How Patterns Boost Our Performance… Without Even Knowing It

photoHumans are creatures of habits, and these habits can be analyzed and codified into rules that help us perform better. Many times, we’re not even aware of the habits that control our choices.

Conside the child’s game, Rock-Paper-Scissors. The odds of winning are one in three. At least, that’s what chance predicts. But people do not play randomly – they follow hidden patterns that you can predict to win more games than you should, a study has revealed.

At a rock-paper-scissors tournament at China’s Zhejiang University, scientists recruited 360 students, placed them in groups of six and had each of them run 300 rounds against their fellow group members. As an incentive, winners were paid for each individual victory.

When players won a round, they tended to repeat their winning rock, paper or scissors more often than would be expected at random (one in three). Losers, on the other hand, tended to switch to a different action. And they did so in order of the name of the game – moving from rock, to paper, to scissors. After losing with a rock, for example, a player was more likely to play paper in the next round than the “one in three” rule would predict.

Humans follow patterns in many other domains including creativity. Research by Dr. Jacob Goldenberg suggests that or thousands of years, inventors have embedded five simple patterns into their inventions, usually without knowing it. These patterns are the “DNA” of products that can be extracted and applied to any product or service to create new-to-the-world innovations.

The five patterns are:

Subtraction: Innovative products and services tend to have had something removed, usually something that was previously thought to be essential to use the product or service. The original Sony Walkman had the recording function subtracted, defying all logic to the idea of a “recorder.” Even Sony’s chairman and inventor of the Walkman, Akio Morita, was surprised by the market’s enthusiastic response.

Task Unification: Innovative products and services tend to have had certain tasks brought together and “unified” within one component of the product or service, usually a component that was previously thought to be unrelated to that task. Crowdsourcing, for example, leverages large groups of people by tasking them to generate insights or tasks, sometimes without even realizing it.

Multiplication: Innovative products and services tend to have had a component copied but changed in some way, usually in a way that initially seemed unnecessary or redundant. Many innovations in cameras, including the basis of photography itself, are based on copying a component and then changing it. For example, a double flash when snapping a photo reduces the likelihood of “red-eye.”

Division: Innovative products and services tend to have had a component divided out of the product or service and placed back somewhere into the usage situation, usually in a way that initially seemed unproductive or unworkable. Dividing out the function of a refrigerator drawer and placing it somewhere else in the kitchen creates a cooling drawer.

Attribute Dependency: Innovative products and services tend to have had two attributes correlated with each other, usually attributes that previously seemed unrelated. As one attribute changes, another changes. Transition sunglasses, for example, get darker as the outside light gets brighter.

Using these patterns correctly relies on two key ideas. The first idea is that you have to re-train the way your brain thinks about problem solving. Most people think the way to innovate is by starting with a well-defined problem and then thinking of solutions. In our method, it is just the opposite. We start with an abstract, conceptual solution and then work back to the problem that it solves. Therefore, we have to learn how to reverse the usual way our brain works in innovation.

This process is called “Function Follows Form,” first reported in 1992 by psychologist Ronald Finke. He recognized that there are two directions of thinking: from the problem-to-the-solution and from the solution-to-the-problem. Finke discovered people are actually better at searching for benefits for given configurations (starting with a solution) than at finding the best configuration for a given benefit (starting with the problem).

The second key idea to using patterns is the starting point. It is an idea called The Closed World. We tend to be most surprised with those ideas “right under noses,” that are connected in some way to our current reality or view of the world. This is counterintuitive because most people think you need to get way outside their current domain to be innovative. Methods like brainstorming and SCAMPER use random stimulus to push you “outside the box” for new and inventive ideas. Just the opposite is true. The most surprising ideas (“Gee, I never would have thought of that!”) are right nearby.

We have a nickname for The Closed World… we call it Inside the Box.

