Metrics Mitigate Misunderstanding

July 27, 2014 Affective LeadershipAssociation InsightsDiagnosticsEmotional IntelligencePeer Powered PerformancePositive Deviance  No comments

The commonality in all the recent books I have been studying recently is their counter conventional use of metrics.  Most people are highly adept at finding “facts” to support their preconceptions. Each of these authors does the opposite. They don’t begin with conclusions but use data to dispel our illusions.  Sal Khan didn’t follow the crowd, he followed the facts growing a nonprofit educational academy from an idea to 10 million unique users each month.  

The Nobel laureate Daniel Kahneman is probably the most renowned for his discoveries and many of these authors use something from Kahneman’s research to tell their stories.  The problem is that even as an audio book Thinking Fast and Slow is 22 hours and very dry.  My point is they all require more than reading to become part of our awareness.  I debated with a book group about this and was censored by their seniority.  They are no longer in existence. 

The key is to break learning into small bits of information and large opportunities for practice. Understanding the uncontrollable influence of System One Thinking it helps to have lots of people pulling apart our illusory interpretations.  

 See a slideshow of the 100 biases and heuristics that distort our thinking.  This is why I promote the use of an internal collaborative tool to replace the email.  Read Death by Email.

Malcolm Gladwell BooksLet me begin with David and Goliath.  About chapter seven you will find a great study about how the world’s foremost, post WWII, think tank the Rand Corporation got their understanding of the use of power totally wrong.  It applies to the three strikes laws, 30 years of violence in Northern Ireland and anyone who thinks that coercive power is real power.  Along the way you will learn why pushing your kids to get into the best schools may be one of your worst mistakes and how the Nazi 267 day aerial assault on London backfired by stimulating the “distant miss” resilience response. 

Jonah Lehrer’s Imagine and John Medina’s Brain Rules both use neuroscience to unravel our motivations.  Our NEED to be right is addictive, but according to Lehrer in How We Decide only half as addictive (habit forming) as our NEED not to be wrong.

The Power of Positive Deviance, The Starfish and the Spider both address the real understanding that lasting transformational does not come from the top down or inside out but from our peers.  In the same vein as Here Comes Everybody (audio) by Clay Shirky we learn that the lowered transactional cost of new forms of collaboration has shifted the balance of power away from spans of control to circles of influence.

The one person who has really put these ideas all together to revolutionize a heritage organization already growing at 30% is Vineet Nayar (wiki).  His Book Employees First Customers Second is the best first-hand account of the stages, impediments, successes and failures of inverting a 50,000 employee company.  He has not only received numerous International HR awards but is considered to be one of the greatest thinkers in modern management.  A short list of the results of his approach in his first 4 years as CEO:

  • HCLT’s customer base grew  5 fold

  • Employee attrition was cut by 50%

  • Employee satisfaction increased by 70%

  • HCLT tripled both revenues and operating income.

All of this after gathering all his top customers to tell them they were #2

The Power of HabitThe Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg will make you rethink why you do everything.  Why is the fruit in the front of the grocery store?  How does Target know what you want before you do?  Why casinos don’t just have a “house advantage” but they will stop at nothing to take your house.  Can you recognize addiction on an FMRI?  If so should those addicted be treated the same as those who are not?  Re-examining The King’s Cross subway station fire of 1987 (video) you realize the media had it all wrong.  This was not a natural disaster but that 27 people we killed by an organization that valued positional power over absolute honesty which brings me to Dan Ariely a professor in Behavioral Economics.

If you NEED to believe you are honest and forthright you should probably not read any of Dr. Ariely’s books by.  He’ll prove again and again that we are all liars and we lie all the time.   When you get to the most dishonest group of all you will never see your nonprofit board or beneficent organization the same way ever again.

The more we engage others in the process the greater the benefits of application.  P3 started simply as a system for providing transformational training in short easily transferable bites.   The system uses a combination of education, collaboration and illustration to start conversations that lead to sustainable transformations.  How does this impact HR read this short article Balancing HR and Humanity



P.s.  It helps to have a provocateur in your studies.  Ideally someone willing to disagree without being disagreeable. (:


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