One of these things is not like the others…and confirmation bias will make sure it doesn’t get the job.

confirmation bias part two

According to the HBR, when you only have one non-traditional candidate in your hiring pool, that candidate has zero statistical chance of being hired.

Confirmation Bias Strikes Again.

When a business stalls or encounters serious problems, it is often the very “team” that gave it strength that now is part of the roadblock to creating innovative solutions.  Most businesses tend to hire employees from very similar backgrounds, whether socio-economic, schooling, or even geography.  It can narrow their perspective and also create an effect where there is deadly “group think.”  This is usually thought to be a result of the players being so “comfortable” with each other that they don’t challenge each other’s assumptions, and tend to draw the same conclusions. (Real-life examples of the type of “group think” turnaround featured in the classic “Twelve Angry Men” are rarer than we’d like to believe.)

A recent study published in the Harvard Business Review points out an even more insidious barrier to change, even among those companies that may be trying to diversify their teams.  It’s a long, but fascinating read….and you better have at least two people with a different perspective if you want to turn that jury around.

If there’s only one woman (or ethnically diverse or non-college educated or under-represented “fill in the blank here” candidate) in your candidate pool, there’s statistically almost no chance she’ll be hiredRead it here. The good news? Adding just one other non-traditional  candidate radically increases the statistical probability that a non-traditional candidate will be hired.

We’ve talked about how confirmation bias can limit your ability to correctly identify your problems here and why project teams need diverse viewpoints. Need to see just how homogenous your team is? Grab our “Reading the Terrain” field guide here. The pointed questions will help you view a very familiar place with fresh eyes.

#3 of 3 Great Reasons why what Worked for you Before, isn’t Working Now.

rapid rise and descent of a business strategy

Your strategy was working great, then it stopped? Here’s three reasons why it may have stopped working

It was Working.

Now it’s not working.

Why?

It’s hard to continually grow success. With rare exceptions, the line to the top of the success platform is more often a series of “one step forward, two steps back, a side step, a loop de loop,” and then, finally, “up we go”. One of the most difficult things to come to terms with in both business and personal life is when something that had worked so well for you previously is now not only not working, but may actually be working against you.

So why isn’t it working?

Joined us in the middle? See Reason #1 and Reason #2

Reason #3. Your product is wearing the wrong clothes.

Your product/business/idea may be great, but it may be dressed in the wrong packaging for your intended audience. Now this isn’t usually the main driver, but can be why growth has stalled. What do “the wrong clothes” look like?

  • Your high tech/impulse purchase product isn’t optimized for mobile access, or you created a high tech mobile product for a “not very high tech” audience. You may have reached the saturation point for the people that recognized your product in the space it is in, but you may be missing a much larger market that is playing in another playground.
  • Your choice of market place isn’t reaching the maximum audience.  Are you a retail store? Are you in a indoor mall? How is your foot traffic vs the foot traffic at a strip center (and yes, it was a very different story 10 years ago)? Or maybe you’re a business website with a non-visual based business who is doing all your marketing over on Pinterest.  Blogging when your audience wants podcasts? It may not be that you’re located in a bad place, you just may not be located in the optimal place.
  • Your packaging doesn’t match what your audience’s expectations. Are you a luxury business with a pre-canned, pre-formatted word template for everything from invoices to your website that reeks of beginning Microsoft 101? Is your website loaded with “Coming soon” and a copyright date of 2011 running across the bottom?

 Well that’s just great, Jeanne. So what do I do now, Little Ms. Fix it?

Read our next article, Charging Back Uphill, Blasting out of a Stall. 

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Speed Read an Organization with our Easy Guide

And in the meantime, if you haven’t already done so, subscribe to our free weekly newsletter and get a your copy of “Reading the Terrain, A field guide for speed reading the Corporate landscape” instantly. It may help you identify some critical mismatches between where you think you are and how those on the outside see your business.  And no, we’re not going to sell your email address to others. Or bombard you with insta offers. We’re just going to send your our newsletter that helps you navigate in a time of constant change.

 

 

3 Great Reasons why what Worked for you Before isn’t Working Now. (pt. 1)

rapid rise and descent of a business strategy

Your strategy was working great, then it suddenly stopped?
Here’s three possible reasons why.  

It was Working.

Now it’s not working.

