Imagine a company where 100% of the employees are rebels – would it be chaotic or wonderful? Our guest from the Harvard Business School, Francesca Gino PhD, argues that rebels are not just essential, but they can improve corporate effectiveness.

Francesca is a professor and researcher at Harvard Business School who describes herself as a curious behavioral scientist, passionate about teaching and helping leaders make wiser decisions that can improve their lives and those of the people around them. She’s the author of dozens of peer-reviewed articles on decision making and her books include Sidetracked (2013), and more recently, Rebel Talent, that covers a body of research findings highlighting why the most successful people break the rules, and how rebellion brings joy and meaning into our lives.

Our discussion revealed that Francesca isn’t the kind of person who just doles out good advice, she often tests it out first on herself, her husband and children, her students and colleagues and even the business leaders she consults with! She’s a rebel thinker and doer and her drive to discover answers to the why-we-do-what-we-do question is without limits.

Her findings reveal key methods that companies can use to help employees remain curious and to steer employees clear of the day-to-day ruts that are so easy to fall into.

In the grooving session that follows our discussion with Francesca, we dig deeper into the application of curiosity, psychological safety and extremely powerful (and portable) conversation too, “Yes, and…” Kurt and Tim share ways in which we’ve seen “yes, and…” is applied successfully in workshops, brainstorming sessions, corporate meetings, and presentations in the corporate world.

We hope you enjoy our conversation with the rebel Francesca Gino.

If you enjoyed this episode, please don’t hesitate to give us a positive rating on your favorite podcatching service.

 

Links

Francesca Gino: http://francescagino.com

Rebel Talent: https://www.rebeltalents.org

Sidetracked: http://francescagino.com/sidetracked

After the episode, Francesca told us that she listened to Youngblood’s version of 5 Seconds of Summer:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Jqs5EaAaueA

Julia Minson, PhD at the Kennedy School at Harvard: https://www.hks.harvard.edu/faculty/julia-minson

Pixar Animation Studios: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pixar

The Ballad of Lucinda (by Tim Houlihan): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9jzM2wLgNc8

Blog Post on PADI certification (by Ben Granlund): http://blog.lanterngroup.com/behavioral-science-beneath-the-surface-the-power-of-rational-thoughts-in-an-unnatural-environment

St. Vincent (on sounds): https://consequenceofsound.net/2017/10/10-times-st-vincent-gave-no-fucks/

Blasphemous Rumors (by Depeche Mode): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o3EAzf5fDpY

Kurt Nelson: @motivationguru and https://www.linkedin.com/in/kurtwnelson/

Tim Houlihan: @THoulihan and https://www.linkedin.com/in/tim-houlihan-b-e/

 

Subscribe to Behavioral Grooves: https://behavioralgrooves.podbean.com/

In this episode, we had the pleasure of speaking with two guests: Jeanie Whinghter, PhD and Afra Ahmad, PhD. Jeanie is the Chair of Industrial and Organizational Psychology and General Psychology at Capella University. Her research focuses on the manifestations of stressors and strains in alternative work arrangements and was in Memphis when we spoke.  Afra was in Dubai at Zayed University but will begin a new role in the summer of 2019 as Director of the Masters in Professional Studies in Applied Industrial and Organizational Psychology at George Mason University. Her research emphasizes diversity and inclusion and she has been authored chapters in books, published in Harvard Business Review, as well as in peer-reviewed journals.

Both are researchers, teachers, wives, mothers and truly fascinating people. We were grateful to be able to speak to them in advance the SIOP – the Society for Industrial and Organizational Psychology – conference in April 2019. At the conference, they’ll unveil an interactive workshop to illuminate the challenges of trying to “have it all.” Inspired by a satirical article in The New Yorker magazine (citation below), the idea of having it all has plagued women, especially, who strive to be successful at parenting and a career at the same time. Jeanie and Afra are advocating an approach that focuses on harmony rather than balance.

Our conversation first centered around their research and revealed insights for those struggling to have it all. More timely, we discussed their SIOP session.

After the formal discussion, with the tape still rolling, we talked in greater depth about their unique, interactive structure for their SIOP session and how surprising it is that more conferences don’t feature non-traditional, participant engagement sessions.

