CoGnItIve LoAd MAnAGeMent
DEFiNiTioN: ability to discriminate and filter information for
importance, and to understand how to maximize cognitive
functioning using a variety of tools and techniques
A world rich in information streams in multiple formats and
from multiple devices brings the issue of cognitive overload
to the fore. Organizations and workers will only be able to
turn the massive influx of data into an advantage if they can
learn to effectively filter and focus on what is important.
The next generation of workers will have to develop their own
techniques for tackling the problem of cognitive overload. For
example, the practice of social filtering--ranking, tagging,
or adding other metadata to content helps higher-quality or
more relevant information to rise above the "noise."
Workers will also need to become adept at utilizing new
tools to help them deal with the information onslaught.
Researchers at Tufts University have wired stockbro-
kers--who are constantly monitoring streams of financial
data, and need to recognize major changes without be-
ing overwhelmed by detail. The stockbrokers were asked
to watch a stream of financial data and write an involved
email message to a coll-eague. As they got more involved
in composing the email, the fNIRS (functional near-infrared
spectroscopy, which measures blood oxygen levels in the
brain) system detected this, and simplified the presentation
of data accordingly.
vIRtUAL CoLL AboR AtIon
DEFiNiTioN: ability to work productively, drive
engagement, and demonstrate presence as a member
of a virtual team.
Connective technologies make it easier than ever to work, share
ideas and be productive despite physical separation. But the vir-
tual work environment also demands a new set of competencies.
As a leader of a virtual team, individuals need to develop
strategies for engaging and motivating a dispersed group.
We are learning that techniques borrowed from gaming are
extremely effective in engaging large virtual communities.
Ensuring that collaborative platforms include typical gaming
features such as immediate feedback, clear objectives and a
staged series of challenges can significantly drive participa-
tion and motivation.
Members of virtual teams also need to become adept at
finding environments that promote productivity and well-
being. A community that offers "ambient sociability" can
help overcome isolation that comes from lack of access to a
central, social workplace. This could be a physical cowork-
ing space, but it could also be virtual. Researchers at
Stanford's Virtual Human Interaction Lab exploring the
real-world social benefits of inhabiting virtual worlds such
as Second Life report that the collective experience of a
virtual environment, especially one with 3D avatars, provides
significant social-emotional benefits. Players experience
the others as co-present and available, but they are able to
concentrate on their own in-world work.
Online streams created by micro blogging and social
networking sites can serve as virtual water coolers, providing
a sense of camaraderie and enabling employees to demon-
strate presence. For example, Yammer is a Twitter-like micro
blogging service, focused on business--only individuals with
the same corporate domain in their email address can access
the company network.
Yammer asks employ-
ees to provide updates
on the question, "What
are you working on?"
FoR the FUtURe WoRKFoRCe
Adaptive interfaces, developed by researchers at
Tufts, can reduce the level of detail in the market
information stockbrokers see when sensors detect
that they are experiencing high mental workload.