Search Results for “bike” – Behavior Matters!

Search results: "bike"

A bike, some lights and motivation: what a stationary bike hooked up to an LED panel of lights can teach us about motivation!

Kurt Nelson, PhD and Ben Granlund

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As part of our exhibit booth at the World at Work 2016 Total Rewards Conference, we designed a method for giving away our promotional t-shirts that simultaneously acted as an experiment to help us understand what motivates people.

What we found out was intriguing and reinforces some key behavioral insights about intrinsic and extrinsic motivation, recognizing accomplishments and having specific goals.

Our process involved a stationary bike that was hooked up to a bank of LED lights1 – the faster and longer you peddled, the more lights lit up, sounds basic enough right?

The six LED light panels set up on a vertical pole that lit up from the bottom to the top – once all six lights were lit up, all the lights flashed and the process was over.

We set our process up a little differently

To earn a very cool “Behavior Matters” t-shirt, all people needed to do was get on the bike and light up one of the lights.

We did not require that people light all six lights, and we did not assign a time length for peddling to earn a t-shirt.  All they had to do was light up one light – a relatively easy process.IMG_4473

Additionally, people could get their name written on our leader board if they were one of the five fastest people to light up all the lights.  This white board with hand written names on it was updated whenever someone earned one of the top five spots.

Our original concept was to have people read one of two sets of written rules – one positive and encouraging; the other bland and discouraging.  The intent was to see if the different messages impacted how people performed or felt about the activity.  We quickly realized that our original plans were not working – too many people wanted to ride the bike and the process ended up being us telling participants the rules instead of them reading them thus invalidating the initial study.

Luckily for us, this is where things got interesting!

Results

While the original communication experiment didn’t pan out, we were still able to gather very interesting findings.  Specifically we were intrigued by some of the insights we gained into extrinsic and intrinsic motivation, the power of leader boards, and the impact that specific goals have on performance.  First, let’s look at the overall results:

A total of 103 people rode the bike over the two days the exhibit hall was open (some participants rode multiple times).  Their performance is shown in table below.

Highest number of lights lit up 1 2 3 4 5 6
# of people achieving level 1 0 6 14 34 48
% of people achieving level 0.9% 0.0% 5.8% 13.6% 33.0% 46.6%
Average time to reach level
(in seconds)
15 0 68.7 46.1 32.5 20.6

The average ride time was 31.7 seconds – with the fastest time being 4.8 seconds and the longest time being 80 seconds.   There is some obvious differences based on physical fitness here as shown by the inverse time required to reach the different levels of lights (i.e., more time on average to reach 3 lights than 4 lights, etc.) which played out in how well people did.

Insights

Do you just want a shirt or are you looking for something more? 

We needed to have an incentive to get most people on the bike.  True, there were some who just wanted to get on the bike and see how many lights they could get, but the vast majority of the people got on the bike to earn the t-shirt.  In other words, they needed an extrinsic reward to participate.

But that’s not the interesting part…

The interesting part was that only one person stopped at the first light (1 out of 103, that’s less than 1%)!  Once they were on, the majority of participants moved past the threshold for earning a t-shirt and continued peddling to see what they could do.  This was not easy – we had the settings on the bike be rather hard. This meant that peddling for more than 15 seconds was difficult for most non-athletes.

We believe once they started the activity, they intrinsic motivation of the bike  kicked in.  The lights tracked their progress immediately and they could directly see how they were doing against the goal.  They wanted to see what they could accomplish.  They no longer worried about the t-shirt – but instead, focused on the event.

 In other words, they challenged themselves to see how many lights could they light up?

They had already committed to participate in order to acquire a t-shirt (the reward) – now they were pushing beyond what was required for the shirt because of the challenge that they were presented with.  If we think about the 4-Drive Model of Employee Motivation (for more info see here, here, here) we see that the Acquire component was instrumental in the motivation to initiate the event, but the ongoing motivation was propelled by the intrinsic drive to Challenge oneself and see how they could do.

Application:

The idea of using an extrinsic motivator to entice people to participate in programs or activities that they are not excited about and then allowing their natural Challenge drive take-over should not be undervalued.  Additionally, the more that a program uses a measure of goal progression, highlighting an individual’s progress, the more a participants Challenge drive is activated.  In other words, the design of your extrinsic incentive program can impact the intrinsic motivation that is activated. Finding cohesion between these extrinsic and intrinsic motivators can certainly help drive the right behaviors.

What’s up with the leader board?

We had a leader board where riders got their name featured if they were one of the five fastest people to light up all six lights.  They did not earn any additional extrinsic reward for being on the leader board – no fancy give-away, no grand prize, not even an extra t-shirt.

So did it make a difference?

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Behavioral Science “Beneath the Surface” – The Power of Rational Thoughts in Unnatural Environments

Got a cool story about applying behavioral science in a unique setting? Send it to us here!

Earlier this year I completed my PADI dive certification in San Diego, CA. Becoming dive certified has been a goal of mine for many years, one that had been consistently pushed off by either alternate priorities or due to time, financial, or geographic limitations.

