Sunday 8 September 2013

13.1 The Power of Habit - Thoughts II

Belief and Small Wins.

These two concepts are delved into in surprising ways for the former and thought provoking for the latter.

The books states that, "for some habits, however,  there's one other ingredient that's necessary: belief" (Duhigg, 2012, P. 79). I completely concur with this observation, but was shocked at the example used to drive home the impact of belief in the creation of a positive habit loop. Death served as the example. More specifically,  it was the tragic death of a coach's son that drove a group of professional football players to believe in their coaches plan. While the book does acknowledge the morbid nature of this example, it was not the only one used in the book. Later on the reaction to a death of an employee by the CEO served to create belief at the C-level and thereby dedication to the CEOs vision. I hope that the author does not rely on this method of delivery in the chapters to come.

The notion of belief did spur thought on belief. Consider:
1. Belief in yourself
2. Belief in your company
3. Belief in management
4. Belief in your product, service or end goal
5. Belief in your employees
6. Belief in your plan

All of these have greatly varying hurdles of height to overcome. Which one is the most important in driving your success in work or in your personal life? Something to think about indeed.

Moving on to small wins. They were covered in a much better light. To define the term, small wins contribute toward the adoption of habits that create overall success. My personal take is that small wins is experience and the culmination of this experience impacts belief in yourself. The point here is that experience in life teaches that certain behaviours result in the rewards you seek. The repetition of success and rewards strengthens these behaviours. A problem that one can encounter is a group of detractors who challenge your habits because they have not seen them work. They have not had your experience and therefore do not relate to habits that may have not garnered the same results. A second problem is a lack of experience and thus not enough small wins to reinforce the habits that drive success. Small wins and personal experience surely deserve more attention and thought.

At this point, the book has my full attention - |I want to see where it takes me and where I take myself after completing it.

Monday 2 September 2013

13. The Power of Habit - Thoughts I

Every book creates positive or negative impressions. I am not bothered by a book presenting either. What is important to me is the inspiring of critical thought and the challenging of my current believes. The Power of Habit is surely accomplishing the former because I am drawing on my knowledge and experience to deeply examine premise put forth in the book. The following is a short discussion on my thoughts of the principles of habit formation and creation presented in the book thus far.
The Golden Rule is to maintain a cue and a reward for a habit, but insert a new routine into this reward loop to be reinforced to the point it becomes a habit. In so doing, one removes an undesired habit or routine and replaces it with the desired behaviours. What of rewards such as a smoothie after working out. If one is not truly motivated by the endorphins created from working out or the progress one experiences in getting fit, then this reward seems of little value. Why not just skip working out and go have a smoothie.
This thought touches on another I have been pondering. Some of the powerful rewards mentioned in the book are the feeling of satisfaction when cleaning, the feeling of a clean mouth after brushing ones' teeth. These feelings are intrinsic motivators influencing behaviour. How powerful are the external motivators in this reward loop?
The creation of competitive routines to supplant existing routines is a vital decision. The book suggests replacing smoking with coffee. In reading the book, it does not feel as this is purely an example. Coffee to me, could end up being another damaging habit that could easily be combined with smoking. This either exposes or downplays the critical need for choosing a competitive routine that is not detrimental to your well being or business success.
According to the book we can create habits for completing incredible complex tasks. For instance the act of driving a car. However, can we create habits for incredibly dynamic tasks such as sales. There is no one set of habits that results in success, there is no one pathway to secure a sales. It a complex array of moving parts that, unlike a car, change in their functions and motivations every time you get in.

Feel welcome to chime in any thoughts you might have  - the more the merrier.

12. HBR Guide to Persuasive Presentations.

This book is one of many business books put out by the Harvard Business Review and is authored by Nancy Duarte. In short, this delivers all it promises and more.

This book is impactful! As I read the book, I found that the techniques illustrated were creeping their way into my work and public presentations. In conversations with colleagues, I found myself referencing the book very often with my reference very well received and even to the point of asking for the name and author. To go one step further, a member of B2B books used this book as the foundation for a huge presentation to a high level and especially lucrative client. In fact, it was his biggest deal ever and he won it.

The most impactful them in the book was the idea of consistently illustrating the gap between the current situation or where one is and the desire situation. In a persuasive presentation one must always be emphasising this gap to combat resistance to change and hammer home the absolute need for change. In effect this creates a rhythm to the presentation which is easy to follow and likely to alter the viewpoints of your listeners.

