Using brain science to better manage people and organizations
In difficult economic times, it’s tempting, even logical, to watch your purchases carefully. Most people recognize the need to keep up external appearances for, say, a job interview or an important sales call, they may cut back in areas less visible to others by buying generic products instead of brand names. While that seems like a sensible strategy – for example, the hiring executive may notice the Hickey Freeman suit, but won’t know about the no-name socks – skimping on accessories could cost you far more than you saved. Research shows that our self-image is affected by the products that we use, even when they are seemingly inconsequential. […]
Who cheats on their taxes? While the first answer that pops to mind might be “everyone,” about 15% of Americans admitted to doing so in an interesting study by DDB Worldwide Communications Group. (In a separate survey, 85% of Americans were found to be liars. Just kidding.) Single men made up 64% of the cheater group. What I found interesting about this study’s data was the clustering of bad behavior. Look at these stats comparing the cheaters and non-cheaters willingness to engage in other behaviors: […]
Toxic bosses. Debbie Downers. Our language reflects the idea that some people have a real emotional effect on their fellow workers. Now, interesting research not only confirms this idea but adds to it in several important ways:
– It’s not just a few people who infect others with their moods; everyone has a measurable impact on those around them, for better or worse.
– This effect is consistent over time.
– This effect is different than “emotional contagion,” a short term effect caused by a temporary mood. […]
The imperfection of our human brains has been a frequent topic of books lately, most notably Dan Ariely’s Predictably Irrational. Mistakes were made goes into considerable depth on one key failing, cognitive dissonance. The authors call cognitive dissonance the “engine of self-justification” and attribute many examples of irrational behavior to our attempts to resolve it.
Zero does have a seemingly magical impact on our brains (see The Power of Free), though zero isn't always a good thing. Zero resources, for example, are generally not good for business! That's exactly what many non-profit organizations start with, though. In Zilch: The Power of Zero in Business, author Nancy Lublin translates her years of experience in under-resourced non-profits into strategies that can be applied by any business.
Popular psychology simplifies the different functions of our brain hemispheres by using “left brain” to indicate analytical thinking and “right brain” to mean creativity and emotion. That may be a bit of an oversimplification, but it’s a useful shorthand. In The Luxury Strategy, authors J. N. Kapferer and V. Bastien emphasize the need for a management team that has both characteristics. […]