Adonis Diaries

Posts Tagged ‘Michael Baker

Crisis leadership? In the time of Covid-19?

Three reasons why Jacinda Ardern’s coronavirus response (New Zealand PM) has been a masterclass in crisis leadership

Direction, care and meaning-making.

Senior Lecturer, Executive Development, Massey University

Imagine, if you can, what it’s like to make decisions on which the lives of tens of thousands of other people depend.

If you get things wrong, or delay deciding, they die.

Your decisions affect the livelihoods of hundreds of thousands of people, resulting in huge economic disruption, mass layoffs and business closures.

Imagine you must act quickly, without having complete certainty your decisions will achieve what you hope.

Now imagine that turning your decisions into effective action depends on winning the support of millions of people.

Jacinda Ardern/Facebook

Yes, you do have enforcement capacity at your disposal. But success or failure hinges on getting most people to choose to follow your leadership – even though it demands sudden, unsettling, unprecedented changes to their daily lives.

This is the harsh reality political leaders around the world have faced in responding to COVID-19.

As someone who researches and teaches leadership – and has also worked in senior public sector roles under both National and Labour-led governments – I’d argue New Zealand’s Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern is giving most Western politicians a masterclass in crisis leadership.

Three communication skills every leader needs

When it comes to assessing New Zealand’s public health response, we should all be listening to epidemiologists like Professor Michael Baker.

On Friday, Baker said New Zealand had the “most decisive and strongest lockdown in the world at the moment” – and that New Zealand is “a huge standout as the only Western country that’s got an elimination goal” for COVID-19.

But how can we assess Ardern’s leadership in making such difficult decisions?

A good place to start is with American professors Jacqueline and Milton Mayfield’s research into effective leadership communication.

The Mayfields’ research-based model highlights “direction-giving”, “meaning-making” and “empathy” as the three keys leaders must address to motivate followers to give their best.

Being a public motivator is essential for leaders – but it’s often done poorly. The Mayfields’ research shows direction-giving is typically over-used, while the other two elements are under-used.

Ardern’s response to COVID-19 uses all three approaches.

In directing New Zealanders to “stay home to save lives”, she simultaneously offers meaning and purpose to what we are being asked to do.

In freely acknowledging the challenges we face in staying home – from disrupted family and work lives, to people unable to attend loved ones’ funerals – she shows empathy about what is being asked of us.

The March 23 press conference announcement of New Zealand’s lockdown is a clear example of Ardern’s skillful approach, comprising a carefully crafted speech, followed by extensive time for media questions.

In contrast, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson pre-recorded his March 24 lockdown announcement, offering no chance for questions from the media, while framing the situation as an “instruction” from government, coupled with a strong emphasis on enforcement measures.

Where Ardern blended direction, care and meaning-making, Johnson largely sought “compliance”.


Enabling people to cope with change

Ardern’s approach also strongly reflects what well-known Harvard leadership scholar Professor Ronald Heifetz has long argued is vital – but also rare and difficult to accomplish – when leading people through change.

Ardern has used daily televised briefings and regular Facebook live sessions to clearly frame the key questions and issues requiring attention.

Extracts from Jacinda Ardern’s evening Facebook Live from home on March 25, hours before New Zealand went into level 4 lockdown.

Also consistent with Heifetz’s teachings, she has regulated distress by developing a transparent framework for decision-making – the government’s alert level framework – allowing people to make sense of what is happening and why.

Importantly, that four-level alert framework was released and explained early, two days before a full lockdown was announced, in contrast with the prevarication and sometimes confusing messages from leaders in countries such as Australia and the UK.

Jacinda Ardern’s March 21 explanation of New Zealand’s four-level alert system.

Persuading many to act for the collective good

The work of another leadership scholar, the UK’s Professor Keith Grint, also sheds light on Ardern’s leadership approach during this crisis.

For Grint, leadership involves persuading the collective to take responsibility for collective problems. Much of the prime minister’s public commentary has been dedicated to exactly that – and it’s been overwhelmingly effective, at least so far, with a recent poll showing 80% support for the government’s response to COVID-19.

Grint also argues that when dealing with “wicked problems” – which are complex, contentious and cannot be easily resolved – leaders must ask difficult questions that disrupt established ways of thinking and acting.

It’s clear this has happened in New Zealand, as shown in the suite of initiatives the government has taken to respond to the pandemic, including its decision to move to a national lockdown relatively fast compared to many – though not all – countries.


Of course, not everything has been perfect in New Zealand’s or Ardern’s COVID-19 response. Ongoing, independent scrutiny of the government’s response is essential.

But as my own research has argued, expecting perfection of leaders, especially in such difficult circumstances, is a fool’s errand. It’s never possible.

Nor should we allow the “perfect” to become the enemy of the “good” when speed and enormous complexity are such significant features of the decision-making context.