Source: Inside the Box

About Drew Boyd – Johnson & Johnson Veteran, Corporate Innovation Expert and Co-author, Inside The Box: A Proven System Of Creativity For Breakthrough Results:

cvr9781451659252_9781451659252_hrDrew Boyd is co-author of Inside the Box: A Proven System of Creativity for Breakthrough Results. He is a recognized authority, thought leader, educator, and practitioner in the fields of innovation, persuasion, and social media. He is the Executive Director of the Master of Science in Marketing Program and Assistant Professor of Marketing and Innovation at the University of Cincinnati.

Drew spent seventeen years with Johnson & Johnson in marketing, mergers & acquisitions, and international development. He founded and directed J&J’s Marketing Mastery Program, an internal “marketing university” benchmarked by companies such as GE, P&G, Kraft, and Merck. Drew’s focus was on raising competencies in the areas of strategic marketing, market management, and new product innovation. Of particular focus was teaching employees how to systematically invent new medical products and integrate the inventions into long-range strategic plans. Drew is an inventor himself, earning his first patent for a device that makes spine surgery easier.

For more information on Drew Boyd, please visit: The Sweeney Agency

Is your personality helping or hurting your business?

Sally Black DressAs an entrepreneur, you’re often the face of your company, and your ability to capture attention, to fascinate others—clients, employees, strategic partners, influencers—can make or break a business. Every time you communicate, you’re doing one of two things:

  • You’re adding value…
  • You’re taking up space.

If you’re taking up space, you’re in trouble. You’re not contributing. You’re not building connections—which means you’re turning people off.

In my new book, How the World Sees You, I give you the steps to add value, instead of taking up space. Once you know what makes you valuable to others, you’re more authentic and confident, and more likely to make a positive impression. So ask yourself … are you losing business (or failing to gain new business altogether) because you’re just taking up space?

The more value you add, the less you have to compete on price, and the less likely you are to become a commodity.

Your personality adds value in a very specific way. There are seven different ways to add value, and communicate so that others want to listen and take action:

Here they are:

1. If you fascinate with passion, like me, you speak the language of relationship.

2. If you speak the language of confidence, you use power to lead with authority.

3. Mystique thinks through decisions carefully and speaks the language of listening.

4. Innovation will surprise your customers with creativity and bold ideas.

5. Trust personalities are counted on for their loyalty and stability.

6. You might use alert, the language of details, if you watch the details carefully.

7. Prestige continually raises the bar with higher standards and is the language of excellence.

By understanding your personality’s advantages, you can shape your entire communication plan around it: everything from your marketing to your email list to your social media.

Here’s a little example.

If you speak the language of creativity (innovation) you are far more likely to succeed with customers when you brainstorm big ideas for them and think of new ways to do things, than if you tried to follow a one-size-fits-all business model (which would probably feel unnatural to you—almost like drowning in a draining, metaphorical quicksand). Your emails could be eye-catching and even a little irreverent. Instead of following the same way every other business in your industry is doing things, you could break out. You could be heard and remembered. And the customers you want to attract would love you for it.

According to Daniel Kahneman, a Nobel Prize-winning psychologist, “people would rather do business with a person they like and trust rather than someone they don’t, even if the likeable person is offering a lower quality product or service at a higher price.”

The lesson from this is simple: you add value when you are communicating as your most authentic self. This isn’t something you have to learn or change. It’s already inside you.

The more value you add, the less you have to compete on price, and the less likely you are to become a commodity.

Here’s four ways to know if you are adding value to co-workers and clients:

  • You become admired for a noteworthy ability to contribute a specific benefit. Your specific benefit might be deep knowledge, a highly prized skill, special service, or elite network. For example, if you’re a mortgage broker, you find better rates and niche financing.
  • You’re worth more than you’re being paid. If you are only worth what you are paid, that’s not adding value. That’s called doing your job. And the more you’re paid, the more difficult it becomes to add value.
  • You deliver more than would normally be expected. You go above and beyond the norm. For instance, as a dentist, your fillings are longer lasting, more cosmetically attractive, or less painful than the norm.
  • You are the preferred option, even if you are more expensive or less convenient. Your clients want to work with you, even if you have a long waiting list, even if they have to travel far to see you, and even if they pay twice as much as for your competitor.

