Filed in Changing behaviour.
James March, Professor of Political Science at Stanford argues that when we make choices, we tend to rely on one of two basic models for decision making: the consequences model or the identity model.(*1)
In the consequence model, when we have a decision to make we weigh the costs and benefits and make the choice that maximises our satisfaction.
Instead of rational/logical approach of the consequence model, the identity model of decision making says when we have a decision to make we ask ourselves three questions:
- Who am I?
- What kind of situation is this?
- What would someone like me do in this situation?
Let me show you an example of someone using the identity model to influence someone to make a different choice.
This clip is taken from the hit US series 'Glee'.
In this episode the Glee club have the opportunity to have their picture in the school yearbook for the first time. The Principal isn't keen for them to have their picture in there, and most of the Glee club don't want this to happen either, both fearing the picture will be vandalised and defaced. The only people who are really keen for it to happen are the teacher in charge of the Glee club, Will Schuester, and the 'goody two shoes" co-captain of the club, Rachel Berry.
The Principal finally agrees, but says that there must be two members of the Glee club in the photo. The problem is, no one else wants to be in there except Rachel. So Rachel now has the challenge of convincing the other co-captain, Finn Hudson to do it with her.
Did you see how Rachel used the concept of identity (being a leader) to help influence Finn? "Because you're a leader Finn, and that's what leaders do. They stick their necks out for people they care about". And how does he eventually reply? "I am a leader. It's who I am, who I want to be".
Now, I have yet to see it happen so easily, and so quickly in reality, but tapping into the identity of who people are, or who they want to be, can be incredibly powerful when creating change.
If you are interested in knowing more about using identity to create change, have a look at the story about how Paul Butler worked to save the St Lucia Parrot from extinction told in Switch or the 'Don't Miss with Texas' anti-littering campaign cited in Made to Stick. Also have a look at our old favourite Influence: the Psychology of Persuasion by Robert Cialdini.
At the end of the day, we are all looking for better ways to sell.
This means better ways to build relationships with our clients, to understand their needs and to communicate our products and services with impact. We all want to stand out from our competitors.
Anecdote has just launched our Storytelling for Sales Program to develop participants story skills to do exactly that.
We know that stories are engaging, we tell them informally and people listen, they ‘get’ what we are saying and they remember it. Yet few people in business systematically harness the natural power of stories to sell.
Our Storytelling for Sales program shows participants how to use storytelling to create connection with, understand needs better and communicate clearer with your clients.
Everyone involved in selling faces similar challenges. These include the need to:
- Build rapport and make a connection
- Develop trust and lasting relationships that can survive even the tough times
- Understand their clients and the challenges and opportunities they face
- Explain and bring to life increasingly complex products and offerings
- Be remembered
Great sales people are great storytellers. But we often assume this a natural gift that you either have, or you don’t.
It’s not the case.
We can all use the natural power of stories to sell.
Anecdote’s Storytelling for Sales program shows you exactly how.
To find out more about the program, and to make the most of our 'Program Launch' pricing (which is only available for a limited time), please contact us.
Filed in Changing behaviour.
The start of a new year is a great time to think about the year ahead. What you want to achieve. What you want to do more of. What you want to stop. Basically to start with a fresh page and think about how you can actively work to create the year you want, rather than one that just happens to you.
Now, the good old new year resolution approach has never really worked for me. You know the one. "I will contact 3 prospective new clients each week", "I will go to the gym 3 times a week", "I will stop eating chocolate" etc. etc.
There's a whole number of reasons why this hasn't worked for me, but I think one of the biggest is that there is no real connection between these tasks and some bigger goal. Nothing to connect me and remind me of why I am doing it. When times get tough, and there are a million competing and conflicting priorities and demands, what will bring me back to what I really want, and is important to me?
Well, I found a technique on Chris Brogan's blog that might help me, and that I am going to try out in 2013.
On his blog, Chris explains that every year since 2006, instead of coming out with resolutions at the start of each year, he chooses 3 words instead. 3 words to help focus his goals and efforts for the coming year. 3 words to give him the big picture for what he wants to achieve, not the small picture of individual actions.
To choose 3 words that can be used;
"..as lighthouses to guide you through stormy seas, that can be used as flags on the battlefield of your challenges, words that will bolster you and give you a direction that goes beyond the goals you might attach as a result of these words."
I really liked this idea so I spent some time thinking and come up with my three words for 2013:
Clients – I will be closer to my existing clients, and continue to develop relationships and connections to new clients in 2013. I will continue to work to ensure Anecdote is seen as a 'trusted advisor' when clients are looking to make their strategy stick, build engagement amongst their people, develop their leaders, or improve the way they communicate through storytelling. I will work harder to understand my client needs and how we can help them meet them.
