The World Meteorological Organization Has No Immediate Plans To Name Heatwaves

As extreme heat stifles communities around the world this week, the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) said that it has “no immediate plans” to give heatwaves names. The July 19th announcement seems to pump the brakes on growing calls to come up with a strategy for ranking and naming heatwaves around the world.

In the US, heat kills more people than any other weather-related disaster. Globally, it kills 5 million people a year. But heat spells haven’t always spurred the same careful preparations people might take to, say, shelter from a major storm. The goal of naming heatwaves would be to make it easier to communicate the risks they pose to the public so that people can take measures to stay safe. In the US, heat kills more people than any other weather-related disaster

For decades, names have played a big role in early warnings for dangerous storms. Warning people about hurricane “Sandy” or “Harvey” just became a lot easier than identifying a storm by latitude and longitude. The US’s National Hurricane Center started giving Atlantic storms monikers from an official list in 1953. Currently, the WMO maintains rotating lists of names for the Atlantic and other regions.

Some advocates want to apply a similar naming mechanism to heatwaves. Seville, Spain, is set to become the first city in the world to test out the idea later this year. Officials in Athens, Greece, and California have contemplated doing the same. But the WMO apparently has some reservations, saying that it’s “currently considering the advantages and disadvantages of naming heatwaves.”“What has been established for tropical cyclone events may not necessarily translate easily across to heatwaves,” the WMO said in its news release this week. “Caution should be exercised when comparing or applying lessons or protocols from one hazard type to another, due to the important differences in the physical nature and impacts of storms and heatwaves.”“False alarms” are one concern for the WMO. Heatwaves can be forecast up to 10 days out in many parts of the world. But if the forecast for an extreme heatwave is inaccurate — maybe it’s not as hot as expected or it hits a different region than anticipated — then people might lose faith in the warnings and stop heeding them.

“False alarms”

The other caveat with heat, the WMO says, is that heat-related deaths can happen even when it’s not extraordinarily hot outside. If someone is continuously exposed to more sweltering conditions, say, in the workplace or in a home without air conditioning, they can become ill even if there isn’t an officially declared heatwave.

To prevent confusion ahead of a potential disaster, the WMO also says that any “pilot heatwave naming” should at least be tied into a country’s official warning system in the absence of a broader international framework.

Seville is piloting a project this year that will test a new alert system to warn residents ahead of a heatwave. Extreme heat events will be categorized based on their severity, and those forecast to have the greatest impact on the city will get a name. The first five have already been chosen: Zoe, Yago, Xenia, Wenceslao, and Vega.

“We are the first city in the world to take a step that will help us plan and take measures when this type of meteorological event happens—particularly because heat waves always hit the most vulnerable,” Antonio Muñoz, the mayor of Seville, said in a June 21st press release.

Parts of Europe literally buckled and burned under a brutal heatwave this week — even in places with typically milder summers. In the UK, record-breaking temperatures buckled train tracks and even an airport runway. London’s fire service responded to more blazes in a day than it had since World War II, according to Sadiq Khan, the city’s mayor. And 100 million people in the US are under heat alerts today.

Heatwaves are becoming more frequent and more intense as greenhouse gas emissions heat our planet. More than a third of heat deaths can be attributed to climate change, according to research published last year.

Source: The World Meteorological Organization has ‘no immediate plans’ to name heatwaves – The Verge

Critics by EPA

A persistent period of unusually hot days is referred to as an extreme heat event or a heat wave. Heat waves are more than just uncomfortable: they can lead to illness and death, particularly among older adults, the very young, and other vulnerable populations (see the Heat-Related Deaths and Heat-Related Illnesses indicators).

Prolonged exposure to excessive heat can lead to other impacts as well—for example, damaging crops, injuring or killing livestock, and increasing the risk of wildfires. Prolonged periods of extreme heat can lead to power outages as heavy demands for air conditioning strain the power grid.

Unusually hot days and heat wave events are a natural part of day-to-day variation in weather. As the Earth’s climate warms, however, hotter-than-usual days and nights are becoming more common (see the High and Low Temperatures indicator) and heat waves are expected to become more frequent and intense.2 Increases in these extreme heat events can lead to more heat-related illnesses and deaths, especially if people and communities do not take steps to adapt.3 Even small increases in extreme heat can result in increased deaths and illnesses.4

About the Indicator

This indicator examines trends over time in four key characteristics of heat waves in the United States:

  • Frequency: the number of heat waves that occur every year.
  • Duration: the length of each individual heat wave, in days.
  • Season length: the number of days between the first heat wave of the year and the last.
  • Intensity: how hot it is during the heat wave.