So are you adding value… or just taking up space?

You can add value, and be perceived as intensely valuable.

Your business can be more engaging, more attractive, more memorable — without spending more on marketing or overhead.

We’re gifting 1,000 assessments to the Upstart audience to give a personal tour inside your individual personalities.

Source: Up Start Business Journal

41G8t7cI0qLAbout Sally Hogshead – Speaker on Innovation in Branding and Marketing:

Sally Hogshead is a Hall of Fame speaker, international author, and the world’s leading expert on fascination. Growing up with the last name Hogshead would give anyone an unconventional point of view. After graduating from Duke University and starting in advertising, Sally was named the most successful junior copywriter of all time. At age 27 she opened her first agency, and went on to conquer the worlds of branding and marketing.

Over the past decade, Sally’s research has uncovered surprising trends. In today’s distracted world, people have a 9-second attention span. With only 9 seconds to communicate value, we must use our advantages to immediately break through. Sally teaches how to break through the distraction and competition by creating moments of intense focus.

When you fascinate a customer or employee, you create exciting moments of connection. Your listener is far more likely to remember and value you.

For more information on Sally Hogshead, please visit: The Sweeney Agency.

Stop Harping on Generational Differences

tasha-eurich_headshot_2Upon hearing a statistic that 83 percent of millennials sleeps with their cell phones, a baby boomer CEO exclaimed to me, who happens to be a millennial, “These people are from a different planet!”

Vociferous feelings about younger generations gave existed for thousands of years. Hesiod, a Greek poet active between 750 and 650 BC lamented, “The frivolous youth of today … are reckless beyond words. When I was a boy, we were taught to be discreet and respectful of elders, but [they] are … impatient of restraint.”

In recent years, generational hysteria has reached unprecedented levels in business, with wide-ranging and concerning consequences.

Indeed, the three generations in the workplace do exhibit some differences. For example, they differ in size, with 75 million baby boomers (1946-1964), 55 million Gen Xers (1965-1999), and 77 millennials (1980-1999). Millennials often differ in education and are on track to be the most educated generation in U.S. history. But outside of demographic differences, there’s little scientific support for differences in values or behaviours.

Myths of Generational Differences

For many studies purporting to reveal generational differences, their very design prevents such conclusions. Cross-sectional studies compare generations at the same time. For example, researchers might measure the importance of work by generation. One common finding is that boomers see work as more important than ‘Xers and millennials. But this doesn’t prove that generations are different – it just means that there were differences at the time they were surveyed.

To verify differences between generations, researchers must conduct longitudinal research, following each generation over time. Research of this kind suggests that many so-called generational differences are simply due to life stage. One such study analyzed data from young adults between 1982 and 2007 (assessing baby boomers, Gen Xers and millennials at the same age) and concluded that there was no increase in narcissism in recent generations. Therefore, although younger people can be more self-centered than adults, implying that millennilas are any more so than previous generations in incorrect.

Generational Hysteria

Believing in generational differences that don’t exist is dangerous for companies. First, well-intentioned investments like training in generational understanding may not yield meaningful returns. Second, organizations are opening themselves up to risk of stereotypes and ensuing lawsuits.
Stereotypes based on age (especially for protected classes of employees over the age of 40) are just as dangerous as race or gender stereotypes because they influence behaviour. For example, if a new millennial employee is late to work on her second day, the boomer boss might conclude that she lacks work ethic and write her off. Research suggests that when employees are the victim of age-based stereotypes, they start to behave that way.

Three Tips for Responsible Generational Behavior

Squelching stereotypes: Make the decision to manage individuals, not stereotypes. The more we point out differences between generations, the more we exaggerate those differences. Reduce the temptation to assign a set of values or beliefs based on age and be open to understanding each individual.

Considering results first: When someone has a work approach that’s different from ours, it’s easy to pass judgement. Before you judge, examine their results first.

