Saturday, 23 May 2015

Managerial Grid Model, Game of Thrones Version

For some reason, I enjoy filling on line quizzes that tell me which Game of Thrones character I'd be. I've done lots of them and today I found one that was outstandingly different, What Is Your Game Of Thrones Management Style?, on no less than The Wall Street Journal.

In case you're wondering, I got Margaery Tyrell, but back on topic, this test made me think on the different managerial styles as seen in the different Game of Thrones characters.

Then I thought I'd make a grid to describe them; but then, when thinking about management, there are probably thousands of grids around that help describe managerial styles. Turns out a quick Google check made me stumble upon The Blake Mouton Managerial Grid, which apparently has been around since 1964 and defines five main types of management styles based on the concern for production and concern for people.

The graph describes it in a clearer way so take a look...
The Leadership Grid® figure from Leadership Dilemmas – Grid Solutions by Robert R. Blake and Anne Adams McCanse (Formerly the Managerial Grid by Robert R. Blake and Jane S. Mouton). Houston: Gulf Publishing Company, Copyright 1991 by Grid International, Inc.
A quick explanation from the site explores each one of the main 5 styles:

Impoverished Management (1,1): Low concern for the results, low concern for the people.

Country Club Management (9,1): High concern for the people, low concern for results.

Authority-Compliance Management (1,9): Low concern for the people, high concern for the results. 

Middle-of-the-Road Management: Medium concern for the Results and medium concern for the People.

Team Leadership (9,9): High concern for Production/Results, and High concern for People.

A test can be taken to identify more accurately a person's place in the grid (for example, a 3,8 would care a little bit about the results and a lot about the people, while a 7,4 would care well enough about results and kind of about the people).

So now to Westeros... 

Basically, half the characters in the show that have a name worth remembering are some type of leader (it's not called Game of Pillows), so for a practical real life application of the model, let's use the grid to analyse this bunch of imaginary power thirsty crew.

[Warning: Although all efforts were made to keep the next part of the post spoiler-free, traces of plot can be found so please take caution if you're spoiler intolerant or suffer from spoiler triggered allergies]

King Joffrey: He's an Impoverished Manager (1,1) as he doesn't care about anyone but himself, and he's also inept at getting stuff done. As any other 1,1, he is pretty much hated and useless, working for a guy like this is a waste of time.

Renly Baratheon: A Country Club Manager (9,1), this guy has the coolest camp ever set up for his army and he actually seems to care for the people around him. Now, his ability to get results is a different story.

Robb Stark: Another Country Club Manager (9,4) with a bit more of interest in the results, but not enough to make effective decisions. As Renly, he's loved by his team, but his lack of assertiveness makes him waste all this support.

Cercei Lannister: She's a Middle-Of-The-Road Manager (5,5) that cares enough about her team not to find them disposable, but not as much to make her hesitate about sending them in a deadly and relatively unnecessary mission. Regarding the results, she's stubborn and believes she's smarter than what she actually is, and that often makes her take mediocre choices. Also, she's a drunk, which doesn't particularly help the cause.

Petyr Baelish: This Authority-Compliance Management (1,9) couldn't care less about the people or more about the results. Need to break an alliance to get ahead? Done. A key partner has to go so he can get a powerful stranger in debt? Easy peasy. Promises, bows and agreements mean nothing if they interfere with getting the wanted results. 

Tywin Lannister: A milder (probably the only paragraph on Earth with him defined as "milder") Authority-Compliance Management (4,9). He doesn't have any concern for most people except a very small part of his team, and even then, if he has to ruin their day (or life) for his version of the greater good, so be it. As he get things done and is efficient and intelligent, people respect him, even the haters.

Stannis Baratheon: A decent Team Leader (7,7) but not quite a great one. He cares for his people but is awful at showing this in an effective way, and he works towards getting results, but there's always that obstacle that he can't quite surpass. He's one of those guys that work extremely hard and are always under a lot of stress. The fact that he's ill advised and has zero charisma only makes things harder.

