Monday, 8 July 2013

New Research reveals certainty is emotional not rational state

There is an old punch line that runs something like “I used to be uncertain but now I am not so sure” but after reading a very interesting book “On Being Certain” by neurologist Robert Burton its more like “I used to be certain but now I am not so sure”.

Burton argues convincingly, using the latest research, that the sense of being certain about some is an emotional state rather than a rational state and can be triggered in the absence of, or in total conflict with, any rational evidence. He describes how the feeling of certainly comes from the same part of the brain which other emotions come from and not the part of the brain associated with rationale thought.

My takeaway from the book is that it is still very important to know why you do things and what you believe but we need a dose of humility anytime we feel we are absolutely 100% certain about something.

Ken Thompson (aka The BumbleBee) blogs about bioteams, virtual collaboration and business simulation at www.bioteams.com


Saturday, 30 March 2013

A customer indicator you must measure: Net Promoter Score

Most customer satisfaction surveys are complex and multi-faceted and sometimes you can't see "the wood for the trees".  If you only measure one thing about customer satisfaction then you should measure your Net Promoter Score (NPS).

NPS divides your customers into 3 groups:
  • Promoters - Score 9-10 - loyal enthusiasts who will refer others to you
  • Passives - Score 7-8 - satisfied but unenthusiastic
  • Detractors - Score 0-6 - unhappy customers who will damage your brand through negative word of mouth
The NPS calculation is very simple:  NPS = %Promoters - % Detractors

Market Leaders would be expecting an NPS of 70%-80% depending on the industry sector.

Ken Thompson (aka The BumbleBee) blogs about bioteams, virtual collaboration and business simulation at www.bioteams.com

Wednesday, 9 January 2013

Is Persuasion now becoming scientific instead of just a dark art?

Paraminder Bahra writes an interesting review of a new book on the science of persuasion, "Yes! 50 Scientifically Proven Ways to Be Persuasive." written by UK behavior expert Steve Martin, who heads the U.K. office of the consultancy Influence at Work.

The article mentions 3 of the 50 novel ways to influence people:
  1. Taking advantage of a social norm such as being told than 75% of people reuse their towels in a hotel room. 
  2. Reciprocity such as how presenting your restaurant bill with a chocolate can lead to better tip 
  3.  Loss Avoidance where it is sometimes more appealing if a choice leads to the avoidance of a negative rather than the delivery of a positive

There is an excellent synopsis with a summary of each of the 50 persuasion techniques on Alex Moskalyuks blog.

Ken Thompson (aka The BumbleBee) blogs about bioteams, virtual collaboration and business simulation at www.bioteams.com

Tuesday, 8 January 2013

One more time ....the 7 beliefs of high performing teams

The 7 beliefs of high performing teams according to my research are:

1  Clear and public accountability
2  Trusted competency
3  Give and take
4  Outcome optimism
5  Total transparency
6  Work is its own reward
7  Shared glory 


For more details see The Bioteaming Manifesto


Ken Thompson (aka The BumbleBee) blogs about bioteams, virtual collaboration and business simulation at www.bioteams.com


The wisdom of Age from Reverend Reg Dean Britains oldest man

Reverend Reginald Dean,  Britain’s oldest man,  died a couple of days ago (Jan 6, 2012) at the ripe old age of 110.

Reg was ordained as an Anglican in 1929, served as a chaplain in India and Burma during the Second World War, and became a Congregational minister in 1952.

Reg remained very active in his early old age and in his eighties founded the highly successful Fairtrade shop in Wirksworth, and was the president of the local male voice choir, The Dalesmen.

When Reg he shared his wisdom with younger people (that’s everybody else) he suggested that as you get older there are 3 things you must “learn to try to answer”: 

1. Who am I?
2. Why am I here?
3. Where am I going ?

Reg will be sadly missed.

