People in Our Environment
Now we're going to talk about the people who influence our world and theirs there several things that I want to do, I want to talk a little bit about using the people in the environment to help us to change our behavior, and then I want to focus on the kinds of relationships that we engage in with people in our world and in particular to demonstrate to you that there are actually three different kinds of relationships that we engage in and to talk about what those relationships are and then to figure out why it is that big organizations end up breaking themselves down into these silos that keep people from talking to each other and this is actually going to help us to get to the question of so if we create this kind of off open office environment and then then what can we do toe actually create social structures within an organization that will get people talking in ways that would help them to be more innovative? And we're going to talk about your ability to create an ecosystem? Okay,...
so this is behavior change at the group level, okay, how can we change behavior the group level to get people to be a little bit more innovative? So that's that's sort of where we're going, as I mentioned at the end of the day yesterday, right business is not an individual sport it's a team sport um we succeed in failed because the group works effectively together and not because some individual stars in something and so what that means is we need to think about how we structure relationships in our world okay, um I really need to take a step back and make it clear how much of a social species we are mean um you know um uh let me just tell a little story so I live I live in austin, texas and we have a deer problem in austin I don't know if there's a deer problem in the greater bay area but we have there's a lot of deer therein natural residents of austin unfortunately, years ago there were also predators for deer that were natural residents and most of those predators have been run off so the only natural predators that most of the deer in my neighborhood are buick and uh and so what happens is these deer are all over the place and I actually every once in a while have a deer that gets born on my lawn and so a couple years ago, for example of dear was born on my lawn within twenty four hours and it was able to stand up and uh about a day after that it just went bounding off with its mom and within a year it had become a fine, upstanding member of the dear community right and you know um and I like to point this out because I have three kids and they're all twenty or twenty or under and they're all on the dole still I'm still supporting all three of them twenty years later I'm you know they have not walked off on their own um and and I'm not upset about that really but why is that right? Why is that that that that these deer can go running off after a day and become members of the community in a year or two and my kids you know two decades into their life are still you know under under my supervision and the reason is because dear are stupid okay um dear are exquisitely designed for a particular environment and they're they're really good at that environment they confined grass and leaves eat and they can run away from predators but they can't cross this street they don't know what to make of streets in general they don't quite know what to make of all the new plants that people have brought in they are completely unable to adapt to the environment and humans adapt every environment that we come into contact with we are really set up to use a culture that we're a part of to help us tto learn how to deal with the information environment that we happen to find ourselves in so if you grow up in an environment with ipads and um and laptop computers and cars and and all kinds of other fancy devices. You have no problem believing that that's simply the way the world is, even though your hunter gatherer forebears would have been totally mystified by this kind of technology. And the reason for that is because we learned a tremendous amount from the people around us. The reason that my kids are still under my supervision twenty years on is because they are still being programmed by our community to become members of society. Okay, we are learning constantly from the people around us how to navigate this complicated world that we're in, okay? And this is what enables us to do such wonderful things, but it means that we are deeply, uh, engaged with all of the people who are around us that enable us to do all of these wonderful things. One of the reasons why this matters is because that incredible reliance on the people around us is simply not part of the narrative that we tell ourselves about how it is our behavior works. I mentioned yesterday that we live in an individualist society. The united states is an individualist culture, we teach people that great people do great things in difficult situations, and, you know, we're gonna talk a little bit about innovation, and tomorrow we're gonna talk about smarter thinking. And uh you know, when we think about really smart thinking, we often talk about different kinds of inventors and we credit individuals as inventors of dick different technologies alexander graham bell credited as the inventor of the telephone as if like he was the on ly guy working on telephones and nobody else was working on anything else remotely like it and even if they were, he wasn't really paying attention to them except of course that somebody else showed up at the patent office with virtually the same invention on the same afternoon just a little bit later than he did so alexander graham bell gets gets credit for that similarly tomorrow we're going to talk a little bit about thomas edison and the invention of the light bulb and one of the things to remember is that while thomas edison invented the lightbulb everybody knew already what the design of the light bulb was going to be what thomas edison really invented was the filament that wouldn't burn out immediately upon having a current applied to it. Okay, so um the idea is we live in these complex environments, right? And we don't give enough credit to the other people around us in their ability to influence what it is we do and part of the reason that that's important is that we mean need to make better use of the people around us when we're trying to change our own behaviour so one of the things I want to encourage all of you to do is to remember that if you're trying to change a habit, if you're trying to change your behavior, you don't get extra credit if you do it all by yourself, okay? It is the outcome that matters. It is not the way that you get to it if you ultimately are trying to eat in a better way if you learn how to eat in a better way because