Motivating Behavior Change

One of the lessons embedded in Coro training is that giving people new information is often not sufficient to change their beliefs or behaviors. What other means are available to bring about behavior change? Recent research and applied experiments help illuminate the range of strategies that can touch people and create the changes we may desire. Here are four examples of ways of changing behavior. Make things fun: The website www.TheFunTheory.com is devoted to the concept that “something as simple as fun is the easiest way to change people’s behaviour for the better.” Make an emotional impact: See how a hospital motivated doctors to really wash their hands regularly. Go to ABC News to read or view the story. Generate a little competition: See how redesigned energy bills at www.betterbills.org help reduce consumption by showing the customer’s usage compared to others. Engage the senses: New research suggests that clean smells engender more generous behavior. Read or listen to a report of this Northwestern University research...

Crossing Boundaries

Coro exposes its training participants to multiple points of view and gives them skills for managing group processes so that they can be effective in working with diverse – even opposing – stakeholders. In a world that seems to be becoming more polarized, efforts to cross traditional boundaries stand out. Here are a few efforts related to major world issues. Whether they yet have the right answers or not, they may lead the way to finding common ground. — Padraig O’Malley, a professor at the University of Massachusetts at Boston, has applied his mediation skills in divided societies. Using not only his experience negotiating in Northern Ireland and South Africa, but also engaging some of the actual mediators from those fractious communities, he is working to bring Kurds and Arabs together in Kirkuk in northern Iraq. He has managed to bring people from opposite sides to the table and to maintain ongoing discussions. He is realistic about the challenges of this type of work, and estimates that any progress will take five years of relationship-building and dialogue. His work was featured on the National Public Radio Program Here and Now on December 14. Also, his website describes his philosophy and activities. — Four former U.S. Senate majority leaders, Howard Baker (R), Tom Daschle (D), Bob Dole (R) and George Mitchell (D), created The Bipartisan Policy Center in 2007, an organization that seeks to find and develop “solutions that can attract public support and political momentum.” Their initiatives include environmental policy, national security, energy, transportation and health care. Their health care proposal seemed to fall on deaf ears in June 2009,...

Science and Democracy

The impact of technical matters in the public realm has been accelerating over the past century. Policy makers need to make decisions about matters that can be informed by science, mathematics, and economics. Yet each of those decisions must also reflect subjective priorities, personal beliefs or societal values as well. In 1952, noted political philosopher John Dewey observed the damage that can be done by confusing these two different realms: “Holding science to be an entity by itself . . . and then blaming it for social evils, . . .with a view to subordinating it to moral ideals, is of no positive benefit. On the contrary, it distracts us from using our knowledge and our most competent methods of observation in the performance of the work they are able to do.” That is, by failing to recognize that there are moral dimensions beyond the scope of science, we risk sacrificing the important contribution that science can make. C.P. Snow identified the growing chasm between the sciences and the humanities in 1959 in his talk “The Two Cultures,” weakening the contribution both sides can make to an understanding of the world. And in 1962, President Kennedy acknowledged the challenge this way: “Old sweeping issues very largely have disappeared. The central domestic issues of our time are more subtle and less simple. They relate not to basic clashes of philosophy or ideology but to ways and means of reaching common goals–to research for sophisticated solutions to complex and obstinate issues.” Kennedy urged the country to “face technical problems without ideological preconceptions,” and to focus on “the sophisticated and technical issues involved...

Crowdsourcing Case Study – Ushahidi

A new software application called Ushahidi exemplifies the possibilities of widely dispersed participation and input. Started in Kenya, its name is Swahili for “testimony.” It came about in response to the troubled Kenyan election of 2007. A post from a reporter trying to track violence led to a volunteer network of technology experts creating the platform in a matter of days. It uses cellphone reports to map information from people who call in. In Kenya, the information was related to violent events in the aftermath of the election. The system was able to gather more information faster than the traditional sources of news reporters or election monitors. Ushahidi was subsequently used in the earthquakes in Haiti and Chile to find people trapped by the quake and help direct rescuers to the right locations. It has also been applied to monitoring elections in India and pinpointing roadblocks after the blizzard in D.C. Sourced from an unlikely place well outside the usual technology bubbles, Ushahidi has no patent protection and remains open source, so it can be adapted to future situations. Designed to work on cellphone technology that is widely distributed, it can be deployed in parts of the world that do not have standard internet access. This fast-moving, practical application that saved lives suggests the power that new networks, both technical and social, will bring to bear on improving the quality of life around the world. See a New York Times article about Ushahidi here, or learn more at their...

Developing Talent

Every business knows it needs to exploit its competitive advantages. But some large organizations may be overlooking one of their most important advantages, according to Jonathan Hoyt, a Principal in Heidrick & Struggles’ Leadership Consulting practice, and a Coro alumnus: Large organizations can systematically develop their next generation of top leadership from within, but many aren’t doing the right things. Jonathan took time recently to talk with Coro National about developing talent. CN: What do we know today about developing the top tier of talent in organizations? JH: The last 30 years of research have shown that exceptional leadership comes from experience, not from attending leadership classes. 70% of what leaders learn is acquired through work experience, 20% is learned through relationships (mentoring and coaching), and 10% comes from what most people think of as “leadership development” – structured learning in training or classroom settings. CN: What kinds of experiences make the difference? JH: The way to trigger explosive development of talent is to move people around deliberately. Organizations shouldn’t just wait and see if people string together the right set of experiences. They should identify high-potential individuals early in their careers and move them around systematically. For example, a company may take someone from an engineering function and have her manage a new business line, then run their customer service function, and include stints overseas to manage in different cultures. Other great experiences are to assign someone to run a turnaround project for a failing business line or a start-up operation. This gives them an understanding of all facets of the business and helps build a complete set...