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Top 5 survival tips for small businesses – guest blog by Paul Schoening (2 of 3)

The following is the second of 3 posts from our guest blogger Paul Schoening, President of Plan C.  He is bringing a unique perspective on what it takes for a small business to survive.  In his first post (here) he talked about the difficulty of starting a business based on passion and how that passion is both good and bad.  He discussed how entrepreneurs need to look at building a sustainability plan and not a business plan.  In this blog are his next two tips.  Over the next few weeks, the final post will outline the final two survival tips.  Enjoy!

2.  Show me the money:  When starting a new business, oftentimes entrepreneurs focus on sales revenue or profit figures to assess how they are doing.  I know I did.  In fact, we had record sales in our final quarter as a business and yet we couldn’t make it last.  money

While it is good to be profitable and increase sales – it is absolutely critical to have a positive cash flow!  You need to have enough cash flow to give yourself time to get off the ground and pay your ongoing bills. Fast growth and increased sales are great, but this can create a sense of overconfidence that can skew your decision-making especially with early business success. Conversely, when times are challenging and a business owner is under pressure we can easily make rash decisions fueled by emotion, not logic (i.e., “how the hell am I going to pay for this?”).

One example of cash flow issues was custom cabinet seller M&J Kitchens – who had survived the Great Recession even when its revenue from homeowners and builders dropped by more than half in 2009.  They weathered the storm.  Then, late in 2011, with sales almost 42 percent higher than the prior year, they were unable to pay their bills and owner Drew Davies was forced to shut the  26-year-old company down. What happened?  M&J highlights how important cash flow is.  The issue was a “cash-flow crisis precipitated by his bank and trading partners, who Davies says, abandoned payment agreements that had been in place for decades.”  M&J’s cash inflows were coming in slower and it’s payments still needed to be made. In this instance “M&J had to float their customers—builders, architects, and home remodelers—who had slowed their payments, typically from 30 days to 60 or 90. At the same time, his own suppliers changed agreements that had been in place for decades by cutting credit lines or requiring deposits, which Davies says could tie up between $60,000 and $120,000 per month.”  After more than 25 years of business, the company was forced out of business, not because sales were down, but because it couldn’t cover its cash flow.

Source: Businessweek.com February, 2011

What happened to M&J is not atypical.  It can happen to all of us.  Which is why we need to have cash flow plan.  One way of looking at this to think about how much cash is required to make payroll, pay suppliers, and cover other expenses each month – then figure how many months of cash reserve you will need to have if things don’t go smoothly.  In my case with the bike business, I usually looked out 3 to 4 months.  I should have been looking out 6 to 9 months.  Each business is different – so think hard about what a downturn or change in situation would mean to you.  How fast do your customers pay?  How long can you push out your own payments.

One way to avoid these mistakes is by finding a great accountant or financial consultant and using them to map out a plan for this.  Look at ways you can collect money faster by offering discounts for payments early or requiring a deposit.  See how you can restructure payments on goods and services that you use.  Look at payroll differently – offset high bi-weekly pay by using quarterly or annual bonuses that provide flexibility for you and rewards your employees for great work.  If  you can’t afford to hire an accountant full-time, there are many firms that you can outsource part of the accounting of the business to or hire in for consulting.  The voice of reality (a shrewd accountant) will keep you in check.

3.  Double the time you think it will take:  Time is a resource that is often underestimated when starting a new adventure.  In the passion of developing out this great new idea, we forget about how long things can take.  Particularly the little things.   You can celebrate that you are the President or CEO of your business and be very happy to have the title. But you are also the janitor, the sales person, marketer and customer service rep. You need time to handle all of these responsibilities, take time to do research and to ensure that you are continuing your education and staying on top of the latest trends and facets of the marketplace.

Here are a few examples of some rough time estimates that an entrepreneurial friend put together for me for some of the things that he does that are not part of his core business.

  • Accounts payable: 2 hours per week
  • Accounts receivable: 1 hour per week
  • Payroll: 1 hour per week
  • Social Media Outreach: 3 hours per week
  • Developing marketing campaign: 2 hours per week (varies, but this is an average)
  • HR: 1 hour a week (up to 8 hours a week when issues arise with employees or when hiring)
  • Scheduling: 1 hour per week
  • Responding to sales requests: 1 hour per week
  • Networking: 2-4 hours per week
  • Miscellaneous (IT trouble shooting, equipment purchase/repair, responding to solicitations, etc..): 2 hours per week

This totals up to over a day and a half out of the week for work doesn’t even include business development, sales, or anything that has to do with the work that drives value for his customers (granted, he could probably reduce his Social Media Outreach – I mean really, 3 hours on Twitter, Linked-In and Facebook?).

One way to overcome this time crunch is to look at outsourcing some of the functions of your business so you can focus on the areas of which you have immediate control and greatest value-add. This might require you to increase your outflow of cash (which can be troublesome – see #2) but if it can allow you the time to focus on the important things for success, then it is worth it.  Another option is to think outside of the “box” and look at creating partnerships and alliance where you can trade services or leverage each others core competencies.