somebody else helps you every step along the way. That's what matters and it doesn't matter whether you did it all by yourself or not, and the reeds so so what? What that means is we need to be willing to engage with the people around us in our lives. We need to do a better job of finding people who will mentor us through the process of changing our behavior, find people in your world who have the behaviors that you want look around, you know, people who are succeeding at the things that you want to be able to do well, find them, learn from them, talk to them. Lots of people are willing to give their expertise to share their experiences and to help you to achieve the same kinds of goals that they have engage with those people. And if you're trying to do something like that at work, engage with people who are successful at work, doing the kinds of things you'd like to be able to do and learn from them, make use of our social behavior, make use of the fact that we learn from people around us tto learn that new set of skills, that's one important element, and then a related important element is at the moment I mentioned this yesterday at the moment that you find your motivation flagging a little bit, become a mentor yourself. So, you know, one of the things that that often happens with attempts to change behavior is that we're good at it at the beginning, we're good at, you know, the first couple of months we've got it, we're excited, and then and then you know what happens? What happens when your learned something new? Is that there's something called the learning curve? Okay, so let me give you an example. I learned to play the saxophone my first night. As I mentioned yesterday, I was so good, my son said to me, it sounded like I was moving chairs in the kitchen, right, you know, but even though I sounded like I was moving chairs in the kitchen, I actually played something that, at least to me sounded like a song not a very good song, but it, but it was sort of a song, so I went from if you think about percent improvement, it was an infinite improvement. I went from not being able to do anything to be able to do something overnight, right? So there's a big change in the first day, you know? And over that first week I learned a lot. I sounded a little bit less like chairs that, you know, by the end of that first week and then and then that second we got continued to improve a lot, you know? I learned to play some more different notes, and I learned to control some of those squeaks and things like that. So that first month, huge improvement and then the next month, there was still improvement, but it wasn't quite the same amount, and the month after that, there was still improvement. You could you could hear there was improvement, but it wasn't quite a cz muchas there been before, after I've been playing for about a year, I think the difference between playing for twelve months and thirteen months was kind of barely noticeable right at that point, you know, when you can't notice your improvement anymore, at some point you start thinking eyes it's worth it. You know, I really getting any better. Is this really something I want to continue doing at that point, maybe you should take a step back and see, is there a way for you to begin to share some of your experience with someone else? Yeah, right at the point where your own motivation is flagging and you help somebody else is just starting out and may be used that experience is a way of re energizing yourself and re engaging with the goal by helping yourself to recognize where you were and how much improvement you've shown over that period of time so we can use this kind of social engagement in two different ways we can learn from people around us, but we can also then at some point begin to share what we've learned to help other people in ways that can increase our own commitment to continuing, uh, two continuing on with some change in your behavior. So this is really something this is really one way of using, uh, behaviour using the people around you to help you change your own behavior. So that's one big thing um one big way that we use the people around us. Another thing that we want to do, though, is to begin to think about well, if we're going to use the people around us to help us to achieve the kinds of goals what are the kinds of people were looking for and that really requires us to understand a little bit more about the nature of the relationships that we end gaijin with people in the world and a lot of us don't really think about that very much so I want us to focus on the three kinds of relationships that we have if you think about your world there are three kinds of people that you engage with and we'll think of them as strangers neighbors and family okay now most people in the world that you engage with our strangers and when I say that people are strangers what I really mean is you don't know them very well you don't really engage with them on any personal level and whenever you have some kind of transaction with them it's kind of a fee for service transaction so think about going to the grocery store the grocery store is a set of strangers for you you don't really know them very well you couldn't go in and borrow a dozen eggs from them you know tries you might it's cash on the barrel you want a dozen eggs you got to pay the price for it now the flip side of that is you don't really engage in much of a social relationship with the people the grocery store either which is why it's so annoying when the cashier starts telling you about his or her day you know, like you're standing there and they're talking to you they're having a personal conversation with you just stop right? Why are you annoyed by that? You're annoyed because you're engaged in a fee for service transaction it's it's inappropriate if he had socially inappropriate to have this kind of personal conversation because we're not friends we're not in the same social sphere I'm here to get my stuff and get on if we're gonna have a conversation I'm going to be able to borrow that dozen eggs darn it right um so that stranger's another way to think about this is just just to drive this home a little bit imagine you're driving down the highway and one of your tires blows out right? So now you pulled to the side of the road you jack your car up and while you're in the middle of changing your tire somebody in a big truck pulls up, gets out and helps you change your tire right? Um you may or may not do this, but it wouldn't be completely socially inappropriate for you to reach in your pocket and hand that the person who helped you change a tire and that person a twenty right given twenty dollar bill they might refuse it they might say no, no, no I was just trying to be helpful but it's not it's, not embarrassing to do