To learn more about the SIOP session itself, listen to our grooving session which immediately follows the discussion with Jeanie and Afra. If you’d like to skip straight there, check out the discussion starting around 51:40. There we also tackled the concepts of work-life harmony and the importance of allies.

Our grooving session continued with the challenges nursing mothers face when no nursing rooms exist. And we talked about the use of harmony is songwriting. 

Select Links

Jeanie Whinghter, PhD: https://www.linkedin.com/in/jeanie-whinghter-b303a9148/

Afra Ahmad, PhD: https://www.linkedin.com/in/dr-afra-saeed-ahmad-35229070/ 

 

SIOP – Society for Industry & Organizational Psychology: https://www.siop.org/

Inspiration for the workshop from this article in The New Yorker: https://www.newyorker.com/humor/daily-shouts/i-am-the-one-woman-who-has-it-all

Jeff Bezos on Work/Life Balance: https://www.businessinsider.com/jeff-bezo-advice-to-amazon-employees-dont-aim-for-work-life-balance-its-a-circle-2018-4

Jeff Bezos on Harmony vs. Balance: https://www.cnbc.com/2018/08/09/what-jeff-bezos-does-instead-of-work-life-balance.html

Leading the Life You Want, by Stuart Friedman, PhD (Wharton Professor) 2014: https://hbr.org/product/leading-the-life-you-want-skills-for-integrating-work-and-life/11343E-KND-ENG

Research on how we always think we do the most work at home by Yavorsky, Dush and Sullivan, especially after a baby comes into the house: “The Production of Inequality: The Gender Division of Labor Across the Transition to Parenthood.” https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26430282

Bentley University’s Center for Women in Business (Waltham, Massachusetts) 2017 report: “Men as Allies: Engaging Men to Advance Women in the Workplace.” https://www.ceoaction.com/media/1434/bentley-cwb-men-as-allies-research-report-spring-2017.pdf A growing trend.

Baby Shark: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XqZsoesa55w

Alicia Keys, Girl on Fire: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J91ti_MpdHA

Tim Houlihan, Beneath the Surface of the Well: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oNUbRG1yWwM&t=0s&index=41&list=PLagHYhetqqmEEie866Zodn7W4IBlfNwli

Kurt Nelson: @motivationguru and https://www.linkedin.com/in/kurtwnelson/

Tim Houlihan: @THoulihan and https://www.linkedin.com/in/tim-houlihan-b-e/

 

Subscribe to Behavioral Grooves: https://behavioralgrooves.podbean.com/

Michael Kaplan is a private equity and angel investor who was part owner and president of the wildly successful carpet cleaning franchise called Zerorez. (Note that it’s spelled the same backward as it is forward. A classic palindrome!)  He is now associated with Red Hook Investments and is actively finding new ways to help small service companies grow.  

Michael grew up in Minneapolis, moved to Maine (undergrad) then to Atlanta (for barbeque and bourbon) then to Boston (pondering a Jimmy John’s franchise) then to Minneapolis (law school) and stayed to help turnaround a troubled carpet cleaning business in 2009.

We talked about his life and business journey and discovered that the underlying themes he lived by are replicable. (We cover them in depth during our grooving session following the discussion with Michael.)  We talked about how people make decisions and what data goes into those decisions; how framing impacts us from the name of our company to why we work; and we all long to have a sense of purpose and build a community – even at work! 

When Michael brought up the importance of having naysayers in the decision-making process, we felt right at home because of Annie Duke’s Thinking in Bets. This led us to view Michael’s successes through two important lenses: First, how he actively seeks out counterintuitive thinking. He dives deep and often reframes issues to reveal better answers. When there was trouble hiring the right people, he shared how Zerorez adapted the jobs to the marketplace rather than assuming the market would simply come around to his business needs.

Second, we saw his tremendous attention to reworking ideas as he noted, “Whatever system you're implementing, it's going to be wrong. You have to tweak it, you have to get out in the real world and figure out where my assumption's correct.”

Of course, we talked about music and his affection for having a local radio station curate playlists. The radio brings him both familiar and new tunes on a regular basis and he likes the mix of hearing Sinatra after the Lumineers.