Daenerys Targaryen: Another almost-rounded Team Leader (9,6), she cares about the people fully (some might say a bit too much sometimes), and they are crazy about her. She cares so much about what people think that she second guesses herself frequently. The fact that she doesn't have a clear objective also deteriorates her chances of getting results even with all the resources at her disposal (and before you jump at me, is she sailing to conquer Kings Landing? Is she staying where she is to rule for a long time? Is she going to change plans in two weeks and  decide to wander around on a flying dragon freeing all villages in the continent before actually going and claiming the throne?). She has delayed things to pursue results outside her main plan and she has wasted lots of time and resources in the process. This is not necessarily a bad thing, unless you are on a deadline.

Jon Snow: This Team Leader (9,9) deserves the top qualification as he balances a true concern for everyone involved and for the results as well. This doesn't mean his team love him, but most of them are loyal, and the ones who aren't are dealt with in a fair way (or scared into shutting their mouths up and cooperating for the good of the team). He has managed to get out of very difficult situations and he has a proven track record of finding creative solutions.

Agree? Disagree? Completed the Test and want to talk about your results? Comments are the place to :D

Sunday, 17 May 2015

Everything that's wrong with those Minions and why I blame last decade's children movies

After being the annoying sidekicks in two  movies, the despicable minions are getting their own film. As I see them everywhere, and their chipmunky voices play every hour in my free Spotify account trying to brainwash me into paying to watch their big blockbuster, I felt the need to write about them.
Enough is enough. The Minions are the most annoying little yellow thing on screen since Tweety Bird (a.k.a. Piolin, for those who grew up speaking Spanish), they look like someone chopped Homer Simpsons' fingers and pasted googly eyes on them. 

I dislike their voice, their look, their story and most of all, their attitude. But it's seems like everyone finds them so cute and funny... trying to be evil but being so nice that they end up saving the day.

They look like they were designed to become lame Happy Meal toys: so easy to manufacture, so recognizable even with only their cheapest and most basic features... 

In fact, they are so easy to make than anyone can build their own. From cake pops and Play-Dough figurines to jewellery and wedding cakes. It's out of control.

They're so out of control that I goggled "Minionnize Me" and of course, there's an app for that (actually, a few of them). I won't go into more details about this because I already did enough to increase the amount of people in this world aware that they can "minionize themselves". Apologies for that.

But don't get me wrong, I like cute things and I don't discriminate a character for being yellow, but I can't find anything about these minions that I find appealing, new or funny.

And I blame last decade's Disney and Dreamworks films. I know the movie comes from Universal Studios, but those two big players really paved the way for and army of annoying sidekicks to take over...

Until the 90's, it used to be simple. A perfect formula that worked every time with just a little twitching here and there:

The hero had helpful or brave animal companions...

The princess had cute little friendly animals (Mulan was so serious herself that they gave her a little comedian to compensate)...

And the villain had ugly and stupid evil creatures... True minions that everybody loved to hate...

And then, the '00s arrived and we met this guy:

He wasn't your usual minion (and to be fair, this wasn't your traditional Disney movie either). He was dumb enough to be nice while trying to be bad, he had a yellow outfit and a blue apron (sounds familiar? probably a coincidence, but still) and he was more of a comic relief than an actual evil companion. 

Is it just me or do they share more than just their apron choices?
After him, we met a collection of endearing little imperfect characters with an edge. They were all cute enough to be the Toy of the Week, and mischievous enough to fit the trend of de-constructed children movie where princesses were "out" and ogres, aliens, monsters and non-traditionally cute animals being stinky and loud were "in"

If animated movies were a person, the 00's would have been that phase where they were trying to prove that they weren't mommy's little cutie any more. They wore spikes, listened to Rock music and their rooms were a mess. They were trying so hard not to be cute that they stepped on the grass, bought 11 items in the "only 10" till and graffittied their own bedroom walls. What a bunch of rebels they were...

But as with all phases and crazes, the decade passed and the heroes started getting braver and nobler again... Although they weren't perfect any more.

The princesses got more and more fabulous and magical... They even started to sing again! But they weren't damsels in distress just waiting for stuff to happen to them.

And villains kept getting more and more evil. And more complex and charismatic. From a witch that mastered how to induce Stockholm Syndrome, a poor voodoo man that had it rough, a master of Kung Fu turned bad, or a wealthy intellectual criminal with a thing for antiques, they all got to tell a bit more of their story and that was awesome.

