Synesthesia. Syne-what? Synesthesia (sinəsˈTHēZHə)! From Dictionary.com, synesthesia is "a sensation produced in one modality when a stimulus is applied to another modality, as when the hearing of a certain sound induces the visualization of a certain color." Go on the synesthesia journey with one of QIC's Research Psychologists, Corinne Novell, as she discusses the visualizations produced by different flavors!
Sr. Human Factors Engineer, Tarah Daly takes on the 30-Day challenge and discusses habit formation in this video. Check it out!
I've recently had several ride-sharing experiences that really got me thinking about efficiency (or lack thereof) not only in my day to day personal life, but also in my professional life and how the desire for efficiency impacts our people, products, and services. In my current position, one of my goals is to ensure that QIC runs efficiently on a daily basis. Therefore, I typically approach my work, with a mindset geared toward efficiency - aiming to achieve desired results with as little wasted time and energy as possible. When thinking about efficiency in automated or machine-related environments, the goal is to reduce friction to the greatest extent possible. In collaborative work environments, the goal is much the same however, we're not dealing with machines, but with groups of people, and the friction we're removing are barriers to success.
Certainly being able to work efficiently in a professional capacity has its benefits, indicated by the countless articles on the "X Things Efficient People Do." Efficient workers tend to get promoted more frequently, tend to be better communicators, and often have less work stress while having more time to do the things they enjoy. Individuals who are efficient tend to not multitask (see my multitasking post from last year, here), are good at delegating, use clear and concise communication, schedule their activities, set aside time for rest, and plan their projects among other things. Sounds good, right?
From a business perspective, entire methodologies such as Lean / Six Sigma are dedicated to improving business processes to ensure efficiency. Recently UPS was in the headlines (for revealing that they use computer software to guide their driver's routes, which helps to eliminate unnecessary left-hand turns. The strategy and software helped the company save 20.4 million miles, which obviously translates to significant time, maintenance, and fuel savings across their fleet. Again, all good stuff.
There are however, countless articles on why working efficiently is bad for the individual and even how to go about shaping management's perception of your workload. Reasons individuals may actually suffer from being too efficient stem from having more work piled on because they finished their assigned work quickly, having fellow employees resent them for setting a higher standard, or being seen as a slacker by management because they may not always have work to do - again, because you finished it quickly. Outside of the workplace, the desire for too much efficiency could actually produce greater anxiety, frustration, and stress.
In terms of business management, while a focus on efficiency may be beneficial from a bottom-line or a work output perspective, there are critical aspects of a business that may actually suffer from too great of a focus on efficiency. In automated and machine-related environments it makes sense to always strive for greater efficiency. However, in our team-based environment too much efficiency could create a climate in which interactions between colleagues become unnecessarily limited and colleagues don’t get to know each other. Additionally, if processes are too efficient it may limit individual's ability actively think about situations, problems, and their context and stymie innovation.
While we strive for efficiency in the work we do - better, faster, less expensive - it's important to always remember who actually makes it possible for us to meet our customer's needs. When working in a collaborative setting, efficiency is one important part of the equation, but we can't forget the people who must interact with our processes to create our products and services. Have you experienced collaborative environments that are too efficient? Have you seen an over-emphasis on efficiency hinder innovation and suppress colleague bonding? Let me know!
Some of you may recall that a few months ago, I was momentarily enchanted with Pokémon GO and then got totally bored and stopped playing it, along with the rest of the world. With the new year, I wanted to give you an update on the game that continues to disappoint, but demonstrates so much about the art of the possible with mobile gaming and augmented reality.
This past November, rumors started to fly about a special Christmas update to the application. Legendary Pokémon! Pokémon trading! Something called a Typhlosion! Hundreds of new Pokémon released into the wild! Having a very limited understanding of the Pokémon universe, I had no idea what any of that meant, but I was interested. Finally, I thought, something to catch that's not a pigeon or a cranky looking rat. In early December, the update hit the streets, and we got…
Pikachu. With a Santa hat.
In addition, Niantic released five of what appear to be baby Pokémon, but there was a catch: You can only hatch them from eggs. Hatching Pokémon eggs is one of the more tedious aspects of the game, because it requires you to walk a certain distance with the app running. Five eggs and 25 km later, I'd only hatched one of the new ones. This is a clever tactic to get players to spend money within the game; you can purchase additional egg incubators which enable you to hatch multiple eggs at once. They did not get my money, as I do not tend to spend money on boring things in order to make them more interesting. I do tend to cheat them, however.
There are many video games I have become bored with and cheated to win. I'm not the only one, either. In her book Cheating: Gaining Advantage in Video Games, Mia Consalvo discusses the reasons people cheat at video games. Reasons include being stuck, wanting to explore expanded boundaries within the game, maliciousness, and just being bored. These findings were corroborated by researchers at Embry Riddle Aeronautical University who found that students self-reported wanting to progress or gain an advantage over others as primary reasons for their cheating behavior (Doherty et al., 2014). In this case, I fell into the "bored" category.
So how do you cheat at Pokémon GO? The primary objective of the game is to "catch them all," however they are not all accessible to you at any one place. Success requires you to travel, as some critters are only available on specific continents. To fill out the Pokedex, a player would have to travel the world…or at least their phone's GPS would have to reflect that. It turns out that in Android's developer mode, it's fairly straightforward to spoof your GPS location and navigate with a virtual joystick. If your phone's GPS thinks it's in Tokyo, Pokémon GO does as well. Cheating is not without its risks. Niantic has banned players from using fake location data, as well as other cheats, but at this point I decided that getting banned from this game was probably not a horrible thing for my productivity anyway, and it was probably worth it.
Over the next few weeks, I went to London to catch Mr. Mime, Tokyo to catch Farfetch'd, and Sydney to catch Kangaskhan. I spent a lot of time in New York's Central Park and Times Square. After a few hours, I realized something interesting: I'm actually pretty familiar with the layout of Central Park just from navigating the map in the game. I know that the zoo is one of the southernmost points in the park, and that Carnegie Hall is a couple of blocks away. I can get from Bryant Park to Times Square by going north and west. And now that all the Starbucks locations are Pokestops, I'm real sure I could get you a cup of coffee in ten minutes if you dropped me anywhere in the middle of Manhattan. This makes sense, given every Pokestop is a labeled landmark, and while not high fidelity, the map provides enough information for me to know where the roads are and the difference between land and water.
Whether this learning transfers to the real world is an empirical question. To find out, I'd have to take a trip to the Big Apple. While the Pokémon people probably never intended it, they may have tapped into a paradigm for incidental spatial learning. For example, an incoming university student could familiarize themselves with a large campus prior to their first day of class through playing a similar game. Soldiers could learn landmarks in a new operational environment before they deploy. Astronauts headed to distant planets could learn a new landscape through a game during the long flight. While other methods might be more effective, this might be a fun avenue to explore!
"By the last day, I/ITSEC attendees Jennifer Solberg Murphy and Sae Schatz cut their way through the news and marketing chatter" of the larger defense contractors such as Lockheed, Boeing, CAE, and Cubic Defense.
Interesting insight from the Twitter competition at Interservice / Industry Training, Simulation and Education Conference
These posts are written or shared by QIC team members. We find this stuff interesting, exciting, and totally awesome! We hope you do too!