We hope you enjoy the conversation with Michael and take a moment to give Behavioral Grooves a quick review on your favorite podcatcher.

Links

Zerorez: https://www.zerorez.com/

Red Hook Investments: http://redhookinvestments.com/

4-drive model (Lawrence & Nohria): https://www.leadersbeacon.com/four-drive-model-new-theory-on-employee-motivation/

French cooking music: https://www.pandora.com/genre/french-cooking-music

Steve Miller Band “Swing Town”: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1jGYx0hMjM0

Twin Reverb amplifier: https://shop.fender.com/en-US/guitar-amplifiers/vintage-pro-tube/65-twin-reverb/0217300000.html

The Current radio station: https://www.thecurrent.org/

June Carter Cash: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/June_Carter_Cash

Lumineers: https://thelumineers.com/

Annie Duke, Thinking in Bets: https://www.annieduke.com/books/

Palindrome: https://examples.yourdictionary.com/palindrome-examples.html

 

Subscribe to Behavioral Grooves: https://behavioralgrooves.podbean.com/

Kurt Nelson, PhD: https://twitter.com/motivationguru and kurt@lanterngroup.com

Tim Houlihan: https://twitter.com/THoulihan and tim@behavioralchemy.com

 

March 6, 2019

Grooving on Reciprocity

This is the second episode in a series on the 6 Principles of Persuasion as identified by Robert Cialdini, PhD, in his 1984 book, Influence. (The first episode in the series was on consistency – with the link below.) In this grooving session, Kurt and Tim discuss reciprocity, the first principle of influence, its roots and how it shows up in our world today.

Reciprocity is when we feel obliged to give back to people who have given to us. The operative word is given, to differentiate the experience from a contractual exchange like a loan or a quid pro quo. Reciprocity shows up not only in what we do but also how we do it. A great example is a study conducted by Cialdini, et. al, to measure how leaving a mint with a restaurant bill makes a difference in the size of the tip left for the server. The results are remarkable – but you’ll have to listen to find out what’s even more fascinating in this study.

We talk about reciprocity as a social construct and a social obligation to keep our social credit strong. We talk about its roots in anthropological terms and how the humans need communities to survive and reciprocity helps maintain the community.

We hope you enjoy this grooving session on one of our favorite topics: reciprocity.

Links

Episode on Consistency: https://behavioralgrooves.podbean.com/e/grooving-political-stalemates-insights-on-consistency/

Cialdini’s HBR article on harnessing the power of persuasion: https://hbr.org/2001/10/harnessing-the-science-of-persuasion

Cialdini’s principles: https://www.influenceatwork.com/principles-of-persuasion/

Link to Influence: https://www.influenceatwork.com/store/#!/Paperbacks/c/2254134/offset=0&sort=normal

Social Construct and Retaliation: https://pubs.aeaweb.org/doi/pdfplus/10.1257/jep.14.3.159

Obligation principle: http://changingminds.org/principles/obligation.htm

 

Kurt Nelson, PhD: kurt@lanterngroup.com or Twitter @motivationguru 

Tim Houlihan: tim@behavioralchemy.com or Twitter @THoulihan

 

Subscribe to Behavioral Grooves: https://behavioralgrooves.podbean.com/

Liz Fosslien is the co-author and illustrator of No Hard Feelings: The secret power of embracing emotions at workThe book is a wickedly funny guide to un-repressing your emotions at work, finding constructive channels even for jealousy and anxiety, demystifying coworker communication styles, and ultimately allowing readers to be the same person in work and in life. She recently joined Humu to develop nudges and behavior change models that make life at work better. 

Our conversation with Liz, like all of our conversations, meandered from her book to her workout music (EDM), to her background in math and economics, to 14 Ways An Economist Says I Love You, to the burnout that led to the book, to the research and findings that the book explores, to the OREO method of feedback and much more.

The primary concept we took away was that our emotions can play a positive role at work for a variety of reasons, and the second is about how to deal with the limits or restrictions that we sometimes place on ourselves in the workplace. We talked about how these approaches impact our productivity and our emotional health.

