Organization

Emergence is the way complex systems and patterns arise out of a multiplicity of relatively simple interactions. It has been described as the creation of novel and coherent structures, patterns and properties during the process of self-organization in complex systems.

Emergent properties appear when a number of simple entities operate in an environment, forming more complex behaviors as a collective. Unintended consequences and side effects are closely related to emergent properties. Common characteristics include features not previously observed in other systems, and integrated processes that maintain themselves over a period of time.

The internet is a popular example of a decentralized system exhibiting emergent properties. There is no central organization rationing the number of links, yet the number of links pointing to each page follows a power law in which a few pages are linked to many times and most pages are seldom linked to.

Another important example of emergence in web-based systems is social bookmarking, also called collaborative tagging. In these systems, users assign tags to resources shared with other users, which gives rise to a type of information organization that emerges from this crowdsourcing process.

Phrase

“Elephant in the room” is an English idiom for an obvious truth that is being ignored or goes unaddressed. The idiomatic expression also applies to an obvious problem or risk no one wants to discuss.

It is based on the idea that an elephant in a room would be impossible to overlook. Thus, people in the room who pretend the elephant is not there have made a choice. They are choosing to concern themselves with tangential or small and irrelevant issues rather than deal with a larger one.

The term refers to a question, problem, solution, or controversial issue that is obvious, but which is ignored by a group of people, generally because it causes embarrassment or is taboo. The idiom can imply a value judgment that the issue ought to be discussed openly, or it can simply be an acknowledgment that the issue is there and not going to go away by itself.

The phrase “800 lb gorilla in the room” is a similar idiomatic expression. However, it refers to a large, unstoppable individual or organization that can exert its will as it desires, even if people do their best to ignore it.

Inaccuracy

A double-barreled question is an informal fallacy. It is committed when someone asks a question that touches upon more than one issue, yet allows for only one answer. This may result in inaccuracies in the attitudes being measured for the question, as the respondent can answer only one of the two questions, and cannot indicate which one is being answered.

Many double-barreled questions can be detected by the existence of the word “and” in them. This is not a foolproof test, as the word “and” can exist in properly constructed questions. A question asking about three items is known as triple-barreled question. In legal proceedings, double-barreled question are known as compound questions.

An example of some double-barreled questions would be the following:

“Please agree or disagree with the following statement: cars should be faster and safer.”

“Should the government spend less money on military and more on education?”

The same considerations apply to questions with fixed choice answers, as an answer can also be double-barreled. For example, if a question asks: “What motivates you to work?”, the answer “Pleasant work and nice co-workers” is double-barreled.

Some questions may not be double-barreled but confusingly similar enough to a double-barreled question to result in similar issues. For example, the question “Should the organization reduce paperwork required of employees by hiring more administrators?” can be interpreted as composed of two questions. Double-barreled questions have been asked by professionals, resulting in notable skewed media reports and research pieces.

Exchange

The cortical homunculus is a pictorial representation of the anatomical divisions of the primary motor cortex and the primary somatosensory cortex. It presents the portion of the human brain directly responsible for the movement and exchange of sense and motor information of the rest of the body.

The resulting image is a disfigured human with disproportionately huge hands, lips, and face in comparison to the rest of the body. Because of the fine motor skills and sense nerves found in these particular parts of the body they are represented as being larger on the homunculus. A part of the body with fewer sensory or motor connections to the brain is represented to appear smaller.

Dr. Wilder Penfield used a similar image to depict the body according to the areas of the motor cortex controlling it in voluntary movement. Sometimes thought to be the brain’s map of the body, the motor homunculus is really a map of the proportionate association of the cortex with body members. It also reflects kinesthetic proprioception, the body as felt in motion.

For example the thumb, which is used in thousands of complex activities, appears much larger than the thigh with its relatively simple movement. This develops over time and differs from one person to the next. The hand in the brain of an infant is different from the hand in the brain of a concert pianist. The difference is due to differences in the functional organization of associated areas of the brain, which is in turn influenced by the muscular anatomy of the effector muscles of the hand.

77_homunculus

Performance

Social capital is a sociological concept used to refer to connections within and between social networks. Though there are a variety of related definitions, they tend to share the core idea that social networks have value. Just as a screwdriver (physical capital) or a college education (human capital) can increase productivity (both individual and collective), so do social contacts affect the productivity of individuals and groups.

Early attempts to define social capital focused on the degree to which social capital as a resource should be used for public good or for the benefit of individuals. It has been suggested that social capital can facilitate co-operation and mutually supportive relations in communities and would therefore be a valuable means of combating many of the social disorders inherent in modern societies.

Child development is powerfully shaped by social capital and the continued presence of social capital has been linked to various positive outcomes, particularly in education. In areas where there is a high social capital, there is also a high education performance. When there is more parental participation in a child’s community and education, teachers have reported lower levels of student misbehavior.

It has been argued that one of the reasons social capital is so difficult to measure is that it is neither an individual nor a group level phenomenon, but one that emerges across discreet levels as individuals participate in groups. They argue that the metaphor of social capital may be misleading because unlike financial capital, which is a resource held by an individual, the benefits of forms of social organization are result of the participation of individuals in advantageously organized groups.

Fluttering

Bushtits are small birds common in shrubby and woodland habitats. They are a year round resident of the western United States, and do not seem to mind residential areas. Its high pitch twittering contact call is first heard followed by the appearance of a flock ranging up to fifty birds. Members of the group constantly make contact calls to each other that can be described as a short “tsit”.

