Dr. Seidman is also CEO & co-founder of Cerebyte, which gives organizations the ability and the confidence to dramatically improve their performance. Their pioneering technology, based on the latest science of how we think and learn, enables them to quickly capture top performers' "secret sauce" and raise the performance of everyone else to that same high level. Their solution has been adopted by companies such as Intel, Jack in the Box, American Family Insurance, Nike to name a few.
Aligning with the latest research in positive deviance, fair process, neuroscience and mass customization, their solution makes it possible to quickly capture your top performers' expert knowledge, approach and values, and then systematically help everyone else apply them in theit work.
And he is the co-author of Strategy to Action in 10 Days: Creating High Performance Organizations.
Strategy to Action provides a groundbreaking approach that quickly infuses any organization with the skills, attitudes, behaviors and culture vital to extraordinary performance. This practical, step-by-step approach guides readers to create a highly predicable, scalable and engaging environment that will have everyone in the organization performing like a superstar.
After reading it, understanding his principles and his methodology and as important the science behind it...I would have to agree:
This practical, step-by-step approach guides readers to create a highly predicable, scalable and engaging environment that will have everyone in the organization performing like a superstar.
You can listen to our conversation here.
You can read Part One of our conversation here.
You can read Part Two of our conversation here.
I’m loving everything you’re telling me here, if only because there’s no powerpoint involved in this whole training method.
We always say:
We’re a power-point free zone.
But also the way you have set this out, this isn’t a disparaging phrase, in these baby-steps of exercises where they begin to embrace the new way of thinking, the new way of doing. It seems such a natural process that as you say “before they even know it, they’re doing it.”
First off, we say this to people all the time:
“There is no Twitter version of greatness.”
You may want it; but it doesn’t exist. Greatness takes work. Doesn’t take a lot of work, it turns out. But it does take work and it’s mainly about consciousness.
So, we were working with a bunch of people in a very transactional, high-intensity call-center. And we had a great quote from one of the people.
“When I first looked at this list of exercises I thought to myself the last thing in the world I needed was more tasks. But, you know I was required to do the tasks so I tarted to do the tasks. I realized that after a little while the tasks were casing me to think differently about my job. And then I realized a little bit later I was really doing my job a little bit differently and the whole concept of it was different.
" And then I realized a little bit later that I really was doing my job a little bit differently, and the whole concept of it was different. And then I realized a little bit later that I was doing my job completely differently and that I had translated it, or transitioned it, from my old transactional perspective into something completely new, higher performance, more effective and that I liked a lot better. And I actually didn’t know I was doing it until I was pretty much there."
That’s so excellent.
Now, one of the advantages in your model is moving from strategic planning to action in 10 days. That’s an obvious cost-benefit.
But, the other one you talk about and you talked about it in the science and motivation aspect of it is you don’t encourage companies to emphasize financial incentives for your Positive Deviants and their role in bringing their secret sauce to the organization.
Why not? That seems like such a common mistake companies make.
That comes out of the old-world industrial model. A great book by Dan Pink called Drive, came out about a year and a half ago. Drive basically is the best summary of what we had seen in the previous years. But, we didn’t really have the scientific research to support it.
What Drive says is that if you have a highly procedural job, where there isn’t much judgment involved then financial incentives work fine. But, if you have a job tat really requires judgment and thought and innovation you need a certain amount of financial security, if you will. Your compensation has to be at a certain minimum level to be secure or else it becomes a problem. But above that the research shows that, overwhelmingly, financial incentives actually back-fire. They reverse, and they actually cause a degradation in, performance.
What you find interesting with the Positive Deviants, the Positive Deviants really focus on creating the social good. They are about adding value all the time. They are about doing the right thing the first time, all the time. They get their efficiencies and they’re very inexpensive in that sense. And, they measure themselves. They absolutely pay attention to how they’re performing.
But, the money to them is secondary. They figure that if they do the right thing then they will be compensated appropriately. And, to a phenomenal degree, that’s the case.