In our grooving session, Kurt and Tim discussed psychological safety, how emotions are contagious, to loss aversion and its relationship to our naturally negative brains, to William Kahn’s ground-breaking work on psychological safety, to Vittorio Gallese’s work on mirror neurons and Kurt and Tim’s first-ever song based on a behavioral science principle: Loss Aversion.

We hope you enjoy our conversation with Liz and please refer us to a friend if you like this episode. 

Links

Liz Fosslien: http://fosslien.com/

Liz & Mollie’s book: No Hard Feelings: The secret power of embracing emotions at work.   https://www.lizandmollie.com/book/

Liz’s article on how economists say I Love You: 14 ways an economist says I love you  http://fosslien.com/heart/ 

National Affairs: https://www.nationalaffairs.com/

Project Aristotle: https://rework.withgoogle.com/print/guides/5721312655835136/

Vittorio Gallese, PhD: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vittorio_Gallese

William Kahn, PhD: “Psychological Conditions of Personal Engagement & Disengagement at Work”

https://journals.aom.org/doi/abs/10.5465/256287

Thaler & Sunstein, Nudge: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nudge_(book)

Loss Aversion (Kurt & Tim’s video): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AyeRNVSWJAI&t=4s

Tears for Fears – “Shout” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ye7FKc1JQe4

Bob Dylan: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bob_Dylan

Cat Stevens (now Yusuf Islam): https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cat_Stevens

 

Kurt Nelson, PhD contact: email kurt@lanterngroup.com or Twitter @motivationguru or LinkedIn https://www.linkedin.com/in/kurtwnelson/  

Tim Houlihan contact: email tim@behavioralchemy.com or Twitter @THoulihan or LinkedIn https://www.linkedin.com/in/tim-houlihan-b-e/  

 

Subscribe to Behavioral Grooves: https://behavioralgrooves.podbean.com/

 

 

Luke Battye is a product/service consultant with a background in Experimental Psychology and innovation. Luke founded a behavioral design consultancy, called Sprint Valley in the UK, that helps businesses use behavioral science and human-centered design to create better products and services for customers and employees.

In Our Conversation with Luke

We chatted on a cold afternoon in both Birmingham and Minneapolis and we hunkered down to some great conversation about the very positive applications of behavioral science.

Our discussion started with Luke’s consultancy, then we talked through his recent article projecting the future of fast food restaurants called “Why We’re Loving It: The McDonalds Restaurants of the Future” featured on BehavioralEconomics.com. The article is insightful because of its thoughtful observations and clever ideas about how a behavioral lens provides a fresh look at retail restaurants. And, frankly, we found the conversation to be scintillating.

That moved us naturally into addressing the peak and end experiences for customers at fast food restaurants and the Peak-End Effect. Luke noted that there are more people checking in at McDonald's than on Facebook every month.

We covered the delightfully-named Bouba Kikki test, the impact of embodied cognition and the work of Charles Spence (and others), the placebo effect and even blind taste tests of fine wines. 

In our music discussion, Luke brought up EDM groove-sters Nils Frahm and Chris Clark as well as Grizzly Bear and our common affection for analog synthesizers made by Moog.

In Our Grooving Session

Following the discussion with Luke, Kurt and Tim grooved on a variety of topics starting a solid discussion on The Peak-End effect. This led into Danny Kahneman’s discussion of the remembering self vs the experiencing self, and of course, we turned to priming. In our discussion about priming, we addressed which prime might be more impactful in driving behavior: self-primes (conscious and self-created) or hidden primes (totally subconscious)? Listen to see where we landed on this!

We discussed the impact of the MOOG synthesizer on music history and how The Monkees are reportedly the first band to record a Moog synthesizer on a major label record.

Links

Paper on the future of fast food retailing: Why we're loving it 

Peak-End Effect: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Peak%E2%80%93end_rule

Bouba Kikki: Bouba Kiki Effect

Paper on embodied cognition: Charles Spence - Cross-Modal Research 

Kahneman: experiencing self vs. remembering self. https://www.psychologicalscience.org/observer/memory-vs-experience-happiness-is-relative

Blind Taste Tests of Wine: https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2013/jun/23/wine-tasting-junk-science-analysis

Placebo Effect – it works: https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/brain-sense/201201/the-placebo-effect-how-it-works

Music

Nils Frahm: https://youtu.be/xih8aiacRSk?t=1298. Mix of EDM and acoustic piano

Chris Clark: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7S9N16b8QNA . Heavy EDM

Grizzly Bear: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LPI7oU-fuGw  While You Wait For Others (2009)

Original Moog synthesizer: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Moog_synthesizer

Yamaha DX7: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yamaha_DX7

Korg: Buy a Korg Volca it's the best toy you'll ever get!! They're so cheap! 

