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What do executives and compulsive gamblers have in common? Let’s find out, and maybe squash the sneakiest telecommuting myth while we’re at it.

A compulsive gambler has an addiction, perpetuated and justified in their mind by the thrill of winning — even if that one win comes at great expense, and even if that expense clearly reduces their ability to gamble in the future. That is, a gambling addict will lose their house to win a car, and push their brain to justify such behavior rather than acknowledge the simple math.

Once more, in visual form: this is how a compulsive gambler’s mind works. …


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Five Minute Fit is a featherweight business reorg process using binary 360° feedback. I’m about to tell you why we ought to implement such a process, but if you’re already on board with the notion of moving personnel around to find their best fit, you can skip to the demo here.

One of the most damning teardowns of traditional corporate structure can be found in the Peter Principle. Its semi-satirical theory argues that employees rise to their level of incompetence, which for our purposes here, deserves a bit more explanation:

A. People are promoted to a point of failure, yet remain in that position indefinitely because we have no organizational mechanisms for refitting…


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Credit: Freepik (composite image)

This multi-part series addresses core concepts in telecommuting’s impact on transportation; concepts which have gone largely dismissed by the very experts who fund, plan, and build our nation. For more, see Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, and Part 4.

Tragedy Of The Commons

A Tragedy Of The Commons occurs when the resources of a system deplete or degrade due to the selfish behaviors of individuals within that system. Crucially, the problem arises as a result of such behavior being contagious, whether directly incentivized or otherwise made deceivingly attractive to each individual at the group’s expense.

In a classic example, farmers competing to raise more cattle end up with overgrazed land, thus killing off the cattle. But there’s no need for delicate analogies here, as modern transportation is riddled with real-world tragedies. …


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This multi-part series addresses core concepts in telecommuting’s impact on transportation; concepts which have gone largely dismissed by the very experts who fund, plan, and build our nation. For more, see Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3.

Path Dependence

Path dependence is the limiting effect prior decisions have on the availability of future choices; at its most severe, a choice made today may unwittingly lock someone out of any alternative opportunities down the road. None of this is news to transportation officials, as the consequences of path dependence in urban planning can often be observed quite literally.

If the shorthand definition for path dependence is “history matters”, why do leaders keep repeating it? It’s not because path dependence is the inevitable outcome of a poor decision — rather, it’s a symptom of our flawed instincts as problem-solvers. When we take an unscientific, heuristic approach to solutions, we’re sacrificing the optimal path in favor of the least-resistant one. Whether the path is fueled by fear, greed, or otherwise, it’s a short-term fix drummed up by the primitive impulses in our brains. …


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Credit: Macrovector (composite image)

This multi-part series addresses core concepts in telecommuting’s impact on transportation; concepts which have gone largely dismissed by the very experts who fund, plan, and build our nation. For more, see Part 1 and Part 2.

House Money

The holy grail of sales opportunities is the house money scenario, in which a customer’s investment in your solution presents zero financial risk because their dollars are currently being dumped wastefully into the very problem you’re solving. …


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This multi-part series addresses core concepts in telecommuting’s impact on transportation; concepts which have gone largely dismissed by the very experts who fund, plan, and build our nation. For more, see Part 1.

Downforce

For as long as automobiles have existed, they’ve been racing. And while many dismiss the sport as some barbaric fascination with speed, racers have internalized a valuable lesson about sustainability which escapes many city leaders to this day.

Racing has always been a pursuit of speed, and at first, that was understood to be top speed — reaching a peak, so to speak. But commitment to this simplistic and seemingly superficial pursuit eventually yielded counterintuitive insights which would go on to form the cornerstone of modern racing: peaks are for simpletons, and the real goal is sustainable performance. …


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Credit: Freepik (composite image)

This multi-part series addresses core concepts in telecommuting’s impact on transportation; concepts which have gone largely dismissed by the very experts who fund, plan, and build our nation. For more, see Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, and Part 5.

False Positives

A false positive is an incorrect indication that something is present, due to any number of factors such as a faulty test or flawed analysis. An illusion, to put it crudely. The problem is encountered constantly in the medical field, but the models we build our transportation networks on are just as susceptible.

Consider the Amtrak Acela train: America’s only high-speed rail service, hauling customers along the Northeast Corridor between Boston and Washington, DC as a smart alternative to air travel. The Acela was among the first transportation services to shutter in the wake of Coronavirus, with Amtrak announcing suspended service on March 7th — two weeks before any city on the train’s route had issued a stay-at-home order. …


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Credit: Macrovector

Zoom is the pinnacle of modern-day conference call technology. It’s also a piece of shit.

The way America has vaulted business meetings to some taboo of inescapable counterproductivity over the past fifty-odd years, it isn’t difficult to imagine we’ll all wake up one day to learn such practices were surgically cemented by Soviet saboteurs in some marathon Cold War plot. Suffice it to say, if we can’t tell the difference between business as usual and a corporate sabotage conspiracy, we’ve got a gargantuan culture problem on our hands.


Not everyone can work from home, but the ones who can should be allowed to

Woman working at home having a video conference with colleagues
Woman working at home having a video conference with colleagues
Photo: LeoPatrizi/E+/Getty Images

A growing wave of legislators is aiming to revive the comatose economy by sending their constituents back into what is effectively an active war zone — and justifying the argument with a predictable pile of parroted sound bites, leaving many Americans with a tough question to ponder as they wade through the murky waters of an astoundingly partisan pandemic.

This question is especially tough because the “pondering” isn’t up to the labor force at large. That is to say, if your employer gets the green light to pull everyone back into work, you’re going back in — or else. That impending lack of control over your own environment is a frightening proposition, in contrast to the level of control you’re likely exerting now to avoid exposing yourself and others to the coronavirus. Is there anything you can do to retain some semblance of control once the United States is deemed open for business again? …


A living list of telecommuting discrimination examples
A living list of telecommuting discrimination examples

Discrimination is often invisible to those who haven’t been on the receiving end of it, and that makes telecommuting a rather odd bird for such discussion.

On the one hand, it’s a rather unique case in that many employees have experienced telecommuting at some point in their careers. Contrast this to the most notable Title VII protections: you don’t get to walk into work one day as a black man, and the next day a woman, and the next day a Muslim, and the next a person with disabilities. Those experiences, you have to learn second-hand. But telecommuting? …

About

Mitch Turck

Future of work, future of mobility, future of ice cream.

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