Police Kill Teenage Boy: Negligence or Necessary? 1

 By Chris Simmons

 

On May 24th, a Purcellville [Virginia] police officer shot and killed Christian Sierra – a depressed High School student they had been summoned to help.

The 17-year old was at a neighbor’s house when he began threatening suicide. He subsequently cut himself and the police were called. Armed with a knife as he stood alone in the street, Sierra lunged at the first police officer to arrive. The officer responded by shooting and killing the boy.

Why wasn’t non-lethal force used? The police have several non-lethal tools available for use – the old-school nightstick, an ASP – a solid steel expandable baton ranging in length from 16-26 inches, tasers, pepper spray, and so forth.

In my opinion, in this encounter, the police officer CANNOT claim self-defense. The officer knew Christian Sierra was armed with a knife before exiting the safety of the police cruiser. Given the array of non-lethal weapons readily available for use, the troubled teen could have been quickly and safely subdued.

It is important to understand that by drawing his/her weapon, the officer actually raised the probability of a fatal encounter. Psychologically, aiming a gun at a knife-wielding individual often prompts the person’s “Freeze, Fight, Flight” response to favor the Fight option. In general, the escalation spiral will have already rendered the Freeze/surrender option highly unlikely. Flight is not an option as many individuals believe a police office will shoot them even if they turn and run. Thus, to survive, a person may feel they must attack.

In a gun vs. knife scenario, the psychological dynamic can be very deceptive. A knife-wielding individual might envision four possible outcomes:  the police officer could freeze and not fire, the officer might miss, the individual could be wounded, or he/she could be killed. Fueled by adrenaline, it becomes easy for an emotional individual – or in this case, a troubled teenager, to misjudge the likelihood of a favorable outcome.

Contrast that thinking against the very accurate psychological response when non-lethal force is clearly going to be used. Witnessing an officer extend a two-foot long ASP, a knife-wielding individual will likely conclude that the officer will disarm them by using the metal baton to break their hand, wrist or arm. The use of a non-lethal option is, in effect, a proportional response favoring the police as it capitalizes on the weapon’s extended range and the frailty of human bones.

Even a distraught person generally understands that a police officer will not be afraid to use their baton, nor is it likely he/she will miss. As such, the individual will commonly concludes one of three outcomes are likely: surrender immediately to avoid excruciating pain, undergo bone-breaking injuries, or risk sustaining a fatal blow to the head or a vital organ. In this situation, it’s hard to misjudge the likely outcome. More importantly, even if the individual does err in judgment, their forthcoming wounds would rarely be life-threatening.

I believe the death of Christian Sierra was probably both preventable and unnecessary. I experienced many tense situations during 24 months in war zones around the world, so I empathize with the stress under which the police operate. That said, the soldiers with whom I so proudly served never killed anyone when the means and opportunity to capture/subdue them existed. Citizens should expect the same standards from their police.

Maysoon Zayid: I Got 99 Problems… Palsy is Just One Reply

“I have cerebral palsy. I shake all the time,” Maysoon Zayid announces at the beginning of this exhilarating, hilarious talk. (Really, it’s hilarious.) “I’m like Shakira meets Muhammad Ali.” With grace and wit, the Arab-American comedian takes us on a whistle-stop tour of her adventures as an actress, stand-up comic, philanthropist and advocate for the disabled.

“Must Reads” From The Latest Issue of Psychology Today Reply

TodayBy Chris Simmons

Of all the magazines I read/scan, Psychology Today is one of the few I strongly endorse. More specifically, I encourage you to buy it hardcopy, as the digital edition is only fully populated well after the print magazine hits the streets. Since it’s a bimonthly publication, this means print subscribers have the content up to 60 days before the complete digital version appears. Coincidently, this generally coincides with the release date of the next print issue.

