Tag Archives: Ohio

We are Just One Small Adjustment Away from Making Our Lives Work

Have you seen the movie, How Do You Know? It’s a 2010 romantic comedy starring Paul Rudd and Reese Witherspoon. It also has Owen Wilson and Jack Nicholson in it. If you like romantic comedies, there’s a good chance you’ll enjoy the movie. It’s a movie written and directed by James L. Brooks who also directed As Good As It Gets.

Anyhow, there’s a quote (from Paul Rudd’s character) that I wanted to share with you. I think you might find it… enlightening. To put it in context: Paul Rudd’s character (George) is trying to decide whether he wants to go to prison for his dad (Jack Nicholson). To make this decision, he needs to find out whether the girl he loves Lisa (Reese Witherspoon) would rather be with Matty (Owen Wilson), who she’s currently with, or him. I found a version of this clip on YouTube, so I’ve also included it below the dialogue I transcribed from watching the clip.

George: This is only half the gift. It doesn’t work without the story. This stuff was invented by this man in Central Ohio as white goo and he used it to remove soot off of wall paper from old-fashioned heating. So, when gas and electric heating came, there was no longer a need for the cleaning goo. So, the guy was going under. But, his sister-in-law, was a nursery school teacher.

Lisa: Now, is this a true story?

George: The man’s name was Joe McVicker. His sister-in-law was Kay Zufall.

Lisa: OK, I believe you.

George: So, Kay Zufall, discovered that her little kids liked squeezing the goo a lot more than hard modeling clay. So, she suggested to her brother-in-law, Joe, they color the stuff and call it play-doh.

Lisa: Hey, nice.

George: So, I have kept this for a long time as proof that we are just one small adjustment away from making our lives work.

When the Data Don’t Match Your Beliefs

By now, you’ve no doubt seen (or at least heard about) Karl Rove — noted Republican strategist — challenging the decision of the network for which he is a contributor (Fox News) to call Ohio for President Obama. If you haven’t, it’s worth checking out. This example is a good display of the data not matching one’s beliefs. While Rove has had experience with networks calling states prematurely, based on the data, all the networks were pretty confident in awarding Ohio for President Obama.

Cognitive biases are not unique to Karl Rove — we all have them. Similarly, there is also a tendency to discount data that does not fit one’s previously held beliefs. This past week, I finally cracked Jim Collins‘ new book: Great By Choice. I really liked Good to Great (and even included the story of the Stockdale Paradox a few months ago!)

Within the first 10 pages of the book, Collins’ writes about “entrenched myths” and “contrary findings.” That is, as part of Collins’ (and his team’s) research, they found that some previously held beliefs did not hold true when looking at the data. In case you’re interested, I’ve included them below. Take a look:

Entrenched myth: Successful leaders in a turbulent world are bold, risk-seeking visionaries.
Contrary finding: The best leaders we studied did not have a visionary ability to predict the future. They observed what worked, figured out why it worked, and built upon proven foundations. They were not more risk taking, more bold, more visionary, and more creative than the comparisons. They were more disciplined, more empirical, and more paranoid.

Entrenched myth: Innovation distinguishes 10X companies in a fast-moving, uncertain, and chaotic world.
Contrary finding: To our surprise, no. Yes, the 10X cases innovated, a lot. But the evidence does not support the premise that 10X companies will necessarily be more innovative than their less successful comparisons; and in some surprise cases, the 10X cases were less innovative. Innovation by itself turns out not to be the trump card we expected; more important is the ability to scale innovation, to blend creativity with discipline.

Entrenched myth: A threat-filled world favors the speedy; you’re either the quick or the dead.
Contrary finding: The idea that leading in a “fast world” always requires “fast decisions” and “fast action”—and that we should embrace an overall ethos of “Fast! Fast! Fast!”—is a good way to get killed. 10X leaders figure out when to go fast, and when not to.

Entrenched myth: Radical change on the outside requires radical change on the inside.
Contrary finding: The 10X cases changed less in reaction to their changing world than the comparison cases. Just because your environment is rocked by dramatic change does not mean that you should inflict radical change upon yourself.

Entrenched myth: Great enterprises with 10X success have a lot more good luck.
Contrary finding: The 10X companies did not generally have more luck than the comparisons. Both sets had luck—lots of luck, both good and bad—in comparable amounts. The critical question is not whether you’ll have luck, but what you do with the luck that you get.


“Take Back the Country” — From Whom?

Yesterday during class, I saw a tweet from Mitt Romney:

This made me a bit upset and not in a partisan way. From what I understand, Democrats used this same ‘slogan‘ in 2004 when trying to oust President Bush and send Senator Kerry to 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. [If you’ll notice, the image that I’ve embedded below appears to be a sign from Occupy Wall Street, which is much more often associated with the Democratic Party.] There’s something inherently disturbing about using a slogan like this. It creates an artificial (and unnecessary) division between the people in power and the people who want to be in power.

It’s perfectly alright to disagree with the direction that the current administration is taking the country, but to use this slogan — to me — is demeaning and somewhat immature.

Disagreements are had on a daily basis, but it’s the moments following that disagreement that a person’s character shines through. If I disagree with someone, I’m not going to start a campaign and say it’s, “us vs. them,” — no — that’s not productive. That’s not mature. Instead, it would be more appropriate for me to try to find further evidence that strengthens my argument.

This slogan that is used in political campaigns remind me of Integral Theory. If I think about spiral dynamics, this particular slogan seems like it’s targeted at the “lower” end of the spiral (beige, purple, and red). Given that there are certainly folks at this level of development in the US electorate, this could be considered a “smart” strategy of political campaigns that employ it.

That being said, I almost want to say, “you should know better,” in that using these kinds of tactics are what continues to keep a country divided and hyper-partisan!