Manage By Walking Around http://jonathanbecher.com Aligning Execution With Strategy Mon, 06 May 2019 01:42:05 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.9.10 https://i2.wp.com/jonathanbecher.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/06/cropped-jb-logo.jpg?fit=32%2C32 Manage By Walking Around http://jonathanbecher.com 32 32 56894116 Excessive Fanaticism in Sports http://jonathanbecher.com/2019/05/05/excessive-fanaticism-in-sports/ http://jonathanbecher.com/2019/05/05/excessive-fanaticism-in-sports/#comments Mon, 06 May 2019 01:42:05 +0000 http://jonathanbecher.com/?p=7302 One of the things I love about my job is the unbridled passion of our fans. I’m continuously in awe of the many ways people express their love for the San Jose Sharks. When was the last time someone tattooed the logo of a technology company or bank on their body? Being a supporter of...

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One of the things I love about my job is the unbridled passion of our fans. I’m continuously in awe of the many ways people express their love for the San Jose Sharks. When was the last time someone tattooed the logo of a technology company or bank on their body?

Being a supporter of a team gives a person a psychological connection to the team and a sense of belonging. In a very real sense, they feel like a member of the team. It’s why fans refer to the team in the first person: ‘we won’ or ‘we lost.’ Research by Daniel Wann, psychology professor at Murray State University, shows that the more someone identifies with a team, the less they feel alienated or lonely and the more self-esteem and positive emotions they have.

The challenge is when passionate fandom evolves into excessive fanaticism. It’s one thing to have unwavering support for your team; it’s yet another to lash out against supporters of another. As Tamryn Spruill wrote,

A fan has a measure of control about his or her enthusiasm; a fanatic does not. A fan may not like seeing a person wearing a rival team’s jersey in their city, but it’s a fleeting moment of disdain. An [excessive] fanatic, however, will mad dog the rival fan until he or she challenges the person to a fight or gets the hell out of there.

There’s an old saying that ‘sports don’t build character, they reveal it.’ If people are already angry, sports gives them an outlet to express their emotions – often by hating the opposing team. The hate is based on little more than team identification. Sadly, there are way too many incidents in which it has escalated to violence. This is simply unacceptable and there is no place for it in sports.

According to Kathy Samoun, founder of the non-profit Fans Against Violence, “fan violence is really an adult form of bullying.” To help combat bullying, the San Jose Sharks have teamed up with Pizza Factory to educate kids about the negative impacts of bullying. The theme is ‘be a buddy, not a bully.’ For every win in the 2019 playoffs, the Sharks are donating a buddy bench to a local-area school. Education might not stop fanaticism in sports, but it does help show people the [unintended] impact of their actions.

So, go ahead and root for your team. Be loud and proud. Just live by the Golden Rule and treat the opposing fans the way you would want to be treated. With respect.

[This article previously appeared on Becher’s Bytes.]

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You Should Be Using the Eisenhower Matrix To Make Decisions http://jonathanbecher.com/2019/04/21/eisenhower-matrix-to-make-decisions/ http://jonathanbecher.com/2019/04/21/eisenhower-matrix-to-make-decisions/#respond Sun, 21 Apr 2019 19:28:23 +0000 http://jonathanbecher.com/?p=7284 The most urgent decisions are rarely the most important ones. —Dwight Eisenhower In light of our always-on world, it’s natural we focus on time-sensitive tasks; the seemingly non-ending list of things that have to be done. At work, these tasks include responding to emails or voice mails, generating a report due later in the day,...

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The most urgent decisions are rarely the most important ones.
—Dwight Eisenhower

In light of our always-on world, it’s natural we focus on time-sensitive tasks; the seemingly non-ending list of things that have to be done. At work, these tasks include responding to emails or voice mails, generating a report due later in the day, or attending a mandatory meeting. In your personal life, it might include getting gas when your tank is almost empty, paying a bill, or even stopping on the way home to get something for dinner. A former colleague of mine used to call this the tyranny of the urgent.

While there will always be urgent tasks to deal with, we must be vigilant when faced with urgent decisions. Decisions made in the spur of the moment are rarely as impactful as those with enough time for careful consideration. While I’m definitely not advocating paralysis by analysis, I do believe you should prioritize both tasks and decisions by importance rather than urgency.

Important decisions are more strategic. They tend to have longer term impact, even if they don’t have short term effects. Psychologically, important decisions are often put off because we are worried that we might not make the right decision. Instead todo lists are littered with urgent but less important tasks.

