May 05 2014

Outliers

Category: Aviation,Entrepreneurship,ReviewsTeknovis @ 10:20 pm

I finished reading Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell this weekend. For more information about it see Outliers or Outliers (book), and you can buy it at Outliers: The Story of Success.

I enjoyed reading it. It was fairly easy going, and it was always interesting.

Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell

Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell

There are plenty of reviews online already, so I am not going to add another. However, there was one very interesting piece of information that surprised me, so I will describe it here.

Chapter seven discusses plane crashes, and it describes a concept called the Power Distance Index (PDI). I will summarise this index by stating that a high DPI basically means that a subordinate is unlikely to be confident enough to contradict a superior, whereas a low DPI means that a subordinate sees himself/herself as an equal to his/her superior.

In the context of flying a plane, it is more desirable to have a pilot and co-pilot who come from a low DPI culture so that they can work well as a team of equals. In other words, if the pilot is doing something incorrect, then you want to co-pilot to be comfortable enough to clearly point-out the problem.

The book lists the five countries in the world where the PDI is highest between the pilot and the co-pilot. They are (in descending order):

  • Brazil
  • South Korea
  • Morocco
  • Mexico
  • Philippines

It is an interesting mix covering south and central America, Africa, and Asia. I am not able to see any pattern there.

However, the book also lists the five countries in the world where the PDI is lowest between the pilot and the co-pilot. They are (in descending order again):

  • United States
  • Ireland
  • South Africa
  • Australia
  • New Zealand

The thing that strikes me here is that they are all English speaking countries, and all former colonies of the UK. (This makes me wonder why the UK is not in the mix!)

I do not find this in any way surprising, because in a general sense these are all countries that share a language (English) that does not support formalities, and they provide relaxed workplace environments where subordinates and superiors are all friends!

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