Why?

It’s hard to continually grow success. With rare exceptions, the line to the top of the success platform is more often a series of “one step forward, two steps back, a side step, a loop de loop,” and then, finally, “up we go”. One of the most difficult things to come to terms with in both business and personal life is when something that had worked so well for you previously is now not only not working, but may actually be working against you.

So why isn’t it working?

Reason# 1. The ground beneath you has changed.

Think of little girls in school. Most are rewarded for being quiet, polite, raising their hands, doing their work conscientiously and neatly. This gets them A’s not only in school work but those goofy awards like “Best Friend” “Teacher’s Helper” and, later in life, “Girl most likely to be doing her boyfriend’s homework while he’s off doing whatever cool thing he does that makes her want to date him.” Boys in school are not expected to be as quiet, or as well behaved, and while it might get them a “C” in deportment or behavior (or the more modern version, endless red cards), it doesn’t generally hold him back.

Now move these kids to a different playing field. What happens when these two get into the business world? One has the forward focus of doing what he wants or needs to do to get what he wants. One is a worker bee. Which is more likely to be CEO?

Shift that to a business model. During the recent turbulent times you kept your business super conservative. This helped you survive very rough seas and may have even gotten you some public praise. To be conservative you cut inventory to a minimum, watched receivables like a hawk, cut expenses, minimized staffing and got them to multitask like no one’s business. You “won” the recession. But slowly, maybe without you noticing, things change. As the economy slowly improves, your inventory looks tired, minimal. Your team, exhausted, starts getting other offers. Things start to break down, because you didn’t replace them, or they’re out of date and you’re now doing more creative things to work around the outdated system every day. New competitors (maybe even sinking severance pay into a new business) suddenly appear, shinier, newer, with newer systems, fresh inventory, a fresh perspective. Many will go out of business shortly because they don’t know what you know, but at the same time, they will take their hits on your market share. Some may even survive. Your old staff may work for them, coaching them on the areas they don’t know a lot about. The ground changed beneath your feet, and you are still fighting the war using the tools that worked before.

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Speed Read an Organization with our Easy Guide

Time to reassess. We’ll give you some tools at the end of this series. (If you want to start seeing your business with fresh eyes today, sign up for our free booklet “Reading the Terrain” by subscribing to our newsletter today.)

Our Next Article: Reason #2: One hit wonders…

Speed Read your Work Environment, Today

Can you see what's going on around you?

Can you see what’s going on around you?

Ever think you might be missing the forest for the trees? Once you’re immersed in an organizational culture, you sometimes don’t even notice the quirks or unique habits of your environment.

What’s funny is that on the very first day you worked in the new environment you may have even spotted some key takeaways, but most likely  you didn’t fully process them or act upon them. (Okay, you may have slightly tweaked the way you dress but that’s usually about it for most people).

Our Free “Field Guide” gives you some key questions to help widen your view beyond your department or division. It covers topics as diverse as “Power Players” “Who’s Buying, Who’s Paying, Who’s Watching”, “Revenue Streams” “People Culture” “Technology” “Bomb Dropping”  and many other areas that help you truly understand the big picture.

You can get the guide for free, just sign up for our weekly newsletter in the subscription box at the right. We won’t mail bomb you, or share your email address. You’ll get a copy of the guide and our weekly updates of new articles.

Here’s a sample section:

Radioactive Fallout (aka “We tried that before” or “Previous Adventures in Change”)  

  1. What other change initiatives have been tried recently?  Are any similar to what you have planned?
  2. What were the results? Did anything actually change?
  3. What were the other consequences of the change; were there layoffs, staff cutbacks, staff reorganizations?
  4. Is “Change for Change’s Sake” a regular occurrence? How seriously is it taken?
  5. Does the team have a “set point?” a behavior or path of action they consistently revert back to when there is a problem with a change strategy or when the official “change period” is over?
  6. How quickly does the team come up with “workarounds” to avoid dealing with change? Is this the normal pattern?
  7. What is the persistent story around change in this organization (i.e. “Always leads to layoffs”  “ Screws everything up and then they go back to how it was”  “Another round of idiot consultants here to make money and make us miserable” )
  8. Does the culture favor real change or does it prefer band aids, quick fixes, and fluff (aka lots of marketing and branding fury signifying nothing).

