The Barrett View

The Barrett View articles are my opinion-pieces. Hard-hitting, edgy, but fair, and in many cases, evidence-based. They are the antidote to the usual "feel-good" trivia which appears in so many I/O and consultancy blogs.

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Team Building: In the words of the inimitable Lord Alan Sugar "This is not a game".
updated 7th September, 2016
The Apprentice UK program was remarkable for its insights into what a really successful CEO makes of the mostly (not all) ghastly array of corporate "wannabees" who put their various talents into the firing line week after week. The final prize being a plum job in Amstrad Corp, being mentored by its CEO, Lord Alan Sugar. Dragons' Den is perhaps even more instructive...

Downsizing, and making incumbent employees apply for their own job: A matter of professional negligence?
updated 12th October, 2017
A recent case in the employment court, Christchurch, New Zealand [2013] NZEmpC 7, CRC 46/10), in the matter of a challenge to a determination of the Employment Relations Authority between Derek Wayne Gilbert (Plaintiff) and Transfield Services NZ (Defendent), is of interest. The case involved the usual restructuring (downsizing) where incumbent employee positions are dis-established, with the same employees now required to re-apply for the fewer jobs available as a result of the restructure. The usual HR/management wheeze is that the new jobs require different 'soft-skill-competencies', hence the use of psychometric tests to assess these. Of especial interest are these judge's comments in finding against the defendent Transfield Ltd.

Richard Feynman, Conferences, and Intellectual Trivia
14th February, 2011
The quote which resonated with me is from Richard Feynman's letter to his wife while attending a Gravity Conference in 1962 in Warsaw, Poland; published in his 1988 book (Feynman, Richard P. (1988). What Do You Care What Other People Think? : Further Adventures of a Curious Character. W.W. Norton, ISBN 0-393-02659-0, 2001 paperback: ISBN 0-393-32092-8), page 91 ..
“I am not getting anything out of the meeting. I am learning nothing. Because there are no experiments this field is not an active one, so few of the best men are doing work in it. The result is that there are hosts of dopes here (126) and it is not good for my blood pressure: such inane things are said and seriously discussed here that I get into arguments outside the formal sessions (say, at lunch) whenever anyone asks me a question or starts to tell me about his "work". The "work" is always: ...

The accurate reporting of small effect sizes: A matter of scientific integrity
27th January, 2017
Many psychologists seem to have a blind-spot when it comes to interpreting their effect sizes qualitatively; usually resulting in tiny/trivial effect sizes being interpreted as near-deterministic effects, or used as evidence in support of theory-claims or statements of claim concerning prediction of some phenomenal outcome. This is not acceptable; it is a matter of scientific integrity, a matter of being truly honest and careful in the meaning/importance to be attributed to a particular effect. Small effects are by definition an indication of inaccuracy of explanation/prediction of a phenomenal outcome. Period. There is no point dressing them up as ‘significant’ when they can never be so - even at an epidemiological level, unless the phenomenon being predicted is of such criticality that any ‘above chance’ incidence is worth protecting against...