January 2011 – Page 2 – Behavior Matters!

Month: January 2011

There is always that one client who drives you NUTS…

This is a true story of what happened to me and one client.Driving me nuts

It began in August.  I was contracted to conduct an analysis for a company that will remain unnamed.  The analysis looked at some specific aspects around a new product launch and involved interviewing a number of executives and sales people from across the organization.  In all I did over 40 hours of interviews.  I spent twice that amount of time analyzing the interview responses, finding patterns and insights that applied to their specific situation, assessing linkages and developing insights.

I created a comprehensive report that included an executive summary, detailed findings, recommendations for success, and a large section with selected verbatim comments from the interviews.

I thought it was pretty good.  We uncovered a lot of useful information regarding the launch process,  the sales force readiness, and the work that needed to happen leading up to the launch that could really help the company be more successful.  We had taken the pulse of the organization and reported it back in a clear and informative manner.

I’m not just tooting my own horn – the client was very pleased with the content and the findings also.  No really he was. In fact, he stated in an e-mail, “I’m very happy with the content and findings and I’m glad I used your services…”

Great.  Well done.  End of story – right?

Not so fast… you knew something else was coming….

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Risk vs Reward – which is the more powerful motivator

This interview with Daniel Kahneman talks about his Nobel award winning work on Prospect Theory.  There is some very interesting insights into how people behave in a risk vs reward type situation.  This has some implications for incentives and motivation.  How do we need to structure our reward models in response to this?

You have more than me! Thoughts on fairness and 4 ways to make it better.

by Timblair

My four year old son was playing trains downstairs with two of his friends last week.  It was going great until one of the friends somehow ended up with 5 train cars while my son only had 4.  This sent my four year old into a tizzy in which he stomped out of the room and sulked on the floor in the kitchen.

“He has more than me.” was the response I got when I asked him what was wrong.

So trying to think quickly and forgetting that I was dealing with a four year old, I asked him if he had been having fun playing with four trains before he realized that his friend had five?  “Yes…but it’s not fair.  He won’t share and he has more.

My equally “way-too-old” for a four year old response was, “but right now you have none – which is more fun, playing with four or playing with none?” I thought I had him here….

He looked at me with a quizzical stare and held up his hand with all five fingers out – “Five!” he said in response with 100% conviction.  Ahh yes, I’m dealing with a four year old mind.

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200 years of history in 4 minutes – fascinating!

This is 4 of the most interesting minutes I’ve spent in a long time…

What are the implications for this?

Creating a non-event

Non eventWhat happens when something doesn’t happen?

No, that was not a rhetorical question.

Do we recognize the importance of something because it didn’t happen or do we dismiss it since it really never happened?

Wally Bock in his Three Star Leadership letter from 12/31/10 wrote about Peter de Jager who was the first person to identify that computers might have a problem with the year 2000 and how their dates were formatted.  One of the lessons that Wally takes from this is,

“Peter de Jager Lesson Nr 1: It may be glorious to ride to the rescue after a crisis hits, but it is far more productive to head off a crisis and create a non-event.”

We are a society that loves the rescuer but often derides the person who makes the non-event. Think about it…de Jager was blasted as being a fear monger and spreading a bunch of hype (see some of the response right after Y2K here) for his warnings.   We don’t know how big of an impact Y2K would have had without the massive upfront work done on it… and yes it might have been overkill…but again, we don’t really know.   That is core of the problem.

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86,400 seconds

86,400 seconds.

What’s going to motivate you in 2011?

Every year people make New Years resolutions.  For too many people, those resolutions are too soon forgotten and ignored.

Does that have anything to do with motivation?

To a degree – yes! I believe that it is about how we channel our motivation and keep it going.

I believe that most people are highly motivated to achieve their New Years resolutions whether it focus on weight loss or being a better parent.  Just as we are motivated to achieve certain goals at work, and yet often fail.  The problem is usually not in the initial stages where everyone is excited about the new resolution or goal (go to a gym in the next week or two and see how crowded it is).  The problem occurs when that initial excitement wains, and we fall back into the comfortable and routine.  We might try to regain that edge after one or two fall-off the wagon episodes, but pretty soon we tend to just ignore it or forget about it all together.

What we need is to have a motivational engine that keeps us going. We need to fill that motivational engine with the right type of gas and make sure that the engine is tuned up and ready to go. We need to make sure that we have enough gas to refill when it starts running low.  We need to know when to get it tuned up and change the oil.   We need to make sure that we can fix it when it breaks down.

I think all of our motivational engines are within us.  It is the scheduled maintenance and filling it up that we so often lag on.  What type of gas do you run on?   Is it a personal motivation?  Does it require a reward?  Is it social?  Does it need the turbo power of passion?  Is it a mixture of all four?

In order to achieve our goals we need to understand this about us and put elements in place to ensure that we fill our tank regularly and do all the scheduled maintenance required.

What about you – what’s your motivational fuel for 2011?

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