 

Contact Info

Luke Battye luke@sprintvalley.com. Sprint Valley: https://sprintvalley.com/

Kurt Nelson, PhD Kurt@lanterngroup.com 

Tim Houlihan Tim@behavioralchemy.com

 

Saurabh Bhargava, PhD is a professor and researcher at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, and he joined us in the Behavioral Grooves studio during a visit to Minnesota over the holidays. Saurabh has also taught at the Booth School at the University of Chicago and worked in corporate consulting for McKinsey & Company.

His work history, and the fact that he hails from the very sensible state of Minnesota, adds credibility and practicability to his work.  In recent years, much of his research has focused on examining policies and programs that shape financial and health wellness. His curiosities have ranged from how we make health insurance choices from complicated menus to the effects of emotion on political beliefs and voting.

Saurabh’ research is best summed up using his own words. His research, he says, “uses natural field experiments to better understand the systematic ways in which people's behavior departs from what economists would think of as a rational benchmark. Then, using some of these insights to help improve how we think about the design of policies and programs that are intended to help them.”

In this conversation, Saurabh talked about findings he’s made, with his colleague Lynn Conell-Price, in how people prepare (or don’t prepare) for retirement. Planning for retirement is complex: we don’t know how long we’re going to live, we don’t exactly know how much we’re going to spend, and we don’t know how the economy will treat our savings. All are difficult – if not impossible for ordinary Jane’s and Joe’s – to estimate. Their working paper wrestles with these issues and offers findings that will help people, who have not really engaged in their retirement, to get started.

Their work tests three candidate explanations offered by Behavioral Economists as to why employees do not save sufficiently for retirement through their 401(k) plans:

  • Financial literacy. Because decisions about saving are made very rarely, it’s common to lack the skills required to make the most effective decisions. But like the GI Joe fallacy, knowing is not even close to being half the battle. 

 

  • Complexity. Kahneman and Tversky demonstrated that the more complex the problem, the less likely people are to solve it well and decisions that require managing complex online forms could deter us from making the decision at all.

 

  • Self-Control (Procrastination). This is a biggie. Our present bias can be so strong that we’re willing to forego the pain of a few dollars less each paycheck (today) in exchange for a more comfortable future (tomorrow).

We discussed his findings and a surprising micro-behavioral intervention aimed at those who were not enrolled. Incentives cannot be offered to get people to enroll, but they can be aimed at PRE-enrolling behavior: logging in. Saurabh’s discussion of the results are terrific!

We hope you enjoy our discussion with Saurabh and would be very grateful for a positive rating on your favorite podcatcher. It goes a long way with us and our efforts to expand our audience.

 

Links

Saurabh Bhargava, PhD: Department of Social & Decision Sciences, Carnegie Mellon University.  

Email = sbhar@andrew.cmu.edu

Website = https://www.cmu.edu/dietrich/sds/people/faculty/saurabh-bhargava.html

 

Kurt Nelson, PhD: kurt@lanterngroup.com

Tim Houlihan: tim@behavioralchemy.com

Subscribe at https://behavioralgrooves.podbean.com/

John Sweeney is the author of Innovation at the Speed of Laughter: 8 Secrets to World Class Idea Generation, corporate keynote speaker, improvisational impresario, the actor known for his character Jiggly Boy, a brainstorming and innovation maniac, and the owner of the Brave New Workshop, an improvisational theatre in Minneapolis, Minnesota for more than 20 years.

More importantly, John is an accidental behavioral scientist. His worldview is based on observations he has made about human interactions in group settings and those interactions are, as you guessed, behaviorally based. John and his colleagues lead workshops on innovation that leverage principles from behavioral science and they do it with lots of laughter.

