Archives for posts with tag: Psychology

I do a lot of work in my home office. Sometimes my offie is very tidy. Sometimes it’s less than tidy, with filing to do and things to put away.

Not all of the work that I do is writing, but when I do write, before I start there’s one rule I try and enforce. I have to declutter before I start writing. I like things off the desk, and I like to see most of the desk, apart from my hardware.

A tidy writing space helps me clear my mind and get into creative mode. A tidy, decluttered writing space minimises the disruption both to the thought processes and the act of getting words down. A tidy writing space echoes the clean sheet of paper or the bank screen. It’s the reset button.

I’m not fanatical about this, it’s not a disguised OCD. Nor is it procrastination on my part either, since the meaningful work – the writing – is the work that must get done. It will get done. But the decluttering has to happen first.

Most people like to see the underdog triumph, especially when they’re not invested in the outcome.

There’s huge stigma attached to being an underdog, to escape the ineluctable eddy of the also rans and vault the barrier into the winners’ circle. It’s not simply the statistical mountain you have to scale. And it’s not only the story of the plucky small team and its fan.

No, it’s the psychology of winner versus underdog that’s the hardest to overcome, at least in the opinion of this blogger. It spreads out like a virus, infecting referees and fans alike. You see it in sports, where referees seem subconsciously swayed – at least I hope it’s subconscious – to give the big clubs the edge in the key decisions. Big club refereeing, my Dad used to call it.

People like to be in the safe bosom of voting to stay with the big dog, whether they care to admit it or not. It’s no different in business either. The person who make a significant purchase on behalf of the company knows that they’ll probably escape any blame by going with the big supplier. They haven’t stuck their neck out. This is what the underdog supplier is up against, and what the underdog supplier needs to work doubly hard to overcome.

It’s not so much Stockholm syndrome as stock hold syndrome…

Whenever you try to improve the way you or your company does things, you’re into the business of change. More importantly, the business of changing behaviours, those engrained activities that increase comfort and save time, without necessarily upping productivity or success.

An awful lot of initiatives to change the way we do things come unstuck, and if you believe the research, the success rate can be as low as 30 to 50%. Why is this? A bunch of possible causes contribute. People are set in their ways, or they actively resist change, or the company doesn’t get a host of other things right.

To look at this the other way, and from a more positive angle, there is some first class research from McKinsey about what conditions need to be in place for change to occur successfully. In short these are:

1) A purpose to believe in. Folk have to buy in to what you’re trying to do

2) Reinforcement systems. Front line managers have to coach to the new behaviours

3) The skills required for change. We learn by doing, and doing repeatedly, to acquire the new skills

4) Consistent role models. Seeing people you look up to doing things the new way pays dividends

So there you have it. Easy to blog about, harder to do. Get buy in, reinforce what you’re looking to see, practice makes perfect, and let the leaders lead the way. For more on this excellent research, have a look here.