So, to me, the minions are a condescending army of left overs from a decade that ended 5 years ago. They're like that character Leo from That 70's Show, lingering around for the laughs, but completely dated in style and attitude. The difference being that Leo was actually funny. But because they are cheap and easy, and a safe bet, they became a gold mine that Universal is not going to drop any time soon.

They are the epitome of lazy laughs, recycled jokes and patronizing children. And the worst part is that so many adults have also fallen for those yellow nuggets. Their mass appeal is clear when they appear in T-Shirts, onesies and accessories outside the kids wear department; when they are not only in mass produced piñata-grade toys but in office supplies, wine charms, ties and stuff that is clearly not marketed to kids. 

They really are this generation's Tweety Bird. And to anyone that likes them and thinks that this anti-minion rant is wrong, please go and minionize yourself.

Tuesday, 5 May 2015

The Meaning of Fruits

Just like there are theories that talk about the meaning of colours, and say that blue is for calm, yellow for joy, red for passion, etc... I know that fruits also have meanings.
Here are a few of the most popular...

Apples: Represent the temptation.
This fruit has been the cause of all type of trouble since the beginning of times. This doctor spookers are a big red flag (it's never a yellow apple, isn't it?) in any story line they appear, and it's always a shady character the one in charge of offering one to the protagonist or the one who's always eating or craving one of this crispy balls of suspiciousness.

Strawberries: So romantic.
A romantic occasion will be enhanced by strawberries, chocolate and Champagne. Add chantilly cream to make it sexy. Strawberries are normally related to girly and femenine stuff, and if an anime show features the word, it's surely kawaii and for girls.

Peaches: Sweet, kind and delicate.
If you bruise like a peach, you'll understand why this fruit is synonimous with softness and being delicate. But at the same time, a peach is so nice that who would actually want to bruise it? You only want to rescue them or make sure they get home safely.

Cherries: XXX.
There are tons of fruits in the same shape and size, and somehow, the cherry is the one that manages to be all winky winky (blackcurrants, raspberries and goldenberries simply don't have it). They might as well be called pornberries, because most times someone is throwing a double entendre with a fruit, it has to be a cherry.

Bananas: For the lols.
It's a very old cliché: someone walking without paying attention, steps on a banana peel and falls. Why is this funny? Because it's not you (yes, people are cruel). This is the fruit of comedy, of being crazy, of funny banana costumes  (it would be as funny to see a melon costume) and bananas for scale in 9Gag just because of reasons. If that wasn't enough to certify them ad the fruit of lols, they are the monkey's favourites (and everyone knows that those are the animals of comedy).

Coconuts: Exotic.
Are you a girl in a desert island? Guess what you'll en up wearing... A coconut bra of course! Do you need to build a reliable radio to contact home and get rescued? Coconuts will be the key to your jungle tech. Even if some people hate to find them inside their chocolate, this sunscreen-smelling, tropical trendy health food transport you inmediately to the Caribbean, where you can relax and drink straing from one of them with a little pink straw.

Melons: Boobs.
Risking to sound tacky: "Melons = ( . ) ( . )". As simple as that. Why this round, beige, soft fruits make people think about boobs? I guess we'll never know.

Grapes: Ego and aristocracy
Wine's main ingredient. They are meant to be served straigth to the emperor's mouth, or rest elegantly in a luxurious fruit bowl in the table of a royal feast.

Pumpkins: Halloween.
Not really a fruit, but this veggie earned a symbolic meaning on its own merit. Before the end of summer, their carved faces slowly start to pop up everywhere, and by late October they are in everything, from your window to your coffee.

Besides all these fruits, other ones have meanings as well: for example, Kiwis are associated with New Zealand, pineapples with Hawaii, and a combination of lots of fruits used as a hat for some reason (see famous pic below) evokes South American culture.

¿Do you know about another fruit with meaning? Please help me expand the list  :)

Sunday, 3 May 2015

10 Tips for daily success and getting what you want from two Jack Russell Terriers

I love all types of dogs, but have an extra soft spot for Jack Russell Terriers. Those smart, photogenic, stubborn little guys can turn a house upside down, and have enough charisma to get away with it. I live with two of them, and they are so intelligent and independent  that I can hardly refer to myself as their owner (I prefer "their human").

By the way, speaking of Jacks and their view on things, there's a .jpg rolling around Internet with the Jack Russell Terriers Property Laws (pic below), but we don't need to call Lawyer Dog (what happened with that meme? I loved it) in order to take some tips for success from JRTs.