As a result, we run out of time for things that are important but not urgent.

One approach to avoid this incorrect prioritization is to use the Eisenhower Matrix. The Eisenhower Matrix is a two-by-two grid that characterizes decisions/tasks by both urgency and importance:I update my decision matrix weekly, sometimes more frequently during high-intensity periods. First, I focus my items on the upper left-hand quadrant – items that are important and urgent – making time to work on them as soon as possible. If there is a large number of items in this quadrant, I know something systematic has gone wrong: either I’ve taken on too many responsibilities or I’ve been working on the wrong things.

Given my role, I usually delegate the urgent and unimportant items (bottom left). It’s key to recognize importance is subjective; it might not be important for me to personally decide but that doesn’t mean it isn’t important to resolve. By delegating, I free up my own time and empower someone else to make a decision.

The previous two steps ensure there is time for items which are important but not urgent (upper right). These are items that many people overlook or just never get to. I schedule specific timeslots to work on them and, when that time comes, make sure it’s protected from the tyranny of the urgent.

The Eisenhower Matrix isn’t perfect – the nature of work means that sometimes you’re forced to work on seemingly unimportant tasks – but it’s highly effective. I recommend you try it for a few weeks, especially if you’re in a situation in which you’re struggling to manage your time. It may change how you work.

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Adaptability may be more important than IQ or EQ http://jonathanbecher.com/2019/03/31/adaptability-more-important-than-iq-or-eq/ http://jonathanbecher.com/2019/03/31/adaptability-more-important-than-iq-or-eq/#comments Sun, 31 Mar 2019 20:06:38 +0000 http://jonathanbecher.com/?p=7280 For most of my career, I have favored candidates with high Emotional Quotient (EQ) over those with high Intelligence Quotient (IQ). Just like my mantra that culture eats strategy, I believe situational awareness often trumps pure smarts. Of course, I’ve never known any candidate’s IQ test score let alone their EQ score. (Yes, you can...

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For most of my career, I have favored candidates with high Emotional Quotient (EQ) over those with high Intelligence Quotient (IQ). Just like my mantra that culture eats strategy, I believe situational awareness often trumps pure smarts.

Of course, I’ve never known any candidate’s IQ test score let alone their EQ score. (Yes, you can test for EQ.) But, in my experience, success on standardized tests has rarely translated well into the unpredictability of the business world.

Travis Bradberry, author of Emotional Intelligence 2.0, has some startling evidence to back up my experience: people with average IQs outperform those with high IQs 70% of the time. Furthermore, he claims 90% of top performers have high emotional intelligence while only 20% of bottom performers have high emotional intelligence.

Studies have shown high emotional intelligence is the strongest predictor of performance among a wide variety of workplace skills. EQ explains “a full 58% of success in all types of jobs”. Bradberry summarizes:

You can be a top performer without emotional intelligence, but the chances are slim.

While I still favor EQ over IQ, over the last few years, I’ve felt like there’s something missing. We live in a world of constant change and neither high EQ nor IQ seem to be good predictors of a person’s ability to thrive in this new environment. Change means we can’t rely on what we’ve learned in the past as it often no longer applies. Lately, I’ve been using the rallying cry: “what got us here won’t get us there.” We need to be more adaptable.

Because being adaptable is increasingly important, I wonder whether there should be an adaptability quotient (AQ). A high AQ would suggest someone is less bothered by new situations, can extrapolate from seemingly unrelated experiences, and embraces new ideas rather than resisting them. Different roles require varying levels of AQ.

Actually, this isn’t a novel idea. Eight years ago, HBR declared that adaptability was the new competitive advantage. Five years ago, a UK study found that 91% of HR decision-makers thought it was likely people would soon be recruited on their ability to cope with change and uncertainty. And a Fast Company article earlier this year suggested a blended measure of IQ, EQ, and AQ as the way to screen employees.

While the term AQ pops up frequently in articles and many people seem to agree adaptability is important, there isn’t a commonly-agreed way to measure it. Until there is, I recommend asking interview questions designed to understand the adaptability of candidates. For example, ask a candidate to describe a time they were unprepared for a situation, how they reacted, and what was the ultimate outcome. If the candidate relied solely on standard approaches, it suggests they are less adaptable. If they changed strategy and showed resourcefulness, it’s likely the candidate will do it again when faced with uncertainty in the future.

IQ to EQ to AQ. Adaptability is everywhere.

