From being a recording engineer at Prince's Paisley Park studios, to playing with the big-hair metal band Slave Raider to founding a successful Agile coaching business called Dev Jam, David Hussman has been forging his way one untraditional step at a time. 

Our interview with David quickly pegged him as the 'accidental behavioral scientist' and that played well throughout the discussion. We talked about chaos monkeys, constructionism, how important it is for Neil Young to know G-C-D chords (and to know what to do with them) and to do things that focus our attention on things that make people smile. 

Unlike pies and cakes, software development is never done. The behavioral aspects of how people interact with software - from the photo app on your phone to the way GPS could alert you gas stations nearby when you're low on fuel (connecting to your car's fuel system) or eateries (connecting your journey to the time of day) - need to be better constructed for the world we live in.

Hendrix vs. Van Halen - who would have thought it was such a difficult question. Listen in and find out. And check out David on Twitter at @davidhussman and let him know that Hendrix is the only correct answer.

 

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May 15, 2018

Nudge-A-Thon

Dr. Christina Gravert is a Post-Doc at the University of Gothenburg and Chief Behavioral Economist of Impactfully, a behavioral science consultancy. We talked to her from Gothenburg, Sweden, and we had a very interesting conversation about nudging. Christina has worked closely with Nobel laureate Richard Thaler and we thought she'd be a good one to talk to about nudging. 

Our discussion began by defining a nudge versus other policy or incentive decisions. We talked about how nudges came about, in part, because Richard Thaler started recording anomalies he witnessed in real-life behavior and how those behaviors were often at odds with what classical economic theories would have predicted.   We also talked about the evolving definition of Economic Utility and how it has morphed by the impact of behavioral economics. 

We also discussed utility functions in broader terms than simply time or financial utility. Although these are not new to the behavioral sciences, we found gravity in how our feelings of right and wrong are now included as a measure of utility. 

Most importantly, we had fun. Christina was a terrific interviewee and we are seriously going to pursue a Nudge-A-Thon in Minnesota in 2019!

You can follow her on twitter @C_A_Gravert.  

Christina offered a great song to define her passion for surfing: "Pefekte Welle" (Perfect Wave) by Juli. Sweet sounds and solid narrative. Highly recommended. 

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May 14, 2018

A New Leadership Model

In this episode, we spoke to Mark Horwitch, Partner for Co-Creation ~ Flexibility ~ Openness ~ Vision at Bain & Company about his remarkable new leadership model developed at Bain.

Leaders at Bain selected Mark to lead a team to develop a new leadership model with specific emphasis on improving employee retention and engagement.  He and his team examined thousands of leadership models in order to hone in on 32 distinct characteristics that they found drove leadership effectiveness. They discovered that leaders don't need to demonstrate all 32 characteristics to be effective. With just 4 of them, the leader can be seen as a truly inspirational.  The model can be found here or at www.bainleadership.com/leadership-model/.

We discussed whether the Peter Drucker model for management is dead and Mark’s comments might surprise you. 

Of course, we talked about music and discovered that the KINKS is one of his favorite bands – a group not known for being shy about their dispositions. Neither is Mark.

Enjoy the discussion with Bain and Associates’ Mark Horwitch.

 

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When Kurt and Tim founded the Behavioral Grooves, we wanted to glean insights into the applications of behavioral sciences from world-renowned researchers and practitioners. So far, so good! In this shorter episode, rather than interviewing a guest, we converse with each other about a topic near and dear to Kurt's heart: The 4 Drive Model. We discuss Lawrence & Nohria's development of the 4 Drive Model and how it's morphed over the years, how the model remained below the radar of corporate applications until a Harvard Business Review article appeared in 2008.

In this 31-minute discussion about the 4 Drive Model, you can learn about how it's been modified since it was first conceived and how it's being applied to organizational effectiveness, sales incentive design and employee engagement. 

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This episode’s guest is Kyle Simenson, a marketing consultant who noted that ‘When marketing is good, you can’t see it.’ His comment instantly brought questions of malevolent and benevolent use of marketing data along with intention and the lines marketers draw when considering the uses of behavioral sciences.

Kyle’s work in digital strategy is particularly relevant in a world where big data can generate highly-tailored messages and can incorporate nudges that appeal to the unconscious mind of the customers. We talked about, on some levels, marketing is entirely behavioral. POC and SEM. Automation tools that observe the dynamics of human behavior. We discussed books from “Predictably Irrational” to the “Undoing Project” to Tim Ferriss’ book, “Tribe of Mentors” and they inspire Kyle to deliver insights to his clients. Our conversation also uncovered that Kyle is a not-so-in-the-closet Rolling Stones fan and “Tumbling Dice” would be his theme song.

We hope you enjoy this episode as much as we did recording it.

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When we started our conversation with Silke Brittain by talking about her thrill-seeking nature and her background in gymnastics, we couldn't have predicted the deep conversation about influence mapping inside organizations. Silke is the managing director at Clearvoice.agency based in the UK and works with corporations to help them map communication pathways to determine ways to change the cultures of organizations. 

