Tag Archives: performance

man drawing procedure diagram

Procedures

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Back in the days when I was active in IIE, I used to talk to Kevin McManus all the time. These days, it is all I can do to follow his great articles on Linked In Pulse. I want to share his latest one on procedures. Kevin shares some of the history of procedures and how they have evolved over the decades. My Take In my experience, we have a love/hate relationship with procedures. We recognize that they have major benefits. They help us standardize…

anxious women

Anxiety Moves You to the Left

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A study by Mario Weick and his team at the University of Kent conducted a study that looked at two variables you might not think are related. He blindfolded his participants and instructed them to talk in a straight line towards a target that he had showed them just before putting on the blindfold. (kind of like pin the tail on the donkey).

Scientists have discovered that feeling anxious makes people begin veering to the left because their right hand side of the brain is so active.
Dr Mario Weick of the School of Psychology at the University of Kent has for the first time linked the activation of the brain’s two hemispheres with shifts in people’s walking trajectories.

student sleeping

The Four Day School Week

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Many companies have experimented with their work schedules in an attempt to decrease costs, increase performance, or both. One common example is the four day/ten hour per day workweek. The workweek is still 40 hours, but compressed by a day. By moving to four days, the company can either close down the office for three days and save on maintenance and upkeep or they can rejigger shifts to have 4/day 3/day rotations that are easier to pair up than 5 day/ 2 day rotations would be. What about doing this in K-12 education?

How would you react if you were told that your local public school planned to change the schedule from the traditional Monday-through-Friday model to a schedule that contained four longer school days? Would you worry about long days for young children, their academic accomplishments and, of course, childcare?

Girl working on computer

Flow

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Flow is one of those concepts that we all like to talk about but is much harder to achieve in practice. At its essence, flow is that feeling you get when you are “in the zone.” You are fully immersed in an activity, totally focused, high levels of challenge are balanced with high levels of skill so you get a great feeling of accomplishment. It increases your ability to persist through difficulty.

Team working together

Employee Behavior Analytics

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Can we use simple design changes in a workplace to improve employee teamwork, communication, and performance? We have talked here several times about some interesting innovations such as aligning the chairs, creativity spaces, and so on.

While it is widely acknowledged that effective communication and knowledge transfer are crucial to an organization’s success, these behaviors are very difficult to measure. Surveys and human observers provide biased, limited views into communication behaviors, which is of little practical usefulness for organizations.

person writing

Writing Your Way To Happiness

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This is a really fascinating example of a design process that leverages our ability to create frames that skew our information processing.

The scientific research on the benefits of so-called expressive writing is surprisingly vast. Studies have shown that writing about oneself and personal experiences can improve mood disorders, help reduce symptoms among cancer patients, improve a person’s health after a heart attack, reduce doctor visits and even boost memory.

Now researchers are studying whether the power of writing — and then rewriting — your personal story can lead to behavioral changes and improve happiness.

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Distraction

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Why are we so distracted these days? It was never this bad just one technology generation ago, was it? Or is it my selective memory? I ask because Joshua Rothman has two hypotheses for why this might be true, which he describes in an intriguing article in the June issue of the New Yorker. Special thanks to Lynn Strother at HFES headquarters for sending me the link.

Still, for all our expertise, distraction retains an aura of mystery. It’s hard to define: it can be internal or external, habitual or surprising, annoying or pleasurable.

a woman testing her grip strength with a device

Aging and Designing for Your Real Age

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I was an early adopter of Real Age when they launched many years ago. Now they seem to have gone too commercial and I am unconvinced of the validity of the test any more. But the idea I think is still very sound. So I was happy when Lynn Strother at HFES HQ shared this article with me from the NYT. The article just focuses on physical measures, but I think that is way too limited a perspective.

Warren Sanderson, a professor of social and behavioral sciences at Stony Brook University, is working on ways to define aging other than the passing of years. With colleagues at the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis in Laxenburg, Austria, he recently published a study showing that the strength of an adult’s hand grip can distinguish different rates of aging in people with varying levels of education…

a man looking through the steering wheel of a car

Conversations and Driver Distraction

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As always, this month has some great articles in Human Factors.

There is one in particular that I want to highlight today. This study investigates the impact of conversation on driving performance.

In the present research, we investigated the hypothesis that working memory mediates conversation-induced impairment of situation awareness (SA) while driving.

a pile of books

Knowledge versus Skills in Training

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There was an article in the latest issue of Industrial Safety and Hygiene News that brings up an important distinction for all of our HF/E domains, particularly when it comes to training. The distinction is between what he refers to as skills versus knowledge, although I often use experience versus expertise. Whatever you call them, they have some fundamental differences.

Skill means a person can actually perform rather than knowing how to perform…