If you don’t know where or what the “Elephants and Sacred Cows” are at your office, do yourself a favor and grab the guide.

book by Jeanne Goldie

Speed Read an Organization with our Easy Guide

It’s Free, and it will take 30 seconds of your time. I guarantee it will open your eyes to at least one thing you may not have considered before.

And if you have a friend struggling at work, make their day better and forward this link to them!

 

A Fun Way to Get “Unstuck”

Team in a funk? Feel like you’re hitting a brick wall? There’s an app for that.

The “Unstuck” app, available on the ITunes store is a great, fun tool that allows you to put in a problem, business or personal, answer a few questions about feelings, who’s involved, what you perceive the roadblocks to be, and it shoots out a diagnosis of what’s going on, possible next steps, and some famous folks who have faced similar situations.  It’s been around for about two years and is constantly improved. Try it.

The app is for Ipads and is free. You can read more about it at www.unstuck.com

What Bubble are You Living in? Billy Joel used to live in it too!

 

trapped in a bubble

Sometimes you’re living in a bubble and don’t even know it.

“All your life is Channel 13, Sesame Street, What does it mean? Pressure Pressure.”

“Pressure” by Billy Joel ©1982

What do you and I have in common with Billy Joel? (Hint:the answer is NOT Christie Brinkley. The Katie Lee Joel cookbook is a viable answer but not the one we’re looking for here!).

Sometimes we don’t realize how much we don’t know. If you’ve worked in one type of environment, industry or managerial structure you may think you “know” how things work. And you probably know quite a bit about how things work in your specific world.  You know every quirk of your department, that it’s never a good idea to bring up a new project in third quarter, that the marketing team can always be outvoted by the sales team and that every three months someone will reliably throw a fit about people not cleaning stuff out of the break room refrigerator, complete with a freshly printed sign taped to the refrigerator door and some pointed emails from the person who got stuck doing the big cleanout.

Growing up just outside of New York City, my family didn’t travel much. There wasn’t money for big vacations.  In New York, pre-digital television,  Channel  7 was ABC,  Channel 4 was NBC, and Channel 2 was CBS. Last but not least, Channel 13 was the local Public Broadcasting Affiliate (PBS). Which broadcast “Sesame Street” (for my international readers, “Sesame Street” is a children’s show which features humans and puppets teaching 3-6 year olds how to read, count and learn various life skills. You can see a clip here).

When I moved to Atlanta, Georgia to go to college, one of the first things that surprised me was that the TV channels weren’t the same.  Now, Channel 2 was ABC, Channel 11 was NBC, Channel 5 was CBS and Channel 8 was PBS.

Not exactly a mind-blowing revelation on the scale of “Who is Keyser Soze?” but a small rattling of what my 17 year old self “knew” to be true.  For 17 years the NY channel line-up was my “truth” and Channel 13 was PBS, home of “Sesame Street”. And apparently, the same was true for Billy Joel. So much so that he wrote about it in his internationally broadcast hit song.

I often wondered what the heck people outside the NY/NJ area thought Billy was singing about when he mentioned Channel 13 since it was not their reality. Did they realize it was “connected” to Sesame Street (mentioned in the next line of the song) or did they think it was an abstract reference like “Area 51” or some hip thing they didn’t “get”? “Pressure” came out “pre-internet” so I imagine some people were very confused.

It really was just Billy’s moment in the bubble. In  1982, in his world and mine, Channel 13 was PBS and we assumed everyone would know that.

When you are leading a change, or if you are working in a new environment, are you assuming that everyone else’s “rules” and “truth” are the same as yours? New leaders, new technology, geography, or a change in your customer base can all affect the environment and sometimes we don’t even notice it until it’s too late.

What’s your “Channel 13?” What do you “know” to be true in your world? Is it?

(P.S. Did you get that old lunch of yours out of the refrigerator yet? Because you just know that memo is coming! Watch Billy Joel sing about Channel 13 while you’re doing it.)

book by Jeanne Goldie

Speed Read an Organization with our Easy Guide

P.P.S: Need help testing what you “know” to be true? Download our free Field Guide for understanding the organizational landscape before you begin creating change. “Reading the Terrain” gives you easy questions to ask yourself that will help you see your world with fresh eyes and broaden your perspective.  Sign up at the right to receive our newsletter and you’ll get a free link to download our guide. And no, we won’t bombard you with junk mail. Or memos on how you need to clean out the refrigerator.