Read more about Reg:

Ken Thompson (aka The BumbleBee) blogs about bioteams, virtual collaboration and business simulation at www.bioteams.com



Tuesday, 25 December 2012

There is a Hard Side as well as a Soft Side to Change Management

Often we get fixated on the soft side of teams and change management. By this I mean techniques concerning how do we get the right team, how do we understand the team members personal motivations, how do we create a good team working environment and how we resolve conflict. These are all vitally important however we may forget that this is only half the story.....

Teams usually have important projects which their employers are paying them to deliver - its not that they are working in the team out of the goodness of their hearts!

As an important counterbalance I point you to the October 2005 Harvard Business Review. It carries an article, The Hard Side of Change Management by Hal Sirkin, Perry Keenan and Alan Jackson of Boston Consulting Group.

Based on assessments of more than 200 major change initiatives, the authors have determined that the outcome of change initiatives comes down to four elements they call DICE:
  1. (D)uration of the project
  2. (I)ntegrity of the team
  3. Organizational (C)ommitment to change
  4. Additional (E)ffort required of staff members
The way it works is that interviews are carried out with executives and leaders of project teams, ideally before they start, and the project DICE score is calculated according to a simple formula with each of the four success indicators being graded on a scale of 1-4 (the lower the score the better). 

They also offer a simple useful little DICE calculator to help you to evaluate the chance of success of a project.

This score then places a project in one of three zones - a WIn zone, a Worry zone or a Woe zone. This allows the organisation to address key issues or cancel projects altogether if the chance of success is too remote. Good leaders and change agents will have both soft and hard change management techniques in their toolkits and will know which to use and when.

Ken Thompson (aka The BumbleBee) blogs about bioteams, virtual collaboration and business simulation at www.bioteams.com



Monday, 24 December 2012

What's the difference between a promise and a responsibility?

In the recent UK floods we heard a lot about defences failing and phrases being bandied about by engineers such as "a once in a hundred years" event and "could never have been envisaged." 

However when I hear this kind language it always makes me think of the difference between a promise, a responsibility and a guarantee.

Read What's the difference between a promise and a responsibility? 

Ken Thompson (aka The BumbleBee) blogs about bioteams, virtual collaboration and business simulation at www.bioteams.com


Friday, 16 November 2012

The importance of developing shared culture in business and family life

Clayton M. Christensen in his new book "How Will You Measure Your Life?"  offers this powerful insight about the importance of developing shared culture and how to go about it:

There’s an important model in our class called the Tools of Cooperation…. the theory arrays these tools along two dimensions—the extent to which members of the organization agree on what they want from their participation in the enterprise, and the extent to which they agree on what actions will produce the desired results. When there is little agreement on both axes, you have to use “power tools”—coercion, threats, punishment, and so on—to secure cooperation"

"Many companies start in this quadrant, which is why the founding executive team must play such an assertive role in defining what must be done and how. If employees’ ways of working together to address those tasks succeed over and over, consensus begins to form. MIT’s Edgar Schein has described this process as the mechanism by which a culture is built. Ultimately, people don’t even think about whether their way of doing things yields success. They embrace priorities and follow procedures by instinct and assumption rather than by explicit decision—which means that they’ve created a culture. Culture, in compelling but unspoken ways, dictates the proven, acceptable methods by which members of the group address recurrent problems. And culture defines the priority given to different types of problems. It can be a powerful management tool”.

To read a short synopsis of How Will You Measure Your Life?  

Ken Thompson (aka The BumbleBee) blogs about bioteams, virtual collaboration and business simulation at www.bioteams.com

Tuesday, 13 November 2012

How to be Resilient – Face Reality, Find Meaning, Creatively Improvise.

Diane Koutu, writing for Harvard Business Review, suggests 3 very useful distinctions around being resilient. I like them because it addresses some of the weaknesses of otherwise excellent schools of thought such as Martin Seligman's  Learned Optimism – namely that it encourages people just to soldier on and put a brave face on things and not ask for help which can be seen as failure. Read the post.