And that aligns with Pink’s work where Pink says there are 3 elements that drive fundamental motivation for anybody that has any kind of intellectual elements to a job, thoughtful elements. He actually describes them in an order that I think is backward. So, I’ll give you his order and then switch them around on you.
He says the first element is Autonomy. That you have control over your environment that tends to motivate you.
The second thing is you have Mastery. You’re really good at what you do.
And the third thing is you have Purpose, the Social Good. For your listeners who want to use this idea to produce higher performance in your organization, the actual process works the other way around. And it kinda shadows what the Positive Deviants do.
You start with Purpose, this Greater Social Good. And that produces all this neurological effect, the endorphin releases, the dopamine. All these things come into play so you have this high energy impact.
That drives Mastery. Because when you are really committed to doing something great, you will beat yourself up. You will do whatever it takes to become really good at it because you are incredibly committed.
And once your organization sees that you are really aligned on purpose, so you are doing the right thing, you’re really good at doing the right thing, then they are perfectly good at giving you Autonomy. If you’re not aligned with the purpose, if you’re not good at it, then they probably shouldn’t give you autonomy. Right?
When you start to see where this type of motivation comes in relative to financial incentives, financial incentives really are like Pink says :
“really old world.”
He calls that motivation 2.0 and we’re in motivation 3.0 when it’s driven by these larger understandings of neuroscience and what motivates people.
Excellent answer again.
Now as I’m thinking about, we’ve addressed management and leadership and their concerns and possible barriers, the role of Positive Deviants in bringing their secret sauce to the masses. And now it’s beginning to hit the masses.
Unfortunately the masses in corporate America are either disengaged or actively disengaged, actively sabotaging the work of their colleagues and co-workers in the creation of a brand experience. Last week the guest shared the results of their research with the Gallup organization that showed as much as 80% of employee describe themselves as prisoners. Average engagement levels of US companies are around 30%, 15% of employees may be actively disengaged or actively sabotaging co-workers. And yet, this Positive Deviants and their ability to share their secret sauce depends on the employees willing to accept it.
But you have them going beyond merely accepting it. You have them begging for it. What is it about your persuasive technology that inspires employees to actually beg for this change?
I think there are multiple elements. The technology itself, and by the way a quick definition of persuasive technology...Persuasive Technology is defined as technology that changes what people believe even do. So, it’s right at the core of attachment, motivation, commitment, things like that. Right?
What we do is we take the Positive Deviant content and we put it into the technology. The technology simulates the experience of having a great personal mentor. That’s someone who’s guiding you to something that’s learned. That means they have a real strong sense of purpose; they care about you. They also hold you accountable; so, this isn’t a free ride. And they really kinda make a commitment to you.
It may be hard for people to imagine how a technology can look and feel like a mentor. But that’s what persuasive technology does.
There’s a lab at Stanford called the Persuasive Technology lab whose done some of the work in this. They’ve been mainly in the marketing area. We’ve been loosely affiliated with them. We’ve been pioneers in the organizational aspect of it.
The idea is this, though. You take the idea of the positive social good. There’s a very specific way it needs to be written. And you put it in the technology. And in a team setting with a trained facilitator, usually a direct manager, who we’re teaching to be a transformational leader in a transactional world guides a discussion of the content that is being displayed in an interaction where they are talking about key ideas. Their purpose, they’re writing it in their own words, they’re bouncing ideas off each other and so on. And it’s all written in the first person. And as it’s being written they are literally creating a personal story.
And it has the same effect as you’re sitting down with somebody who’s really excited. So, let me ask you:
Have you ever sat down with somebody who’s really excited?
What happens to you?
I get excited, too!
How about somebody who is depressed?
I walk away.
Yeah. Or you get depressed. You sealed yourself.
Turns out there’s a bit of a biological basis for that called the “ mirror neuron”. In very, very, loose terms it’s a brain function designed to send and receive empathetic signals.