Another concept that was not new but is worth repeating is brainstorming. When planning a presentation brainstorm all the best ideas possible and then throw them out and doing it again. Your first best ideas have already been thought of by someone else, so scraps them and go for something fresh. However, do not stop there. Bring in people from all around you to have a group brainstorming session and once again scrap the first round of ideas put everyone to the limit to get the best ideas possible. While brainstorming is a common techniques this idea of extended brainstorming is a great practice.

Moving on in the book, a chapter discusses how to prepare your audience. The atmosphere in the room, the lighting, the layout, and the music are some items to consider. There is also personal appearance to set the tone for the right message being sent to the right people. This goes hand in hand with your disposition; your passion will carry you and your humble attitude can demonstrate a lack of hubris. The most influential preparation is the sending of pre-presentation materials to attendees. This does not have to be strictly information. How about an short video introduction, an agenda, or what the audience should get of the presentation.

Looking at the book as a whole, it is a remarkable reminder of all you know to put into a presentation and a detailed guide of all the items you should include in a persuasive presentation. This is a book that has become a fixture in my office, but not on the bookshelf - on my desk.

Sunday 28 April 2013

11. Influence: Science and Practice by Robert B Cialdini

Click Whir, click whir, click whir...the ongoing theme throughout this book representing the  automaticity of one individual influencing another. Each chapter follows a format of reviewing a broad based influencing-technique or psychological principle which can be used in influencing behavior. There are ample references to support all the claims made in the book and more over there are defenses in each chapter so that the reader can protect himself.

In relation to the click whir concept Cialdini examines; reciprocation, commitment and consistency, social proof, liking, authority, scarcity and instant influence as they influence behavior and action. Each of these are chapters in the book where individuals implement these techniques in research, business or day to day lives gain a desired outcome. Having implemented some of the concepts in this book with my family I was intrigued how the automaticity of click whir simply happening. For instance, using the word because in a request highly increases the likelihood of compliance with the request regardless of the reasoning stated after the word because. In making a few requests of family members using this technique I gained compliance more often than not, which was quite interesting.

From there on, I began to wonder, in every chapter, how often these techniques are thought of as manipulative, or underhanded. Well there are two answers to this very relevant question. First, specific use of techniques to manipulate of garner favor can become transparent and their impact lessened, especially if a recipient feels manipulated. Second, the techniques listed here are more of natural phenomenon than deceptive practices. These are common everyday occurrences which are socially accepted despite the goal of influence. Take, for example, the laugh track in most sitcoms. This is a blatant attempt to take advantage of its impact of making dull material seem more funny than actuality. That being said, networks keep these tracks rolling because they understand the positive reproductions on views. More to the point, the viewers are completely okay with the presence of the laugh track!

The final thought of this book from a sales perspective, is whether or not these techniques can be used in the business world without harming the client relationship. In my opinion the answer is definitely yes. This book offers methods for interacting with people that provide for consistency and mutually beneficial relationships. Influence is more than worth an in depth read as it will have you engaged in deep thought think of your personal and business life in a new light of the science of influence.

Sunday 3 March 2013

10. The Five Dysfunctions of a Team by Patrick Lencioni.

This book relates a fictional work life scenario to build its theory on managing and creating an effective team, but how effective can a fictional setting reflect the complex business world we live in? Let's begin by a brief overview of the Five Dysfunctions and then examine the books impact on real life.

The 5 dysfunctions are:
1. Absence of Trust.
2. Fear of Conflict
3. Lack of Commitment
4. Avoidance of Accountability
5. Inattention to Results

According to Lencioni, all of the dysfunctions are inter-related with each one leading into the next beginning with an Absence of Trust facilitating Fear of Conflict and without having openness to conflict there is a Lack of Commitment. The key to identifying the level of success in each category is a keen eyed leader with plenty of experience creating solid teams. In reality, this is where the book fails in my opinion.

Considering the book from actual work-life scenarios the book pales in comparison. The story used simplifies the complex relationships and interpersonal conflict in any organizations. In short, the story soul purpose is to exemplify how overcoming each dysfunction strengthens a team rather than how to overcome the extreme challenges from team members in creating a functioning team. The characters in the story seem to understand the concepts to quickly and commit too readily to initiatives made in each of the five dysfunctions outlined.