Top 5 survival tips for small businesses – guest blog by Paul Schoening (1 of 3)

The following is the first of 3 posts from our guest blogger Paul Schoening, President of Plan C.  He is bringing a unique perspective on what it takes for a small business to survive.  Over the next few weeks, the remaining posts will outline the other survival tips.  Enjoy!

In today’s climate, it seems like we are seeing more people start their own businesses. Often this first business is based on something that they are passionate about.  That isn’t always a bad idea, but sometimes it can cloud our judgment.

I launched my first startup in 2004 in an industry that was also my passion: Cycling. I assumed if there were enough people like me who were passionate about high-end European bike products, my business would thrive. But just because you like cupcakes, doesn’t mean you will thrive in the cupcake business.

As they say, proof is in the data…

Less than 1 in 3 new companies are still around at the 10 year mark.  The chart below shows the proportion of new businesses that were founded in 1992 that were still in business each year for the next 10 years*.

Source; www.smallbiztrends.comIllusions of Entrepreneurship: The Costly Myths that Entrepreneurs, Investors, and Policy Makers Live ByApril 28, 2008

*While these data look at the 1992 cohort of new single-establishment businesses, the failure rate percentages are almost identical for all the cohorts that researchers have looked at. So, these are pretty much the one through ten year survival rates of new firms.

For me, my passion skewed my business planning and although we had great success in the first 2 years, the final 2 were difficult, ultimately resulting in my divestiture out of the business.  Technically, we did just about everything right: created a business plan, networked effectively, and continually grew sales.  However, we didn’t focus on a sustainable business model that took into account how we’d overcome changes in the marketplace.  For me, it was a fluctuating (i.e., rising) exchange rate that we couldn’t overcome.   Here are the five, sometimes contrarian thoughts, on small business survival based on what I’ve learned:
1. Don’t build a business plan: Wait a minute — aren’t business plans supposed to be Entrepreneurship 101? What about all those popular books telling you that you can’t get to first base without a plan? Not always. To survive, you definitely need to understand the market. You need to know who your competition is, what are the products/services available in the marketplace, who are your potential customers and what is your differentiating value proposition.  But that doesn’t mean you have to create a business plan to achieve that.

One question in a 2002 survey of Inc 500 founders asked whether they had written formal business plans before they launched their companies. Only 40% said yes. Of those, 65% said they had strayed significantly from their original conception, adapting their plans as they went along.  That means that less than 15% built a business plan that they followed.   In a similar vein, only 12% of this year’s Inc 500 group said they’d done formal market research before starting their companies.

Source: Inc. Oct 15, 2002

More important than a “business plan”, you need a sustainable business model that ebbs and flows with your success and growth.  Something that allows you to quickly adapt to new opportunities or threats (i.e., rising exchange rates).

Neither Bill Gates nor Mark Zuckerberg had business plans. They did however create sustainable models for continued growth and survival.  To do this, you must understand what drives your business, your profits and your sales – and understanding what the potential hazards are.   You can help achieve this by forming a small advisory group who meet regularly to bring a “non-passionate” perspective to the table.   These people can provide you with a sounding board so you don’t get stuck in a quagmire because you are only looking at things from your “passion” base.

It is important that this group of advisors has people on it who are willing to be contrarian and point out flows in reasoning and judgment.  The group needs people who are willing to challenge your opinion and assumptions.  It is also nice to have advisors who can advise you in areas where you are not as strong or familiar (i.e., finance or marketing).   Finally, the group needs people who will also bring in ideas and create synergies with other ideas.

Focus on getting the right mix of advisors to take on these roles.  Sometimes that means a bunch of people – other times many roles can be filled by just a few or even just one.  Make sure that you set up regular check-ins with these people.  It doesn’t have to be formal – you can get together with one or two over lunch every month or quarter.  You can go to a basketball game with them.  But make sure that it happens more than just by happenstance.

Confusing your hobby and passion with a good business model is a common mistake. With my “Cycle Import” company I soon learned that it’s not always passion that creates success, but a flexible business model that is sustainable beyond the terminal 3-5 year window.   I could have used a few trusted advisors to help me look out at that time horizon before it was too late.

Comment:

Please let us know what you think by leaving a comment.  Our next blog posting will be up first part of next week…part II.

Why I Hate Training Wheels

Riding a bike

My 4-year old son just got his bike a few weeks ago.  He is in heaven.  Ask him what his favorite thing in the world to do is, and he will tell you, “Ride my bike!”  He wants to ride it everywhere…which is fantastic. He is definitely motivated!

I have one problem…he won’t ride it without training wheels.

We tried.  The first four days I was out with him every day, running up and down the sidewalk, holding on to the bike as he peddled.  But he was too scared.  He would stop peddling anytime the bike tilted.  He would always look back to make sure I was there (which caused him to turn the wheel and tilt the bike to one side and then stop peddling).  He would stop and say he wanted to go slower.

And the problem was he was actually doing a good job riding on his own.  He was able to go a fair way with me just running beside him and not supporting the bike.  I would let go and he would be riding just fine.

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