So, what we’ve found is it doesn’t necessarily need to be in a person. It can be on the level of purpose. You can actually take the Positive Deviant purpose as the excited person, if you will. Present it to people in a particular way in the technology. And they experience the same thing as though they were sitting with that excited Positive Deviant.
And they get excited and they start to embrace it.
Now, going back to the executive point of view, suddenly you feel much more engaged.
Even if the executive isn’t there you’re not relying on it. It came from the highly respected people. It’s not from some outside source. It’s not from corporate.
We had this example with an insurance company where the Vice-President was introducing this program and he said to a bunch of agents, all of whom were sitting in this room very hostile. I had to be sitting in the back of the room and I overheard one agent say to the other:
“More garbage from headquarters.”
And the Vice-President said:
“This isn’t more garbage from headquarters. This is from this person and this person...”
And he actually names a bunch of the names. And this group of agents say:
“ You’re kidding me? This is what so-and-so did? “
And they said:
“ Yeah. This is his kind of “secret sauce.”
And then about three minutes later somebody else said:
“This is what these people did?”
And they said:
And as one this whole group leaned forward and said:
" What did they say? We want to know that! "
And in the system you are actually capturing that, having to actually write that.
But, it’s going to go farther. We’re going to have the Positive Deviants break that down into an organizing structure and these learning tasks. And people are going to work with them and they’re going to understand them and then they’re going to actually say:
“ How do I apply that learning to me?”
It gets very person. The system sends a reminder every Monday morning that:
“ This is what you are going to practice this week. "
And if they don’t practice it, they send them a reminder Friday morning which says:
“This is for you. You said you wanted to practice this.”
And so it drives both the initial motivation and the sustained behavior because it’s absolutely aligned with all this neuroscience about learning and motivation. It’s delivered in this team environment with this technology.
And literally 98% of the people respond to it; 2 % don’t. And they don’t because they don’t agree with the purpose.
Excellent. That’s fantastic.
I’m looking at the clock and the hour has just blown by. We might go over a few minutes. Will that work on your schedule?
Yeah. That’s great.
There are so many questions I want to ask but I don’t want to carry this too long.
We’re at the imagination moment of our show. Let’s imagine for a moment that President Obama is calling you right now. Line two. And he leaves a message.
Bill, he says. Our economy shows a lingering malaise. The whole country needs to see our economy deliver some high performance results. Right now. What can we do to put Strategy to Action in 10 Days and create a High Performing economy again?
Would you come up to the White House and meet with myself and Joe Biden and share with us three things we can do?
What would you tell him?
Ok. Well, I’m flattered that he called me.
And there are certainly some challenging political times right now.
The first thing I would say is, really out of the neuroscience again this whole notion of purpose. I believe in many ways our country has lost its sense of confidence. There have been a series of conditions that have been pretty tough to deal with. He really needs to focus on and talk about, and be committed to a rather articulate notion of greatness. And almost create, what one of my colleagues calls, a culture of greatness.
And he needs to then back that with investment. And this is going to come back to Pink. Purpose is a greatness. Mastery is getting great at it.
And in that sense he really needs to ignore a lot of the naysayers. We need to invest in education, Pell Grants; things are critical. We need to invest in our infrastructure.
I’ve traveled throughout the world and in Asia. Anyone who thinks our infrastructure is competitive hasn’t experienced what they’ve got going.
Um, we really have to fix our healthcare. Healthcare reform didn’t go nearly far enough. I’ve had the misfortune to have several healthcare incidents in different parts of the world. I’ve gotta say they were way better than what you could get in the US.
We really need to have that vision of greatness. It’s almost Kennedy-esque. We’re going to be on the moon at a certain time regardless of the competition and his motivation for doing that. That was the sense of purpose and there was real strong investment.
And finally he needs to do this with great intensity. One of the things that starts to come out with the research is what happens if you put a negative person with a positive person? Who kinda wins that debate? And it’s the same sense of who you sit down with.
