Make Strategic Thinking Part of Your Job

It’s a common complaint among top executives: “I’m spending all my time managing trivial and tactical problems, and I don’t have time to get to the big-picture stuff.” And yet when I ask my executive clients, “If I cleared your calendar for an entire day to free you up to be ‘more strategic,’ what would you actually do?” most have no idea. I often get a shrug and a blank stare in response. Some people assume that thinking strategically is a function of thinking up “big thoughts” or reading scholarly research on business trends. Others assume that watching TED talks or lectures by futurists will help them think more strategically.

How can we implement strategic thinking if we’re not even sure what it looks like?

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Posted in Strategic thinking, Strategy, Thinking | Tagged , ,

Crowdsourced Science: Sociotechnical Epistemology in the e-Research Paradigm

Recent years have seen a surge in online collaboration between experts and amateurs on scientific research. In this article, we analyse the epistemological implications of these crowdsourced projects, with a focus on Zooniverse, the world’s largest citizen science web portal. We use quantitative methods to evaluate the platform’s success in producing large volumes of observation statements and high impact scientific discoveries relative to more conventional means of data processing. Through empirical evidence, Bayesian reasoning, and conceptual analysis, we show how information and communication technologies enhance the reliability, scalability, and connectivity of crowdsourced e-research, giving online citizen science projects powerful epistemic advantages over more traditional modes of scientific investigation. These results highlight the essential role played by technologically mediated social interaction in contemporary knowledge production. We conclude by calling for an explicitly sociotechnical turn in the philosophy of science that combines insights from statistics and logic to analyse the latest developments in scientific research.

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Posted in crowdsourcing, Research, Research network | Tagged , ,

How to Do Social Science Without Data

With the death last month of the sociologist Zygmunt Bauman at age 91, the intellectual world lost a thinker of rare insight and range. Because his style of work was radically different from that of most social scientists in the United States today, his passing is an occasion to consider what might be gained if more members of our profession were to follow his example.

Mr. Bauman wrote scores of books and taught for many years at the University of Leeds, in England. He became a scholar to be reckoned with relatively late in his career. A major success came in 1989, at age 64, when he published a landmark study, “Modernity and the Holocaust.” Against the widespread view that the Holocaust reflected an anti-Semitic madness that had seized civilized Germany and thrown it back into an atavistic state, Mr. Bauman described the genocide as an all-too-characteristic creature of the modern era.

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Posted in Data, Social sciences, Sociology | Tagged , ,

Recovering from disasters: Social networks matter more than bottled water and batteries

Standard advice about preparing for disasters focuses on building shelters and stockpiling things like food, water and batteries. But resilience – the ability to recover from shocks, including natural disasters – comes from our connections to others, and not from physical infrastructure or disaster kits. Almost six years ago, Japan faced a paralyzing triple disaster: a massive earthquake, tsunami, and nuclear meltdowns that forced 470,000 people to evacuate from more than 80 towns, villages and cities. My colleagues and I investigated how communities in the hardest-hit areas reacted to these shocks, and found that social networks – the horizontal and vertical ties that connect us to others – are our most important defense against disasters.

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Posted in Networked society, Social network | Tagged ,

Emotions Are Cognitive, Not Innate

Researchers propose emotions are cognitive states which occur as a result of conscious experiences, and not innately programmed into our brains. Emotions are not innately programmed into our brains, but, in fact, are cognitive states resulting from the gathering of information, New York University Professor Joseph LeDoux and Richard Brown, a professor at the City University of New York, conclude in the latest issue of the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

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Read also: A higher-order theory of emotional consciousness