Heat waves can be defined in many different ways. For consistency across the country, Figures 1 and 2 define a heat wave as a period of two or more consecutive days when the daily minimum apparent temperature (the actual temperature adjusted for humidity) in a particular city exceeds the 85th percentile of historical July and August temperatures (1981–2010) for that city. EPA chose this definition for several reasons:

  • The most serious health impacts of a heat wave are often associated with high temperatures at night, which is usually the daily minimum.5 The human body needs to cool off at night, especially after a hot day. If the air stays too warm at night, the body faces extra strain as the heart pumps harder to try to regulate body temperature.
  • Adjusting for humidity is important because when humidity is high, water does not evaporate as easily, so it is harder for the human body to cool off by sweating. That is why health warnings about extreme heat are often based on the “heat index,” which combines temperature and humidity.
  • The 85th percentile of July and August temperatures equates to the nine hottest days during the hottest two months of the year. A temperature that is typically only recorded nine times during the hottest part of the year is rare enough that most people would consider it to be unusually hot.
  • By using the 85th percentile for each individual city, Figures 1 and 2 define “unusual” in terms of local conditions. After all, a specific temperature like 95°F might be unusually hot in one city but perfectly normal in another. Plus, people in relatively warm regions (such as the Southwest) may be better acclimated and adapted to hot weather.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) calculated apparent temperature for this indicator based on temperature and humidity measurements from long-term weather stations, which are generally located at airports. Figures 1 and 2 focus on the 50 most populous U.S. metropolitan areas that have recorded weather data from a consistent location without many missing days over the time period examined.

The year 1961 was chosen as the starting point because most major cities have collected consistent data since at least that time. Figure 3 provides another perspective to gauge the size and frequency of prolonged heat wave events. It shows the U.S. Annual Heat Wave Index, which tracks the occurrence of heat wave conditions across the contiguous 48 states from 1895 to 2021. This index defines a heat wave as a period lasting at least four days with an average temperature that would only be expected to persist over four days once every 10 years, based on the historical record. The index value for a given year depends on how often such severe heat waves occur and how widespread they are….

Related contents:

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Reporter – Climate change: Europe’s first heat officer Deutsche Welle

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Understanding And Managing The 4 Types Of Hybrid Workers

Hybrid work isn’t a one-size-fits-all proposition. Here’s how managers can better understand and support different preferences and attitudes across their hybrid teams.

The conversation between business leaders and employees about long-term hybrid work plans is a complex one. We’re trying to answer some really big questions: How is our in-person time best used? What tools do people need to succeed, wherever they are? How do we build a sustainable hybrid system?

As we strive to address these big-picture challenges, managers overseeing day-to-day operations are struggling through a messy middle ground. Every day, they’re tasked with guiding different types of employees in an entirely new (and often shifting) work environment that affects individuals differently. Managing hybrid work today can feel like trying to cross a bridge that’s still under construction.

To understand how hybrid work is affecting people, we commissioned a global survey with Economist Impact. One of its central findings was that 77% of hybrid workers agree that their managers need more specific training on managing hybrid teams. To help address this training gap, we took a deep dive into the Economist Impact research and coupled our findings with proven best practices at Google. With the right tools and guidance, hybrid teams can be successful and drive impact together, no matter where teammates work.

Discovering the four types of hybrid workers in your organization

Economist Impact recently categorized employees into four segments based on their relationship to hybrid work: evangelists, pragmatists, fair-minded, and undecided. Interestingly, employees did not fall into categories based on neatly predictable criteria like role, seniority, or industry. Instead, the primary driver was more personal: how hybrid work affects their everyday lives. The study found that feelings about hybrid work are often determined by factors like need for child care, length of commute, and personal work styles.

Here’s a look at the four types of hybrid workers identified by Economist Impact, coupled with tips for managing each one.

The evangelist: Happy with hybrid. They want to sustain the current model.

As you might guess from their name, the evangelists (24%) are the most optimistic about hybrid work and typically very satisfied with the policies, technology, and social dynamics already in place. Many work fully off-site. At Google, we have long had distributed teams who are central to our organization, so we recognize many hybrid work evangelists in our midst by their enthusiasm, productivity, and loyalty. The system is working for them.