And you made a comment well you walk away from it. Well in this case we can’t walk away from it.
What emerges is the people who are more focused, more tangible, more concrete, more energized by it, tend to ultimately dominate the debate. They tend to cause the positive release of neuro-chemicals in others.
I would say to him tha:
You really have to focus on the greatness of the country. You cannot be defeated by the cost-reduction stuff. You have to find a way to pay for it. And that probably means raising taxes for investing in our future.
In the past, by the way, when we had a call to greatness we had no problem paying for it. We’re very ok.
You’ve gotta be really intense and focus on it and not take no for an answer.
And those are the three things I’d say.
And by the way, those will then ripple into the economy because the executives will sense their uncertainty will go away. they in turn will start to function that way and they’ll start to spend cash on these same kinds of things where they’ll have purpose and invest in mastery and they’ll use our model, I hope. And really boost their companies and organizations beyond imagination.
Excellent. Thank you.
You’re a leader. I use this quote every week. Jim Rohn says that Leaders are readers. What are you reading these days... in all your free time?
Yeah, in all my free time.
So, I must confess that some of my friends, I have a doctorate from Stanford and they say:
“ How could a doctorate from Stanford read some of the junk I read?”
I always read two books. I read junk. I’m reading a Clive Clussler book right now.
I also read a lot on the neuroscience. I’m reading a book called You Are Not Your Brain by Jeff Schwartz. Part of what we’re talking about is the response to Obama. You Are Not Your Brain shows that certain portions of the brain, particularly the pre-frontal cortex enable you to feel empowered, to feel energized and to quite literally educate the nay-saying, the negative, the fear-driven portions of your brain and make them less important.
It’s a very powerful book for how to become, the technical term is self-directed neuro-plasticity. In the best sense a continuous self-learner for whatever your purpose is in life. And it can absolutely enhance the quality of your life.
Leave us with one quote about creating high-performance organizations.
I think the quote is this:
" New science has made performance, has made levels of performance possible that literally two years ago people didn’t imagine were possible. Anyone who really wants to make an impact on themselves and others is going to want to take advantage of these and is going to be successful and is going to be great. "
Than you for reaching out to me on Twitter to connect. Your book is brilliant, you work is brilliant and clearly your clients think the same thing, too. I hope you have great success.
And if there’s anything I can do to help promote your message, let me know.
Thank you for having me on your show. I absolutely love listening to your show. When I was listening to your shows particularly on innovation I thought it was phenomenal. I tell everybody about it.
Thank you for that.
When are you going to come out with another book?
Oh, it’s in the works right now. It’s basically applying these same concepts to leadership. I mean if you look around you and see all the books and all the leadership programs and still how much these leaders struggle, we’re missing something. Something’s not right.
We had the opportunity to apply our change model to leadership. Working with Positive Deviant leaders. What came out of that was there’s a lot of real-world conditions that they cope with like limited information and uncertainty, conflicting agendas and resource shortages and time-pressures that really aren’t reflected all the other leadership programs. And we have had great success.
And we call the model Affirmative Leadership because it’s about positive images, it’s about Positive Deviants, it’s about this great positive energy. And we’re in a proposal stage; we’ve got a proposal pretty well done. We’re looking for a publisher. And we’re optimistic. We’ve got a great literary agent who’s also optimistic. We hope to have it out in the next 6 - 8 months.
Fantastic. When that comes out I’d love to have you back on the show to talk about!
I’d love to come back and talk about it. I’d love to have you read it in manuscript form.
Ok. I’d be delighted.
We’ve got to go. I know you're busy. There’s never a nice way to end these shows. I feel like I’m interrupting dinner.
Thank you again so much. It’s been a blast.
Next Guest: Julie Steelman, author of The Effortless Yes!: Demystify the Selling Process and Discover: Your Selling Archetype, Your Natural AskingStyle, Your Bankability