Practicing equal opportunity management: Research suggests that generations share the same values. Even though millennials might be brave (or foolish) enough to ask for flexible schedules or professional development, those things that should be granted to everyone, regardless of their generation.

What may seem like immutable differences between generations may be due mostly to life stage. The less time we spend harping on these so-called differences, the more time and energy we’ll have to grow and sustain our business for all generations.

Source: Training Industry Magazine

About Dr. Tasha Eurich – Organizational Psychologist and Speaker on Leadership & Teamwork:

81DsGZtNYZLDr. Tasha Eurich is an organizational psychologist, speaker and New York Times best-selling author of Bankable Leadership: Happy People, Bottom Line Results and the Power to Deliver Both. Her life’s work is to help organizations succeed by improving the effectiveness of their leaders and teams.

With a contagious passion and energy, Dr T. (as her clients call her) pairs her scientific grounding in human behavior with a practical approach to solving leadership challenges. Her ten-plus year career has spanned roles as an external consultant and a direct report to both CEOs and human resources executives. The majority of Dr. Eurich’s work has been with executives in large Fortune 500 organizations, including CH2M HILL, Xcel Energy, Western Union, Newmont Mining, Centura Health, CoBiz Financial, Destination Hotels and Resorts, DCP Midstream, IHS, Forest Oil, City of Cincinnati, and HCA.

Her expertise has been featured in The New York Times and Forbes and she has published articles in Chief Learning Officer Magazine, The CEO Magazine, Leadership Excellence, The Journal of Business and Psychology, The Work Style Magazine, and other magazines and journals. In 2013, Dr. Eurich was honored as one of Denver Business Journal’s “40 under 40” rising stars in business.

For more information on Dr. Tasha Eurich, please visit: The Sweeney Agency

The Birth of Innovation

Peter DiamandisThree hundred years ago, during the Age of Enlightenment, the coffee house became the center of innovation.

Back then, most people went from drinking beer to consuming coffee (i.e. from being tipsy to being wired) and ideas started exploding.

The details of this story are important (and fun) one for anyone passionate about innovation.

I wrote about this very phenomenon in Abundance, and offer the excerpt below.

Read, enjoy and pass it on to all the coffee-lovers (and innovators) in your life.

Beginning of Abundance Excerpt: The World is My Coffee Shop

In his excellent book Where Good Ideas Come From: The Natural History of Innovation, author Steven Johnson explores the impact of coffeehouses on the Enlightenment culture of the 18th century. “It’s no accident,” he says, “that the age of reason accompanies the rise of caffeinated beverages.” There are two main drivers at work here. The first is that before the discovery of coffee, much of the world was intoxicated much of the day. This was mostly a health issue. Water was too polluted to drink, so beer was the beverage of choice. In his New Yorker essay “Java Man,” Malcolm Gladwell explains it this way: “Until the 18th century, it must be remembered, many Westerners drank beer almost continuously, even beginning their day with something called “beer soup.” Now they begin each day with a strong cup of coffee. One way to explain the industrial revolution is as the inevitable consequence of a world where people suddenly preferred being jittery to being drunk.”

But equally important to the Enlightenment was the coffeehouse as a hub for information sharing. These new establishments drew people from all walks of life. Suddenly the rabble could party alongside the royals, and this allowed all sorts of novel notions to begin to meet and mingle and, as Matt Ridley says, “have sex.” In his book London Coffee Houses, Bryant Lillywhite explains it this way:

The London coffee-houses provided a gathering place where, for a penny admission charge, any man who was reasonably dressed could smoke his long, clay pipe, sip a dish of coffee, read the newsletters of the day, or enter into conversation with other patrons. At the period when journalism was in its infancy and the postal system was unorganized and irregular, the coffee-house provided a center of communication for news and information… Naturally, this dissemination of news led to the dissemination of ideas, and the coffee-house served as a forum for their discussion.