The questions we are always looking to answer are: how do we make sure that our most satisfied employees stay that way, and how can we tap into their enthusiasm to help their colleagues see the benefits of a hybrid structure? Here are a few ideas:

  • Empower them to keep working in a way that supports their natural productivity, using centralized tools like Google Drive for easy collaboration and shared calendars so coworkers can clearly see their schedules and availability.
  • Invite them to share their best practices company-wide by creating and moderating Google Spaces dedicated to hybrid work tips, work-from-home hacks, and more.
  • Keep them engaged through short Google Meet check-ins on a quarterly basis, with the agenda focused on how hybrid work practices are functioning and whether improvements can be made.
  • Offer continuing support by making sure they have the right technology, especially if they work fully off-site. Ask: “Is technology helping them stay in the mix across all the ways and places that hybrid work happens?”

The pragmatists: Optimistic, but facing challenges. They need to be heard.

The largest segment identified by Economist Impact were pragmatists (39%), a group who is optimistic about hybrid work, but experiencing significant challenges with it. Their sentiment can be summed up as, “Yes, but …”. Meaning that they want hybrid to work, and they want to be a part of making it work, but they don’t think it’s working well… yet. Pragmatists feel that their organization’s new policies don’t incorporate enough employee input and are more likely to feel these policies are unfair.

Pragmatists are also concerned with blurred work-life boundaries. This demographic includes workers who have less location and/or time flexibility, so they may not be experiencing significant benefits of a “flexible” workplace. Here are some ways to support pragmatists:

  • Gather input by creating an anonymous survey using Google Forms. Ask what’s working or not about hybrid schedules, team processes, technology tools and training, work-life balance, etc. Repeat these surveys at regular intervals to ensure that pragmatists’ voices continue to be heard.
  • To improve flexibility while ensuring collective team work, agree on “core work hours” in which teams determine daily hours when they will typically be online and meetings will take place. Offer flexibility around the “non-core” hours for focused individual work or personal needs such as medical appointments or taking children to school.
  • Enhance transparency and shared understanding across the team about each others’ preferences and schedules using Calendar features like working location and focus time.
  • Enable teams to communicate and collaborate across locations and time zones through shared comments in Docs, Sheets, and Slides.

The fair-minded: Feeling good, hoping for continued cultural change. They want to improve the dialogue.

Most concerned about employee wellbeing, fairness, and inclusion, the fair-minded (23%) report an overall positive impact of hybrid work on their lives. Whereas the pragmatists express a “Yes, but…” sentiment, the fair-minded express “Yes, and…”. They like where this is going, and they want more. Over the long term, they are hoping for greater flexibility in their location and work schedule. They believe that better communication and collaboration will strengthen the culture of trust in the workplace and benefit everyone. Here are strategies for managing the fair-minded:

  • Foster social connection by adopting platforms specifically built for inclusivity and get creative in using them – it’s OK to have fun! Choose thematic backgrounds or break into small groups for a quick icebreaker before a meeting.
  • Build an inclusive environment by providing opportunities to bond at in-person events devoted to mentoring, discussion, and socializing.
  • Keep people informed via a “hybrid-work hub” on Google Spaces where management can share the latest policies and employees can ask questions.
  • Strengthen the culture of trust by shifting toward impact-oriented performance evaluations.

The undecided: Craving connection, direction, and better technology. They need to hear from you.

At 13%, the undecided may represent the smallest number of respondents, but they’re a group that need significant support. Why are they undecided? Overall, it’s because they’ve yet to experience significant benefits from flexible work. They’re more likely to be at organizations that have not issued formal hybrid policies, so they’re working in uncertain environments.

This group also reports higher rates of technology challenges, suggesting that they haven’t been equipped with the right tools to connect, collaborate, and communicate remotely. And finally, many are frontline workers who have suffered from limited social interactions or extra strain during the pandemic that has affected their mental health.

With so many challenges, it’s not surprising this cohort is the least confident about the future. Strategies for meeting the needs of the undecided include:

  • Clarify your hybrid policies through active communication. Consider hosting regular “re-onboarding” video calls with small groups to make sure everyone understands hybrid policies and gets training on new processes or tools.
  • Strengthen their sense of belonging with clear, inclusive updates on company wide projects and achievements via Google Meet video conferencing. Use the Q&A function so employees can ask questions and everyone can see answers, or conduct live polling to survey a specific topic. Follow up your meeting with an email recap for those who could not attend.
  • Help teams communicate and collaborate better with instant communication tools like Spaces in Google Chat, which keeps conversations about scheduling, shared tasks, and files together.

