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07 January 2016

Fallacy and Bias

Most of the times we think we are "sound" and better than others. We keep carrying this in our head - "if you take average score of intelligence, i am above average than most of the people". We fail to understand that all of us feel the same way. 

When you think you are better than your neighbor, your neighbor thinks he is better than you. If this is true, the average will be lower than individual scores. This clearly shows that we have fallacies and biases. The things we think are NOT what we think. Our concept of being neutral or unbiased is more biased towards us. This is a paradox. Ex: We often think that we are modest and in fact we "say" so - "i am modest".

Feel happy - everyone is wired that way. 

Our brain works and everyone's brain is wired for biases and fallacies. Our excellence lies in knowing these biases (making us counter productive) and putting checkpoints to bring some sense - an order from chaos. Only when we understand our biases and put some checkpoints, we will be making some sense.

31 December 2015

Be your own case study

Reading books gives knowledge. But mere knowledge does not guarantee behaviors. All behaviors do not yield experience. All experiences do not give wisdom.

But it all starts with being theoretical (reading books). Read books and "do" something with the learning. Be your own case study - conduct experiments and create positive feedback.

After definite amount of work, there comes a masterpiece - hidden gem inside you that gets polished with every effort you make.

My "rational" tells to my "emotional" self when i am not yet there.

30 December 2015

Switch (Part 6) - How to keep the Switch going?

This is sixth and final part of my reflections on the book - Switch. This is going to be a short post. Before reading this post, read other posts.

Once the change process has kicked in and you got the Elephants moving, the next thing to do is to convert the momentum to forward momentum. A long journey starts with a step but a step does not guarantee the long journey towards the destination. We need to constantly reinforce - "point and move towards the destination", "get the elephant moving towards the destination" and remove impediments by "shaping the path". We need to follow the pattern of Switch.

A good thing about a change is that once you moved it an inch from stationary, the change feeds itself. Once you start, the change favors you. The mere exposure effect and cognitive dissonance play their part to continue to push through the change (snow balling effect). The only thing that you need to ensure is to follow the pattern again and again - "direct the rider, motivate the elephant and shape the path".

The learning from the book is immense and i think the insights are so engrained that i would follow Switch framework in my life - personal and profession. I would like to thank Heath brothers was writing such a wonderful book that is quite engaging. Hope to read the other books.

Want to read all the posts on Switch. Click here

Disclaimer: I neither get commission for a writing review nor using Affiliation of any Bookstore. The whole purpose of these posts is to provide value to my readers and give them information to be better.

29 December 2015

Switch - Video Review

Check this out - the review gives an overview of the book - Switch. This video provides quick overview of the book. I am sharing it here since i find it interesting and useful. This is published by Callibrain

Want to read all the posts on Switch. Click here

Disclaimer: I neither get commission for a writing review nor using Affiliation of any Bookstore. The whole purpose of these posts is to provide value to my readers and give them information to be better.

28 December 2015

Switch (Part 5) - Shape The Path

This is the fifth reflection post on Switch by Heath Brothers. If you are the first time reading the posts  on the book - Switch, it might help to skim through other posts thisthisthis and this.

Tweak the Environment - This is based on the premise that "What assumed to be a people problem is often situation problem". You see someone cutting across you at high speed and you curse him. You think that he is mad and yell at him. Do you think he is usually like that? We often see issues as people issues rather than situation issue. This is called as "Fundamental Attribution Error". The author discussed how to reward right behavior, making the environment easier for right behavior and making the environment little harder for bad behavior. The section provided ample case studies - Saints and Jerks Food Donation Campaign, Medication vests to keep nurses focused to reduce errors, Rackspace Fanatical Support. Haddon Matrix needs special mention on how the environment can be tweaked better (pre-event, event and post-event)

Build Habits - Habits are behavioral auto-pilots. Unless the behaviors are formed as habit, it is going to tax Rider and often needs Rider's supervision. Habits are environmental and mental. People are sensitive to environment and culture, we often try to fit to peer groups as behaviors are contagious. The second way of making habits is to have "action triggers". So it is very important to tweak the environment so that "expected" behaviors are formed as habits.

Rally the Herd - When you lead Elephant on an unfamiliar path, chances are it is going to follow the herd. Now, you need to create herd the way it is easier for change to happen. Make influencers and create free spaces so that the people flock together so that they build new identity.

