Archive for the ‘Strategy’ Category

Service of Voting for One Issue: What’s the Thinking Behind it?

Thursday, October 29th, 2020

If I insisted on having to agree 100 percent with friends, and if each one needed to act the way I would in every instance, I’d have none.

My parents didn’t always agree about politics, how strict to be with me, what film to see or event to attend, so there was plenty of lively conversation in my childhood home. This, I suspect, is why I am unlike some friends who say “If a person felt this way about __________ [name the subject such as global warming, religion or a political figure] I couldn’t be friends with them.” [There are obvious exceptions of extreme nature: If someone tortured people or animals for example that would be a deal breaker.]

Early voters NYC, October 2020

On the other hand, if most everything about a person is abhorrent to me–their behavior, beliefs, lifestyle, actions and ethics–we wouldn’t be pals even if we share one passion or background.

This is why I don’t understand how people support a politician when they agree with him or her about only one issue when the person otherwise exemplifies everything else they oppose.

For example, on social media, @americamag, The Jesuit Review, asked: “Do we have to ignore the fact that Mr. Trump sometimes behaves in a manner unworthy of a president of the United States, and ignore the damage that he inflicts on the rule of law in our body politic, just because of his good pro-life policies?”  America Media describes itself  asthe leading provider of editorial content for thinking Catholics and those who want to know what Catholics are thinking.”

Pro-life initiatives are left in the dust by traditional “pro-lifers” who vote that issue alone such as health care for all, food for the hungry, clean water, keeping immigrant children with their parents, simple attempts–enforcing masks and social distancing–to control Covid-19 and the like. The irony is that you don’t have to partake in gambling or ingesting marijuana or taking prescription drugs or drinking alcohol if you disagree. What’s the difference?

Have you voted for someone for a single issue?  If people don’t see eye to eye on most everything else about a candidate, how do they justify their decision to vote for her/him? Are you inflexible in your friendships, refusing to see someone based on disagreement over one issue when you like most everything else?

Photo: ny1.com

Service of Irritations that Irk Now and Maybe Not Before

Monday, April 13th, 2020

Photo: houseplansandmore.com

Photo: nakedapartments.com

The pandemic has created a new set of frustrations that didn’t occur or rile as much or at all before.

Living as I do in Manhattan I listen carefully to advice to protect myself from the virus and gripe when many suggestions depend on a person’s living in a house or fully equipped apartment without alternates. “Leave an Amazon package in your garage or in the trunk of your car for a few days,” is one or “when you return home immediately wash your fabric face mask in your washing machine.” I can count on one hand the number of NYC apartments I’ve visited or lived in that have their own washer-dryer. It’s not always a question of money or space: Some co-ops don’t allow them.

Photo: homedepot.com

The reason I love Bounty paper towel is how strong it is. Drives me nuts that after the many times I wash my hands I must toss the paper towel that dries them instead of subsequently wiping a counter or not wasting one at all as before. I formerly wiped my hands with a linen kitchen towel.  Insult to injury: finding replacement towels is still a challenge in NYC.

A Manhattan friend’s recent late night Tweet: “The streets are eerily quiet these days. So when a car with a CAR ALARM is parked nearby and blares for hours on end, it’s more infuriating than usual. Dude, how old is your car, and could you park it in NJ please?”

Another friend placed an online supermarket order for her suburban mom so her mom had only to swoop by in her car for pick up and run. Friend was disappointed to hear that there was only one box of tissues–they’d run out of the less expensive brand she’d chosen–and that the market didn’t automatically provide a substitute even if costlier. The whole idea was to cut down the number of trips for supplies. There should be an opt in box to check that clears the store to make substitutes.

Photo: twitter.com

In “Service of My Space: Am I Invisible?” I’ve written about the disrespect many pedestrians show others on NYC streets. Some shove in front of the elderly or disabled and cut them off not always because they are studying their phones–but because they can or don’t care. The streets in midtown are empty now yet there are those who walk in the middle of a sidewalk forcing anyone coming towards them to walk in the street or hide in a building entrance to keep six feet away. Have they not heard about the advice to social distance?

Because I must don a mask and gloves to leave my apartment–my building asks tenants to protect others and themselves in public spaces–I try to plan trips to the garbage room to coincide with a visit to the lobby for mail or a grocery store for supplies. Did I ever imagine I’d have to strategize tossing garbage?

What little irritations have you noticed that never came up before the pandemic and/or didn’t irk you? Am I even more thin-skinned than usual? Are you?

Photo: fluentin3months.com

Service of Humiliating, Harmful Strategies to Get Paid: Lunch Shaming

Monday, May 8th, 2017

Photo: canadianfamily.ca

Photo: canadianfamily.ca

The headline alone of Bettina Elias Siegel’s article in The New York Times, “Shaming Children So Parents Will Pay the School Lunch Bill,” is enough to sink hearts and for readers to scream: “What are they thinking?” To embarrass a child in front of others for something they have done is horror enough but to do this over something over which the young one has no control is unthinkable. Adding injury to insult is that it involves an essential life-sustaining activity, eating, and it is fomented by school administrators who, of all people, should know better. Further, there’s a huge element of waste involved.

