Mobile Spine Posture

What’s your mobile device posture?

I’ve spent too many years bent poorly over a keyboard and have suffered many of the consequences.

Recently I’ve been conscious of taking on poor posture in other places as I’ve used my iPhone more and more.

A recent study by Kenneth K. Hansraj, MD, Chief of Spine Surgery at New York Spine Surgery & Rehabilitation Medicine has modelled the physical stresses that our neck posture puts on the cervical spine.

Your head and neck weigh in at about 6kg (13lb). In an upright position that weight is going straight down the spine and not requiring the muscles to do too much. Tilt your head forward and the weight starts to cause strain on the neck muscles; the further forward that you tilt the more strain you are putting on those muscles.

Imagine holding a bowling ball out in front of you on a bent arm and that the kind of pressure we are talking about.

Now imagine doing that for between two and four hours a day and hopefully you’ll start to get the picture that this isn’t a good thing to do.

Tilting your neck forward at a 30 degree angle results in pressures of over 18kg (40lbs), at 60 degrees it’s up over 27kg (60lbs). That 27Kg is over 4.5 times the weight of your head and neck or something like the weight of an 8-year-old.

The conclusion of the study says this:

The weight seen by the spine dramatically increases when flexing the head forward at varying degrees. Loss of the natural curve of the cervical spine leads to incrementally increased stresses about the cervical spine. These stresses may lead to early wear, tear, degeneration, and possibly surgeries.

While it is nearly impossible to avoid the technologies that cause these issues, individuals should make an effort to look at their phones with a neutral spine and to avoid spending hours each day hunched over.

You can find an overview of the research here and more commentary on npr.

St. Paul's Cathedral Sunset

Autonomy, Mastery and Purpose

Autonomy, mastery, purpose – I’ve used these words a lot recently, it seems that barely a day goes by without a conversation coming around the these three words.

The words come from a book by Daniel Pink called Drive. This is the Cocktail Party Summary which gives most of what you need to know for this post:

When it comes to motivation, there’s a gap between what science knows and what business does. Our current business operating system–which is built around external, carrot-and-stick motivators–doesn’t work and often does harm. We need an upgrade. And the science shows the way. This new approach has three essential elements: 1. Autonomy – the desire to direct our own lives. 2. Mastery — the urge to get better and better at something that matters. 3. Purpose — the yearning to do what we do in the service of something larger than ourselves.

The reverse is also true; if you motive people by giving them autonomy, mastery and purpose, you demotivate people by restricting their autonomy, utilising them in tasks that don’t extend their mastery and by disconnect them from any sense purpose.

Recently Forrester posted this image on their twitter feed:

I’ve not had chance to read the research that generated this picture, other than a short summary which says:

Research in worker productivity reveals that the top 1% of performers in high-complexity knowledge work, such as engineers, systems analysts, and project managers, are 127% more productive than average performers and up to 47 times more productive than the bottom 1% of performers. We believe that firms that favor strict, centralized policies and control of technology resources will fall farther behind their competitors in employee motivation, customer service, and employee retention. Firms that instead favor investments in autonomy and improving information access on the go will have the advantage by increasing employee motivation and performance.

If you look at the picture and apply to it those three words – autonomy, mastery, purpose – you’ll soon recognise the similarities about what is being said.

Many of the conversations that I’ve been having recently have been about people on the road to burnout. What I find is that many organisations recognise the cost of stress and burnout but don’t recognise the activities that are driving people towards that burnout. There’s a common misconception that a major part of burnout is the quantity of work that people are expected to do but I’m starting to realise that it’s got a lot more to do with a lack of motivation which is created by the removal of autonomy, mastery and purpose.

Remember: “When it comes to motivation, there’s a gap between what science knows and what business does.”

Daniel explains a bit more in these videos:

The TED version:

The Animated version:

The Extended version:

UK Airspace Time Lapse

Because it’s Friday: UK Airspace Time-lapse

NATS have produced a wonderful time-lapse video of the flight activity happening above our heads every day in the UK:

“Created from actual radar data showing over 7,000 flights, the video graphically illustrates the daily task facing air traffic controllers and the airspace features that help make it all work.

Created by air traffic management company, NATS, the video takes viewers on a unique tour of some of the key features of UK airspace – from the four holding stacks over London and the military training zones above Wales, to the helicopters delivering people and vital supplies to the North Sea oil and gas rigs.”

Via Mashable.

Tate Modern

YouGov Profiler

I spent some time yesterday playing with the YouGov Profiler which is a tool from the polling organisation that makes a set of demographic information available.

It’s more fun than serious research, but it’s compelling all the same.

A colleague pointed out to me that he, as a Bob Dylan fan,  was a lot younger than the 60+ demographic, and isn’t from the West Country. I’m not sure I can see him eating Dorset Blue Vinney Cheese either, but that’s part of the fun of demographics.

YouGov ProfilerWhen I see tools like this I like to remind myself that it used to take weeks to process data like this in its raw form without anything like as nice a presentation.

It’s also a reminder that information is no longer power, because information is free, it’s relationship that is power.