For those I’ve inspired to purchase the May/June edition of Psychology Today, the four features you cannot afford to miss are:

A Perfect Devil:  Successful psychopaths have our ear, but it’s the unsuccessful psychopaths who may hold the keys to this devastating disorder.  – Kaja Perina

Now It’s Personal:  Arguments are harder to resolve when values are on the line. – Matt Huston

Love, Factually:  (offers suggestions based on “research-based [marriage] vows that actually help couples keep their promises to one another”) – not sourced

Build a Better PSA:  The science of persuasion can help us make healthier choices. – Deepa Lakshmin

Disclaimer: I recommend Psychology Today because I believe in the product. I have no personal or professional ties with the publisher in any form.

If You Pay Your Employees Equally, You’re Not Being Fair to Any of Them Reply

Hauling-logsBy Eric Chester, Business 2 Community 

The Sawmill:

Jake and Justin, twin brothers who were 23 years old, worked for a large sawmill not far from where they grew up.

Their father was aware that even though both sons had essentially the same job title and duties, Justin was paid significantly more than Jake. Curious as to why, the father sought out the owner and asked him about the variance. In response, the owner invited this father to drop by his mill and casually observe the activities.

A few days later, the father showed up at the mill. The owner picked up the phone and called Jake into his office. He said to him, “There’s a trucker from Portland at the gate with some logs he wants to sell us. Go find out what he’s got.” Within fifteen minutes, Jake returned and said, “I checked out the load and it looks like he’s carrying about 40 to 50 large logs, mostly pine, and all appear to be in pretty good shape.” The owner thanked Jake and dismissed him from his office.

He then summoned Justin and made the same request. “There’s a trucker from Portland at the gate with some logs he wants to sell us. Go find out what he’s got.” A half hour later, Justin came back and said, “I counted 38 pines; most are about 20 feet and are in really good condition. There are also 11 aspens which are slightly shorter, and all but 3 are in pristine condition. He wants $1,000 for the whole load. Sam McHenry was down here twice last week looking for aspen for this large furniture project he’s working on, so I called him and asked if he’s still in the market for aspen. He told me he’d take the eight good aspen off our hands and offered $150 for each. If we accept his offer, we’ll make all our money back plus 20% and the 38 pine will be pure profit.” The owner told Justin to sell the aspen to McHenry, then thanked him and sent him on his way.

He then looked at the father. “If this were your mill, would you pay those two employees the same amount?”

“Absolutely not,” the father said. “Though equal, it certainly wouldn’t be fair.”

(The Sawmill is a parable by Eric Chester.)

ON POINT – Compensating employees using time spent on-the-job as the sole metric (hourly wage, monthly salary, etc.) may be simple to calculate, but it does little to engage employees and incentivize top performance. The most effective compensation methods are those where employees are paid in direct proportion to the value they bring to their organization. This is not simple or easy, but it is a prerequisite to building a great workplace culture and being recognized as an employer of choice.

How and Why Employees Subvert Bad Corporate Policy Reply

self-interestBy Chris Simmons

Self Interest trumps everything. That is precisely why it’s the 1st Rule of Human Nature.

Despite this fundamental truth, many corporations ignore this core tenet of human nature and are then baffled when they experience poor results.

For example, I recently learned of a major US corporation that pays its staff a daily 10% “punctuality bonus” for being on time. More specifically, it is truly a 10% bonus that supplements the employees’ lower day rate. At first glance, an apparently understandable practice for a manufacturing entity.

This is where self interest comes into play. Like most companies, this firm offers sick leave — but at the employees’ lower base salary. So imagine how employees respond. If you guessed that they came to work sick, you are correct. If you guessed they came in to work sick, clocked in on-time, and then went home on sick leave – you’d also be correct.

It’s easy to see the numerous pitfalls of this practice, including some significant liability issues. No matter how well intentioned, any policy that runs counter to human nature and self interest will be intentionally undermined by those forced to endure it.

An associated truth of human nature is that people focus more on protecting what they have rather than the possibility of a future gain. This is why ads for major sweepstakes now say “You may have already won!,” as this wording enjoys response rates several times higher than “mail in your entry” contests. In a like fashion, this manufacturer could benefit greatly by ending the daily bonus and increasing base salaries by 10 percent.  Punctuality could still be enforced by simply docking an employee’s pay for a late arrival.

Other viable alternatives also exist, which begs the question, why would any firm stay wedded to such a clearly flawed practice?