The first part of the book covers three surprises about change, the second part covers how to "direct the rider", the third part covers how to "motivate the elephant" and the final part covers the role of the path and how to shape the path. This part "Shape the Path" discussed three important elements related to environment that are absolutely stunning and insightful. I often feel that each section gives an increased impact with respect to understanding the change, people's behavior and response to change and how it can be tweaked to yield better results. This section is no different.

Want to read all the posts on Switch. Click here

Disclaimer: I neither get commission for a writing review nor using Affiliation of any Bookstore. The whole purpose of these posts is to provide value to my readers and give them information to be better.

27 December 2015

New Year Resolution - Does it make sense?

Retrospection, questions and answers
  1. Have you ever taken a resolution on new year eve? 
    • Mostly yes. I often take every year since i became professional. Sometimes i share it with others and sometimes i do not share with others reason being "fearing failure". It looks like the goals should not to be made public.
  2. Have you ever successfully able to keep up the commitment to yourself? 
    • Yes for initial days/weeks and then it fades away. After few months, i hardly remember the resolution unless someone remind me
  3. What is the motivation behind your resolution?
    • I want to lead a better life. I think everyone has every right to be better and be happier. When i take resolution, it always give me a fresh thought and a fresh start. I feel that i can erase all the past and give my life a fresh start. I understand that it need not be a new year. But then it is a nice way to start a year so that we can review it mid way through the year.
  4. How does it feel when you have given up resolution?
    • It feels very hard. Though i smile, i really takes a toll on my self-confidence. I feel like i am an excellent starter & planner but a poor finisher.
  5. What do you think is root cause of failing in resolution?
    • There is no single answer. It is lack of experience, lack of ability to split the goals into minor critical accomplishments, lack of prioritization, lack of ability to connect emotional with the goal (Elephant), lack of understanding of tiny improvements & small wins, lack of commitment.
  6. Is it still relevant?
    • Yes, i do think that i am going to have very few resolutions.
  7. How do you think that you will be different this year?
    1. I need to think a lot. 
    2. I should marry my long term goals to shorter term wins (Rider, Elephant). I should focus on one month at a time than a year (a lot of things can happen in a year but shorter periods are almost certain)
    3. Focus should be on Health, Happiness and Skill building than making money.
    4. Approach this more psychologically by forming habits rather than seeing this as end points. (For example losing 30 pounds should directly related to walking. Unless i form walking as a habit, i cannot lose 30 pounds.)
    5. Whatever it is, i should share my progress with others.

26 December 2015

Switch (Part 4) - Motivate The Elephant

This is fourth part of my review/learning while reading the book Switch and it forms a critical step for the change process. This post covers - Motivate the Elephant.

Before reading this post, please read previous posts - this, this and this.

If you drive any vehicle, have you ever wondered why it takes more energy to move the vehicle in first gear. Read this in Quora. The simple answer is - "more" energy is needed to overcome inertia. It applies to Change too. When you are about to Switch, the folks who need to undergo a change and responsible for the change have to beat their initial inertia. It needs a lot of motivation to embrace the change as the people are quite comfortable in status quo.

In previous posts, we saw that Elephant is powerhouse and actually works on getting things done. It gives energy to the change process. Without Elephant's energy (and motivation), the change process is very likely to be a failure. In this section, Heaths discusses three important methods of getting started with change and keep it going - Find the FeelingShrink the Change and Grow the people.

Find the Feeling - The section on "Find the Feeling" discusses the importance of appealing to Elephant and help Elephant make the first step. It is very difficult to make Elephant move with analytical acumen. We have to appeal to Elephant emotionally by SEE-FEEL-CHANGE. The case study of HopeLab is amazing and it conveys how appealing Elephant changes one's life. It also discussed the effects of "Positive Illusion" with a case study. It is very important to find the feeling - feeling of control and power, determination to fix the issues or undergo the change and being empathetic. For any change that is big, we need to get to the Elephant with positive psychology, fresh thinking, creativity and instill hope and optimism.

Shrink The Change - Why is it important to shrink the change? Because the Elephant feels that it is easier to "do" which is very important to beat the inertia. Not only does it help to beat inertia, it constantly helps Elephant to march towards the destination (remember sequence of bright spots?). The case studies on Hotel Maids and Free Car Wash are excellent examples for a head start and keeping the ball rolling. Two strategies are discussed here - Limit the investment (amount of time required to complete the tiny change) and Small wins (ensure that small wins are meaningful and within immediate reach).

