Their only shot

August 19, 2013

By Heidi Grant Halvorson via   Article

“Nobel Prize-winning psychologist Daniel Kahneman has written, “For most people, the fear of losing $100 is more intense than the hope of gaining $150.

… it might be more accurate to say that some of us are particularly risk-averse, not because we are neurotic, paranoid, or even lacking in self-confidence, but because we tend to see our goals as opportunities to maintain the status quo and keep things running smoothly. Higgins calls this a prevention focus, associated with a robust aversion to being wide-eyed and optimistic, making mistakes, and taking chances. The rest of us are promotion-focused, see our goals as opportunities to make progress and end up better off.

prevention-focused people work more slowly and deliberately, seek reliability over “coolness” or luxury in products, and prefer conservative investments to higher-yielding but less certain ones. … prevention-focused people are more likely than the promotion-focused to behave ethically and honestly — not because they are more ethical per se, but because they fear that rule-breaking will land them in hot water.

… everything I just told you about prevention-focused people is true when everything is running smoothly — when the status quo is acceptable. … When the prevention-focused feel they are actually in danger of loss — and when they believe that a risky option is the only way to eliminate that loss — it’s a very different story.

… prevention-focused people … will embrace risk when it’s their only shot at returning to status quo. … These are the people who, counter-intuitively, will take the most dangerous risks under the right circumstances.”

Yelling improves performance

August 12, 2013

By Sami Honkonen via   Article

Yelling improves employee performance

“If you yell at resources (e.g. people) when they perform poorly, they will perform better next time.

This is easy to demonstrate. Take a normal 6-sided die and throw it. When you get a 1 or a 2, yell at the die and make it understand how worthless it is. Then throw again, and observe how most of the time the results improve after yelling.

With the dice example it’s easy to understand that there is a correlation, but no causality. … The phenomenon we’re witnessing is called regression to the mean.

Regression to the mean “is the phenomenon that if a variable is extreme on its first measurement, it will tend to be closer to the average on its second measurement”[Wikipedia]. If you yell at people after poor performance, their results are likely to improve. However, they’re likely to improve even if you don’t. Similarly, if their performance is exceptionally high, it’s likely fall. …

The die doesn’t have feelings you can hurt. Instead the variation in outcomes stems from the die itself, or rather, from how it was built. Similarly, the variation of performance in our organisations stems from how they are built. With too many mandatory meetings, too many urgent emails, too much pressure and too much hostility the system actively prevents individuals from succeeding. Yet it’s the individual that is most often blamed.

Yelling at the individual is the same thing as yelling at a die. If your company is performing poorly, it’s the system that needs fixing.

And PS. Don’t call people resources.

(This blog post is based on the work of Kahneman and Deming.)”

Authentic confidence

August 5, 2013

Note: Thanks to Dr. Ray Littlejohn for bringing this article to my attention.  … Wayne

By Dharmesh Shah via   Article

9 Qualities Of Truly Confident People

“1. They take a stand not because they think they are always right… but because they are not afraid to be wrong. …

2. They listen ten times more than they speak. …

3. They duck the spotlight so it shines on others. …

4. They freely ask for help. …

5. They think, “Why not me?” …

6. They don’t put down other people. …

7. They aren’t afraid to look silly…

8. … And they own their mistakes. …

9. They only seek approval from the people who really matter. …”

Getting in the wheelbarrow

August 5, 2013

By Issie Lapowsky via   Article

Master the Art of Appreciation

“… business owners stand to learn a lot about employee engagement from the 19th Century French tightrope walker Charles Blondin. … Elton, co-author of the book All In: How the Best Managers Create a Culture of Belief and Drive Big Results, recounted the story of how Blondin, already famous for being the first tightrope walker to cross Niagara Falls, once asked a roaring crowd of fans if they believed he could cross the Falls again. They all said they did. Then, Blondin asked who believed he could cross the Falls with a wheelbarrow. Again, the crowd declared they believed. Finally, Blondin asked the crowd of supposed believers who among them would ride in the wheelbarrow as he crossed the Falls. Suddenly, the crowd fell silent. 

The moral of the story? ‘There’s a difference between saying you believe and getting in the wheelbarrow,’ Elton said.

Elton, who studied hundreds of thousands of businesses while researching his book, says that one thing all succcessful businesses share is employees who are true believers in the company’s mission. Elton told story after story of employees who deeply believed in–and were actively part of solidifying–their company’s culture. There was the Hard Rock Cafe waitress who joined right in when a customer started dancing on a table in the restaurant. There was the Apple employee who, after accidentally dropping a customer’s already broken iPod on the ground, replaced it with a working iPod at no extra charge. And then there was the Avis rental car agent, who kept the airport location open an extra 45 minutes to wait for a customer whose flight was delayed.

‘When people truly understand and believe in why they do what they do, they do it better,’ Elton said.”

Beyond excuses

July 22, 2013

By Harish Kumar via   Slideshare

The thing you measure

July 22, 2013

By via Seth’s Blog   Article

Set Godin

Measuring without measuring

“Find a goal, make it a number and measure it until it gets better. In most organizations, the thing you measure is the thing that will improve.

Colleges decided that the SAT were a useful shortcut, a way to measure future performance in college. And nervous parents and competitive kids everywhere embraced the metric, and stick with it, even after seeing (again and again) that all the SAT measures is how well you do on the SAT. …

It costs a credit card company (and especially their merchants) a lot of money when fraudulent charges are made, because they often have to eat the cost. So this department of thousands of people works to make the number of fraudulent charges go down at the same time they keep expenses low. Which sounds great until you realize that the easiest way to do this is to flag false positives, annoy honest customers and provide little or no fallback when a mistake is made.

Simple example: I regularly get an automated phone call from the bank with an urgent warning. But even when I answer the phone, the system doesn’t let me ring through to an operator. Instead, I have to write every detail down, then call, wait on hold, prove it’s me, type in all the information, and THEN explain to them that in fact, the charge was mine.

And this department has no incentive to fix this interaction, because ‘annoying’ is not a metric that the bosses have decided to measure. Someone is busy watching one number, but it’s the wrong one. …

Measurement is fabulous. Unless you’re busy measuring what’s easy to measure as opposed to what’s important.”

It’s the big prod

July 22, 2013

By  via   Article

Washington ‘Spends’ More on Tax Breaks Than on Medicare, Defense, or Social Security

“Tax expenditures are funny, They’re not taxes, exactly, because they save us money. They’re not spending, exactly, because the dollars are never actually spent. They’re somewhere in between. So think of it as tax spending.

Or just think of it as the ultimate nudge. The carrot hiding behind the tax code’s big stick, tax spending guides us by making certain behaviors and actions cheaper. We encourage employers to provide health care by taxing wages and not taxing health benefits. We encourage investing by making a dollar earned from dividends cheaper than a dollar earned from a salary.

And as the CBO reports in a new study today, Washington’s tax spending budget — comprised of everything from mortgage deductions to the child tax credit to lower tax rates on capital gains — is so massive, it’s technically larger than Medicare, Defense, or Social Security. The tax spending budget is equal to 1/17th of the US economy.

Like the federal budget, the tax spending budget isn’t all bad or all good. It’s a collage of interests lurking in the shadow of the tax code that represents all factions, including large corporations, small corporations, institutional investors, low-income families, and every slice of America you can name. … It’s the big prod.”