Why Psychopaths Are More Successful Reply

Mads Mikkelsen as Dr Hannibal Lecter in the NBC TV series Hannibal  (Photo: NBC)

Mads Mikkelsen as Dr Hannibal Lecter in the NBC TV series Hannibal (Photo: NBC)

Andy McNab and Oxford psychology professor Kevin Dutton reveal how acting like psychopaths could help us in work, life and love

By Theo Merz, The Telegraph

Behaving like a psychopath could help you in your career and love life. It’s counterintuitive – who, after all, would hire Hannibal Lecter or want to date Norman Bates – but that’s the idea behind The Good Psychopath’s Guide to Success, part popular science book, part self-help guide from Andy McNab and Oxford psychology professor Kevin Dutton.

“I wanted to debunk the myth that all psychopaths are bad,” says Dutton, who has explored this subject before. “I’d done research with the special forces, with surgeons, with top hedge fund managers and barristers. Almost all of them had psychopathic traits, but they’d harnessed them in ways to make them better at what they do.”

It was through this research that he met retired SAS sergeant and bestselling author McNab, who in tests exhibited many of these psychopathic traits, including ruthlessness, fearlessness, impulsivity, reduced empathy, developed self-confidence and lack of remorse.

“There’s no one thing that makes a psychopath,” Dutton explains. “You want to think of those traits being like the dials on a studio mixing desk, that you can turn up and down in different situations – if they’re all turned up to maximum, then you’re a dysfunctional psychopath.

“Being a psychopath isn’t black and white; it’s a spectrum, like height and weight.”

As one dysfunctional psychopath – who was serving a life sentence for multiple murders – put it to Dutton: “It’s not that we’re bad, it’s that we’ve got too much of a good thing.”

How, then, can you act more like a psychopath in your everyday life?

IN BUSINESS

Focus

“If I’m in a hostage situation I’d rather have a psychopath coming through the door than anyone else because I know he’s going to be completely focussed on the job in hand,” says McNab.

The ability psychopaths have to turn down their empathy and block out other concerns make them the best operators in high-pressure environments, he says. “If I was on trial, I’d want a psychopath [to represent me] too. I want someone who’d be able to rip people apart in the witness box, go back to their family and not think anything more about it, because it’s just a job for them.”

Fearlessness

The lack of fear which characterises psychopaths could also help people in the work place, says Dutton, who asks of the book’s readers: “What would I do in this situation if I wasn’t afraid?” (It matches, almost word for word, a sign which greets visitors to Facebook’s California HQ, “What Would You Do If You Weren’t Afraid?” though Dutton insists this is coincidental.)

“If it’s asking for a raise or picking up the phone to call someone you wouldn’t otherwise, functioning psychopaths have a natural advantage in that they can turn this fear down.”

Lack of empathy

But it’s important, McNab says, not to turn down the ‘empathy dial’ completely when doing business. “You don’t want to be a Gordon Gekko character, screwing people over all the time. They get hurt once but you get hurt forever because they’ll never trust you again. That’s the difference between a good and a bad psychopath: knowing when to turn that up and when to kill it.”

Feature continues here:  High-Functioning Psychopaths

How a “David” Will Almost Always Beat a “Goliath” Reply

David vs GoliathThe High Costs of Failing to Adapt – An Everyday Example

By Chris Simmons

Whether in corporate board rooms or athletic fields, large organizations around the world find themselves snatching defeat from the jaws of victory every day. Despite being stronger, more experienced, perhaps better financed, in many cases they find themselves outmaneuvered by a much small competitor. How does this happen? Because employees (or players) of the large entities don’t pay attention to the here and now.  Allow me to offer an example.

In college, I was captain of our men’s slow-pitch softball team. Unlike varsity sports, as a club team we had complete control when it came to selecting our opponents. Rather than pick like-sized schools, we did what any college athlete would do – we lined up the biggest colleges imaginable. Our schedule included Virginia Tech, North Carolina State, Clemson, the University of North Carolina, Maryland, and the University of Virginia, among others. Coming from a small military college of 1400 students, our opponents undoubtedly anticipated some easy victories. We were quick to disappoint them – and ultimately won about half of our games.