She shared research that 3% of the people in an organization account for as much as 85% of the organization's change, all through informal influence. Her rigorous approach to analyzing situations, developing solutions based on informal communication, and creating influence maps inspired us to want to return to Clearvoice.agency's projects in the future. 

Silke revealed that her theme song would be "We Are The Champions" by Queen, a UK band known for its subtle and informal influence on the world! Tim noted in the Grooving Session that one of his favorite UK bands is Tankus The Henge, led by frontman and sideshow barker Jaz Delorean, and Kurt jumped in by noting the carnival-style antics of Johnny on Wash Day, from Kurt's days at Somerfest, in Wisconsin. Ah, life is good with music. 

Listen. Enjoy. Share. Repeat.

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Bernardo Nunes, PhD believes that applying behavioral sciences to startups is the fastest way to get entrepreneurs up and running in a fast-changing world. At Growth Academy in Amsterdam, the students work in small teams over three months to build a company with the help of sophisticated machine learning tools as well as knowledgeable coaches and teachers. 

In our conversation with Bernardo, we spoke at length about the ethics and regulations surrounding data privacy, how an article in The New York Times featuring David Laibson, PhD got Bernardo started down this path and how Frank Zappa's 3-song "Hot Rats" album would be his go-to for desert island listening. We had an important discussion about the interplay between policy and marketing and how they influence each other. 

There is some background noise occasionally but we don't think it inhibits the quality of the interview. We hope you enjoy it.

Music: Theme song "Everywhere You Go" by Tim Houlihan and transitional music "Transfiguration" by Jon James. Used by permission. 

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"One begins with a judgment and ends with a judgment, and the purpose of facts and figures is to come in between them is to make the one you end with more accurate." This wise comment came from the grand-dad of Kal Turnbull, the founder of Change My View in the Reddit community. 

In this interview, Kal shares his discoveries with a community of over 520,000 people willing to engage in civil discourse about views they currently don't buy into. The conversation began with a definition of Fisking (it's not dirty!) and when to consider using it and when not to.

Called by Elon Musk as the "most civil place on the web," Kal's community exchanges ideas in a way unlike anywhere else in our world. Kal noted that good conversations on opposing views require (1) Tone that avoids shame and accusation, (2) a general sense of dispassion (although passion is not a bad thing overall), and (3) Data to support the argument. Ultimately, Kal cites Socrates as the great example of engaging someone in a view-changing discussion. 

Maybe most important of all our discussion topics was the comment: We don't ALWAYS need a view. Chew on that one for a while!

Kal is also a musician and, of course, we engaged in chatter about songwriting and performing. All enjoyable for us and we hope you enjoy it, too. 

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Charlotte Blank, Chief Behavioral Officer at Maritz, says her job is 'selling science.' In this interview, held immediately before our meetup gathering in Minneapolis in February 2018, Charlotte describes research she conducted with Leslie John, Tami Kim, and Kate Barasz to create a recent HBR article titled "Ads That Don't Overstep." Their work yielded two very simple and important messages about communication: 1. Don't talk behind someone's back,  2. Don't make assumptions. In the world of big data, machine learning and algorithm-driven communication, marketers need to pay close attention to these.

An early part of our discussion was on Charlotte's fascination with Franz DeWaal's work with monkeys, bonobos and the mysterious octopus! This led to a discussion about fairness as a key principle in program design and if you're not familiar with DeWaal's seminal work with capuchin monkeys, check it out here

We discussed the now-famous Target advertising case where the company promoted pregnancy-related products to young women based on their buying habits and in one case, neither the woman nor her parents knew she was pregnant. There's a line to pay attention to and it has to do with the two guidelines noted above. 

Charlotte also mentioned a couple of excellent books that she's recently read: Melissa Dahl, publisher of Science of Us, has a new book called "Cringeworthy, A Theory of Awkwardness" and Seth Stephens-Davidowitz's new book called "Everybody Lies" are top picks for those curious about human behavior. 

The theme music in this episode, like all the other Behavioral Grooves music, is composed and played by Tim Houlihan. We are grateful to Jon James allowing us to use his work "Transfiguration" during intro and outro of the interview.  

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Todd Fonseca is an executive in clinical research and communication for Medtronic and holds an interesting array of certifications including Certified Body Language Trainer. He is also the founder of the Anti-Networking Network Meetup and likes to ask meetup guests "What would be your superpower for a hour?" Needless to say, the interview brought interesting concepts to the floor and we had fun doing it.

The interview with Todd included short discussions on the placebo effectsituational awareness, and a lengthy discussion of Paul Ekman PhD's work on microexpressions. The seven key microexpressions (Happiness, Sadness, Anger, Disgust, Contempt, Fear and Surprise) are foundational to human communication and found to be universal - in other words, they exist among people everywhere on the planet. Our conversation delved deep into the identification and application of them. 

We grooved on the themes of the importance of having these microexpressions in our communication toolbox and talked about music from the Oh, Hello's and Robert Finley, an artist recently produced by Dan Auerbach of the Black Keys. 

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