Issue #33

In this edition: why performance ratings don't work, the Impossibility Theorem, difficult conversations, cognitive bias, movie quoting, front-foot confidence, Bowie's books, bears in the woods, and more.

Issue #33

Welcome to Idea Surplus Disorder. I’m Matt Homann, the founder of Filament, and I’m glad you’re here!

In this edition: why performance ratings don't work, the Impossibility Theorem, difficult conversations, cognitive bias, movie quoting, front-foot confidence, Bowie's books, bears in the woods, and more.

Ideas + Insights

It might be time to finally kill your performance ratings:

The rating system is particularly harsh on those who conduct the appraisals. Supervisors feel pressure to continue to show improvement, raising some people’s rating over time. They also feel pressure to differentiate, leading them to scapegoat some of their subordinates as poor performers.
Only one person typically feels neurologically rewarded by the PM exercise. It’s not the high performer, but the senior executive who oversees the ranking system. The feelings of status, certainty, and autonomy that occur when one is presiding over a forced ranking system are intrinsically rewarding. Even the act of categorizing information into groups, according to one study, activates the reward center of the brain. That’s why part of the education effort must include senior executives, who may not see the problem because the PM process reinforces their own cognitive reward while diminishing rewards for everyone else.

If your organization struggles with decision-making, you might have fallen into the Impossibility Theorem trap:

You have a case of the Impossibility Theorem in action when decision rights are assigned in a way that makes it impossible to fill the chair with a person who is capable of carrying out those decision rights as specified and assumed. That is to say, there is no overlap between the universe of people who are capable of fulfilling the requirements of the role and the universe of people who would accept the job of fulfilling the role.
When assigning responsibility for capabilities that are important to your organization, remember that it is a two-part exercise. One part is to figure out how to divvy up the decision rights. The other part is to determine whether there are people out in the world that are capable of doing the job so-designed and that are also willing to take the job so-designed. If you don’t pay attention to both parts, you will set yourself up for disappointing surprises.

What happens when consultants use AI?

Consultants using AI finished 12.2% more tasks on average, completed tasks 25.1% more quickly, and produced 40% higher quality results than those without.
We also found something else interesting, an effect that is increasingly apparent in other studies of AI: it works as a skill leveler. The consultants who scored the worst when we assessed them at the start of the experiment had the biggest jump in their performance, 43%, when they got to use AI. The top consultants still got a boost, but less of one.

Need a simple hack for showing confidence when public speaking? Put your weight on your front foot:

Frances-White offers a captivating demonstration of the power of this move in her talk. Just by shifting her weight to her back foot, she appears instantly more anxious and less compelling. She also reports feeling a surge of anxiety. When she shifts it forward again, she attains some of the power of a predator. Putting yourself literally on the front foot calms nerves and communicates confidence to others. "It's hard to look scared of people you're coming toward," she notes.

This Cognitive Bias Cheat Sheet is super simple and quite good.

I'm looking forward to adding the book Difficult Conversations to an upcoming Bookstorming session. I love these three questions that can help investigate difficult conversations on all levels:

Can you say a little more about how you see things?
What information might you have that I don't?
Can you say more why this is important to you?

If you've ever needed to build customer journey maps, this tool makes it easy.

To succeed in business, read more different things:

If the businessman was truly hoping to get ahead, he would read the 10 greatest business books ever written every 3-4 years and then dedicate the rest of his reading time rifling through books that focus on new, previously unexplored topics.

If you want to maximize your iPhone for ultimate, distraction-free productivity, here's your guide.

Fun Finds

Do bears reflect in the woods?

Rocumentaries is a curated list of the best documentaries, filtered by channel and genre.

David Bowie's 100 Favorite Books

Poised gives you personalized meeting and speaking coaching, in real time.

Why do we keep quoting certain movies and television shows?

“These little quotes bouncing into our minds keep us grounded by showing us how our silly little mundane trials in day-to-day life as not so rare, but shared by many,” Gibbs says, “They come from our individual mind and brains but are also widely shared and part of our more collective consciousness.”

Words of Wisdom

In the measurement world, you set a goal and strive for it. In the universe of possibility, you set the context and let life unfold. — Benjamin Zander
“Attention is the beginning of devotion.” - Mary Oliver
“Always laugh when you can. It is cheap medicine.” – Lord Byron
Try to surprise at least one person every day. – Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi
"The fishing is best where the fewest go, and the collective insecurity of the world makes it easy for people to hit home runs while everyone else is aiming for base hits." – Tim Ferriss
"Writing dignifies any turmoil it puts you through." – Mike Sacks
"If they say “you’ve changed” just remember it really means “you’ve grown.” Most people just don’t meet enough people who do, so they don’t know what to call it." – Alex Hormozi
I do not think that the banks of a river suffer because they let the river flow, nor does the earth suffer because of the rains, nor does the atom suffer for letting its energy escape. To my way of thinking, everything has its natural compensation. – Frida Kahlo

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