We knew every almost college we played fielded a team better than us in every regard. The Virginia Tech players, for example, were the champions of their 450+ team intramural league – and we split a double header against them. How was such a feat possible? They outhit us, they out-ran us, and they out-powered us. Our lone saving grace was that we out-thought them.

Unlike baseball, in softball, the batter WILL hit the ball. After all, it’s the size of a grapefruit – it’s almost impossible to miss. But our simple tactic, the one that so many teams failed to anticipate or counter, was our precision ball placement. We drilled relentlessly in finding gaps between the infield and outfield and dropping the ball right in the slot.

For the most part, we hit singles using this method. However, after grinding out a dozen or so singles every inning, our competitors would get frustrated and started making errors. This opened the door for us to make doubles, triples, and the occasional home runs. Some of my players were so bold we physically signaled our intent by adjusting our batting stance to line-up with the gap in their field coverage. Still, no one noticed, or if they did, they didn’t communicate it.

You would think after a few innings (or the first game of a double header), our opponents would have adjusted their fielding. You’d be wrong. They refused to adapt and stuck with what they knew. In doing so, they virtually guaranteed our victory.

Our competitors were gifted players who came together as amazingly talented teams. In contrast, we were simply good players who excelled at one very narrow facet of the game. We obsessed about ball placement because it was the only way we could successfully compete. Our method wasn’t pretty or exciting, but it consistently delivered amazing results.

Where is your organization vulnerable? Is there a single point-of-failure (like ball placement) that renders you vulnerable to a more nimble David? Even worse, does your organization suffer from multiple failure points? Could you survive the onslaught of a laser-focused competitor? How responsive is your team in identifying potential rivals? Are flexibility and change buzzwords or practiced processes?

In a battle of David vs. Goliath, it’s not a matter of if, but when. Is your organization ready?

Here’s Why Women CEOs Are More Likely to Get Sacked From Their Jobs Reply

Carol Bartz (Photo by Tony Avelar - BLOOMBERG)

Carol Bartz (Photo by Tony Avelar – BLOOMBERG)

By Jena McGregor, Washington Post

When Carol Bartz became the chief executive of Yahoo in 2009, her appointment was less seen as evidence of a corporate breakthrough for women than as evidence of another trend: the “glass cliff.”

This phenomenon, coined by researchers, describes how women are recruited disproportionately into tough jobs, where the title may be big but the odds of success are quite small. And Yahoo was certainly that: The company was struggling to grow and diversify, its stock price was suffering, and within the past year it had navigated a failed acquisition offer from Microsoft and an attempt by investor Carl Icahn to replace its board. At the time, Yahoo’s chairman called her “the exact combination of seasoned technology executive and savvy leader that the board was looking for.”

Then, like a comparatively high ratio of female CEOs, Bartz was fired. (Over the phone, many will recall.)

Strategy&, the consulting firm formerly known as Booz & Company, released its 14th annual Chief Executive Study earlier this week, and it found that women are more often forced out of CEO jobs than men who hold the same position. The study showed that over the past decade, 38 percent of female chief executives who left their positions were sent packing (rather than leaving due to a retirement or merger), compared with 27 percent of male CEOs.

Gary Neilson, one of the study’s co-authors and a senior partner at the firm, says his findings show something new about women’s so-called glass cliff. “We don’t think it’s so much that they’re put into challenging roles than that they’re more often outsiders,” he says.

His report discovered that women CEOs are comparatively more likely to hail from outside the company than their male peers are. Thirty-five percent of female chief executives between 2004 and 2013 were outsiders, compared with just 22 percent of men. (The study looked at incoming and outgoing CEOs over a period of 10 years for the world’s 2,500 largest public companies, resulting in a sample of more than 100 women at the top.)

Being CEO as an outsider “is a tougher job,” Neilson says. “They don’t have as many connections in the company to understand how things work, and their performance is not as high” as those who’ve been groomed in-house. Research has shown, for instance, that external CEOs are 6.7 times more likely to be dismissed with a short tenure than homegrown ones.

Feature continues here:  Throwing Women Off the “Glass Cliff”