Let’s make it work

As leaders, it’s important to understand and acknowledge your team members’ different experiences of hybrid work. Do you know which of the four types your employees fall into? Taking the time to engage with them and learn their preferences allows you to shape policies while also making decisions that help the organization get work done. A thoughtfully planned hybrid work structure can adapt to individual needs, connect distributed workforces, and, ultimately, strengthen your organization. While our global shift to hybrid work was born out of necessity, we can use it to provide opportunity for every type of worker.

Vice President, Digital Work Experience

Source: Understanding And Managing The 4 Types Of Hybrid Workers

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Insta360 keeps hybrid workers in the frame with gimbal-packing 4K webcam New Atlas

New Congressional Bill Would Create Hybrid Job Classification for Gig Workers – But is Already Facing Stiff Opposition JD Supra

19:41 Tue, 02 Aug
11:19 Fri, 29 Jul
04:50
02:37
20:09 Wed, 03 Aug
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Remote work is the norm, but not so much for leaders. theHRDIRECTOR

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Multitasking Is a Lie: Women Aren’t Doing More in Less Time, They’re Just Doing More

You’ve definitely seen the high-achieving multitasking heroine. She’s making dinner with one hand, typing with the other, on a call with the third, perhaps holding a baby with the fourth. She’s a multi-armed stock photo, or an octopus lady photoshopped on a magazine cover.

You know her. Maybe you are her. For many ambitious women, the ability to master multitasking was supposedly a path to success. The irony is that it actually made many women feel scattered, overworked, and underappreciated — all while getting passed over for promotions.

Despite growing awareness that the multitasking superwoman is an elaborate fabrication duping women into doing more for less, it’s not easy to escape the pull of shared cultural expectations, explains Dr. Laurie Weingart, Professor of Organizational Behavior at the Carnegie Mellon Tepper School of Business.

“By default, we turn to women when we need non-promotable tasks done,” Weingart said. “What happens is that on the flipside, we internalize this role, and women are often more likely to volunteer and say ‘yes’ to doing them when asked. It’s a self-perpetuating cycle, and then we say ‘yes’ because of the fear of violating the expectation.”

The Myth of Multitasking

The concept of multitasking has been around since the 1960s when IBM first used it to describe computer functionalities. Since then, it’s become part of our workplace lexicon, going from a nifty trick enabled by technology (sending emails and talking on the phone at the same time was once revolutionary) to productivity optimization strategy to a cringey buzzword. And it was women, questionable research suggested, who were simply better at doing lots of things at once.

Then came the plot twist: multitasking actually diminishes productivity. The brain can shift between tasks, but it can’t parallel process. Shocking! The American Psychological Association reported that shifting between tasks can cost as much as 40% in productivity, and other studies suggest that “media multitasking” (listening to music and simultaneously checking email) diminishes the ability to focus attention.

Despite research showing that double X chromosomes do not inherently make women better at performing multiple tasks simultaneously (women and men are equally bad at multitasking), the mighty multitasking woman trope persists.

If women have bought into the belief (consciously or not) that they must do it all at once, they’re often focused on others, not exclusively on their own ambitions. It creates a vicious cycle: women take on more, but fall behind in ways that count, then must keep taking on more to prove themselves, again.

Office housekeeping, organization busywork, or the mental load that’s part of domestic labor or child-rearing are one way women tend to multitask. Another is by getting saddled with non-promotable tasks, which Weingart defines as work that women do that helps their organizations but does nothing to advance their careers.

“These are usually shorter-term assignments that need to be done quickly. Can you help with that, cover for me here — these tasks are the interrupters, as opposed to the work you’re hired to do and is longer term and requires that depth,” said Weingart, who co-wrote The No Club: Putting a Stop to Women’s Dead-End Work. “

These tasks tend to be less tightly tied to the organization’s bottom line, and they tend to be behind the scenes and less visible. When you define it that way, it’s much more than office housework or taking notes or getting the birthday cake.”

“What we often assume is that women are asked to do non-promotable tasks because we’re better at them or we enjoy doing them,” said Weingart. “What our research shows is that it’s not what’s driving this.”

In her research, Weingart found that at one firm, women consultants were working 200 more hours than their male colleagues. For younger women consultants, the tradeoff was between high-value work and other tasks, so when they came up for partner, they had less billable hours despite doing more work. For senior women, the issue was different.

“What’s interesting is that the senior women weren’t making a trade-off; the time was coming out of their personal life. So they were working longer hours, and they were putting in a month of extra work above male colleagues.”

The implications run deep. When multitasking pulls focus, it also erodes the ability to enter the deep thinking state of flow, or the optimal state of mind at which we feel and perform our best. Add in distractions of modernity — from Slack to email to the daycare group chat blowing up about spirit day — and for many women, this state of productive flow is elusive.

