I thought I was on a business course, but business has discovered behaviour. In the past days most professors have been talking about how people behave. I felt back in my master in psychology.
Watch this video about the task force of MacIntosh:
Steve Jobs was not the best of leaders in terms of empathy and compassion. But he knew how to assemble a team and make the people on the team feel special. Steve Jobs focussed on recruitment and selection. And that makes sense. This is how he did it:
- He treated them different. They had a pirate flag on their building that was off campus.
- Team members were involved in the selection of their team members.
- He focussed on an enemy and they had a mission to save the world from the dominance by IBM.
- He gave people more responsibilities than any other person would.
Sell the BHAG
There is always a discussion about the Big Hairy Audacious Goal as defined by Jim Collins in his magnum opus ‘From Good to Great’. The question is always if the goal needs to be realistic versus stretching. But maybe we should help people not to focus on the goal, but on the methods of getting there. And what is very important is to sell the goal. Selling depends from various aspects:
- the seller
- the idea to be sold
- the buyer / listener
- the method
- the context
Read this interview with Jim Collins on BHAGS. It’s clear that the way we formulate targets is important. But it(s essential that targets are relevantto the company and relevant to the individual employee. So people need to be able to believe in it.
And maybe that is the single most important role of a leader: making sure that the people on the team believe in it. And where the people might say “I don’t believe in your goal” in the beginning, the idea is to make them say that they believe in it. From the “you” we move into the the “we” and the “I”.
Steve Jobs made his people feel special. And moreover he made people feel that they are in this (the project) together.
Be aware of Behaviour
All of this must make us think about behaviour. There’s even behavioural economics to combine traditional economics with the insights of psychology. Can you imagine? Shall we ever take sometimes irrational behaviour into consideration? One element in innovation is that once we have created the context, we need to check biases. We cannot take decision based in intuition. We need to introduce ways of thinking that avoid biases.
- Collins, J. From Good to Great. Find Summary here.
- Isaacson, W. Steve Jobs. Find a link to the quicklet here.
- Kahnemann (2011). Thinking Fast and Slow. Find a summary here.
- Levitt & Dubner. Think like a Freak. Fine a summary here.
- Schrage, M. The innovator’s Hypothesis. How cheap experiments are more worth than good ideas