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?
11th May, 2011
A recent New Zealand employment court ruling between the vice-chancellor of Massey University (Plaintiff) and two defendants (university lecturers made redundant) is of interest; the judgment is available for download here. As paraphrased recently by Keith McGregor (Director at Personnel Psychology NZ Ltd. on ionet:

“The essence is that when interviewing current employees in a downsizing exercise the candidates are entitled to access all interview notes and all information relating to the other candidates and can have access to any information inside the heads of the interviewers that was relevant to the selection decision. Information may be confidential but unless there is a ‘good reason’ to withhold it must be released. Furthermore in order to decide if information is ‘relevant’ access must be provided to all of the information to enable that assessment..."

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...