Grow The People - One way to make Elephant to make feel big is to shrink the change. Another way is to actually grow the Elephant big (bigger than the size of change). In both cases, the Elephant feels that it is easier to get it done. The section gives out two models of decision making - consequences model and identity model and discusses why the identity model is so important during a change process. It also discusses building identities leading to people learning new things and why it is important to set expectations of failure when people learning (During the learning process people tend to fail. Every failure will demotivate Elephant and hence set expectation on failure during learning process). It discusses on two mindsets - fixed mindset and growth mindset (pain now, payoff later). The case study of minimally invasive cardiac surgery is simple awesome.

Like previous sections, the section is also to the point and centered on critical case studies with some serious takeaway. After reading this chapter, you would certainly feel that you can catalyst a change (the chapter kindles your Elephant)

Want to read all the posts on Switch. Click here

Disclaimer: I neither get commission for a writing review nor using Affiliation of any Bookstore. The whole purpose of these posts is to provide value to my readers and give them information to be better.

25 December 2015

Positive Illusion Bias - Why we are not what we think of?

Answer the following questions. Answers sound familiar?
  1. Have you seen anyone boasting about themselves? (yep, they are all around us)
  2. Have you ever boasted about yourself to someone and later felt that you actually overrated yourself? (sometimes, not mostly i am grounded)
If you answer "yes" to one of the questions, read further.

We overrate ourselves, often. On the positive things we rate ourselves above average and on the negative things we rate ourselves below average. Yes, we perceive ourselves to be better than most others around us.

If you are a manager, you had to do handle it quite often and more certainly once the yearly performance rating are over. People rate themselves above most of the people in the team on work/impact they created and how much less overhead these caused. While that may not be intentional, we need to understand what are the implications of doing that - Positive Illusion Bias. It does not stop at performance reviews and extends in all facets of life. It is how we are wired.

Positive Illusion has both positive and negative side effects. In a shorter terms, it seems to help relieve stress and be more self-confident. But over longer term, it has negative side effects when we overdo it (it could be sudden fall). Thinking that i will stand out from the pack often leads to less preparation which leads to wreckage as it gives false sense (Ex: My health is better than my friends, i can cram the exam since i m better grasping, i am more honest than most in the society, trying to predict the stock market thinking that i am an ace trader etc).

To Sum Up: Whether or not it is good - it is not the reality. It is one more reason to remain grounded and modest.

24 December 2015

Why we take "Poor Decisions"

I wrote a tiny post on good, bad and poor decisions (blunder).

Making a bad decision is understandable. But why do we make blunders. When we are in the capacity of making a good decisions, why are we converting them to poor decisions? Do we like shooting at our own foot? Of course, not.

Researchers say, we have two minds. Have you ever experienced the dilemma in your life? One of your minds say "i do not want eat another scoop of ice cream" and yet another mind finds excuses "i will take another scoop and compensate with additional workout". The next morning, one of the minds thinks that "i had ice cream yesterday and now i should get up from bed and go for a walk" and yet another mind says "it seems like it is cloudy out and it may rain". Another example is shopping. Buying things way more than our need and what we can afford. I am sure that each one of us would have took several poor decisions in life only to repent later.

Our brain has two minds. The truth is that one mind is rational and the another mind is emotional. Emotional brain is mighty and powerhouse. The Rational (animals don't have this) one is tiny and succumb when there is a tug of war with emotional. First we need to understand that emotional mind is capable of making "poor" decisions as the decisions are taken based on "what it likes" but not on "merit". But the rational part takes decisions as it names says "rationally".

Understanding that we have two minds and accepting that we take emotional decisions and constantly using "rational" side would help us make better decisions. Making better decisions is a habit. Unless anything forms as a habit, the results ought be inconsistent and unpredictable.

Bottom line: Practice to use rational side to make "right" decisions. It is a long term process.

21 December 2015

Good, Bad and Poor Decisions

(Not a) Rocket Science: Good Decisions Vs Bad Decisions Vs Poor Decisions

Good decisions - Well thought out and the decision seems to be correct

Bad decisions (there are limitations) - Not well thought out and the outcome is not so great. There are some shortcomings that are outside of your control. You do not have expertise to decide but the situation is such that you need to take decisions. You learn something new. It is failure.

Poor decisions (limiting oneself) - Not well thought out again and the outcome is not so great. But there is a difference here. You had all information at your disposal or you have access to get those information with little to no effort. You screwed it. This is NOT a failure. This is a blunder.

There is a hell a lot of difference between a failure and blunder.

A failure gives you confidence that you will do it after learning and a blunder gives an impression that you lack commitment.