Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Power Distance

An overwhelming majority of the plane accidents in the world are caused by miscommunications among the flight crew, in particular between pilot and co-pilot. In this sort of work environment a subordinate needs to feel comfortable with bringing up problems and questioning authority. Power Distance measures how much the less powerful members of organizations feel about unequal distributions of power. This is a concept created by Dutch sociologist Geert Hofstede.

In cultures with low power distances, like most Western democratic civilizations (Australia, the US, Denmark), people expect and accept power relations that are more consultative. In these cultures subordinates expect to be able to contribute and think for themselves, plane accidents occur less often because critical information flows more easily. In such cultures like Korea or Malaysia (with high Power Distance) where subordinates are expected to do what they are told without questioning authority, plane accidents are much higher. Korean airlines had such a bad reputation that for a while some countries, like Canada, didn't even allow them in their air space.

Check out this link of Korean Air accidents: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Korean_Air_incidents_and_accidents.

They have solved this problem by training their crews to communicate better. Notice that the incidents stopped in the late 90's. So you have plans to visit Korea soon, like I do, it is now safe to travel there via a Korean Airline.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Decorum? What decorum?

I can't remember ever experiencing a week where I witnessed such lack of decorum among the famous as I have this week. These lapses in judgment have spanned pop culture, sports and politics. Some of these I am sure involved alcohol (or some other drug), definitely adrenaline or just plain arrogance and stupidity. This week alone we have seen:
  • Kanye West cuts in front of Taylor Swift at the MTV Video Music Awards during her acceptance speech to tell everyone that Beyonce deserves it more.
  • SC Congressman Joe Wilson yells "you lie" during the US President's speech before a joint session of the US Congress.
  • Tennis superstar Serena Williams loses it and threatens a line judge after she looses a match at the US Open.
  • Michael Jordan takes the opportunity during his Basketball Hall of Fame speech to, instead of thanking those who helped him, chide those who stood in his way.
I have been bracing myself whenever I am about to hear or watch a live event these days. What is going on out here? Do they feel so entitled that they don't care about decorum? Are they above it all? Or are they stoned?

Something I learned today that might explain it (probably not). LSD is not only not in anymore but it is no where to be found. When I was in college LSD was as ubiquitous as pot as a drug of choice when I was attending Grateful Dead, Max Creek and later Phish shows. Apparently, now it is nowhere to be found. It is an anomaly among drugs. The supply in the United States has almost disappeared, so the demand went elsewhere. I found this on Slate. A 2000 drug bust in Kansas took out the labs that were possibly supplying 90% of the stuff to the US.

I jest when I suggest that this explains Kanye West's behavior. But I do think that if he were on LSD instead of whatever else he was on, he'd probably would have just stayed in his hotel room and stared at the wall or his hands all night contemplating the universe. You choice which is better.