In our conversation with John, we talked about things he’s passionate about. We talked about how his character, Jiggly Boy, that was created to raise awareness for Minnesota’s professional basketball team, became a conduit to raise money for the Smile Network, an international humanitarian organization that provides life-altering reconstructive surgeries. The 11 million YouTube hits have contributed, via a link on the Jiggly Boy page, to raising hundreds of thousands of dollars for Smile Network. Very cool, indeed.

John also shared stories about how an in-person knife throwing demonstration was used in pitching his book at a book buyer’s convention (talk about vividness!) and how he brings new and novel ideas to corporate clients.

Aside from being gut-splitting funny, we discovered John shared important behavioral science principles to groove on after our conversation. One was the power of “Yes, and…” and how, with practice, it can become a way of life. Another was the importance of psychology safety and how it’s sorely missed in the corporate world today.

The last topic we grooved on was the concept of how you practice improv when it is unpracticable and how we can use narrative to engage and persuade. 

This episode was recorded LIVE during our Behavioral Grooves meetup at John’s theatre, the Brave New Workshop. We wanted to bring John’s outsized personality to life, so a live audience seemed most fitting and we are grateful that he offered up his theatre as the venue. Thank you to John, Renee Scott, Matthew Vichlach and Craig Anderson for their support.

We laughed and laughed. A LOT. And we suspect you will, too. We hope you enjoy our conversation with John Sweeney.  

Links

John Sweeney: https://www.linkedin.com/in/johnsweeneybrave/

 Brave New Workshop: https://www.bravenewworkshop.com/  Motto: “Promiscuous hostility, positive neutrality.”

Jiggly boy: http://www.jigglyboy.com/

Smile Network: http://www.smilenetwork.org/

Innovation at the Speed of Laughter: 8 Secrets to World Class Idea Generation, (2007) Aerialist Press.  https://www.amazon.com/Innovation-Speed-Laughter-Generation-Paperback/dp/0976218437/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1549486513&sr=8-1&keywords=innovation+at+the+speed+of+laughter

Brainstorming: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brainstorming According to Wikipedia, “…brainstorming is a situation where a group of people meet to generate new ideas and solutions around a specific domain of interest by removing inhibitions.” A dozen top websites echo this requirement to remove inhibitions, but none really address it. Sweeney does.

Yes, and…: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yes,_and...

On role-playing and brainstorming: “Take it to the next stage: the roles of role-playing in the design process” by Kristian T. Simsarian, IDEO (2003) published in CHI '03 Extended Abstracts on Human Factors in Computing Systems, pages 1012-1013. https://dl.acm.org/citation.cfm?id=766123  Role-playing is complementary to traditional design techniques providing additional team dynamics and insights that bring the process and designs to another level. 

Project Aristotle: https://rework.withgoogle.com/print/guides/5721312655835136/

Bell, David A., “Regret in Decision Making Under Uncertainty,” Operations Research Society of America, 1982. http://www.people.hbs.edu/dbell/regret%20in%20decison%20making%20.pdf

Davis, Miles: Kinda Blue: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0fC1qSxpmKo Or, if you can, check out the 1997 reissue of the record featuring an alternative version of “Flamenco Sketches” to compare to the one released on the original 1959 recording. This comparison provides great insight into the tremendous improvisational power of Davis and his talented band.

Dr. Dimento: https://www.drdemento.com/

Dr. Science: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6KUEg8rwzUA

Kurt and Tim help companies positively apply behavioral insights into their organizations - let's have a conversation about how we can help your company. You can reach us at Kurt@lanterngroup.com or Tim@behavioralchemy.com. We’d love to help your organization improve your bottom line with a behavioral lens.

Subscribe at: https://behavioralgrooves.podbean.com/ 

 

The safety insights from our guest could save your life

Rodd Wagner is The New York Times bestselling author of the book "Widgets: The 12 New Rules for Managing Your Employees as If They're Real People." A contributor to Forbes, he is one of the foremost authorities on employee engagement and collaboration. Wagner's books, speeches, and thought leadership focus on how human nature affects business strategy. He and his aerospace engineer son, Rodd Parks Wagner, are currently completing work on a book on the psychology of safety.