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The Power of Suggestion http://jonathanbecher.com/2019/03/17/power-of-suggestion/ http://jonathanbecher.com/2019/03/17/power-of-suggestion/#comments Mon, 18 Mar 2019 02:59:56 +0000 http://jonathanbecher.com/?p=7274 “Objection, your Honor, the Defense is leading the witness.” If you’ve watched TV courtroom dramas, you’ve heard this common expression. One lawyer is complaining that the other lawyer is asking leading questions; the questions suggest the answers the witness should give. As such, it unfairly taints the witness’ testimony. As often happens, a recent courtroom...

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“Objection, your Honor, the Defense is leading the witness.”

If you’ve watched TV courtroom dramas, you’ve heard this common expression. One lawyer is complaining that the other lawyer is asking leading questions; the questions suggest the answers the witness should give. As such, it unfairly taints the witness’ testimony.

As often happens, a recent courtroom drama made me wonder if there’s any science behind the objection. Perhaps not surprisingly, there is.

In Daniel Schacter’s book The Seven Sins of Memory, he describes the sin of suggestibility in which people are susceptible to incorporate incorrect or even misleading information into their memories. The information can come from a wide variety of external sources – reading descriptions from other people, watching videos, or listening to others – but people later misremember the source of the memories. The memories based on outside information seem just as real as those based on our own experiences.

The book summarizes a series of experiments in which participants viewed a simulated armed robbery, answered intentionally misleading questions about what happened during the robbery, and then later were asked to verify whether their memories of the event came from the video or the questionnaire. Even when participants initially knew they hadn’t remembered information from the video and that the information had been suggested by the questions, the participants believed the information was accurate and later claimed they remembered it from the video. A false memory had been created.

The power of suggestion does not just happen in the courtroom and is not always intentional. During an investigation, police officers interview an eyewitness multiple times, asking questions from many different angles in the hopes of jogging their memory. However, there is an inherent danger that some of these questions are suggestive of new information and the eyewitness might later misremember the source of the memory. Eyewitness testimony is inherently unreliable.

All of this makes me consider my own childhood memories. Research shows it’s relatively simple to implant false childhood memories. I wonder how many of my memories are based on the original event and how many are derived from repeated discussions with my parents over the years. Remembering the events together clearly strengthens the belief in my own memory but doesn’t necessarily increase the accuracy.

While I doubt my parents were intentionally “leading the witness,” human nature suggests they bring up the ones they remember the most fondly. Over time, these are the ones I am most likely to discuss around them. We have a collective shared memory.

The power of the suggestion means you can’t trust your own memory.

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Hockey is for Everyone, Doggonit http://jonathanbecher.com/2019/03/10/hockey-is-for-everyone-doggonit/ http://jonathanbecher.com/2019/03/10/hockey-is-for-everyone-doggonit/#respond Sun, 10 Mar 2019 23:12:39 +0000 http://jonathanbecher.com/?p=7240 Research shows that businesses with more diverse workforces perform better financially and are more innovative. Similarly, diversity and inclusion is good for the business of sports. The more that sports teams embrace the diversity of the community they are in, the more likely their fans will embrace them back. The National Hockey League (NHL) uses the international reach of the...

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Research shows that businesses with more diverse workforces perform better financially and are more innovative. Similarly, diversity and inclusion is good for the business of sports. The more that sports teams embrace the diversity of the community they are in, the more likely their fans will embrace them back.

The National Hockey League (NHL) uses the international reach of the game of hockey to help drive positive social change and foster more inclusive communities. Under the slogan Hockey is for Everyone™, the NHL takes a unifying and supportive approach:

We believe all hockey programs – from professionals to youth organizations – should provide a safe, positive and inclusive environment for players and families regardless of race, color, religion, national origin, gender, disability, sexual orientation and socio-economic status.

Over the years, the San Jose Sharks have embraced these ideals. From Sikh and Filipino heritage nights to Los Tiburones themed events as part of Hispanic heritage month, Sharks fans in the SAP Center represent the amazing cultural diversity that is the Silicon Valley / Bay Area.

At last year’s Hockey Is For Everyone Night, the San Jose Sharks partnered with You Can Play, an NHL-supported non-profit organization that works to ensure the safety and inclusion of all in sports including LGBTQ athletes, coaches, and fans. Sharks players taped their warm-up sticks with Pride-themed hockey tape and proceeds from these autographed sticks were donated to charity. The next Hockey is for Everyone Night at SAP Center will be Sunday, March 31 when the Sharks play Calgary in what may well be a battle for first place in the Western Conference.

