Tag Archives: Organizational Change

Organizational Change

“Nudging” Compassion, Resilience to Reduce Conflict, Stress

David DeSteno

David DeSteno, directs Northeastern University’s Social Emotions Lab, where he investigates cognitive and neurological mechanism related to social behavior.
In Out of Character: Surprising Truths About the Liar, Cheat, Sinner (and Saint) Lurking in All of Us , and at his PopTech talk, he shared how he investigated whether evoked compassion and empathy is associated with reduced aggression.

He described experiments in which volunteers solve math problems for money.
In some conditions, one of DeSteno’s associates posed as another volunteer and noticeably cheated to earn more money than the real volunteer.
In other conditions, the confederate abided by the rules.

For some experiments, the cheating confederate, a professional actor, evoked empathy and compassion by saying that she was  worried about her brother, who was just diagnosed with a terminal illness.

In these situations, the volunteers were less likely to intentionally inflict discomfort on her in the following study of “taste perception,” a measure of aggression.

In this experimental trial, the volunteer measured a discretionary amount of extra-hot sauce into a cup for the cheating or non-cheating confederates to taste.

Volunteers poured five times more hot sauce for cheating confederates than non-cheating confederates, but they treated cheaters who evoked empathy the same as non-cheaters.

DeSteno noted most people are willing to help others who have some similarity to them, such as a shared identity of sharing a religious faith or hometown, or even are moving together as in conga lines, military drills.

He suggested that movement “synchrony causes separate identities to merge into one,” and demonstrated this trend in a music perception study, where volunteers in the same room tapped their hands on sensors when they heard tones.

In some conditions, the tones were synchronized so the volunteers were tapping at the same time as other volunteers, and in other conditions, the tones were independent.
De Steno found that 50% of volunteers who tapped at the same time were willing to help other volunteers, whereas 20% of those who tapped at different times helped others.
He concluded that volunteers felt more similar by tapping together, so felt more compassion, and were more likely to help others.

DeSteno is investigating social media like Facebook as a platform for sharing similarities to reduce aggression in conflict, cyber-bullying, victims of distant natural disasters.

He  said uses Cass Sunstein’s and Richard Thaler’s idea that small behavioral and organizational changes can “nudge” people to healthier, safer, more productive, and prosperous habits outlined in Nudge: Improving Decisions About Health, Wealth, and Happiness 

Their practical recommendations for designing effective “choice architecture” are consistent with DeSteno’s research-based findings:

* Align incentives with desired outcomes
* Identify possible alternative outcomes in familiar terms
* Provide default options that favor desired outcome behaviors
* Offer prompt, relevant feedback about choices and outcomes.
* Expect deviation from the targeted outcome, and build in ways to prevent, detect, and minimize this variance.
* Structure complex choices to reduce the difficulty of decisions-making

-*How have you seen “similarity” affect workplace collaboration and support?

-*Where have you seen organizations implement “choice architecture” to encourage employee behaviors toward positive goals?

BJ Fogg

Related Post
“Tiny Habits” Start, Maintain Changes

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French Scott Adams, voiced by faux-Robin Williams Drives Organizational Change

Serge Grudzinski

Serge Grudzinski

Serge Grudzinski draws on his elite engineering education at Paris’ École Polytechnique and at Stanford University, combined with his managerial and consulting experience at  Saint-Gobain Glass, Mars & Co, Booz Allen Hamilton, and AT Kearney to incite organizational change through humor.

He created the character “Max de Bley”, aka “Manager Max” to deliver his cross-cultural zingers on strategy, Powerpoint, IT, proposals, email “and much more” for more than 200 global organizations.

For a quick mental diversion, check his micro-bits

-*How have you seen humor used to inspire organizational change?

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Organizational “Learning Agility” Interventions

M.M. Lombardo and R.W. Eichinger introduced the concept of “learning agility” in organizations, and proposed its correlates to workplace performance.

They defined four elements of learning agility in employees:

·         People agility – know themselves, learn from experience, treat others with consideration, display calm and resilience under changing conditions

·         Results agility – obtain results under difficult conditions, inspire others to perform “above and beyond”, inspire confidence in other

·         Mental agility – think through problems with a fresh perspective, comfortable with complexity, ambiguity, communicating  reasoning

·         Change agility – curious about ideas, willing to experiment and develop skills.

Lombardo and Eichinger’s framework has been used by subsequent researchers to measure the impact of learning agility (“learning from experience”) on workplace performance.

De Rue, Ashford, and Myers point out that this concept “lacks conceptual clarity” in their recent article in Industrial and Organizational Psychology, and  they propose that learning agility is characterized by differences in speed of learning and flexibility in incorporating new information and skills.

In addition, they suggest that learning agility  includes  both cognitive processes and behavioral processes that can be enhanced by:

·         Cognitive simulations – visualizing scenarios to forecast issues and potential solutions

·         Counterfactual thinking – imagining “what might have been” if different choices had been taken to clarify cause-and effect relations

·         Recognizing patterns – categorizing apparently dissimilar experiences into repeating patterns

·         Seeking feedback  – proactively requesting corrective recommendations and varied perspectives from others, and making it “safe” to provide this information

·         Experimenting – trying new behavioral and thought patterns

·         Reflecting – considering and consolidating “lessons learned” to guide futures behavior decisions

Peter Senge

Peter Senge

Much past research on learning agility has not fully considered the degree to which the organizational culture and climate provide a context of psychological safety and acceptance of risk-taking, but Peter Senge has called for this type of supportive context in his work on The Learning Organization.