We talked with Rodd about a wide variety of topics from writing books to the impact sleep has on behavior, the impact of checklists, and Zen Buddhism.  But what really excited us was our discussion of hedonic adaptation and how it applies to safety…and to so much more.

We also discussed the moral code of self-driving cars and who will program (and what decisions they’ll make when programming) the robots to act. We talked about the famous Trolley Car Study (1967) and how self-driving cars will need to be taught to make tough moral decisions. 

Our discussion with Rodd was followed by our grooving session, which focused on both hedonic adaptation and the morality of machines.  

By listening to Behavioral Grooves, you are part of a community of people interested in behavioral science – a community that we are trying to build.  We would be grateful if you can help expand that community by recommending this episode, or another Behavioral Grooves episode, to a friend. https://behavioralgrooves.podbean.com/

Also, Kurt and Tim help companies apply positive and ethical behavioral insights to their organizations. If you’re interested in starting a conversation, you can reach us at Kurt@lanterngroup.com or Tim@behavioralchemy.com. We’d love to help your organization improve your bottom line with a behavioral lens.

 

Contact

You can reach Rodd Wagner at rocksolidstrategy@gmail.com.

Rodd’s Forbes columns can be found here: https://www.forbes.com/sites/roddwagner/.

Widgets: The 12 New Rules for Managing Your Employees as if They’re Real People, by Rodd Wagner, McGraw-Hill (2015). https://www.inc.com/peter-economy/the-12-new-rules-for-managing-your-employees-like-real-people.html

 

Books We Discussed

Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?, by Phillip Dick (1996). Kurt referenced this book by Phillip Dick when Tim mistakenly thought he was speaking of Isaac Asimov’s classic I Robothttps://www.penguinrandomhouse.com/books/40617/do-androids-dream-of-electric-sheep-by-philip-k-dick/9780345404473/

I Robot, by Isaac Asimov (1950). https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/I,_Robot

The Checklist Manifesto, by Atul Gawande, Picador (2011). http://atulgawande.com/book/the-checklist-manifesto/

Why We Sleep, by Matthew Walker, Simon & Schuster (2018). https://www.simonandschuster.com/books/Why-We-Sleep/Matthew-Walker/9781501144325

Why Buddhism is True, by Robert Wright, Simon & Schuster (2018). https://www.simonandschuster.com/books/Why-Buddhism-is-True/Robert-Wright/9781439195468

 

Papers & Studies We Discussed

Ariely, Dan. On Why Religion Makes You Behave Better, Slate. http://www.slate.com/blogs/the_wright_show/2012/07/05/why_religion_makes_you_behave_better.html

Brickman & Campbell, The Hedonic Treadmill (1971). http://faculty.som.yale.edu/ShaneFrederick/HedonicTreadmill.pdf?subject=Please+mail+a+hard+copy+of  …and… https://positivepsychologyprogram.com/hedonic-treadmill/ 

Hyman, Ira E., Jr., et. al. “Did You See the Unicycling Clown? Inattentional Blindness while Walking and Talking on a Cell Phone.” Applied Cognitive Psychology, 24: 597–607 (2010) 

Loewenstein, George. On bereavement and hedonic adaptation: https://www.cmu.edu/dietrich/sds/docs/loewenstein/HedonicAdaptation.pdf from Kahneman, Diener & Schwarz, Wellbeing: the foundations of hedonic psychology, Sage Foundation, 1999. 

Lyubomirsky, Sonja. On the key elements of happiness: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sonja_Lyubomirsky

Eye Tracking Experiment: https://ntrs.nasa.gov/archive/nasa/casi.ntrs.nasa.gov/20160006052.pdf

Trolley Car Study: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bOpf6KcWYyw

MIT Moral Machine: https://www.media.mit.edu/projects/moral-machine/overview/

 

Music We Discussed

Angus & Julia Stone. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f0feNWRd3FE

Pat Metheny, “One Quiet Night.” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_eY4qcaiWs8

Damien Rice

Nine Inch Nails

Ministry

Lynyrd Skynyrd "Freebird" 

Thomas Steenburgh, PhD is a senior professor of Business Administration and Senior Associate Dean at the Darden School of Business at the University of Virginia. Tom spent a good portion of his career in the corporate world and before he departed for academia, he held senior positions at Xerox Corporation, ending his work there as head of the US Direct Incentive Strategy with a budget of $140 million budget for 4,000 salespeople Tom has partnered with Mike Ahearne, PhD from the University of Houston (featured in a June 2018 episode of Behavioral Grooves) on extensive research related to the performance and management of sales reps.