I wrote about school lunches four years ago in a different context: Service of Equality: Free School Breakfast, Lunch and iPads.” In that post I wanted NYC to pay for breakfast and lunch for the children whose parents couldn’t afford to buy them but thought that giving free iPads was a bit much when there are viable, far less expensive tablet options.

Recently Siegel wrote: “On the first day of seventh grade last fall, Caitlin Dolan lined up for lunch at her school in Canonsburg, Pa. But when the cashier discovered she had an unpaid food bill from last year, the tray of pizza, cucumber slices, an apple and chocolate milk was thrown in the trash.”

What’s the strategy here: It’s better to toss good food than give it to a hungry child? That’ll teach a parent who isn’t there who may not have the money to pay in the first place.

Photo: thebalance.com

Photo: thebalance.com

News in the rest of the article doesn’t get much better. Siegel further described “lunch shaming,” as the nasty approach is called. “The practice is widespread — a 2014 report from the Department of Agriculture found that nearly half of all districts used some form of shaming to compel parents to pay bills. (About 45 percent withheld the hot meal and gave a cold sandwich, while 3 percent denied food entirely.)” Instead of a real lunch some are given two pieces of bread with a thin slice of cheese.

Photo: money.usnews.com

Photo: money.usnews.com

Siegel described a cafeteria worker in Pa. who quit when forced to take away a child’s lunch. A child in Alabama went home with a stamp on her arm: “I need lunch money.”

There’s no free lunch and there’s the lunch bill to pay. What to do? Some qualify for a federal free meal program though others are afraid to apply because of their immigration status. Communities ask for “random acts of kindness” and organize fundraisers and GoFundMe pages. A Texas-based 4th grade mentor, Kenny Thompson, paid the bill when he saw the lunch lady refuse food to a child whose mother, he knew, was in the hospital. Next he founded “Feed the Future Forward,” and through fundraising events and donations hopes to wipe out over $50,000 in debt. To qualify for the refund money, however, Thompson makes schools sign a pledge that they won’t give children with unpaid bills a meal different from the other kids.

Lunch shaming is nothing new. Siegel quoted a mother whose son won’t eat peanut butter as the result of an incident two decades ago. How did it catch on and why do communities permit it? What gets into the minds of administrators who lose sight of their clients—children—when addressing a problem? How can parents permit such cruelty in a place they entrust their children?

Feed the Future Forward

Service of Plan B

Monday, August 29th, 2016

Photo: shiftonline.org

Photo: shiftonline.org

I’m a Plan B kind of person. If a project isn’t rolling out the way I’d like, I develop contingencies and options so as not to let an unanticipated glitch get in the way of a project’s success.

Turns out that most are like me and we’re all wrong, according to recent research reported in the Wall Street Journal by Rachel Emma Silverman. However, I’m not convinced by the experiment she cited that the conclusions are justified.

Silverman explained why you’re better off without a Plan B from findings published in Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes. Jihae Shin, assistant professor of management and human resources at the University of Wisconsin’s business school and Katherine Milkman, a Wharton associate professor, co-authored the results of a series of studies.

participantsSilverman quotes Shin: “Simply contemplating backup plans make you want to achieve the primary goal less, which makes you put less effort into it. As a result, you have lower chances of success in your primary goal.”

The reporter described one of the experiments in which “participants were asked to unscramble sentences and told that if they performed well, they would receive a free snack.” Some were told they might not win a snack and to think of a backup plan of other ways to get free food on campus.

snacks“Researchers found that participants who were prompted to think of a backup plan to get free snacks did significantly worse on an assigned task than those who were simply told to do the task with no additional instructions.” The key word is prompted. That action skewed the results, in my opinion because the researchers distracted some and not others so they weren’t equally concentrating on unscrambling the sentences.

Silverman wrote: “When people anticipate that they’ll feel really bad if they don’t complete a task, they will work harder, Dr. Shin said. But if they have thought of a Plan B, they might feel more comfortable slacking off.”

I think that what is significant and relevant is the timing of when to think of additional strategies. You wouldn’t make a Plan B at the start and you might not do it at all if your plan is going well. Actually, in the next quote, Dr. Shin agreed with me, therefore watering down his theory: “You might first want to do everything you can to achieve your primary goal and really focus on that for a period of time, before you develop a detailed backup plan.”

While the research focused on individuals, Dr. Shin suggested that team leaders might want to have a second team develop a Plan B, leaving the first team to work on the project.

Wouldn’t having teams work at cross-purposes impact enthusiasm and morale? Do you start a project thinking of alternate strategies or do you follow a strategy you believe in before thinking of alternatives? Does the setup of the experiment seem flawed?

timing is everything

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