Ken Thompson (aka The BumbleBee) blogs about bioteams, virtual collaboration and business simulation at www.bioteams.com


Monday, 15 October 2012

Behavioural Economics can predict irrational human behaviour

I have been reading about Behavioural Economics (and Behavioural Finance) through the excellent 8-minute summaries from iminds.com.  BE explains why we are systemically and predictably irrational in our economic decisions and introduces 2 terms “Bounded Rationality" and "Bounded Willpower” as limits to rationality within which we all operate.

Here are 8 prevalent behavioural biases identified by BE which resonate with my previous article on Meta Dilemmas:
  1. Endowment Effect: tendency to place more value on expected losses than expected gains (also known as Risk Aversion)
  2. Status Quo Bias: tendency to stick with current state of affairs even though we can see clearly better alternatives
  3. Framing Bias: tendency to draw conclusions according to the way something seems as opposed to reality
  4. Availability Bias: tendency to rely on easily available information rather than seeking out harder to obtain but more accurate/relevant info
  5. Confirmation Bias: tendency to prioritise evidence which accords with our pre-existing beliefs
  6. Choice Overload: where we have so many options we don’t make any decision
  7. Overconfidence: tendency to rate ourselves more knowledgeable and skilful than we actually are
  8. Money Illusion: tendency to judge prices and interest rates at nominal rates rather than taking into account inflation
The article explains how the current global financial crisis could be analysed behaviourally as a large number of players in the market all succumbing to 3 main BE biases - overconfidence, confirmation bias and availability bias.

Ken Thompson (aka The BumbleBee) blogs about bioteams, virtual collaboration and business simulation at www.bioteams.com

Friday, 21 September 2012

5 things a good Business War Game should help us learn to do better

I have been studying a fascinating book A Theory of Fun for Game Design by Raph Koster who is Chief Creative Officer (CCO) with Sony Online Entertainment. In one of the chapters entitled "What Games Teach Us" Raph suggests that there are really only 5 things games teach us - Aiming,  Timing, Hunting, Territory and Projecting PowerThis got me thinking what are the essential things a good business war game should teach us?

Here are my 5 essentials:

1. STRATEGY AND COMPETITIVE POSITIONING
How to devise a winning strategic game plan and attractive competitive position in terms of products and prices?

2. RESOURCE ALLOCATION AND OPTIMIZATION
How best to allocate resources across and within direct customer activities (Value Chain) versus indirect activities such as Business Health and Risk Management?

3. TACTICS AND EXECUTION
The best way to implement your resource allocation decision? This is the "how" decision.

4. AGILITY: THE ABILITY TO HANDLE THE UNEXPECTED WELL
How to handle the different types of change, warnings and shocks including external change, market change, competitor-led change and change to address self-inflicted pain?

5. FINANCIAL PERFORMANCE
How to hit the financial performance targets required to succeed in the game?

Ken Thompson (aka The BumbleBee) blogs about bioteams, virtual collaboration and business simulation at www.bioteams.com


Saturday, 15 September 2012

Being right for the wrong reason can still cost you dearly in the long run

Sometimes you get the right result for entirely the wrong reason. If you only care about the results you get and lack curiosity about the "reason why" you will miss learning opportunities and set your self up for a longer-term fails.

The classic example is the Y2K problem which resulted in a unprecedented IT expenditure globally. The lazy software programmers thought year 2000 was a leap year because it was divisible by 4 and used this in all their calculations.The more conscientious programmers, who did a bit more analysis, concluded that Year 2000 was not a leap year because there is an exception to the earlier "divisible by four" rule every hundred years. They programmed it not to be a leap year.

However they were wrong  because there was another exception to the first exception every 400 years which cancelled it out for the year 2000! Therefore the lazy programmers got it right for the wrong reasons (and the conscientious programmers got it wrong).

So where might you be guilty of being lazy and not digging into your good results to ensure that they are good for good reasons? 