The SAP Center also works hard to support the accessibility needs of our guests. Assistive Listening Devices are available at no charge. Guests with disabilities may bring their service animal with them. In addition, SAP Center offers safety sensory kitsto fans who have sensory sensitives (e.g. Autism, Neurological Impairment, PTSD, or Dementia).

On the lighter side, the idea of hockey is for everyone can be interpreted literally and extended in unexpected ways. Through an event called Pucks & Paws, we allowed dog owners to bring their pets to a San Jose Barracuda hockey game. While the majority of the attendees were hockey fans, many were first-time attendees who were attracted by the spectacle of bringing their dog to an arena and spending time with their pet – the hockey game was secondary.

We are all unique. Let’s celebrate our differences. You don’t even have to like hockey. Doggonit.

[This article previously appeared on Becher’s Bytes.]

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Does Swearing Reduce Pain? http://jonathanbecher.com/2019/02/10/does-swearing-reduce-pain/ http://jonathanbecher.com/2019/02/10/does-swearing-reduce-pain/#comments Mon, 11 Feb 2019 01:14:26 +0000 http://jonathanbecher.com/?p=7231 While I’m not an expert handyman, I don’t mind trying to fix things around the house (except electricity – no, thank you). My skills are such that I’ve occasionally hit my thumb which invariably elicits a yelp swear word from me. Over the years, I’ve wondered why I feel better after the outburst. Does swearing...

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While I’m not an expert handyman, I don’t mind trying to fix things around the house (except electricity – no, thank you). My skills are such that I’ve occasionally hit my thumb which invariably elicits a yelp swear word from me. Over the years, I’ve wondered why I feel better after the outburst. Does swearing reduce pain?

Richard Stephens, a psychologist at Keele University in England, has designed multiple experiments to find out. In one version, undergraduate students twice placed their hands in ice-cold water for as long as they could; one of the times they uttered a swear word and the other they used a more common word. Stephens also measured the participants heart rates and galvanic skin response (GSR tracks changes in sweat gland activity typically caused by emotional stress).

When using the swear word, participants kept their hands in the ice water almost 50% longer. In addition, their heart rates increased and their GSR went down. Stephens concluded the participants experienced less pain while swearing.

Pain used to be thought of as a purely biological phenomenon, but actually pain is very much psychological. The same level of injury will hurt more or less in different circumstances. Richard Stephens.

If you don’t swear when you feel pain, you might consider starting. Stephens conducted another experiment to test whether the effect only worked on people who were comfortable swearing in front of others or who at least had sufficient practice doing so in their daily lives. Participants were asked how likely they were to swear when in pain or angry. The results showed “it didn’t make a difference; swearing worked equally well.” Even non-swearers got relief.

Whether you’re used to swearing may not matter but the word you use does. An unpublished Stephens experiment showed that the strength of the expletive did have an impact on how long you could keep your hand in the ice water and how much pain you felt. Milder words such a “darn” or “shoot” had more effect than a neutral word like “tree” but less effect than a stronger word (cue George Carlin’s 7 dirty words). If you’re going to use the technique, it isn’t worth being half-hearted.

The next time you get chastised by someone for swearing as a response to a painful situation, show them this article. You’ll feel better and maybe they will too.

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Have You Heard Of Inversion Thinking? http://jonathanbecher.com/2019/01/13/inversion-thinking/ http://jonathanbecher.com/2019/01/13/inversion-thinking/#respond Mon, 14 Jan 2019 00:31:47 +0000 http://jonathanbecher.com/?p=7224 You likely know about reverse psychology, but have you ever heard of inversion thinking? Reverse psychology is when you get someone to do something you want them to do by suggesting they do the opposite of it. One form of reverse psychology is to forbid someone to do something that you actually want them to...

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You likely know about reverse psychology, but have you ever heard of inversion thinking?

Reverse psychology is when you get someone to do something you want them to do by suggesting they do the opposite of it. One form of reverse psychology is to forbid someone to do something that you actually want them to do. This can be a common technique that parents use on their children.

Inversion thinking is analogous to using reverse psychology on yourself. Rather than being focused on what you need to accomplish, inversion thinking suggests you concentrate on what you should avoid. For example, a financial investor might be well-served to consider the downside of an investment rather than just being focused on the potential upside.

I’ve seen inversion thinking used effectively in a variety of situations. For example, companies that want to foster innovation often create incubators or incentives as encouragement to employees.  However, inversion thinking suggests another technique: eliminate the existing processes and policies that discourage innovation.