-*How do you differentiate “learning agility” from elements of “Emotional Intelligence”?

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Female and Minority Supervisor Influence

Katherine L. Milkman

Wharton operations and information management professor Katherine L. Milkman and Harvard Business School professor Kathleen L. McGinn, investigated how race and gender affect career mobility for young professionals, especially those entering career fields where they must be promoted to remain (law firms, universities, consulting firms).

Kathleen L. McGinn

They examined five years of personnel data and employee interviews from a large national law firm and found a correlation between the number of female supervisors and the probability of promotion and retention of junior-level female employees, published in Harvard Business School’s Working Knowledge as “Looking Up and Looking Out: Career Mobility Effects of Demographic Similarity among Professionals.”

The enabling benefit of demographically similar employees and supervisors was accompanied by a perhaps surprising correlation.
Work groups with a high number of same-gender or same-race underrepresented minorities had a higher attrition rate, attributed to employees’ perception that the competition reduced their chances for promotion.

Milkman and McGinn noted that placing many underrepresented employees (women and underrepresented minorities) in the same group may lead to structural marginalization, or “ghettoes” of low-power.
This effect was present in groups composed mostly of men.
In contrast, the exit decisions of white and Asian employees did not seem affected by working in groups with other white and Asian employees.

The researchers cited the massively unequal representation of women and minorities among partners in professional services organizations.
A 2009 study that showed women made up 46% of associates but 19% of partners across U.S. law firms, and racial minorities represented 20% of the lawyers across the country but only 6% of partners.

Milkman is currently analyzing data on the role that race and gender play in sponsorship or patronage in academia.
She sent emails to 6,500 professors at academic institutions across the country from purported male, female, white, or minority “students”  requesting a 10-minute meeting for one-time mentoring, either that day or next week.

She found that “female” and “minority” students received significantly fewer responses from prospective mentors, particularly when asked for assistance in the future.
She noted that these findings contrast with the popular expectation of less overt or unconscious discrimination in academic settings.

-*How have you seem race and gender affect career mobility in the past year?

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Investing in Women for Venture Capitalists, Angel Investors

Pemo Theodore

Pemo Theodore

Pemo Theodore, Founder of Ezebis, collaborated with Ai Ching, co-founder of  Piktochart to create an informative, sobering infographic about investing in women.

They note that only 15% of angel investors are women and only 11% of investing partners at VC firms in the United States are women.

Ai Ching

Ai Ching

Theodore and Ching  portrayed the meaning of these statistics in relation to women’s participation in the workforce, and other dimensions in this compelling infographic, using Ching’s inforgraphic-generating product, Piktochart.

-*What barriers and enablers have you observed for women entrepreneurs?
-*What infographic tools do you find most useful?

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Large-Cap Companies with Women Board Members Outperformed Peers

Credit Suisse Research Institute analyzed the performance of close to 2,400 companies with and without women board members from 2005 onward, and evaluated four key financial metrics:

1. Higher return on equity (ROE): The average ROE of companies with at least one woman on the board over the past six years is 16 percent; four percentage points higher than the average ROE of companies with no female board representation (12 percent).

2. Lower net debt to equity ratio: Net debt to equity of companies with no women on the board averaged 50 percent over the past six years; those with one or more have a marginally lower average, at 48 percent.

3. Higher price/book value (P/BV) multiples: In line with higher average ROEs, aggregate P/BV for companies with women on the board (2.4x) is on average a third higher than the ratio for those with no women on the board (1.8x).

4. Better average growth: Net income growth for companies with women on the board averaged 14 percent over the past six years compared to 10 percent for those with no female board representation.

The report offered seven hypotheses to explain the performance findings, including:

Improved Corporate Governance: Academic research reveals that a greater number of women on the board improves performance on corporate and social governance metrics.

Risk Aversion: The study analyzed the MSCI AC World constituents and found that stocks of companies with women on the board are more likely to have lower levels of gearing than their peer group where there are no women on the board.

Lower relative debt levels have been a useful determinant of equity market out-performance, delivering average out-performance of 2.5 percent per year over the last 20 years and 6.5 percent per year over the last four years.

Gender Diversity and Corporate Performance report

-*What financial results have you observed among large organizations with women board members?

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White Men can Lead in Improving Workplace Culture

Catalyst’s recent research study of employees at Rockwell Automation, Calling All White Men: Can Training Help Create Inclusive Workplaces?, found that white men who participate in leadership development training, modify their workplace attitudes and behavior to enable career advancement for women and minorities.
The study found that Rockwell employees who participated in leadership training labs presented by White Men as Full Diversity Partners:

• Reported increased in workplace civility and decreased gossip, attributable in part to improved communication and respect

• Managers were more likely to acknowledge that inequities exist in career advancement opportunities and practices for women and racial/ethnic minorities

• Managers increased five inclusion behaviors, including seeking out varied perspectives to becoming more direct in addressing emotionally charged matters

• Managers with few prior cross-racial relationships reported most change in thinking about issues and opportunities for different demographic groups

• Managers who reported least concern about appearing prejudiced reported most change in taking personal responsibility for being inclusive following the leadership training lab.

As in any civil rights transition, change adoption is increased when representative of the often privileges “majority” articulate the issue and present a call-to-action for change.

-*How have you seen men improve the culture in your workplace?

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