|Volume 1: No. 10|
Edward Dunbar, a UCLA research psychologist, says that many minority and foreign-born engineers in Southern California feel excluded from challenging, high-visibility project teams. They also feel socially isolated, and doubt that they are being considered for management positions. Some lose their ambition for advancement, others lose their commitment to the company. [Michael Wolff, IEEE Spectrum, 6/91.]
David Morgenstern (BMUG) reports in MicroTimes that Apple was pushing its SQL-based Data Access Language at the recent National Database Exposition. (Some two dozen vendors displayed DAL-based front ends to mainframe databases. ACIUS was also there, offering a 4D DAL toolkit for its 4th Dimension database.) The Apple booth was full of colorful software and people, a contrast with the suited-and-tied salesmen and yogurt-serving ladies at the rest of the booths. MIS customers were somewhat reticent to stop at the Apple booth and talk with the men wearing large earrings.
Will Tracz [Computer, 4/91] says that "a prominent psychologist" has found a predominant type among Silicon Valley programmers and engineers: perfectionists seeking control in their lives. In childhood, they either grew up in chaos or were overprotected and never allowed autonomy.
Patti Price, an SRI speech-recognition researcher, has observed differing workstyles among her team. The engineers are interested in quick fixes and rapid prototyping -- ideas that can be tested within a week or two. The Ph.D.-level computer scientists, however, are motivated by long-term projects that will produce papers.
Marylene Delbourg-Delphis (Chairman of Acius) says that Americans are "totally individualistic, but insecure. The more they speak of being part of 'the team,' the more they aren't a team." European managers -- she's French -- expect debate, but Americans want the boss to make a decision so that they can "buy in." "Being part of a team means you're making sure your neighbor isn't stabbing you in the back." [Cris Oppenheimer-Pitthan, San Jose Mercury, 6/2.]
"Everyone looks at me as a leader and all I want to do is run." CEOs of American businesses often suffer from insecurity, afraid that their success is a fluke and can't be sustained. They live in dread of exposure, and can't stop working long enough to enjoy their success. Many are depressed, although they may or may not realize it. Rich Chollet, the founder of Brookstone, recently took his own life. Helping executives reconstruct their personal lives is a new specialty in psychiatry. [Newsweek, 6/3/91.]
Companies with telecommuting pilot programs have exceeded their expectations. Workers are happier, with lower absenteeism, lower turnover, and often greater productivity. Handicapped employees may benefit the most, but workers enjoy the flexibility, extra [hassle-free] non-commute time, and closer family ties. Employers save on recruiting, overhead, and parking space. Pacific Bell's 2,000 telecommuters reported greater job satisfaction (71%) and improved performance (87%). Absenteeism fell 57%, and a majority of supervisors found no difference in managing telecommuters. There can be a loss of teamwork and team spirit, though, so regular office visits are advised. [Andy Shapiro, Computer Currents, 5/21.]