Create – There are two massive, and very exciting, pieces of work in 2013 that require me to create. To have the discipline to spent some time each day, and each night thinking, reading and, ultimately, writing. To create the routines and habits that allow me the time and space to create, and to put in place the rewards when I do. This is one of the aspects of my job I love the most, but this year is about bringing in disciplines, habits and deadlines to really allow me to achieve what I want this year.
Control – This is about my health and wellbeing. I am an insulin dependant diabetic, and therefore controlling my blood sugars is a huge part of me continuing to be healthy. But to achieve this there are a number of things that have to happen. I need to be physically fitter. I need to weigh less. I need to monitor my blood sugars throughout the day to even know if I am in control. I need to cut down on sugar in my diet. Control is the word that resonates for me to bring all of these things into focus.
There you have it. My 3 words for 2013 - Client. Create. Control.
What are your 3 words for the coming year?
So, how can organisations effectively deliver their quarterly results and at the same time maintain their competitive advantage when faced with so much change?
The November 2012 edition of HBR includes an article by John Kotter titled 'Accelerate' [note: payment is required to access the full article] that poses a solution. Kotter advocates letting the formal 'operating system' (the hierarchy) run the day-to-day activities and creating a second operating system using the informal system to design and implement strategy.
Kotter argues that the formal structures and hierarchies in organisations are excellent for the day-to-day operation of the organisation and delivery of business results, but they are barriers to implementing strategies to adapt to changes. "…the old ways of setting and implementing strategy are failing us." The formal structures and processes have difficulty even keeping up with changes, let alone getting ahead of them. Kotter points out that his 'eight step change process', developed in the mid-90s, has a hard time producing results in a fast-moving world.
The majority of the article is focussed on a 'new' concept Kotter calls 'Strategic Accelerators'. In effect, he is talking about using Communities of Practice/collaborative networks to tap into the power and agility of the informal capabilities of an organisation. The network of strategic accelerators complements the formal systems; it does not replace them. Collaborative networks are not a new concept, but Kotter's application of them to the arena of strategy is very insightful.
Kotter's article has crystallised a natural link between two of Anecdote's core activities: Making Strategies Stick and our many years of work in helping organisations develop effective collaborative networks.
If you want to establish a network of 'strategic accelerators', our experience highlights some of the things you need to focus on:
- more leadership, less management - the network members are volunteers so they can't be managed as conscripts. Networks require leadership that creates the conditions for them to succeed. Importantly, leadership support must be visible yet it does not require enormous effort. Here is an example of the effect of 'being managed' on a network
- follow the passion - network members have 'day jobs' so the amount of time they spend on network activities will vary. In essence, the effort they invest in the network is discretionary. The things that are most likely to get done are things they are interested in or passionate about
- invest in social capital - network activities require high levels of trust between members so attention is needed to activities that build better and deeper relationships. It can't be 'all work and no play'.
Networks of strategic accelerators can be developed purposefully and intentionally. To do so requires paradigms of 'control' to be replaced by 'empowerment and autonomy'. Kotter notes that if you succeed "the network and the accelerators can serve as a continuous and holistic change function - one that accelerate momentum and agility because it never stops. They impart an kind of 'strategic fitness'".
I started to read Daniel Coyle's latest book: The Little Book of Talent: 52 Tips for improving your skills on the commute to work this morning, and it's fascinating.
I really enjoyed Coyle's previous book The Talent Code: Greatness Isn't Born. It's Grown. Here's How. The book was all about answering the question; "how do people get great at something?".
For the book, Coyle looked at the latest research, spent a lot of time talking to the 'father of expertise' K. Anders Ericsson, but also visited what he called 'talent hotbeds'. These are places where great talent has been produced out of proportion to their size and perceived stature; for example, a Russian tennis club, a music school in Dallas, a soccer field in Brazil, and many others.
It is a fascinating read and brings out, yet again, the importance of deliberate practice, a concept you may have seen us mention on many occasions in this blog. From cab drivers in London doing the knowledge, to Benjamin Frankiln improving the way he wrote, to the Jamacian bob sleigh team, immortalised in the film 'Cool Runnings'. They all used elements of deliberate practice in building skill and improving performance.
A key element of deliberate practice is the presence of some kind of coach, teacher or mentor to help provide guidance and give feedback on performance. We all know the value of a great coach, but what is the right kind of person to help us really achieve something great?
