Making Company Culture Something Real

AN image of the question "Tell me about something you’ve invented” a the question Twilio CEO Jeff Lawson asks of job candidates wanting to join his company.

In the book, The CEO Test, which executive “aced the exam”? I would vote for Jeff Lawson, the CEO of Twilio, a cloud communications platform company. Why? Lawson allows for very little daylight between Twilio’s espoused values and how the company actual operates. Here is how Lawson pulls off that feat:

  • First, the company’s values were formulated based on broad input from current employees, not just as an exercise controlled by the c-suite.
  • Second, those values are carried forward to future employees by being front and center during the hiring and onboarding processes. The “invention” question above is but one example, given the goal of ensuring every employee likewise has a “builder mentality,” which is one of Twilio’s core values.
  • Third, quarterly and annual employee awards, as well as all promotions, involve honoring employees who embody the company’s values. The converse is that violating those values is cause for the firing of even high-performing “culture felons.”

Released today: episode #49 of “Dan Hill’s EQ Spotlight,” featuring Adam Bryant, the co-author, along with former Amgen CEO Kevin Sharer of The CEO Test: Master the Challenges That Make or Break All Leaders. Check out the audio link below to get oriented or click on https://newbooksnetwork.com/category/special-series/dan-hills-eq-spotlight to get to the new episode.

Image of Author Adam Bryant and the cover of his new book "The CEO Test: Master the Challenges that Make or Break All Leaders" For Dan Hill's EQ Spotlight podcast "The X-Factors That Set the Best Leaders Apart" episode 49

Adam Bryant is managing director of Merryck & Co, a leadership development and mentoring firm. Before that gig, Bryant was a journalist for 30 years, including at the New York Times where he authored the “Corner Office” column. In addition, he’s a frequent contributor on CNBC.

Dan Hill, PhD, is the president of Sensory Logic, Inc.

Why Walking the Talk Doesn’t Propel Culture Change

The typical large American company is estimated to spend $2,200 per employee, per year, trying to manage its corporate culture. That amount equals over $60 billion annually.

Like a three-car pile-up on a freeway, consider these statistics: two-thirds of all business mergers fail; under 30% of executives think their company manages its culture well; and only 10% of HR leaders would go that far. Walking the talk doesn’t work. Who needs to hear more about a company’s “values” or “mission statement”? Trying to instill behaviors based on high-minded rhetoric isn’t nearly enough. Instead, a company’s basic operating system requires change if progress is to be made. That move means changing the habits and routines—the practices—that both drive and reflect the company’s true culture. What is also needed? Executives must ditch overconfidence in favor of psychological flexibility, the competency Israeli thought leader Yuval Harari has called the single most important passport to success in the 21stcentury.

Released today: episode #46 of “Dan Hill’s EQ Spotlight,” featuring David G. White, Jr., the author of Disrupting Corporate Culture: How Cognitive Science Alters Accepted Beliefs about Culture and Culture Change and Its Impact on Leaders and Change AgentsCheck out the audio link below to get oriented or click on the image below to go directly to the new episode.

Image of the author, David G. White Jr's and the cover of his book "Disrupting Corporate Culture" for Dan Hill's EQ Spotlight Podcast episode 46, entitled "You are What You Do"

David G. White, Jr. is cognitive anthropologist working with organizations on culture, change, and leadership issues. He’s the co-founder of Ontos Global, a boutique consulting firm. David previously held leadership roles at Microsoft, Mercer, and IBM; and is also a professional jazz musician with 7 CDs.

Dan Hill, PhD, is the president of Sensory Logic, Inc.

The Shift from a Thinking to Feeling Economy

A summary of the main point from the book "The Feeling Economy" by Roland T. Rust and Ming-Hui Yuang, which is that we’ve gone from a Physical Economy (manufacturing) to a Thinking Economy (information) and are now entering a Feeling Economy (empathy).

Your career and future employability will depend on how you add value in a world where AI (artificial intelligence) + HI (human intelligence) are converging. Reading faces (facial coding), voices (e.g., Apple’s Siri) and bodies (via Fitbit) fit a world in which your emotional intelligence skills will be vital.

