Recommended reading

10 co-workers from hell; learning to trust virtual humans; 3 project management pitfalls to avoid.

Source:
10 Co-Workers From Hell
CIO magazine

CIO’s Thomas Wailgum offers an entertaining look at what can be a painful topic for many people: annoying co-workers.

One colleague no one would miss is Walt, who likes to brag that he has never taken a sick day. “However, he's also spread a variety of flu-like illnesses and stomach-borne sicknesses among his co-workers over the years,” Wailgum writes. “His nickname? H1-NWalt.”

"I take my job very seriously," Walt likes to say.

Another example is that shadowy individual: “the lunch thief,” whose true identity you might never know. “Where did your Dannon yogurt cup go? Who could have possibly mistaken your can of Diet Fresca for theirs? Where is that second piece of your leftover pizza? Only the Lunch Thief knows!”


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Although the article, presented as a slideshow, is humorous, Wailgum believes it is true to life. “Hit TV show ‘The Office’ works for one good reason: Every office has a few crazy characters,” he writes.

Learning to Trust Virtual Humans
Source: Indiana University School of Informatics

A recent study of people's reactions to computer-simulated humans had some intriguing results.

In the study, a simulated female character presented participants with an ethical dilemma related to marital infidelity. The character’s human photorealism and motion quality were varied in four ways. The variations had no significant effect on female viewers, but male viewers were more likely to rule against the character when her appearance was obviously computer generated and her movements were jerky.

“As we come to a better scientific understanding of how nonverbal behavior can be used to influence people without their knowing it, we will also need to consider how it might be exploited by humans who create virtual characters,” said Karl MacDorman, an associate professor at Indiana University's School of Informatics and co-author of the study.

“If it is used to manipulate people into taking a course of action they might not otherwise take, such as buying more products or adhering to medical or behavioral advice, that clearly raises ethical concerns," he added. "Technology should not be used in ways that diminish human autonomy.”

3 Project Management Pitfalls to Avoid
Source: CIO magazine

Project management offices are becoming crucial to organizations’ ability to implement projects on time and within budget constraints. However, an inflexible office that only takes and never gives back can undermine its own goals.

Adam Bookman, a managing partner at Collabera's consulting division, has identified three common blunders that project management offices often make — such as applying the same protocols to all projects, regardless of size or complexity — and offers strategies for building collaborative relationships throughout the organization.

“PMOs need to know how their customers rate them and strive for better relationships. And management needs to know, too,” he writes. “Otherwise, what the PMO gains in project efficiency can be squandered on organizational dysfunction.”

But there is good news. “Just recognizing the pitfalls, and the damage they create among well-intended people, is halfway to avoiding them,” he writes.

 

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