From Coyle's research he says you should seek out someone who:
- Doesn't remind you of a courteous waiter - you don't want someone that smiles a lot and says things like; "Don't worry, no problem, we will take care of that later".
- Scares you a little - look for someone who watches you closely and is honest, sometimes unnervingly so
- Gives short, clear directions - most great teachers/coaches/mentors do not give long winded speeches. Instead, they give short, clear directions of what they want.
- Loves teaching fundamentals - they start from a focus on the basics, the foundations, the fundamentals and build from there. And they will always go back to these to ensure they are being done, and done right.
- Is older (all other things being equal) - teaching is like any other talent: it takes time to grow. Great teachers are first and foremost learners, who improve their skills with each passing year
We’re excited to announce that Shawn and Mark are visiting India in late September and will be running two of our workshops in the New Delhi District:
- Storytelling to influence, engage & persuade - 25th September
- Influencing change with the natural power of stories - 26th September
We have so many followers and Anecdotally subscribers from this region, we thought it was about time we made a visit to meet some of them and to showcase our approach to story-work. We hope you can make it. We’re looking forward to meeting new friends and colleagues from this part of the world.
To find out more about the courses and to register please go here. ‘Early Bird’ rates are available until 10 August 2012.
Shawn and I have spent the last couple of days working with a client helping them create their strategic story down in the Mornington Peninsula. There are certainly worse places in the world to spend a couple of days than at a winery in such a beautiful spot. It was a throughly enjoyable off-site, made even more so by working with such an energetic, passionate and fun bunch of people.
During lunch yesterday I noticed that Harry, the guy sitting beside me, was checking his emails, and on his screen was the image below from The Sun newspaper.
Obviously curious I asked him what that email was about. He laughed, and then explained it was from one of his guys who organised the teams lottery syndicate. That night was a $70 million jackpot prize on offer in the OZ Lotto, one of the biggest prizes in Australian lottery history, and as yet he hadn't signed, or paid up.
There was no other text in the email. All the person did was send on this story about how an entire Spanish village won part of a £600 million ($960 million) lottery jackpot apart from one resident who got nothing because he didn't buy a ticket.
That was it. They let the story do the convincing. And it worked.
When asked for the secret of his success in the steel industry, American industrialist Charles Schwab (1862-1939) always talked about using praise, not criticism, giving liberal bonuses for work well done, and "appeal[ing] to the American spirit of conquest in my men, the spirit of doing things better than anyone has ever done them before."
He liked to tell this story, retold in Dale Carnegie's How to Win Friends and Influence People, about how he handled an unproductive steel mill:
Schwab had a mill manager whose people weren't producing their quota. "How is it that a manager as capable as you can't make this mill turn out what it should?"
"I don't know," the manager replied. "I've coaxed the men, I've pushed them, I've sworn and cussed, I've threatened them with damnation and being fired. But nothing works. They just won't produce."
Schwab asked the manager for a piece of chalk, and asked: "How many heats did your shift make today?"
Schwab chalked a big figure six on the floor. When the night shift came in, they saw the "6″ and asked what it meant. "The big boss was in here today, he asked us how many heats we made, and we told him six. He chalked it down on the floor."
The next morning Schwab walked through the mill again. The night shift had rubbed out "6″ and replaced it with a big "7."
When the day shift reported for work the next morning, they saw a big "7″ chalked on the floor. So the night shift thought they were better than the day shift did they? Well, they would show the night shift a thing or two. The crew pitched in with enthusiasm, and when they quit that night, they left behind them an enormous, swaggering "10."
Shortly, this mill, which had been lagging way behind in production, was turning out more work than any other mill in the plant."
Schwab's improvised just-in-time leader board was simple, quick, cheap and powerful. Leaderboards can stimulate and motivate people to succeed. Making outcomes more visible to more people guarantees more discussion about who's successful and why. Leaderboards are therefore a terrific way to trigger stories.
Did you see Dave's team is leading this week, did you hear about that big deal they did last week? See Tracey's guys have gone up since last week after she had them on that training course? What do you think is going on with Gary's team to bomb that badly?
Visible results, tied in with competition, trigger stories. This is a central tenant of the whole gamification movement
Carnegie concludes his anecdote by quoting Schwab: "The way to get things done is to stimulate competition. I do not mean in a sordid, money-getting way, but in the desire to excell."
Obviously, no sane organisation wants a competition right out of David Mamet's Glengarry, Glen Ross. But if it drives the right behaviours and triggers the right stories then it can be a great way to build motivation and increase performance.