of having all voices represented and heard in creative meetings.
Constraints spark creative thinking. Working within limits pushes us to solve problems in ways we wouldn’t if given free rein. For example, financial restrictions activate a tendency to think “big picture” and then trim down rather than follow a more organic idea-generation process that can result in a larger price tag.6 And time pressure often prods more-efficient idea generation.7 Moreover, imposing communication rules, such as “do not explain ideas,” increases creative-idea generation — and groups that are interrupted with brief breaks produce more ideas, as do those that engage in electronic brainstorming (considered more constrained than in-person free-for-alls).8
Overall, virtual meeting platforms impose more constraints on communication and collaboration than face-to-face settings. For instance, with the press of a button, virtual meeting facilitators can control the size of breakout groups and enforce time constraints; only one person can speak intelligibly at a time; nonverbal signals, particularly those below the shoulders, are diminished; “seating arrangements” are assigned by the platform, not by individuals; and visual access to others may be limited by the size of each participant’s screen. Such environmental restrictions are likely to stretch participants beyond their usual ways of thinking, boosting creativity.
How to Enhance Virtual-Group Creativity
If virtual collaboration doesn’t kill creativity — and can actually boost it — how can teams maximize that upside? Here are some practical suggestions, drawn from the broad body of research on creativity and innovation. These ideas are useful for in-person collaborations, too, but given that virtual business meetings are now ubiquitous and in many organizations have replaced face-to-face conversations, we’ll focus on the benefits of these tactics for remote creativity.
1. Prevent production blocking. As noted earlier, social scientists have long known that individuals are better than groups at creative-idea generation. Classic meta-analyses suggest that’s true regarding the quantity and quality of ideas, as do recent empirical works. Studies have carefully compared the performance of people working independently with that of interactive groups, measuring per-person productivity (typically as creative production percent, based on the volume of ideas per person) and quality of ideas (assessed by independent experts blind to participant identities and experimental hypotheses) over a fixed period. Inevitably, individuals outperform groups.
Several social-psychological factors drive this consistent result.9 A primary one is production blocking, or anything that interferes with a person’s focus on creative-idea generation, including subtle factors.10 One is conversation itself, which involves having to listen to others politely. Working remotely requires less of this. With less pressure for constant conversational engagement in virtual communication, people can more easily focus on generating ideas. Even so, there’s still a performance aspect to virtual collaboration, with everyone’s face on display; people may expend energy managing how they come across. Take steps to minimize that source of production blocking, such as by reserving large blocks of time for individual work, away from the shared screen.
2. Crush conformity. Excessive like-mindedness destroys creativity. Such conformity occurs when people believe that they must aim behavior at winning their group’s acceptance. Fortunately, virtual collaboration involves less pressure to conform. That’s partly because the group is less immediately present than in-person groups (yielding fewer cues about acceptance, such as eye contact only among certain members), and partly because of the online disinhibition effect, or the idea that people are more likely to express themselves and not worry about getting others to like them when interacting digitally.11 It’s true that virtual collaborators are often fully visible to one another and can’t “hide” behind text-only forms of communication like email. However, the disinhibition effect still exerts influence, since many of the politeness rituals of in-person communication, such as vocalizing agreement and engaging in small talk, are no longer present.
3. Facilitate idea expression through brainwriting. Brainwriting is the more sophisticated cousin of brainstorming. In brainstorming, people throw out ideas in a free-for-all manner, ideally refraining from criticism; the belief is that off-the-cuff ideas might spark truly innovative ones. One problem with brainstorming is that people often self-censor out of concern about the group’s response, as I noted above regarding conformity. And even when individuals are willing to speak up, they may not get the floor, given the chaotic flurry of ideas being shared.
Brainwriting resolves these issues through the simultaneous generation of ideas by individual group members. The group sets aside time for individuals to write down ideas; afterward, they come together to discuss them. But when it’s time to share, in-person settings still induce self-censorship and the impulse to be “too nice” in assessing others’ ideas. Virtual communication is ideal for brainwriting, because participants can anonymously contribute to a common virtual whiteboard or shared document without significant group influence. And when they meet to discuss ideas, doing so virtually helps them express their opinions more honestly (again, because of fewer group-acceptance cues).