Additionally, the leader and main character has unprecedented acuity in assessing the motivation of each team member. Throughout the book she conducts internal monologues where her expertese in identifying critical team building moments is displayed. At these points I never once felt impressed with her ability. Instead, I felt as though there a disconnect with how she arrived her decision. My most common thought was that her experience and expertise developed over the years enabled her to have such insight. Therefore, I needed a sense of suspended disbelief in her ability to get on board with the value she created in her use of each disfunction.

In the end, the book offered a set of disfunctions which related to buidling an effective and effiecient team. The level to which uzilizing this book depends soul on a person experience with the techniques and their personal ability to understand the motivations of their staff. It was an entertaining read which could be done over a weekend, but there are other books I would recommend over this one.

Saturday 19 January 2013

9. Harvard Business Review Article – In a Downturn, Provoke Your Customers by Philip Lay, Todd Hewlin, and Geoffrey Moore

To get the year rolling, B2B Books has chosen this short article from the Harvard Business Review. In a Downturn, Provoke Your Customers, offers an alternative and fresh perspective on sales acquisition during hard economic times. Solution Selling is directly challenged as a somewhat antiquated niche sales methodology, which does not work well enough in all scenarios.

Provocation selling follows a series of stages:
  1. Identify a critical issue – great in depth company research to know company inside out and hence identify a strategic issue the sales professional’s company can address.
  2. Formulate your provocation – create an original point of view that will stimulate interest from C-Level decision makers. 
  3. Lodge your provocation – develop a presentation that demonstrates and clarifies the specific challenge faced by the company. Additionally, establish the sales professional’s deep understanding of the company.
  4. Prove your point – a diagnostic study to investigate the challenge illuminating related issues and gaining internal momentum for continued problem resolution.

When considering solution selling the notion is to aid clients to articulate existing problems and the implications of those problems as they align with the solution to be presented. In contrast, Provocation selling requires the presentation of an impactful problem statement that challenges the prevailing point of view and which the sales professional has developed base upon in depth research and analysis accomplished on the target company.  

Given that Provocation selling is aimed at the C-Level the initial challenge of the status quo is directed at overall business strategy and needs to be handled with a delicate confidence which inspires further budget for examination of the issues facing the client. Moreover, and this is quite interesting, the level of interest garnered from a skillfully delivered presentation should result in a revenue stream to accomplish an in depth analysis of the issue within the company. This is turn puts the sales professional in a C-Level sponsored leadership and influence role to force even more issues to the surface and entrench him in the account as a trusted advisor.

Looking at the article as a whole, Provocation selling requires an immense amount of time intensive research to gain the necessary knowledge to lodge an impactful challenge. This method is definitely structured toward enterprise level companies lacking sufficient budget for new endeavors. It would be well suited to long-term sales cycles of companies who sell strategically critical products from the C-Level perspective. 

Thursday 3 January 2013

8. Drive: The surprising truth about what motivates us. By Daniel H Pink.

The book examines intrinsic and extrinsic motivation in the business world today putting forth the notion that most businesses have a reward system that is directly in conflict with what truly motivates people.

Drive begins with an examination of motivation over the past 100 years defining different levels of motivation and their relevance in the business world. Pink is quick to point out that research accomplished in motivation is in direct conflict with practises in the business world of the past and present. He labels three levels of motivation as 1.0, 2.0 and 3.0 with the last being the pinnacle of intrinsic motivation.

With the notion of Motivation 3.0 being the best source for a company to tap, Pink examines how typical carrot and stick reward strategies algorithmic and heuristic tasks. He is careful to state that this kind of reward system works well in algorithmic task, but fall very short for heuristic tasks. There are some great examples of companies, for instance Google,  who seek innovation targeting Motivation 3.0 via allowing 20 percent of employees time to focus on personal interest tasks related to their job.

The book delves deeper into personality types and three elements of great motivation; autonomy, mastery and purpose. While this section does draw you in, once completed the rest of the book completely leaves you wanting. The last third of this book is almost worthless as it does little to expand upon a great first two thirds. To put it simply the research on motivation is outlined and exemplified, followed by a foundation of creating personal motivation and then nothing.