So, after trying to come up with a post about something Disney or The Avengers (which are in fact Disney), and being constantly interrupted by two never stopping muzzles, I found a new inspiration and asked Tony (the guy) and Kimi (the girl) about how to get your way, Jack Russell style.

Tony: "Maintain eye contact beyond awkwardness, that always work"

Kimi: "Approach things with caution, but with courage"

Don't take NO for an answer: If you insist for long enough, things will go your way. "When you ask for something, be sure to remind people every two seconds of what you want", says Tony while Kimi nods in agreement. 

Be flexible in the way you ask for stuff: "Start off as friendly as possible, wear a silly costume if you know it improves your odds, and if that fails, explain how urgently you need whatever you're asking for. Make sure you transmit the sense of urgency, barking loudly and howling are great ways to do so", says Kimi, and then she adds: "If barking or making noise don't work, get close, stare, and make indoor-friendly noises that won't bother every one, but will slowly wear out one specific person in the room".

Be clear in what you want: "If you want food, grab the plate and drop it on a human's foot. Don't just run around barking because this will frustrate everyone, explain exactly what you want", Kimi says. "If you want to play, grab a toy and chase people; if you want to enter the room, scratch the door", Tony adds. For them, sometimes the reason we don't get what we want is because we are too indirect and vague.

Always push the limits: If you know you're not allowed somewhere, get yourself invited. Eventually, it will become usual to see you there and you'll earn full access. If you can't make loud noises, start very softly and increase volume slowly. Instead of jumping to the middle of the bed, ask for a little corner and then crawl your way to the right spot. "There's nothing wrong with being just a little bit sneaky", Tony comments.

Enjoy the little things and make a fuzz: "A nice bite of cheese, a good walk in the park, a bone or a new toy... they all seem like small things but let them make you happy. And show gratitude, make a big deal about them: smile, wag you tail, jump, make sure to always say thank you in a big way, that way, next time you ask for something people will be more likely to try to get it for you. If you care about stuff, others will too, it's contagious", explains Kimi.

Have a proper handshake: "If someone reaches for a handshake, never respond half-heartedly. Be quick, friendly and have a firm but not aggressive paw. Humans show friendship with handshakes, but they also judge you and each other by them, so learn to do a proper handshake and you won't regret the perks", Tony says.

Win all staring contests: "There is an unspoken and never-ending staring contest between every creature with eyes", Kimi explains. "The first one to look away losses it and becomes submissive, so don't be afraid to stare until your dominance is established. You don't have to be hostile, smiling or lowering your ears will make you less threatening, and that in fact, will help you stare for longer without creeping out people so fast". 

Never think you are to small for something: "It's all about attitude. If you see yourself as a small dog, everyone will, but if you behave beyond size, people and other dogs will respect you. Don't be afraid to ask out someone because they are out of your league, ask for that promotion with confidence that you deserve it and pee on every tree on the block, you have a right to feel great about yourself", says Tony.

Be a bit eccentric: Both Tony and Kimi agreed that you need to have your own style, maybe a couple of quirks that people will recognize about yourself. "For example, I bring my food to the living room and eat it on the couch. The mess is worth it because now everyone remembers me for it", illustrates Tony, and Kimi adds: "I always pose in front of windows, I have my 'sunshine face', my 'rainy day face' and my 'I'm watching you' face for when neighbours walk in front of me. Being so constant in that, my house is now the house with the 'little dog in the window', you see? people remember you for the little touches".

Be friendly but trust your instincts and react smartly: "When meeting someone new, no matter if it's a dog a human or whatever, look interested and happy, make them feel like you could become friends soon. Let them set the tone and play along, but pay attention and if something inside you tells you that someone is trouble, don't get too close and keep an eye on your pack, be ready to protect them if necessary but never jump unprovoked. If you have to, stand your ground, pee a little bit where they can see you or show some teeth, most of the times this is enough of a message and everyone can continue in peace. At the same time, if some one is sending these signs to you, consider leaving them alone, they might be having a bad day or be under stress".

Finally, I want to share an article about an important scientific discovery regarding Jack Russell Terriers that made me cry of laughter. Let's just say that it explains why they take so much space while being so compact-looking (see descriptive graph below).