Friday, December 18, 2009

Performance Bias

One of the greatest lessons I learned from my children is that how anything is presented matters.  Broccoli presented as "healthy vegetables" guarantees screaming fits at the dinner table. However, sell those same broccoli to the kids as "Little Trees" and they demand seconds.
"Cognitive neuroscientists have...observed how... a mental rotation task is presented to women (as either a threateningly "male" spatial reasoning task or a more feminine sounding "perspective-taking" test) affects which brain regions are recruited - and even how well the women do at it."  from The Britannica Guide to The Brain; pXVI
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Forget the slightly sexist language in the quote and think about the implications. How the task is presented determines the outcome. How the manager describes the task has an immediate impact on the results.

We perform based on our biases. When we think something is easy, then it is. Our perception controls our reality. How challenges are presented matters!

What if we could harness those biases? What if we could identify the least threatening way to present tasks to our workers? How would this impact management? How would it change our work environments?

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