And where did you do the right thing but because the short-term results were not what you wanted you decided never to do that same thing again?

Read my article on the dangers of  "Golden Rules".

Ken Thompson (aka The BumbleBee) blogs about bioteams, virtual collaboration and business simulation at www.bioteams.com




Thursday, 13 September 2012

7 Conversational Warning Signs that someone may be lying

I have just finished reading an excellent book, Spy The Lie, written by 3 former CIA officers who are experts in detecting deception. The basic idea is that there are some powerful indicators of possible deception. Any one of them by themselves may be quite innocent but when you start to encounter clusters of them around a conversation topic then you need to dig deeper.

7 of the deception indicators I found particularly useful were:
  1.  Nonspecific denial where rather than saying a plain NO you say something like “I would never do something like that”
  2. Isolated denial where the NO is only a small part of a very long answer
  3. Non Answer Statements such as  “That’s a great question”
  4. Overly Specific Answers where technically the answer they gave is true but its not actually an answer to the specific question you asked them
  5. Referral Statements such as “I think I have already answered that” or “I refer you to my written answer”
  6. Answer Qualifiers such as “fundamentally” or “frankly” or “basically” or “to tell you the truth”
  7. Selective Memory such as “to the best of my knowledge”
This all reminds me of the old joke - Question: "How do you know if someone is lying to you". Answer: "If their lips are moving". Thankfully life is not quite as bad as that but if you listen for and encounter 2 or 3 of these deception indicators in close proximity to a specific question you have asked then you definitely need to probe further!

Ken Thompson (aka The BumbleBee) blogs about bioteams, virtual collaboration and business simulation at www.bioteams.com.



Wednesday, 12 September 2012

A practical framework for change - head, hearts, hands & feet

The late Stephen Covey always reminded us that "the main thing was to keep the main thing the main thing !" However when you think about "Change Management" you could be excused for thinking its all about detailed road maps and large tomes of procedures and checklists. These are all important but sometimes they can also sadly distract from the whole point of the exercise. To stop you falling into this trap I offer you my easy to remember 4 point mental checklist based on the human body to help you constantly check that you have not been "detail distracted"!

Read the full article

Ken Thompson (aka The BumbleBee) blogs about bioteams, virtual collaboration and business simulation at www.bioteams.com.


Tuesday, 11 September 2012

A simple model for categorising social media engagement levels

The book Groundswell, by Charlene Li and Josh Bernoff, identifies a simple but useful "progression ladder" of 6 distinct social media user profiles.

In increasing order of social media activity we have:

1. Inactives
 2. Spectators
  3. Joiners
   4. Collectors
    5. Critics
     6. Creators

What type of user are you?

Perhaps even more importantly what type of users do you have in your critical business networks and what are you doing to move them up the ladder?

Ken Thompson (aka The BumbleBee) blogs about bioteams, virtual collaboration and business simulation at www.bioteams.com.
 

Monday, 27 August 2012

The secret to great excel dashboards: The Excel Camera Tool

One of the problems in building dashboards in excel is that if you just use charts then you can easily overwhelm people with graphics. Sometimes you need to display simple cells and tables on your dashboard but the problem is that if you insert them each as full cell references they look out of proportion to the graphs etc. Also things can get messy in terms of selecting appropriate column widths and you run out of screen space pretty soon!

Is there a solution? Yes -  the little known Excel Camera Tool allows you to take a picture of any section of a spreadsheet and place it on your dashboard at whatever size and shape you need. The key difference is that although you can manipulate it like an image it’s a “live picture” – anytime the underlying data changes the values in the picture automatically change too.

The camera tool is not automatically enabled on the Excel menu in the latest versions of excel but it very easy to add it by selecting “Customise the Quick Access Toolbar”. So if you are building excel dashboards and you don’t know about the excel camera tool you are definitely missing an important trick!

Ken Thompson (aka The BumbleBee) blogs about bioteams, virtual collaboration and business simulation at www.bioteams.com.