Thursday, February 7, 2013

Studying the Outliers

"If we study what is merely average, we will remain merely average."

This is a quote from Shawn Achor, CEO of Good Think, Inc., during a TEDx event.  His subject was "The Happy Secret To Better Work".  It's a highly entertaining and informative talk about his work on positive psychology.

In this presentation, how we conduct research was not the focus.  Yet, it's a concept that he and others have brought to our attention, challenging us to look more closely at the positive outliers.

It's the exceptions that are the focus in "Influencer:  The Power to Change Anything", a book I've referenced before in this blog.  They studied masterful influencers, people who were consistently successful in creating profound changes, and translated those behavioral strategies into specific methods that anyone can apply.

If we map out the data, the average will appear.  But so will the positive outliers, and the learning from our study of those exceptions is what gives us the chance to lift the average.

In our workplace, we are hopefully rewarding our superstar performers, our positive outliers.  Experts in behavioral science would tell us to study them, too.

  • What strategies are they applying?
  • What experience did they have before coming to our organization?
  • Who do they seek out for learning and support?
  • What resources do they use?
  • How do they organize/prioritize their work?

Study the behaviors of your positive outliers, and raise the bar for performance on your team.