4. Preempt insider-outsider bias. Research suggests that people evaluate ideas from colleagues more harshly than those from outsiders, particularly competitors.12 They may feel compelled to devalue colleagues’ ideas partly because they fear that the advancement of ideas by group members will lead to their own loss of status within the organization. One solution is to anonymize ideas so that each one can be evaluated independently of its source. In a face-to-face meeting, however, this can be very difficult, especially when ideas are shared on the spot. But the same virtual-communication principle that applies to brainwriting applies here: Digital tools enable people to contribute ideas from a safer distance, without revealing authorship, thus mitigating insider-outsider bias.
5. Promote high-construal thinking. Research indicates that low-construal thinking results in less creativity than the high-construal variety.13 Think of low- and high-construal as degrees of focus of a camera lens: Low-construal thinking, like a telephoto lens, emphasizes details; high-construal thinking, the wide-angle lens, captures the bigger picture.
One study found that people think of more creative ideas when they believe they are interacting with someone at a greater physical distance, because this activates higher-construal thought processes (big-picture focus and abstract thinking).14 Virtual communication inherently involves the perception of greater distance than in-person interactions. You can enhance this by asking each virtual meeting participant to announce their location: “Hello, this is Juliana from Panama,” and so on.
6. Foster diverse interactions. My research with psychology professor Hoon-Seok Choi at Sungkyunkwan University suggests that the presence of a single newcomer can stimulate group creativity, yielding a larger number and variety of ideas.15 In general, diversity enhances the creative process. Yet in a typical face-to-face meeting, people sit by their friends and colleagues, often engaging in sidebars or shared nonverbal interactions, which have the unintended consequence of promoting conformity and narrowing creative focus. In a virtual meeting, you can’t choose your seat, and having sidebar conversations is not nearly as tempting, given the shared screen and risk of accidentally messaging a private thought to everyone. Moreover, the group-breakout function defaults to sorting people randomly. These factors make it more likely that people in virtual settings will interact with participants they don’t know well, boosting creativity.
7. Keep idea vaults and boneyards. Pre-COVID-19, many in-person brainstorming meetings were not recorded, erasing any trace of discarded ideas. That fails to maximize group output, because returning to ideas that were previously suggested increases group performance.16 Why? Silence is the biggest killer of creative-idea generation; giving voice to ideas (even old ones) spurs new insights. Luckily, chat windows, electronic whiteboards, and other virtual-collaboration tools serve as vaults and “boneyards,” memorializing sessions and making it easier to revisit previously overlooked ideas.
None of this is to suggest that virtual communication is a cure-all for addressing creative-collaboration issues, or that managers and their teams should aim to work in their own “lighthouses” whenever possible, shunning face-to-face contact. However, virtual collaboration does provide benefits that many of us didn’t realize or pursue in pre-COVID-19 times. Our creative output may be all the better for it.
About the Author
Leigh Thompson is a management professor and director of the Kellogg Team and Group Research Center at the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University. Her latest book is Negotiating the Sweet Spot: The Art of Leaving Nothing on the Table (HarperCollins Leadership, 2020).
1. For a review, see L. Thompson, “Creative Conspiracy: The New Rules of Breakthrough Collaboration” (Boston: Harvard Business Review Press, 2013).
3. L. Thompson and D. Schonthal, “Setting the Stage for Creativity: Upstream, Mid-Stream, and Downstream,” chap. 2 in “Strategy and Communication for Innovation: Integrative Perspectives on Innovation in the Digital Economy,” 3rd ed., eds. N. Pfeffermann and J. Gould (New York: Springer, 2017).
16. P.B. Paulus, T. Nakui, and V.L. Putman, “Group Brainstorming and Teamwork: Some Rules for the Road to Innovation,” chap. 4 in “Creativity and Innovation in Organizational Teams,” 1st ed., eds. L. Thompson and H. Choi (Hove, England: Psychology Press, 2005).