“Especially for people who are working longer hours, you see a lot of stress, burnout and negativity in terms of health and wellbeing,” she added.

Monotasking Is the New Multitasking

Now, after years of leaning into multitasking, many women are realizing that doing simultaneous tasks isn’t part of the promotion track. It’s the path to burnout. This awareness is the start of helping “women step back and figure out how to improve,” says Weingart.

Before committing to a task, Weingart suggests determining whether it’s of high value to your organization. If you still feel compelled to do it, try to understand your motivation for saying yes. Sometimes it’s guilt or fear of letting others down.

Then think about your performance: What criteria are you evaluated on? What’s your skill set? What do you bring to the organization that sets you apart? And does this task relate?

Remember that you might be better at non-promotable tasks because you do them over and over, not because you were born that way. It’s a feature, not a bug, of a patriarchal system, and it’s always easier to ask the person who will say yes.

The answer is easier said than done. Just say no. After all, monotasking is the new multitasking.

By Alizah Salario

Source: Chief | Multitasking Is a Lie: Women Aren’t Doing More in Less Time, They’re Just Doing More

Doing more than one task at a time, especially more than one complex task, takes a toll on productivity. Although that shouldn’t surprise anyone who has talked on the phone while checking E-mail or talked on a cell phone while driving, the extent of the problem might come as a shock. Psychologists who study what happens to cognition (mental processes) when people try to perform more than one task at a time have found that the mind and brain were not designed for heavy-duty multitasking.

Psychologists tend to liken the job to choreography or air-traffic control, noting that in these operations, as in others, mental overload can result in catastrophe. Multitasking can take place when someone tries to perform two tasks simultaneously, switch . from one task to another, or perform two or more tasks in rapid succession. To determine the costs of this kind of mental “juggling,” psychologists conduct task-switching experiments.

By comparing how long it takes for people to get everything done, the psychologists can measure the cost in time for switching tasks. They also assess how different aspects of the tasks, such as complexity or familiarity, affect any extra time cost of switching. In the mid-1990s, Robert Rogers, PhD, and Stephen Monsell, D.Phil, found that even when people had to switch completely predictably between two tasks every two or four trials, they were still slower on task-switch than on task-repeat trials.

Moreover, increasing the time available between trials for preparation reduced but did not eliminate the cost of switching. There thus appear to be two parts to the switch cost — one attributable to the time taken to adjust the mental control settings (which can be done in advance it there is time), and another part due to competition due to carry-over of the control settings from the previous trial (apparently immune to preparation).

Surprisingly, it can be harder to switch to the more habitual of two tasks afforded by a stimulus. For example, Renata Meuter, PhD, and Alan Allport, PhD, reported in 1999 that if people had to name digits in their first or second language, depending on the color of the background, as one might expect they named digits in their second language slower than in their first when the language repeated. But they were slower in their first language when the language changed.

In experiments published in 2001, Joshua Rubinstein, PhD, Jeffrey Evans, PhD, and David Meyer, PhD, conducted four experiments in which young adults switched between different tasks, such as solving math problems or classifying geometric objects. For all tasks, the participants lost time when they had to switch from one task to another.

As tasks got more complex, participants lost more time. As a result, people took significantly longer to switch between more complex tasks. Time costs were also greater when the participants switched to tasks that were relatively unfamiliar. They got up to speed faster when they switched to tasks they knew better….

By: APA.org

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18:26
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Thinking Strategically Will Help You Get Ahead and Stay Ahead

Strategic thinking is a critical skill in life. Interestingly, a lot of us hear about it for the first time in our lives through our managers “You are great at execution, but you need to start thinking strategically.” Previously considered a blatant corporate mumbo jumbo term, strategic thinking wasn’t a popular concept in the early years of my career. I kind of assumed that strategic thinking was reserved for corporates and people higher up in the company who needed to make crucial decisions around the future of an organization. It never occurred to me that thinking strategically isn’t a skill you acquire when you reach a certain position, it’s a skill you build to get to a certain position.

Strategic thinking is a critical skill in life.

Interestingly, a lot of us hear about it for the first time in our lives through our managers “You are great at execution, but you need to start thinking strategically.” Previously considered a blatant corporate mumbo jumbo term,strategic thinking wasn’t a popular concept in the early years of my career. I kind of assumed that strategic thinking was reserved for corporates and people higher up in the company who needed to make crucial decisions around the future of an organization.It never occurred to me that thinking strategically isn’t a skill you acquire when you reach a certain position, it’s a skill you build to get to a certain position.