 

 

Rule #2: What you knew on the very first day, is what you need to remember now.

Remember the first day you worked at this company, this department?  Some slight boredom, endless paperwork tempered with the excitement of starting something new.  You had some time on your hands to observe while you waited for HR to send back your docs, or your first client to call. Most likely you observed some stuff that didn’t quite make sense, processes that didn’t seem to be working well; a system that seemed to have a vital hiccup.   And you didn’t raise a red flag because, hey, you were the new guy, maybe you just didn’t get “how things worked.”

A few months later, the “Kool-Aid” has been drunk and you’re part of the team. And you don’t notice those things as much anymore. Or someone gave you some sort of explanation about them that kind of made sense or implied a higher level of thinking had already thought through that problem.

Except, you were right, your beginner’s eyes caught something important.

When I take note of things on the first week of any assignment with a new team, if I look back at the notes a year later, there is clarity of thought that often points to a key weakness of the group, team or setup.  It’s generally not people perceptions, but rather processes, procedures or underlying assumptions of the business model that have a “hole” which, while not fatal, may keep the business from achieving the greatest return on its efforts.

Go back to the beginning. Did you take notes? (If not, make sure you always do going forward.) You may not have been 100% correct in your impressions, but I guarantee, somewhere in those first few days, you saw a glimmer of one of the problems that is dogging your team now.

Start digging there.

Want to see all 10 Rules for Beginning a Turnaround? Start here.

book by Jeanne Goldie

Speed Read an Organization with our Easy Guide

Need help seeing things with fresh eyes?  Subscribe to our newsfeed and you’ll get our free guide to sizing up an organizational culture (look for the subscription box on this page). You want to see the whole chessboard before you make your first move.

Rule # 1: Are you an Aspirin or a Vitamin?

Know your role.What's your Role in Creating Change?

Be an aspirin or a vitamin, as Coach Jodie Charlop likes to remind me. Either your role in change is to take away pain (an aspirin) or inject new life into the group (a vitamin).  In change management you have to be aware that your team (aka “the body”) may not be delighted to see you initially. In some cases the response may well be similar to that of a near-fatal allergic reaction.

If you’re an aspirin, you need to dig to the source of pain and relieve the suffering, hopefully heading off worse damage. You may affect systems beyond your initial target as you work to attack the serious underlying issues that are stressing the system.

Side Effects:

  • May cause dizziness if deployed rapidly.
  • Initial fixes may only mask deeper problems.
  • Excessive thinning of staff or resources may occur.

A vitamin can initially be a shock to the system, creating surges of energy in areas not previously disturbed, or highlighting areas that hadn’t performed at their peak. A vitamin may drive a new level of performance or set new revenue goals.

Side Effects:

  • Stomach upset may result when you rock the status quo.
  • May cause fatigue.
  • Healthy new regimens take time to become habit.

In any change management situation, you will likely have the majority of your actions fall into one camp or the other but will need to know the expected side effects of both.

What are the most common situations you’ve run into when you’ve been an aspirin or a vitamin? Share in the comments section.

Want to see all 10 Rules for Beginning a Turnaround? Start here.

book by Jeanne Goldie

Speed Read an Organization with our Easy Guide

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10 Rules for Beginning a Turnaround

improving your results

Things to consider as you plan how to get from “here” to “there”.

 

  1. Know if you’re an Aspirin or a Vitamin.
  2. What you Knew on the Very First Day is What you Need to Know Now.
  3. Weigh the Opportunity Cost.
  4. Do the Math – Follow the Money.
  5. Find your Allies.
  6. Build a Measuring Stick.
  7. Locate the Elephants.
  8. Understand the Art, Science and Use of Duct Tape.
  9. Change Does Not Occur in a Vacuum.
  10. Communicate and Celebrate the Victories – even the small ones.

+ The Super Top Secret extra rule you always need to know from the beginning!

We’ll drill down on each of these over the next ten days, and share lots more info on the details over the next few weeks. Looking forward to your comments.

book by Jeanne Goldie

Speed Read an Organization with our Easy Guide

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© Jeanne Goldie 2015