In addition, it’s common for large project teams to hold a post-mortem analysis when a project has concluded or for a sales team to create a win/loss report when a deal has closed. A pre-mortem analysis happens before the start of a large project by imagining a less-than-successful conclusion of the project. The team members talk through possible reasons for failure, and come up with plans to prevent these potential problems. That’s inversion thinking.

Inversion thinking is also an effective way of dealing with confirmation bias. When I have a theory about how to solve a problem, rather than looking for supporting data, I decide what information might change my mind and then try to find someone who has that information. Inversion thinking helps me keep an open mind.

Another benefit to inversion thinking is it can help avoid unintended consequences by considering those consequences up front. The Cobra Effect reminds us that an attempt to reduce the number of snakes shouldn’t be based on a system which provides an incentive to breed more snakes. In retrospect, the unintended consequence was pretty obvious and might have been avoided with inversion thinking.

Said another way, inversion thinking encourages you to begin with the end in mind – you’re less likely to be surprised by what happens and you might have a new insight into the problem.

Have you tried inversion thinking?

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What’s the most difficult thing to do in sports? http://jonathanbecher.com/2018/12/16/most-difficult-thing-to-do-in-sports/ http://jonathanbecher.com/2018/12/16/most-difficult-thing-to-do-in-sports/#comments Sun, 16 Dec 2018 21:13:02 +0000 http://jonathanbecher.com/?p=7216 Years ago, ESPN assembled a panel of experts to determine which sport demanded the most from the athletes who compete in it. The experts ranked 60 sports on 10 different skills, including endurance, speed, agility, and hand-eye coordination. Their verdict: boxing is the most difficult sport while hockey is a close second. These are the...

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Years ago, ESPN assembled a panel of experts to determine which sport demanded the most from the athletes who compete in it. The experts ranked 60 sports on 10 different skills, including endurance, speed, agility, and hand-eye coordination. Their verdict: boxing is the most difficult sport while hockey is a close second.

These are the most difficult sports but what’s the most difficult thing to do in any sport?

Before you reply, I’m referring to something that’s a normal part of the sport. Maybe it only happens infrequently but it can and does happen. An 80-yard field goal in football doesn’t count because it won’t ever get attempted (I know, I know – never say never).  Similarly, a full court basket has happened but you wouldn’t consider it a normal part of basketball.

Popular wisdom seems to claim that hitting a baseball is the hardest thing to do in sports. There’s plenty of science that backs up how difficult it is to see a fastball, react to its trajectory, and make contact – all in less than ½ of a second. Even from a surface area perspective, the baseball only takes up less than 2% of the strike zone. Hitting a baseball is clearly very difficult.

It’s difficult but not impossible. Over the years, the league-wide batting average has generally ranged between .250 and .275. Since batting average doesn’t include walks and hit-by-pitch, it essentially means batters are successful 25% of the time.

I non-scientifically checked the success percentage for several other feats in sports and noticed that stopping a penalty kick might be even harder than hitting a baseball – at least from a percentage standpoint. A study of 138 penalty shots in World Cup Finals games between 1982 and 1994 showed that goalies stopped only 14.5% of the shots. In fact, goalies correctly guessed the direction of the kick only 41% of the time; that’s worse than random. Other studies show the success rate as a little higher (perhaps 18%) but still lower than hitting a baseball.

Does this mean stopping a penalty kick is harder than hitting a baseball? Not conclusively. It’s hard to compare the two events since a hitter comes up to the plate multiple times a game whereas a soccer player might go many months without attempting a penalty shot. Practice might not make perfect but it does improve the odds of success.

If forced to give an answer, I would say blocking a penalty kick in soccer is the most difficult thing to do in sports. What would YOU pick?

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The Confirmation Bias Is No Joke http://jonathanbecher.com/2018/12/09/confirmation-bias-is-no-joke/ http://jonathanbecher.com/2018/12/09/confirmation-bias-is-no-joke/#comments Mon, 10 Dec 2018 04:11:06 +0000 http://jonathanbecher.com/?p=7204 Confirmation bias is the tendency to look for or interpret information in a way that confirms preexisting beliefs or assumptions. A classic joke supporting the confirmation bias goes like this: A stranger visits a small town and notices that everyone is wearing garlic around their necks. He asks the town sheriff about the strange custom...

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Confirmation bias is the tendency to look for or interpret information in a way that confirms preexisting beliefs or assumptions. A classic joke supporting the confirmation bias goes like this:

A stranger visits a small town and notices that everyone is wearing garlic around their necks. He asks the town sheriff about the strange custom and learns it’s to keep the elephants away. “Does it work?” he asks. The response: “You don’t see any elephants around here, do you?”