I also believed that when I was ready to climb the corporate ladder, my manager would give me the training to help me build my strategic thinking skills and the opportunities to practice those skills. Call me naive, but that was the corporate world I lived in back then. Much has changed since, but one thing has remained constant: Strategic thinking is as important now (and may be even more) as it was many years ago.While universally, everyone is expected to have strategic thinking skills at some point in their career, no one is taught to think strategically at work, in college, or at school. Much of our education system is structured around a curriculum and how to fit our minds within a box.At school, we are praised for sticking to conventional wisdom and not asking too many questions. The trend continues in college.

In the early years of our career, we are rewarded so much for our speed of execution that we fail to realize that our journey ahead is less about doing things and more about deciding the right thing to do.When a large part of our life is spent executing someone else’s idea, it isn’t easy to break out of that mold and rewire our brain to think above and beyond. But strategic thinking is not a skill you can develop without practice.

Strategic thinking is a muscle that we all need to build because using it right at work can be a strategic advantage in your career growth as an individual. Much like a rubber band, you need to stretch and exercise your thinking. It requires crossing the boundary of the comfort zone to think about an idea to its extreme without mental guardrails to put it down. It requires uncovering new insights that moderate thinking would never surface.

Getting started on the strategic thinking mindset

Before we jump to the strategies to embrace a strategic thinking mindset, here are a few questions to kick-off your thinking. You need to ask yourself these questions from time to time. Write them down if you want them to be more effective:

  • Where do you stand right now?
  • Where do you want to be next year and the year after that?
  • What skills do you need to get there?
  • How can you practice those skills?
  • How can you increase your chances of success?
  • How can you use your time effectively and maximize it for impact?
  • Who can help you validate your ideas and give you feedback to expand your thinking?

Once you are able to spend some time thinking deep and hard about these questions, you are ready to embrace a strategic thinking mindset. Follow these 4 key strategies:

  1. Challenge and Question Assumptions

Many parents and even teachers are annoyed with kids who ask too many questions: “Why do I have to go to school?” “Why do I have to sleep early when you can be awake till late?” “Why can’t I play video games?” “Why do I have to finish my homework?” You may have not gotten all these answers as a kid. None of us did. But not getting these answers as a child shouldn’t stop you from asking questions as an adult. Curiosity and the ability to express that curiosity constructively is a great skill to have at work.

One of the biggest problems I see in organizations is how people do certain things because they have always been done that way. Emailing a report every morning to hundreds of employees that no one cares to open. Spending hours and hours of meeting time in planning discussions when no one cares about those plans a few months down the line. Far too many inefficiencies creep into the corporate system over a long period of time.

One big component of building a strategic thinking mindset is to challenge how certain things are done in your organization – not with the intent to put someone down or establish your superiority, but to identify ways to do them better. Ask targeted questions on specific problems within your organization or your line of work. Learn from how others respond or think about these problems. Different points of view on these problems will not only expand your own thinking, they will give you a direction on the areas that are worth investing your time in.

  1. Observe, Interact and Draw Connections

The hustle and bustle of getting things done, moving faster, quicker and making things happen can prevent you from noticing and investing in activities, ideas and projects that are more important in the long-term, but need your attention right now. We have all fallen for the lure of attending to the urgent while pushing the important stuff to the side. The instant gratification from solving the problem in the short-term is always more alluring than the prudent decision. We may optimize for a small gain in the moment without analyzing the potential impacts of our decision in the future. Building a strategic thinking mindset requires delaying that gratification. It requires living with a small, unimportant problem and putting all your energy and focus on other important ideas and activities that require long-term planning and execution.

Create mental space for new ideas to kick-in. Without the quiet time to sit with your thoughts, facing the uncomfortable silence, and letting your mind wander away, you cannot draw useful connections. It will not happen the first time around and probably not even the second time. But if you are persistent in your efforts, without digital and other distractions of daily life, you will start to notice new patterns of thinking. New ideas that you never thought about before will start to surface.Another great strategy is to not restrict yourself to knowledge within your current scope of work.

Spend time learning about your business and industry. Meet with other functions within your organization to understand how they operate, what their challenges are and how they make decisions. All of this knowledge will enable you to apply different mental models to connect ideas from different domains thereby expanding your circle of competence and building your strategic thinking skills.Remember, building strategic thinking skills involves looking beyond the obvious and now to prodding and shaping the uncertain future. You can’t do that without the willingness to face a little discomfort in the present to build the skills you need in the future.