Fueron violadas, torturadas, empujadas hasta el límite de la locura. Después guardaron silencio durante décadas, acalladas por la fuerza de la ley y por la presión de su entorno. Ahora, 35 años después del final de la dictadura de Uruguay, un grupo de mujeres se atreven a contar sus historias. Son relatos de horror, que expondrán el año que viene ante la Comisión Interamericana de Derechos Humanos.
Ana Amorós cuenta la primera vez que fue violada en la cárcel.
“Comenzaron con la desnudez en la Plaza de Armas. Te pasaban una fusta por todo el cuerpo. Y vos estabas con los ojos tapados, pero sabías que había un montón de gente, un montón de hombres ahí. En esos momentos sentías como que no querías ser mujer (…) __Yo siempre pensaba que, si un día pasaba eso (una violación), lo iba a morder, lo iba a arañar, lo iba a pegar en los genitales… No hice nada, nada, ni siquiera lloré“.
Yvonne Klingler y Luz Menéndez sufrieron la misma humillación e idéntico sentimiento de indefensión frente a la brutalidad de sus torturadores.
“Me empiezan a duchar y empiezo a sentir alrededor voces de hombres, que empiezan a hablar de lo que me va a pasar. Vas a quedar en manos nuestras… Y empiezan a hablar sobre tu cuerpo: esto está bueno, esto va a ser para mí“, relata Yvonne Klingler.
“Vas a rogar a Dios para morirte porque te vamos a hacer conocer el límite de la locura”
“Quédate tranquila que vos de aquí vas a salir viva -le dijeron a Luz Menéndez-. Eso sí, dice, vos que sos comunista, vas a rogarle a Dios para morirte, porque te vamos a hacer conocer el límite de la locura“.
Estas mujeres, que, en aquella época apenas tenían veinte años, han arrastrado el trauma psicológico y sexual todas sus vidas, unido al dolor de no poder y no saber cómo contar lo que les ocurrió. Una ley, aprobada en 1986, un año después de la vuelta de la democracia, impidió que se investigaran los crímenes de la dictadura.
Yvonne dice que se preguntaba, “¿__Cómo voy a contar esto? ¿Lo puedo contar?. Y segundo, ¿lo van a entender, algún oído va a entender esto?”.
Uruguay pasó página, para convertirse en uno de los países más desarrollados de la región y ejemplo de democracia. Pero bajo el manto de normalidad, las heridas siguen abiertas. La primera denuncia penal ante los tribunales no se presentó hasta hace nueve años. Los testimonios de estas mujeres demuestran que acallar la verdad no ha hecho que esta desaparezca.
As the National Basketball Association prepares to tip off its 2020-21 season later this month, fans are still feeling the excitement of the historic season gone by. From LeBron James’s record-breaking accomplishments on the court to Adam Silver’s ingenuity in pulling off the “bubble” experiment at Walt Disney World Resort in Florida, a lot contributed to making the most recent NBA season one for the books.
However, when people talk about the NBA’s 2019-20 season in the future, what may stand out more than any game was the player-led movement in response to the murder of George Floyd and the Black Lives Matter movement.
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Following the 8 minutes and 47 seconds that sent shockwaves through the United States’ collective moral consciousness, many corporations stepped up with both words and actions — some more impactful than others, to be sure. But the universal mandate for corporations to engage on social issues is real. It’s no longer OK for corporations to have a single, siloed corporate social responsibility officer. According to a 2019 survey conducted by Markstein and Certus Insights, 46% of consumers pay close attention to a brand’s social justice efforts before purchasing a product, and a whopping 70% of consumers want to know what the brands they support are actually doing to address social issues.
Three ingredients — a workforce that unites behind a vision, an executive who either has a vision of their own or makes an honest commitment to supporting their workforce’s vision, and an organizational value system that is built to implement and sustain that change — are absolutely essential for corporate social justice initiatives to stick. Without all three, efforts may be internally stymied.
Take Netflix as an example of an organization with a leader with an appetite for social justice impact and a vision for how the company can invest in racial inequity, but whose organizational culture — and a failure to address racial inequities within the organization itself — undermines its efforts. In June, Netflix CEO Reed Hastings donated $120 billion to historically Black colleges and universities. The company also launched a Black Lives Matter content stream on its platform and announced that it would move part of its $5 billion in cash to financial institutions that focus on Black communities.