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Updated January 13, 2020

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IN this file photo taken on Oct 23, 2019, Boeing 737 MAX airplanes are parked at Grant County International Airport in Moses Lake, Washington. Boeing employees bantered about whether the 737 MAX was safe to fly and joked that the aircraft was “designed by clowns who in turn are supervised by monkeys”, according to emails released late Thursday. “Would you put your family on a MAX simulator trained aircraft? I wouldn’t,” a Boeing employee wrote to a colleague in one newly released exchange conducted about eight months before the first of two fatal MAX crashes. “No,” the colleague answered.—AFP
IN this file photo taken on Oct 23, 2019, Boeing 737 MAX airplanes are parked at Grant County International Airport in Moses Lake, Washington. Boeing employees bantered about whether the 737 MAX was safe to fly and joked that the aircraft was “designed by clowns who in turn are supervised by monkeys”, according to emails released late Thursday. “Would you put your family on a MAX simulator trained aircraft? I wouldn’t,” a Boeing employee wrote to a colleague in one newly released exchange conducted about eight months before the first of two fatal MAX crashes. “No,” the colleague answered.—AFP

4 ways to change people’s commuting behaviour

American employees spend, on average, 200 hours a year commuting to work. And three-quarters of these commuters drive to work alone. To shift habitual commuting behaviour, we recommend the following:

Make the full cost of driving salient for employees: Avoid subsidising parking or other infrastructure that masks the full cost of driving to work alone.

Make driving harder: By making driving and parking less and offering substantial incentives, you can enhance the appeal of alternatives like carpooling and public transit.

Change the default work arrangement: Let employees park at work only three out of five days per week, and/or allow them to work from home or work from anywhere, so they commute less often.

Think about timing: Because people are more likely to change their commuting behaviour when they move or start a new job, or when there is a serious disruption that forces them to temporarily abandon their habits, these are the times when employers could try using behaviourally informed messaging incentives.

(This tip is adapted from “Why It’s So Hard to Change People’s Commuting Behaviour” by Ashley Whillans and Ariella Kristal)

How to encourage science-driven firms to be agile

Organisations in wildly different contexts and competitive situations have embraced agile methodology. But one area is notably absent from this trend: research and development in science-driven businesses. Here’s how to join the agile science movement.

Anticipate scepticism. To change any initial negative views of agile methodology, you’ll need the right approach for spreading and executing on the concepts. It helps to point to strong examples.

Emphasise the “why”. Rationales for an agile transformation include: reducing costs, increasing productivity, becoming more customer-centric by quickly adapting to feedback, speeding up decision-making, and so on.

Implement flexibly. Some routines and tools will be valuable and applicable, other less so depending on your context and business needs. Process-rigidity is the antithesis of agility. Agile R&D teams almost certainly will not look like agile software teams, and that is perfectly acceptable.

(This tip is adapted from “Why Science-Driven Companies Should Use Agile” by Alessandro Di Fiore, Kendra West and Andrea Segnalini.)

4 steps when asking for an email introduction

Requesting an email introduction through a contact isn’t without costs, especially for the person lending you her network. You can help lessen this burden by including a forwardable email below your note to the person making the introduction. Here’s how to write an effective forwardable email:

Introduce yourself briefly: Begin with a few lines detailing who you are and information that’s pertinent to the request.

State your motive: Be specific about why you want to connect. “I’m looking to meet an investor for my food business” is a clear motive.

Do your homework: Show that you’ve researched the third party.

Make it easy: Close the forwardable email suggesting an easy way to connect with you and meeting times.

(This tip is adapted from “How to Ask for an Email Introduction” by Ruchika Tulshyan.)

What to do when your co-workers fight

Try these steps the next time you find yourself in the middle of a co-worker battle:

ALLOW VENTING: “People often just want a safe place to vent, and in doing so, may figure out on their own what they want to do,” says Anna Ranieri, a career counsellor.

EMPATHISE: While listening to your colleague, show you understand. If you’re being pushed to take a side, make it clear you won’t.

PROBLEM-SOLVE TOGETHER: If your colleagues want your advice, Roderick Kramer, a social psychologist and a professor of organisational behaviour at the Stanford Graduate School of Business, suggests you think with each of them, or just the person confiding in you, about all the possible options.

BROKER A DÉTENTE: Don’t rush to sit them down together, however. “Getting people into a room and letting them duke it out is not responsible,” says Kramer.

KNOW YOUR LIMITS: If the situation is outside your comfort zone, give one or both co-workers a next step to take, says Ranieri.

(This tip is adapted from “Let Your Team Have That Heated Conversation” by Liane Davey)

Published in Dawn, The Business and Finance Weekly, January 13th, 2020