Want to go on an exuberant, incisive ride through why so many initiatives flounder and how, conversely, you can increase the odds of success? Then listening to John List will be for you. List takes us through his favorite, highly relevant behavior economic principles: loss aversion, confirmation bias and framing among them. Then this episode digs into why 50 to 90% of initiatives fail to scale. List emphasizes the role that false positives and unscalable ingredients play. As to the secrets of building out an idea, knowing when to quit stands out for reasons worth listening in for. Finally, the importance of scaling a company’s corporate culture explains why the gladiatorial culture at Uber wasn’t sustainable at scale.
John List is a professor of economics at both the University of Chicago and the Australian National University. After being the chief economist at Uber and Lfyt, he now holds that role at Walmart. He’s also previously been on the Council of Economic Advisers for The White House.
Rarely will executives leave themselves vulnerable by sharing what they have done wrong in managing people. Mohammad Anwar is that rare exception, even going so far as to share on the air his “infamous refrigerator email” where he tore into employees for leaves a “disgusting” mess in the company’s breakroom refrigerator. How to create a psychologically safe place to work is the underlying theme of this episode. The topics range from answering why new hires at Anwar’s company, Softway, always start on a Friday to explaining how giving “spot raises” works better than the previous “fish market” system of dickering for pay increases as part of annual performance reviews. Whatever the topic, the emphasis is always on how to take new and corrective actions to create a more inspiring, inclusive corporate culture.
How is it that $8 billion a year gets thrown at diversity training and yet next-to-nothing changes? One person who isn’t giving up is Sue Unerman, who along with her co-authors Kathryn Jacob and Mark Edwards favors a full array of changes that can improve the degree to which women get represented in the ranks of senior management at companies. The scope of this episode is broad: from how meetings are run, to how teams are built, and of course who gets promoted and receives how much in compensation. A particular focus is detrimental “banter” that’s hardly as light-hearted as it’s claimed to be. Add to that the Glass Slipper problem of people trying to fit into a corporate culture that should, instead, be blown wide-open and allow everyone to thrive, and all-in-all you get a sense of just how committed Unerman is when it comes to the interlocking topics of gender, fairness, and reform.