Posted in Cognition, Emotions | Tagged ,

What Hunter-gatherers can tell us about fundamental Human Social Networks

Long before the advent of social media, human social networks were built around sharing a much more essential commodity: food. Now, researchers reporting on the food sharing networks of two contemporary groups of hunter-gatherers in the Cell Press journal Current Biology on July 21 provide new insight into fundamental nature of human social organization. The new work reveals surprising similarities between the Agta of the Philippines and Mbendjele of the Republic of Congo. In both places, individuals maintain a three-tiered social network that appears to buffer them against day-to-day shortfalls in foraging returns..”Previous research has suggested that social networks across human cultures are structured in similar ways,” says Mark Dyble (@DybleMark) of University College London. “Across societies, there appear to be similar limits on the number of social relationships individuals are able to maintain, and many societies are said to have a ‘multilevel’ structure. Our work on contemporary hunter-gatherer groups sheds light on how this distinctive social structure may have benefited humans in our hunting-and-gathering past.”

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Posted in Humans, Hunter-gatherer, Social network | Tagged , ,

Camp stability predicts patterns of Hunter-gatherer Cooperation

Reciprocal food-sharing is more prevalent in stable hunter-gatherer camps, shows new UCL research that sheds light on the evolutionary roots of human cooperation. The research explores patterns of food-sharing among the Agta, a population of Filipino hunter-gatherers. It finds that reciprocal food-sharing is more prevalent in stable camps (with fewer changes in membership over time); while in less stable camps individuals acquire resources by taking from others – known as ‘demand sharing’. Exploring social dynamics in the last remaining groups of present day hunter-gatherers is essential for understanding the factors that shaped the evolution of our widespread cooperation, especially with non-kin.

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Posted in Cooperation, Hunter-gatherer | Tagged ,

Unique social structure of Hunter-gatherers explained

Sex equality in residential decision-making explains the unique social structure of hunter-gatherers, a new UCL study reveals. Previous research has noted the low level of relatedness in hunter-gatherer bands. This is surprising because humans depend on close kin to raise offspring, so generally exhibit a strong preference for living close to parents, siblings and grandparents. The new study, published today in Science and funded by the Leverhulme Trust, is the first to demonstrate the relationship between sex equality in residential decision-making and group composition. In work conducted over two years, researchers from the Hunter-Gatherer Resilience Project in UCL Anthropology lived among populations of hunter-gatherers in Congo and the Philippines. They collected genealogical data on kinship relations, between-camp mobility and residence patterns by interviewing hundreds of people.

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Posted in Hunter-gatherer, Social structure | Tagged ,

Why our ancestors were more gender equal than us

It is often believed that hierarchical and sometimes oppressive social structures like the patriarchy are somehow natural – a reflection of the law of the jungle. But the social structure of today’s hunter gatherers suggests that our ancestors were in fact highly egalitarian, even when it came to gender. Their secret? Not living with many relatives. These societies were not only strikingly different from most horticulturalist, farming and pastoralist societies today, but also from the hierarchical societies of apes, our closest evolutionary relatives. Chimpanzees and gorillas are known to have patterns of sex inequality similar to post-agriculture humans.

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Posted in Equality, Gender, Hunter-gatherer | Tagged , ,

How Friendship Networks at College impact students’ academic and social success

Student friendships at college should not be underestimated, as they can either help or hinder students academically and socially, according to a Dartmouth study “Friends with Academic Benefits,” published in the current issue of Contexts. The article by Janice McCabe, associate professor of sociology at Dartmouth, serves as a precursor to her upcoming book, “Connecting in College: How Friendship Networks Matter for Academics and Social Success”..Previous studies on the importance of peers have examined the broader role that peers play in student life, often focusing on their social influence, whereas, this study examines: individual friendships at college, how students benefit academically and socially from such networks, and how such networks reflect a student’s race and class. The research analyzes and visually maps the friendship networks of 67 students at a Midwestern university that is predominantly white, by looking at the role that friendship groups play in a student’s life and the density of ties that he/she shares with friends. McCabe finds that student friendships can be classified into three types of networks: tight-knitters, samplers and compartmentalizers.

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Read also:  Connecting in College

Posted in Academic achievement, Connect, Friendship, Networks | Tagged , , ,