But researchers in recent years have recognized that the coffee shop phenomenon is actually just a mirror of what occurs within cities. Two-thirds of all growth takes place in cities because, by simple fact of population density, our urban spaces are perfect innovation labs. The modern metropolis is jam-packed. People are living atop one another; their ideas are as well. So notions bump into hunches bump into offhanded comments bump into concrete theories bump into absolute madness, and the results pave the way forward. And the more complicated, multilingual, multicultural, wildly diverse the city, the greater its output of new ideas. “What drives a city’s innovation engine, then — and thus its wealth engine — is its multitude of differences,” says Stewart Brand. In fact, Santa Fe Institute, physicist Geoffrey West found that when a city’s population doubles, there is a 15 percent increase in income, wealth, and innovation. (He measured innovation by counting the number of new patents.)

But just as the coffeehouse is a pale comparison to the city; the city is a pale comparison to the World Wide Web. The net is allowing us to turn ourselves into a giant, collective meta-intelligence. And this meta-intelligence continues to grow as more and more people come online. Think about this for a moment: by 2020, nearly three billion people will be added to the Internet’s community. That’s three billion new minds about to join the global brain. The world is going to gain access to intelligence, wisdom, creativity, insight, and experiences that have, until very recently, been permanently out of reach.

The upside of this surge is immeasurable. Never before in history has the global marketplace touched so many consumers and provided access to so many producers. The opportunities for collaborative thinking are also growing exponentially, and since progress is cumulative, the resulting innovations are going to grow exponentially as well. For the first time ever, the rising billion will have the remarkable power to identify, solve, and implement their own abundance solutions. And thanks to the net, those solutions aren’t going to stay balkanized in the developing world.

Perhaps most importantly, the developing world is the perfect incubator for the technologies that are the keys to sustainable growth. “Indeed,” writes Stuart Hart, “new technologies — including renewable energy, distributed generation, biomaterials, point-of-use water purification, wireless information technologies, sustainable agriculture, and nanotechnology — could hold the keys to addressing environmental challenges from the top to the base of the economic pyramid.”

However, he adds, “Because green technologies are frequently ‘disruptive’ in character (that is, they threaten incumbents in existing markets), the BoP may be the most appropriate socioeconomic segment upon which to focus initial commercialization attention… If such a strategy were widely embraced, the developing economies of the world become the breeding ground for tomorrow’s sustainable industries and companies, with the benefits — both economic and environmental — ultimately “trickling up” to the wealthy at the top of the pyramid.”

Thus this influx of intellect from the rising billion may turn out to be the saving grace of the entire planet. Please, please, please, let the bootstrapping begin.

Source: The Huffington Post

Abundance_Final_CoverAbout Dr. Peter Diamandis – Inspiring speaker on Innovation and Technology:

Scientist, engineer, doctor, and inspiring speaker Dr. Peter Diamandis is the world’s foremost expert in incentivized innovation and the growth of expontential technologies. The art of incentivize smart and talented people within your company or those experts around the world to focus on solving your grand challenges. He has worked with Fortune 100 companies, government leaders and captains of industry over the past 15 years. In 2010 Diamandis is the winner of the Economist No Boundaries award for meta-innovation – driving innovation in the way people innovate. He is also the winner of the Arthur C. Clarke Award for Innovation, the Heinlein Award, the Lindbergh Award, the Wired RAVE Award, the Neil Armstrong Award, and the World Technology Award.

Diamandis inspires and moves audiences to action. His message is clear: there is no challenge that cannot be overcome. It is a matter of having a clear objective goal, clarity of what you are measuring and incentivizing the right community to solve your challenge. Using personal, in-depth and inspirational stories, Diamandis has been called one of the best speakers ever by numerous CEO-level audiences. He has received accolades from an impressively diverse list of listeners: Google, Microsoft, the United Nations, Facebook, TED, PhRMAs CEO Conference, Autodesk and Activision-Blizzard to name a few. Diamandis is a frequent contributor to CNN, CNBC and MSNBC.

For more information on Peter Diamandis, please visit: The Sweeney Agency