that, okay the next group of piak, so let's go to the extreme other end for a moment. Let's, go to family. Okay, um, family is is a set of people where you have a very deep relationship with them. You engage in lots of rituals with them, you engage in social interactions with them. You call all the time to find out how they're doing. You have this kind of social bonding with them. You celebrate life events with them, right? So there's, all of this social glue. And as a result of all of these social interactions, family is a relationship work. You will all do whatever you need to do for each other, largely without keeping score. So parents just give to their children. And ultimately, children may take care of their parents, right? Nobody's really keeping score. I always like to say that every family has this ne'er do well, uncle, you know, who's never been able to get his life together, and everyone else in the family is sort of supporting him. And and, you know, it's kind of becomes a family joke after a while, and I always tell people that if they can't figure out who that is in their family, it might be them, but but, you know, the family isn't keeping score right the family isn't really saying you know, okay, you know, eventually you're paying us back for this stuff everybody just resigned to the fact that they're going to take care of this person in the family and and that's just what family does right family is engaged in this set of relationships in which we give to each other without really paying attention to the to the given take of that now in the middle is a very interesting set of relationships the neighbor relationship okay um and you know what I say neighbors I mean there's a set of people that we are in close proximity with that we are socially engaged too that there are they're not strangers but they're also not family and so if you think about for example, the neighborhood that you might move into you move into a new house, your neighbors come over, they bring you like a banana bread you know at to welcome you to the neighborhood you know and that and then and then maybe you know, you you go over and you may be the host a little party invite people over to your house and then you know, somebody else has an event in their front yard and you know, different people are doing different things and by virtue of all of this engagement the expectation is not a fee for service transaction but it's also not everyone will do everything for everyone else so you know your neighbor comes over one morning and sees you've got a flat tire on your car comes over helped you change your flat tire you would never pull out a twenty dollar bill and give it to your neighbor right that's just that's just wrong it just feels wrong but you might drive your neighbor's kid to school or you know, cut their cut their front lawn for them one day you know there's kind of a general quid pro quo everyone is giving back to the neighborhood and approximately equal amounts and in fact in a really neighborhood there's always that one neighbor who comes to the parties but never host the party never really does anything for anyone and eventually they kind of get ostracised by everyone right? It might be you I don't know but that you know that that that idea is that everyone is contributing approximately equally not in the moment but but over time and what I'd like to argue is that in lots of different environments particularly organizational environments business environments that neighborhood is really the kind of relationship that we're striving for okay right that if you create a family in a business it's a problem because it allows a certain number of people to kind of loaf around without really doing anything and presumably then everybody's got a you know kind of carry them along and you don't want a pure fee for service business either because any time that you bet that you do that you realize that what someone would be able to charge you on the open market for their services is often mohr than what they're being paid as an employee of the particular company they're working for what makes somebody willing to work for the company is this belief that they are part of something that's bigger than themselves and that they have a little bit more stability and a little bit more of an opportunity tio teo engage in a in a bigger uh bigger interaction okay, so I would argue that a lot of what we're trying to do when we structure our relationships in organizations is to build neighborhoods now our organization's could be companies but if we're the sort of person who is working sort of mohr in a private practice of some kind we are building a neighborhood with the other people that were interacting with it might be other cos it might be other practitioners in a similar space but whenever we're in a work environment what we're striving for is to create to create a neighborhood now in order to get a neighborhood in any organisation what we need to do is to engage in serious conversation with people I mean you could ask yourself in the business environment you know what is the function of kind of water cooler conversation you know where where you know so so two people meet, you know, in the kitchen over a cup of coffee and just have a conversation for ten minutes that seems unproductive, right? That's time that could've been spent sitting at your desk getting something done. So why is it that in fact we don't, you know, put people on the clock and say, come on, people, let's, get moving? You know, enough of this loafing around this kind of communication is valuable because creating these kinds of relationships, even when people are talking about relatively personal kinds of things going on in their lives with other people in the workplace, what it's doing is creating a social structure that resembles this kind of neighborhood in this sort of social environment is one that's going to be conducive to getting a lot of good work done in business? Okay, now, for the for the neighborhood to exist, we also wanna have people who have a set of shared goals with each other right cos are goingto work effectively if everyone believes that they are moving towards some common vision, right? The neighborhood works because people feel like they are working toward something bigger than themselves, and I talked about this a lot in the context of, for example, the university so I work at the university of texas, and we actually have introduced this concept of the neighborhood to the staff of the university and so our vice president for operations and their group is actually instituted this idea that their goal is to create neighborhoods in all of the units within the campus including things like you know, the parking an office in the facilities management and emergency management and