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Zoom Trauma Edition 😱

Newsletter 17 August 2020
Welcome to the Human Risk Newsletter full of Behavioural Science (BeSci) content.
What's Human Risk? Watch an interview about it here & subscribe to this newsletter here.
In this Edition
1. A change in gene naming rules illustrates a key facet of Human Risk in action;
2. The concept of Zoom Trauma; the idea that video working isn't just tiring, but actually traumatic is Something that made me think; and
3. Two documentaries & some podcast episodes are my Some things for Staying In Recommendations.
Human Risk in action
Harvard Professor Lawrence Lessig once wrote that "Code Is Law"; a warning that the way technology is coded made it as powerful as the law. He went on to suggest that it ought to be subject to similar scrutiny. 

His point was neatly illustrated when HGNC, the scientific body responsible for the naming of genes, recently changed its rules. The main reason was that many organisations storing gene data, use Microsoft Excel to do so. Because many genes have names like MARCHF1 (short for Membrane Associated Ring-CH-type Finger 1), there's a genuine risk of Excel turning gene names into dates. Like this:
Research published in 2016 estimated that at least 20% of all shared genetic data was subject to corruption of this kind. That's not great when you think about the significance of the work that is done with it.

Of course, one solution might have been to teach scientists to use Excel in a way that avoided this problem. But, in a beautiful illustration of a key Human Risk challenge, getting people to change their habits is hard. A much more effective solution is to accept that they'll make the "mistake" (in reality, of course, an Excel "flaw")  and solve the problem by designing around that; which is what they did.

So if you work for an organisation that has restrictions on End User Computing; in other words, what you can and can't run off an Excel spreadsheet, then you'll know why. And if you don't, maybe ask why because this isn't just a problem for genomics. Or indeed of Excel.  Lessig, it seems, has a point.

For more on the changes to the gene naming rules and the reasons behind it, read this article.
Then, in other Human Risk news:
Back to top
Something that made me think
We've all heard of Zoom Fatigue, but have you heard of Zoom Trauma? I hadn't until I read this article by organisational consultant Hanna Thomas Uose. It's a brilliant analysis of why "video working" might not just be tiring, but actually shifts us into a trauma response. She illustrates why online decision-making is potentially so problematic in this diagram:
What Hanna had to say was so insightful, and her thoughts about what we might do to mitigate the problem so compelling, that I invited her onto my podcast to talk about it.  

I'm convinced that Hanna is onto something and that video working is a source of Human Risk, that I'm joining her mission to work on ways we can do something about it.  🎧 👉 here.

On a related note, I also thought 'Hey, You Free on Friday for a Meeting and a Bank Heist?' an NYT ($) article about how some Executives are swapping Zoom calls for video game bonding sessions, was well worth reading.

Finally, if you're involved in giving virtual training, and you need help, then do check out the Compliance Media Toolkit webpage. It's full of videos, OneSheet guides & more and 🤫it's not just for Compliance people.
Some things for Staying In
I've been playing catchup with a couple of TV shows that have a Human Risk angle.  Both are incredibly engaging and well worth your time.
The first is a docuseries called McMillions (🇺🇸HBO, 🇬🇧Sky) which tells the story of how over several years, the overwhelming majority of winners in a US McDonalds competition based on the board game Monopoly, were fraudulent. Trailer 👉here.

The second is a Netflix documentary called Athlete A, which looks at abuses in the world of gymnastics by the US Team Doctor Larry Nasser.  Trailer 👉here.
Since the last newsletter, I've also released four more Human Risk podcasts:

Whether you're a die-hard ⚽️ fan, or can't understand how anyone can watch 11 people chasing a ball around a field, you're going to want to listen to sports journalist & 🇩🇪 Bundesliga expert, Raphael Honigstein.  Find out why he thinks players are still undervalued assets & what part psychology plays in ⚽️: 🎧 👉 here.

If you've been following my Human Risk project for a while, you'll be aware why I think we need to 'Bring Behavioural Science to Ethics & Compliance'. But don't take my word for it.  Dr Todd Haugh researches it & joins me on the podcast:  🎧 👉 here.

In industries where Human Risk is the difference between life & death, how can we manage it? Former fighter pilot Neil Clark joins me to talk about Human Factors, a specialism that blends Behavioural Science & Psychology into operating processes, to ensure that Human Risk is mitigated by design:  🎧 👉 here

What do London 'No Go' zones, Internet Trolls & Nerve Agents have in common? They're all things my guest Dan Kaszeta is experienced in handling. Learn his fascinating backstory at the highest levels of the US government & about his brand new book:  🎧 👉 here
I know many of you work in a regulated industry, so you'll be well aware of the 'Business Prevention Unit' reputation that Compliance functions often have.

So I was somewhat astonished to see how one Firm was advertising a position in its Compliance function—so astonished, in fact, that I recorded a video.
That's it for this newsletter. Do share your feedback or Human Risk stories.
Friends or colleagues you've forwarded this to can subscribe here.

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