The confirmation bias not only means we don’t look for information which might disprove our bias but we also ignore any evidence that might contradict it.

The term confirmation bias was coined by English psychologist Peter Cathcart Wason. His 2-4-6 experiment demonstrates “our natural tendency to confirm rather than disprove our own ideas.” In the experiment, subjects were told they would be given a sequence of three numbers and asked to figure out what the rule was that governed their sequence. To help the process, subjects were allowed to ask the experimenter whether two other sequences met the rule. Try it yourself:

The initial series is 2-4-6. You might guess that the rule is increasing numbers by two. If so, you would ask the experimenter if 8-10-12 also fits the rule. It does. This confirms your initial guess so you ask whether 20-22-24 fits the rule. It also does. Twice confirmed, you announce that the rule is even numbers, increasing by twos.

That’s incorrect. The rule is any increasing numbers.

The problem is that you didn’t challenge your own theory but only asked questions that would confirm it. You could have asked about 9-11-13 (which would have disproved even numbers) or about 10-11-12 (which would have disproved increasing by twos). In the experiment, only one in five people was able to guess the correct rule. The rest had confirmation bias.

The current discussion of echo chambers in social media is an example of confirmation bias in action. Because we tend to follow people who share our beliefs, we only see information that supports our point of view. If contradictory evidence appears in our feed, we discount it or ignore it completely. We believe what we see and see what we believe.

We can combat fake news through rigorous fact-checking and use of the baloney detection kit but overcoming a confirmation bias is even more difficult. When I have a strong point of view, I try to be open-minded by asking myself what would cause me to change my opinion and then diligently look for that evidence. I also intentionally add people to my social feeds with differing points of views so that I’m exposed to conflicting opinions. Being diligent helps but can’t completely overcome the natural human tendency to believe we’re right – despite the evidence to the contrary.

The confirmation bias is no joke.

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The Pygmalion Effect in Business http://jonathanbecher.com/2018/11/25/the-pygmalion-effect-in-business/ http://jonathanbecher.com/2018/11/25/the-pygmalion-effect-in-business/#comments Sun, 25 Nov 2018 20:47:09 +0000 http://jonathanbecher.com/?p=7190 In 1965 two researchers conducted a now-famous experiment in a public elementary school, dubbed Pygmalion in the classroom. The researchers told teachers that about one-fifth of their students were unusually intelligent (so-called “growth spurters”), based on results of a fictitious IQ test. Even though the gifted students were seemingly chosen at random, these students performed...

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In 1965 two researchers conducted a now-famous experiment in a public elementary school, dubbed Pygmalion in the classroom. The researchers told teachers that about one-fifth of their students were unusually intelligent (so-called “growth spurters”), based on results of a fictitious IQ test. Even though the gifted students were seemingly chosen at random, these students performed better in the classroom and later improved their scores on standardized IQ tests. The researchers theorized the teachers paid more attention to gifted students, offering them more support and encouragement than the others.

Fascinating. If you treat people as if they are smart, they become smarter. The Pygmalion Effect.

Only it may not be true. For the last 50 years, no one has really been able to replicate the study – one of the most important principles of the scientific method. In fact, some researchers claim the impact of high expectations in the classroom are significantly exaggerated while others even claim that the Pygmalion Effect is likely an illusion and the underlying research is “bad science.”

I’ll leave others to debate the science but I’ve certainly seen this effect in the business world. When a leader thinks an employee is capable, the leader usually gives the employee more opportunities to develop, and the employee’s performance often improves – creating a positive feedback loop. In parallel, if employees believe a leader is successful, the employees are more attentive and supportive – which likely improves the leader’s performance.

We could call this the Pygmalion Effect in business.

Writing this blog made me realize that the reverse of the Pygmalion Effect can be an issue. If a leader’s expectation of an employee is low, the leader will likely treat the employee (intentionally or unintentionally) in a way that will lead to poorer performance than the employee is capable of. In psychology, this is called the Golem Effect; the self-fulfilling prophesy that people live up (or, in this case, down) to expectations.

A truly great leader doesn’t just motivate their highest-potential employees but also makes sure that other employees aren’t stigmatized with the badge of low expectations. The goal isn’t to get someone to do something they aren’t capable of but rather to ensure that everyone believes they have an opportunity to meet their own full potential.  As Henry Ford is credited for saying,

Whether you believe you can do a thing or not, you are right.

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