Behavior Matters! | Harnessing the power of behavioral science to improve how organizations, leaders, and people work

Sculpting Motivation – Maximizing your Total Rewards with Behavioral Science

This article highlights the key learnings from Kurt’s presentation at the “2020 World at Work Spotlight on Sales Conference”. The original slide deck is available below.

Man screaming into phone exhibiting bad sales behavior
Rewards Programs are a Key Driver of Sales Behavior

In 1937, paleontologist Gustav von Koeningswald was working on the island of Java in Southeast Asia, searching for new evidence of our early human ancestors.  To achieve this goal, he needed to find fossils, and the apex of fossils was the skull. With an intact skull, paleontologists are better able to distinguish between ape and human. 

But skulls were rarely are found intact. 

Instead, paleontologists needed to piece together a multitude of small skull fragments in a complex 3D puzzle.  It was difficult work – difficult to find all the pieces and difficult to fit them together in the right way to reform the original skull. 

To help alieve the burden of searching and finding the skull pieces, von Koeningswald enlisted the help of people from the local village.  He did this by giving them an incentive. He paid them 10 cents per skull fragment that they delivered to him.   

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Understand Your Brain – Better Decisions, Improved Habits, Happiness & More!

In a continued effort to make behavioral science and behavioral economics more accessible, The Lantern Group and The Behavioral Grooves Podcast are building resources to help you make more informed decisions, understand your influences (and how you influence), understand biases, improve happiness, build better habits and more. This includes a self assessment to help decide which behavioral science or behavioral economics book to read and The 100 Behaviors Project – a weekly exploration of human biases and behaviors. Check them both out below.

Behavioral Learning Self-Assessment

The self-assessment below combines 30+ years of collective experience in behavioral science to help you determine which of our top 40 books will be the most beneficial to you. Take it now and start (or continue) learning! If you have already read the recommendation, reach out in the form below or email behavior@lanterngroup.com with your result and we will recommend 2 or 3 alternates!

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Identifying Friction in Your Organization

Friction is defined by Merriam-Webster as “the force that resists relative motion between two bodies in contact” or “the clashing between two parties of opposed views.”   

Identifying Organizational Friction
Organizational Friction

In our last article, we identified three types of organizational friction (the resistance points within a company that limit its performance). Those friction points were caused by oversight or shortcomings in Policy, Culture, and Environment. Each type of organizational friction has its own unique root causes and manifests itself differently within a company.

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Podcast Mania!

As the popularity of the Behavioral Grooves podcast continues to skyrocket, cohost Kurt Nelson, PHD – President and founder of The Lantern Group – has been featured across the airwaves (podwaves?) on an exciting and growing list of podcasts of all shapes and sizes.

Emotions, Performance, Motivation, Culture, Running and more all involve Behavioral Science

Below is a list of the most recent features with a quick blurb about the subject. There are lots of fun conversations here, so check them out and give one (or all) a listen and share!

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Is Organizational Friction Costing you Money?

Organizational friction is not a common term, yet it could be one of the biggest reasons that your company is not performing to its full potential.

How much is friction costing you?

Friction in human terms is the unnecessary resistance that a person encounters when trying to achieve a task. Organizational friction is the resistance created by policy, social, or environmental factors within a company.

Bad organization friction creates unnecessary resistance within an organization and impedes performance. It causes wasted time, wasted energy wasted resources, and overall frustration. Good organizational friction creates positive resistance that discourages negative behavior, sloppy thinking or risky shortcuts. 

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How to Shape Company Culture Through Communication

Words matter.

A study conducted by Gary Latham PhD, replaced 12 words in an e-mail from a company president to his employees to demonstrate the power of word choice.

 A Powerful Reinforcement Loop With a Common Thread
A Powerful Reinforcement Loop With a Common Thread

Half of the company received the president’s original e-mail and half of the company received the same e-mail with 12 achievement-focused words added in. The result? After a week, objectively measured performance showed an increase in effectiveness by 15% and efficiency by 35% for the employees who received the achievement centric email.

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Good Prime – Bad Prime

Priming, in relation to human behavior, is the idea that exposure to an external stimulus can subconsciously trigger our brains to drive specific behaviors.

messaging and communicating

A study in Daniel Kahneman’s “Thinking Fast and Slow” examined how a simple word could prime the brain to think differently in a similar situation. Subjects were exposed to one of two words and then shown the letters “SO_P” and asked to fill in the blank.

People who were exposed to the word “eat” prior to the exercise were more likely to fill in the letter “U” (SOUP), and those exposed to the word “shower” were more like to fill in the letter “A” (SOAP).

In this situation, the first word they were exposed to impacted their interpretation of the blank letter and completed word. This is a simple example, but priming can also cause us to unconsciously engage in behaviors both good and bad.

Let’s looks at some examples in the real world. 

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The Key to a Great Company: Great Culture

Have you ever experienced a company with a culture so powerful that you notice it immediately? There is a positive tone in the conversation, a joyful way in which people interact, a different feeling that you get walking through the door.    

Those companies are rare.   

It is more likely you’ve experienced a company with a culture that is toxic. One where the tone of the conversation is so negative that it instantly brings you down, were the interactions between employees seem hostile, and where you would like to run out the door shortly after entering.   

Luckily, those companies are also rare.  

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Identifying the Root Cause – Employee Issues are Human Issues

By Kurt Nelson, Ph.D.

If only employees were robots. 

If we were robots, then when we are underperforming or not working, a simple diagnostic process would show us where the issue is. We would need to determine if it was a hardware or software issue, work through the bugs, and identify the component issues. It might be hard, but it is a structured process that a sound engineer can handle. And in the end, you know when you get it right because the issue is solved.  

But we are not robots. We are human.   

Employees are not robots

We are complex, context-driven, emotional, overstressed, and irrational. We often tell people what we think they want to hear, not what we really feel. We tend to avoid conflict and repress our feelings. Hell, we don’t even understand our feelings a lot of the time.  

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Communication is Key and we are Messing it up!

By Kurt Nelson, Ph.D. & Ben Granlund

Overall, organizations communicate poorly. There, we said it.

Whether it’s too much, too little, bad messaging, or something else – corporations struggle to communicate impactfully with their employees. 

corporations struggle to communicate
How Many Companies Communicate

This is a much larger problem than most people or companies realize. 

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