Recently, the two of them developed ground-breaking research on how to help sales reps be more successful when they are asked to sell new products. Tom and Mike invested 5 years in gathering data from sales managers, salespeople, and even customers. The insights they gained were especially valuable for those working in sales leadership positions.

There were three primary discoveries we discussed with Tom. The first is that the best asset for a sales rep to have when it comes to selling new products is a learning mindset. A learning mindset, as described by Tom, is what comes from a sales rep’s innate curiosity about customers, their environment and their needs. As intuitive as that sounds, it’s a lot less common that we imagine.

Reps with learning mindsets spend more time discussing the market trends affecting the customers as well as the situations and the specific needs their customers have before they start into selling new products. This deep investigation into each customer’s situation contributes to increased success when they start selling. The downside is that it takes more time and reduces output while they’re doing that investigation. Sales managers who are anxious to keep the numbers up from month to month may struggle with this. Tom highlighted a few ways to work around this in the short term.

The second big discovery was the disconnect between sales reps and their customers in how they perceive the strengths of the reps. In other words, customers were asked to rate reps on a variety of scales and reps were asked to the same of themselves. When considering the rep’s strengths, customers tended to rate sales reps very differently than reps rated themselves. The only dimension the reps and customers agreed on was on the sales rep’s product knowledge. Customers were more likely to give reps lower scores on reps’ learning mindsets, adaptability and openness than the reps gave themselves. This revealed big blind spots.

The third big discovery was the role of the rep’s emotional wellbeing in the selling process. We recognize that selling new products can be hard on the reps, but it’s vital to the company’s long-term success. Tom’s research revealed that sales reps need to become change agents within the organization as well as masters to change their own selling methods. These changes, along with saving face with clients, can cause significant emotional challenges – a component that has been undervalued in the past.

It turns out that reps were surprised by the stark contrast between how easy it was to get customers to take meetings and how difficult it was to close deals after the initial interest. Unfortunately, most sales reps failed to do the deep investigation to understand who the best target for the new product would be, so many of their meetings were wastes of time.

We also talked about the importance of strategic account reps with their broader viewpoints and longer-term orientations and how they can be leaders in new product introductions. And we discussed Neil Rackham, the creator of SPIN selling and author of books on consultative selling.

Of course, we also discussed Tom’s eclectic tastes in music. Apparently, he has seemingly equal interest in the works of Philip Glass, great American contemporary composer of minimalist orchestral music and John Lurie and the Lounge Lizards, who are responsible for some of the greatest covers of Ornette Coleman’s classic sax tunes. But Tom also listens to the sweet and simple Americana melodies of Dave Rawlings and Gillian Welch. Not to be outdone with another left-turn, Tom paid special note to Kurt Weill, the early 20th century composer of The Threepenny Opera which featured the song “Mack The Knife” (lyrics by Berthold Brecht). It was popularized by Bobby Darin in 1958, then Ella Fitzgerald in her 1960 performance Live in Berlin, which we’ve referenced before as one of the greatest live recordings – ever. Our own notes included references to The Who’s Tommy and Pink Floyd’s The Wall.

In our grooving session, we expanded on Tom’s mention of learning mindset and we brought up Carol Dweck’s growth mindset. The intersection of these two concepts is very cool.

 

Finally, Kurt and Tim help companies with sales compensation, sales incentive structures and the selecting the most motivational rewards, don’t hesitate to start a conversation with us. You might be a sales leader with questions, and we can help answer them. We’d love to help your organization improve your bottom line with a behavioral lens.

Kurt Nelson, PhD: @whatmotivates 

Tim Houlihan: @thoulihan

 

 

Web site: www.behavioralgrooves.com

Subscriptions: https://behavioralgrooves.podbean.com/

 

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