They typically swoop into an area en mass, bustle around noisily while eating and socializing, and then depart for more insect rich patches of greenery. They glean the vegetation for insects often hanging upside down in their search, gradually moving through the area.

Bushtits build elaborate pendulous nests made up of soft plant material, cobwebs, and man made items like threads and string. They are one of the first birds described to have helpers at the nest, a term used in behavioural ecology and evolutionary biology to describe a social structure in which juveniles and sexually mature adolescents, of either one or both sexes, remain in association with their parents and help them raise subsequent broods or litters.

The birds successfully petitioned for a change-of name when it was brought to their attention that the word “common” had unsavory connotations, a circumstance made particularly agregious by the fact they already had a reputation as noisy little tits. Despite its name, the Bushtit is not a well-endowed member of a prominent American political family.

Effort

Love bombing is the deliberate show of affection or friendship by an individual or a group of people toward another individual. Some have asserted that this action may be motivated in part by the desire to recruit, convert or otherwise influence others.

Critics of cults often cite love bombing as one of the features that may identify an organization as a cult. When used by critics, the phrase is defined to mean affection that is feigned or with an ulterior motive that is used to reduce the subject’s resistance to recruitment.

The term was popularized by psychology professor Margaret Singer. In her 1996 book, Cults in Our Midst, she describes the technique as a coordinated effort, usually under the direction of leadership, that involves long-term members’ flooding recruits and newer members with flattery, verbal seduction, affection, and lots of attention to their every remark. Love bombing, or the offer of instant companionship, is a deceptive ploy accounting for many successful recruitment drives.

Members of some groups use the phrase themselves to mean a genuine expression of friendship, fellowship, interest, or concern.

Optimization

Multiobjective optimization or programming, also known as multi-criteria or multi-attribute optimization, is the process of simultaneously optimizing two or more conflicting objectives subject to certain constraints.

Multiobjective optimization problems can be found in various fields: product and process design, finance, aircraft design, the oil and gas industry, automobile design, or wherever optimal decisions need to be taken in the presence of trade-offs between two or more conflicting objectives. Maximizing profit and minimizing the cost of a product; maximizing performance and minimizing fuel consumption of a vehicle; and minimizing weight while maximizing the strength of a particular component are examples of multi-objective optimization problems.

If a multiobjective problem is well formed, there should not be a single solution that simultaneously minimizes each objective to its fullest. In each case we are looking for a solution for which each objective has been optimized to the extent that if we try to optimize it any further, then the other objectives will suffer as a result. Finding such a solution, and quantifying how much better this solution is compared to other such solutions (there will generally be many) is the goal when setting up and solving a multiobjective optimization problem.

Distress

Negative affectivity is a general dimension of subjective distress and unpleasurable engagement that subsumes a variety of aversive mood states, including anger, contempt, disgust, guilt, fear, and nervousness. Individuals high in negative affectivity are characterized by distress, un-pleasurable engagement, and nervousness. Low negative affect is characterised by a state of calmness and serenity.

It has been defined as a mood-dispositional dimension that reflects pervasive individual differences in negative emotionality and self-concept. People who express high negative affectivity view themselves and a variety of aspects of the world around them in generally negative terms. Negative affectivity may influence the relationships between variables in organizational research.

Negative affectivity represents an affective state dimension. Research has demonstrated that individuals differ in negative emotional reactivity. Trait negative affectivity roughly corresponds to the dominant personality factor of anxiety and neuroticism within the major personality traits. Research shows that negative affectivity relates to different classes of variables: Self-reported stress and poor coping skills, health complaints, and frequency of unpleasant events.

Individuals high in negative affect will exhibit, on average, higher levels of anxiety and dissatisfaction, and tend to focus on the unpleasant aspects of themselves, the world, the future, and other people. In fact, the content similarities between these affective traits and life satisfaction have led some researchers to view negative affectivity and life satisfaction as specific indicators of the broader construct of subjective well-being.

Practice

Collaboration is a recursive process where two or more people or organizations work together in an intersection of common goals — for example, an intellectual endeavor that is creative in nature — by sharing knowledge, learning and building consensus. Most collaboration requires leadership, although the form of leadership can be social leadership within a decentralized and egalitarian group. In particular, teams that work collaboratively can obtain greater resources, recognition and reward when facing competition for finite resources. Collaboration is also present in opposing goals exhibiting the notion of adversarial collaboration, though this is not a common case for using the term.

Structured methods of collaboration encourage introspection of behavior and communication. These methods specifically aim to increase the success of teams as they engage in collaborative problem solving. Forms, rubrics, charts and graphs are useful in these situations to objectively document personal traits with the goal of improving performance in current and future projects.

Musical collaboration occurs when musicians in different places or groups work on the same album or song. Collaboration between musicians, especially with regards to jazz, is often heralded as the epitome of complex collaborative practice. Special software has been written to facilitate musical collaboration over the Internet. Websites have also been created to enable creative music collaboration over the Internet.

Due to the complexity of today’s business environment, collaboration in technology encompasses a broad range of tools that enable groups of people to work together including social networking, instant messaging, team spaces, web sharing, audio conferencing, video, and telephony. Broadly defined, any technology that facilitates linking of two or more humans to work together can be considered a collaborative tool. Wikipedia, Blogs, even Twitter are collaborative tools. Many large companies are developing enterprise collaboration strategies and standardizing on a collaboration platform to allow their employees, customers and partners to intelligently connect and interact.