  1. Put it Into Action

Now, to the most important part. I have discussed this before. In any organization, both big picture thinking and nitty-gritty details are important. Strategic thinking requires the right balance of thinking ahead while actioning in the now. It’s the perfect amalgamation of what the future holds to what must be done now in the present to make that future possible. Strategic thinking not only involves the long-term view into the future, it also involves the choices you need to make to make that future possible. It requires determining which path to take and which to abandon. It requires evaluating the cost and making the trade-offs. Doing something will always come at the cost of not doing something else.While a good strategy is important to get started, a strategy by itself won’t get you anywhere.

You need both strategy “the intent” and tactics “putting that intent to action.” Break down your strategy into the specific things you need to do.Plan what day of the week, and what specific time of the day you are actually going to give life to your strategy. To make sure you don’t let things slip by, or fail to grab the right opportunities, plan these activities on your calendar. Don’t let lack of time or other excuses be the reason for inaction. Plan your time to make things happen.

  1. Craft and Communicate

Finally, to embrace a strategic thinking mindset, don’t work in silos. Find people around you that you can trust, respect or admire. Exchange your ideas with them, request them to challenge your thinking, enable them to ask you tough and uncomfortable questions.By answering these questions, you will not only expand your thinking, you will open your mind to consider new possibilities. Instead of sticking with your original conclusions, you will be willing to challenge your assumptions.

Strategic Thinking is an Ongoing Process

You can’t build a strategic thinking muscle unless you audit your outcomes, inquire about other opinions and adapt to the changes around you. The world is changing very fast and you need to adapt your thinking to the demands of the tomorrow and not the expectations from the past.

To adapt your thinking, follow these 3 practices:

  1. Audit:

Make it a habit to review how you are doing against your goals. Typically a brief review every month and a quarterly deep dive should be sufficient to get a handle on your state of affairs. Examine your strategy from time to time and audit it to ensure you are still leaning against the right wall.When things are going well, put your strategic thinking hat to determine how you can do better:

  • Does an area seem more promising than you originally envisioned?
  • Does it make sense to invest more resources in that area?
  • What kind of changes can you foresee based on market shifts or other industry trends?
  • How can you make sure you aren’t biased in your thinking by relying only on confirming pieces of evidence while rejecting data that contradicts it.

When things aren’t working out as expected, ask yourself these questions:

  • Is it a specific tactic that’s causing your strategy to not work. Should you reconsider another tactic?
  • If the tactic is not a problem, do you need to reconsider the strategy itself?
  • Is it possible that external circumstances beyond your control are causing your strategy to not work?
  • Has something changed since you implemented this strategy that you have not considered yet? Is it possible that change is making your strategy ineffective?
  • Is your ego getting in the way and making you invest in a failed cause? Can you look past the sunk costs into other better opportunities?
  1. Inquire

It’s easy to get muddled up in our own thinking and assume we are making the right decision even when we are not. Others can clearly see what we are sometimes not able to see ourselves.Seeking an outside opinion and encouraging different perspectives that challenge our viewpoint is a great way to uncover our blind spots. Strategy for your personal life? Seek feedback from close family and friends. Strategy for an organization? Seek inputs from colleagues and other coworkers.Don’t stay with your opinion unless you have solid data and people to back up your thinking. Ask others these questions:

  • What’s the one thing wrong with my strategy?
  • What’s the one thing I can do better with my strategy?
  • What would you do if you were in my place?
  • What would you not do if you were in my place?
  • What circumstances or events would cause you to evaluate other options?
  1. Adapt

Finally, use the inputs from your audit and inquiry to adjust your strategy. Adapt your future strategy based on the learning from your past. What worked? What didn’t work? What mistakes did you make? Strategic thinking is as much about the future as it’s about learning from your past. Visualize your future. Look at your past. Adjust the gap with the changes you need to make to build that future for yourself and others. You don’t need a breakthrough idea, just the simple choices that will move you forward one step at a time in the direction of your goals.

Many people make the mistake and assume they aren’t thinking strategically if they don’t come up with an innovative idea. Strategic thinking is less about innovation and more about the ability to make the right connections.