Whether you’re comparing Ardern’s performance against other Western leaders, or assessing her efforts using researchers’ measures of leadership excellence, as a New Zealander I think there is much to be grateful for in how she is leading us through this crisis.

Stay in touch with The Conversation’s coverage from New Zealand experts by signing up to our weekly newsletter – delivered to you each Wednesday.

Read more: Where are we at with developing a vaccine for coronavirus?

Read more: As NZ goes into lockdown, authorities have new powers to make sure people obey the rules

 

Find Out Which Appliance Is Sucking All Your Power

Sense’s $299 gadget identifies individual devices in the home and exactly how much electricity they are using.

By  David Talbot. July 13, 2016

Is your garage door opening right now? Is your washing machine running? A growing number of products attempt to give consumers data on the sources of their household energy use—crucial data for home efficiency efforts and utility peak-hour conservation programs.

But Sense, a startup in Cambridge, Massachusetts, is the first to offer a consumer product that reads incoming household power levels a million times per second—enough to tease out telltale clues to which specific appliances, even low-wattage ones, are operating in real time.

“It’s at the cutting edge of what I have seen people attempting in this area,” says Michael Baker, a vice president at SBW, an energy efficiency consultancy in Seattle.

The company says it can accurately disaggregate 80% of home energy use;

it can do things like detect a microwave oven through its very specific startup and operating power “signature,” or sense a washing machine thanks in part to subtly increasing demand on the motor as the drum fills with water.

As it identifies garage door openers, toasters, microwave ovens, washing machines, heaters, and refrigerators, it displays them on an app as a newsfeed and a series of labeled bubbles.

Instead of a newsfeed of what your friends have been up to, this device provides a newsfeed of what your electronics have been up to all day.

Sense’s $299 gadget is the first that can identify which individual devices in the home are using the most electricity.
technologyreview.com|By David Talbot

Sense—founded by speech-recognition veterans whose technology ended up in Samsung’s S-Voice and Apple’s Siri—consists of a box about the size of an eyeglasses case installed inside or next to an electrical service panel.

Two inductive current sensors sense current, and two cables power the box and sense voltage. The box does some onboard processing, and then uses Wi-Fi to send data to the cloud for further analysis and aggregation with data from other users to improve its accuracy.

While Sense’s initial business model is based on selling the hardware for $299, the long-term play is in the data: Sense will retain rights to the data and expects to eventually serve personalized recommendations.

It also hopes to sell anonymized data and insights to companies like utilities or insurance companies.

Green Mountain Power, an electric utility serving 260,000 customers in Vermont, is planning to pilot the technology in customer homes in the town of Panton. The goal: to get homeowners interested in monitoring home energy usage—the necessary first step toward getting them to do things like shut off equipment at critical peak times or better align their household usage with household solar power generation (another data point Sense can track).

The utility already has so-called “smart meters” that collect data at eight- to 12-second intervals and plot it for customers in an app, but “we found that data at this resolution isn’t all that interesting,” says Todd LaMothe, a software development manager at the utility.

“We were pleasantly surprised by the quality of the appliance disaggregation and data visualization in the Sense app. Your home is interacting with you—it’s telling you what it’s doing. That’s the next generation we are looking for.”  (Sense requires no smart meters or other advanced technology in the home, other than a Wi-Fi connection.)

A number of consumer systems for monitoring home energy exist—but are generally of low resolution and look only at entire-household energy use.

Navetas allows you to track electricity consumption in real time, analyze trends, and set goals, but does not disaggregate what is causing the load.

Bidgely services utilities that have installed smart meters. By sampling meter data every few seconds, it can spot trends or major anomalous events, like a big overnight load that suggests an appliance such as an electric oven was accidentally left on. Another startup,

Neurio, is developing a similar system but is only able to see high-wattage devices.

As more consumer appliances become Internet-controlled, Sense can govern interactions with them. “Intelligence in the home starts with good data about what is going on, so that’s our focus right now—developing that data,” says Sense CEO and cofounder Michael Phillips, who a decade ago cofounded Vlingo, a voice-recognition startup that developed speech recognition for mobile phones and virtual assistants.

“Until now nobody has been able to make this work, because the real world is more challenging than expected.”

It can take a month of “observing” the home before the technology will fully identify what’s doing what. I tested it at my house over the past week. So far it has detected my fridge, washing machine, and dryer. I was surprised to see a big spike in demand at certain times when my dishwasher was running. That’s how I learned that it takes 1,200 watts just to heat water within dishwashers. I also saw that my house never consumes less than 64 watts, due to “always on” things like routers.

I found myself switching things on and off to see what they consumed. I quickly realized that my decades-old attic fan—out of sight, out of mind—was consuming 500 watts. So I’m already planning to get rid of it and install a gable vent instead, and let convection do the same job.


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adonis49

adonis49

November 2022
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