things like that and one of the reasons for this is because when you have a neighborhood then you don't really have a contractual relationship with the other people that you work with you have instead what I like to think of as a covenant and what I mean by that is that you have an agreement that there isn't outcome that all of you are striving for and working together to achieve and then you're going to find a way to do this regardless of what is required to make it happen and this is important because a contract is something where as soon as the thoughts on the ground changed there has to be a change order in the contract I mean if you've ever done any had any work done in your home for example you have a contract for a particular amount of work done and invariably as soon as the work starts you remember something else you'd like to have done and now you have to create a change order in which more money gets added in exchange for more work being done right now that's fine if you have a contractor working out of your home but if you're in a larger organization of some kind and then you don't wanna have to be re negotiating agreements every single time that the facts on the ground change a little bit instead you would liketo have a new green mint that this is the outcome that is desired we're going to do what we can to achieve that particular out come on I'll give you an example what I mean in this sort of a sphere so working with the university one of the issues that's come up fairly frequently is that universities as large organizations are trying to find ways to save money and one of the things that they have often considered doing is privatizing some of the facilities uh so for example you know the parking office at the university you know there was like there was an idea that may be what they would do is sell off the rights to run the parking facility to an outside company now that seems like a good idea on the surface right why not you know get a big company teo to pay a lot of money upfront to run the parking services and then get some percentage of their revenues after that. So why is that a problem? Why is that a potential problem? Well think about the way that that this kind of an organization might run you know, imagine that that, you know, university is a big university, like, like university of texas frequently, you know, plays various sporting events, and every once in a while, one of those teams makes it to a playoff game, and one of those playoff games gets held at one of the stadiums in in on the university campus. And now suddenly you need tohave the parking office, come and have parking available for all the people are coming to one of these games. If you have a private company who's running this now, if that's a fee for service transaction oh, we didn't we didn't have that in our contract, you're gonna have to pay us extra to go and do this right, as opposed to having this idea of a covenant. We are the university of texas. We want to have a great experience for those people who come to the campus. And so everyone's going to work together to make sure that new events that that go on are gonna happen. Obviously, employees, they're gonna have to get paid for the time that they're working. But at least now everyone is trying to make sure that this is gonna happen without renegotiating it. This is not a, you know, the ideas we are, we are now engaged in a process of problem solving. To make sure that that and outcomes achieved rather than a process of negotiation, about how, you know what fees have to be charged for what services? Now, if we're going to build this kind of a neighborhood in any organization that has to be done with some degree of authenticity, and what I mean by authenticity is that, for example, an organization when it makes a promise has to ask, actually hold on to that promise, and this is something that has actually changed a lot in the modern business world over the last, you know, fifteen or twenty years, me, twenty years ago, I think there was still some expectation that people would go to work for a company and might continue to work for that company for much of their career unless, you know, they, for example, may have elected to move on. And now I think, you know, the general statistics are now that people are likely to hold many, many different jobs over the course of their working career, and part of what that means is that it gets increasingly difficult to create the feeling of a neighborhood within an organization because now there's less of an expectation that an organization really has your back for the long term that, you know, and so if organizations really are, um focus primarily on maximizing their profits if organizations they're focused primarily on giving large bonuses to the top executives of the company, it creates a sense of dissatisfaction among most of the people. It makes it harder to create this kind of a neighbor good. And so in a lot of ways, we need to engage in these kind of activities in order to create the kinds of work places that are going to function effectively. And frankly, you're going to be enjoyable places to go right. The least enjoyable kind of work environment is the one in which people are going to go and on lee do their job and do on lee what their job requires. What we want to do is to goto work at a place where people want to achieve some big outcome to really make something happen. Those air the inspiring places to work, you know, it's funny, right? When when you look at those lists that they publish of the world's best companies to work, some of those cos it doesn't make sense at certain levels, right? Why? Why would cost go be a great place to work, right? It can't possibly be because there are lots of people who ooh, cool. When they were growing up and when kids are growing up, they say they want to be fireman, they want to be, you know, race car drivers. Nobody says I'd like to stock the shelves at at one of those warehouse club stores that's just not what people talk about wanting to do right. This is not to take anything away from a place like costco. It's just it's it's, not the job. It's the organization, when an organization creates a sense of a common mission that really is taking care of the people who are working for it and creating opportunities for people to engage with each other, then it doesn't really matter what the business is designed to do. It creates an environment in which people want to be there, right? So if you look at the lists of the great places to work there, no it's, not the stuff they're giving you it's, not that they've got great health care. I mean, they do, but it's not it's, not the stuff it's the social interaction it's the being part of the neighborhood that makes these places wonderful places to be a part of.