Summary

  1. Strategic thinking: The ability to visualize the long-term while planning the short-term to align with the long-term is a critical skill in life.
  2. Much like other things in life, strategic thinking is a muscle that gets better with repetition and practice.
  3. To get started on your strategic thinking journey, start with challenging and questioning assumptions. Identify new ways to do small things at work.
  4. Make time and space to allow your brain to form new connections. Learn about your industry, business and other functions in the organization to expand your thinking beyond your current scope of work.
  5. Give life to your strategy by putting it into action. Break down your strategy into tactics, the specific things you need to do to implement your strategy.
  6. Don’t be rigid in your thinking. Open your brain to new possibilities by seeking others’ opinions and encouraging them to challenge your assumptions.
  7. Finally, strategic thinking is an on-going process. You need to audit, inquire and adjust your strategy based on your learning from the past and the demands of tomorrow.

By Vinita Bansal

Source: Thinking Strategically Will Help You Get Ahead and Stay Ahead | HackerNoon

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Intelligent Business Practices are a Smart Path To Unleashing Growth

Earlier this year, I predicted the rise of intelligent business practices as a trend shaping Australian small-to-medium businesses.

Barely two months on, things have already progressed to the point that it’s worth revisiting and expanding on what this all means.Intelligent business practices are a transformational, once-in-a-decade type technology shift that promises huge business effectiveness gains. These practices resolve points of friction, improve productivity and efficiency, unlock growth and help organizations scale.The existence of intelligent business practices suggests that unintelligent or under-intelligent practices also exist.

Naturally, no practice starts out as such, but they may degrade in quality or efficiency over time, slowly becoming out of step with best practice despite everyone’s best intentions.Small-to-medium business owners or leaders are generally acutely aware of the problems their organizations face, but almost universally haven’t landed on a way to solve them. Business leaders not only don’t have all the answers but also aren’t often able to quantify the cost of leaving these known problems unaddressed.

This has a dollar value. Research, for example, pegs the loss of productivity from poor internal communications and dealing with unnecessary email volumes at thousands of dollars per employee per year. Another study by Forrester found employees “waste an average of 12.5 hours per week on manual and repetitive tasks because of outdated solutions and practices”, costing an organization of 100 employees $2.7 million a year.

More organizations would act faster if they could quantify the costs of their inaction and the costs of what they were missing out on. To this end, we’re seeing more organizations cost their business-as-usual practices to establish a baseline that can then be lowered by approaching business practices more intelligently.

Starting the change

The first step towards doing that is to be in the right mindset: to be open to opportunities for continuous business practice improvement.

Then it’s a matter of identifying the change opportunities and prioritizing them in order of potential efficiency and cost-out impact.This should be a relatively straightforward exercise that looks at the organization and identifies the three biggest challenges, friction points, growth inhibitors or opportunities that, if removed, could unleash the most growth and revenue.

This is an incredibly healthy exercise for any business to undertake at any point of its existence, but as many of us emerge from a challenging two years, the timing has never been better.It’s worth also putting some limits around this. This exercise should be approached with no preconceived notion of solutions, technology stacks or vendors. This isn’t the right place to run experiments. This should be nothing more than a straightforward examination of how efficiently the business operates.

A truism for every business, including our own, is that if you’ve been operating for any number of years, you’ll reach a point where you do things a certain way that becomes the ‘known’ or the common way of running a transaction or other process internally. That way might or mightn’t be well-documented. It might be intimately known only by one person or a handful of people. It may also not be considered optimal or best practice today. But it’s *your* process and a part of the business DNA that has allowed you to achieve success to date.

Even within the same industry, businesses solve problems in different ways. There may, of course, be some commonality between approaches, but often they reflect and run according to the unique personality of the business and how it has evolved. The point of running a discovery exercise on these processes and practices is to determine how successful internally they’ve allowed you to be, but then how much more successful you could be if the processes were optimized and operated in a more intelligent way.

If hundreds of thousands of dollars in potential benefits are tied up in a sub-optimal business process or practice, but a pathway exists to make that process or practice more intelligent – without incurring high cost – this should be considered a threshold or trigger point to drive towards more intelligent business practices.The impact of adding intelligence to one business practice or process should quickly become apparent to the people that work with it, and to customers that see and experience the output of how smoothly it now operates.

This creates internal excitement for change. People want more, and it often leads organizations to drive intelligence deeper, and make more far-reaching changes to the way they operate. Confidence builds and is converted into a cycle of continuous improvement. Given the nature of the business environment, all leaders would be well encouraged to take a fresh look at their businesses, either by themselves or with the aid of a specialist process consultancy like Tecala.

But, it all starts with a simple, straightforward and fresh look at the way you do business. Against the current backdrop of economic recovery and opportunity, SMEs and their leaders would be well advised to start now.

Source: Intelligent business practices are a smart path to unleashing growth

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