Here are some signposts of the basic socio-economic change underway from a thinking to feeling model:

1987: FCC repeals Fairness Doctrine, opening the way for Rush LimbaughFox News will launch in 1996

1995: Daniel Goleman publishes Emotional Intelligence

1997: Big Blue (IBM) defeats world chess champion Garry Kasparov; emojisfirst appear in Japanese mobile phones

1998: launch of Google & also Sensory Logic (my company, using facial coding to capture/quantify emotions)

2001: release of Stephen Spielberg movie AI Artificial Intelligence

2004: Facebook launches

2005: Malcolm Gladwell publishes Blink (which highlights facial coding)

2007: Fitbit launches; I release my book Emotionomics

2009: Lie to Me TV series based on facial coding launches on Fox (#29 most-viewed show that season); Affectiva and Realeyes switch to applying (automated) facial coding to business in imitation of Sensory Logic

2011: launch of the 1st digital assistant, Apple’s Siri

2014: SoftBank Robotic’s Pepperis 1st social humanoid robot

2016: Apple buys Emotient, the original facial coding automation company

2017: Female robot Sophia named an AI citizen in Saudi Arabia

Released today: episode #44 of “Dan Hill’s EQ Spotlight,” featuring Ming-Hui Huang, the co-author of The Feeling Economy: How Artificial Intelligence Is Creating the Era of Empathy. Listen to the clip below and click on the image to get to the new episode.

Image of Author Ming-Hui Huang and her book "The Feeling Economy" for episode 44 of Dan Hill's EQ Spotlight, titled When A.I. Thinks, Humans Feel. Click on the image to get to podcast link.

Huang Ming-Hui Huang holds a number of posts. She’s a Distinguished Professor at National Taiwan University; a fellow of the European Marketing Academy (EMAC); an International Research Fellow of the Centre for Corporate Reputation, University of Oxford, UK; and a Distinguished Research Fellow of the Center for Excellence in Service, University of Maryland, USA. She is also the incoming Editor-in-Chief of the Journal of Service Research.

Dan Hill, PhD, is the president of Sensory Logic, Inc.

Getting Out of Your Own Way

Quote by Everett M. Rogers from his book, Diffusion of Innovations. "Only 2.5% of people like to be guinea pigs for something new."

“Problems, the problem is you –what ‘ya gonna do, you’re a problem,” snarls Johnny Rotten on the only studio album The Sex Pistols ever recorded. While punk rock isn’t the force it was in 1977, the problem of trying to solve problems, both business and personal remains central to our daily lives. Enter Thomas Wedell-Wedellsborg with his own take on the matter. Given that only one in 25 of us is open-minded about participating in something new, our problem solving could benefit from a methodology to push us forward. 

Here is the Danish author’s in a nutshell:

  • Frame the problem– Create a written statement that avoids being too vague, too ambitious, or else not ambitious enough (because a preferred solution is implied).
  • Look outside the frame– Consider expertise outside your group, plus look to prior events and hidden influences for a fresh perspective on the problem you’re trying to solve.
  • Rethink the goal– Understand the benefit of the benefit you seek on order to arrive at a more valuable solution.
  • Identify solution sources– Are there instances where others have already solved a version of this problem? If so, learn from those examples.
  • Finally, gain perspective– Admit that you and the various shareholders interested in problem-solving have biases and may be contributing to the problem as well as blocking a superior solution. Remember that successful collaboration requires vulnerability which, in turn, requires fostering an atmosphere of trust for everyone involved.

Stop Solving the Wrong Problem

Released today: episode #29 of “Dan Hill’s EQ Spotlight,” featuring Thomas Wedell-Wedellsborg, the author of What’s Your Problem? To Solve Your Toughest Problems, Change the Problems You Solve. Listen to the clip below and click on the image to get to the new episode.

Photograph of the author, Thomas Wedell-Wedellsborg and his book "What's Your Problem?" for Dan Hill's EQ Spotlight podcast

Thomas Wedell-Wedellsborg is a globally recognized expert on innovation and problem solving whose clients have ranged from blue-chip companies to The United Nations. His work has been featured in The Economist and the Financial TimesHR Magazine named him a “Top 20 International Thinker.” 

This episode covers the author’s Rapid Reframing Method for solving people-related problems in particular. Specific topics include: how emotions can either facilitate or hinder the challenging of established mental models, how reframing fits the top 3 skills of importance for the future economy, and why “vagueness” is the enemy of change.

Dan Hill, PhD, is the President of Sensory Logic, Inc