Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Influence with Integrity

Influence with Integrity

Have you had an opportunity to hear David speak on The Psychology of Business?  David recently spoke on the topic of Influence at a Human Resource conference, here is a brief overview of David and his insight:
"Influence is a key issue for human resources professionals: who has it, is it being used with integrity, how do people get it. Today’s Human Resource leaders are often in a position of influence, rather than power, whether we realize it or not. The ability to affect others’ actions, decisions, opinions, or thinking will be critical to leadership success in driving our goals and strategies no matter what your role is in your organization.
Dr. David Farrar enjoys sharing his keen insights from 20 years as a psychologist working with corporate executives. As a leader and consultant running organization effectiveness and change programs David’s seen influence used wisely and well on a global scale, so he has great insights. In this keynote, David examined how to use your personal power to your advantage, learn more about the psychology behind influence, identify persuasive abilities, and examine strategies to improve your personal leadership challenges with a greater level of influence.
In the end, attendees came away knowing the three kinds of influence skills one usually sees used in organizations plus four other influence behaviors that are easy, engaging and ethical.  David used practical real life examples, case studies, self-assessments to help develop the self-awareness and skills for leading and influencing so others will follow."

If you would like to have a similar elevating impact in your organization or conference, please contact Genevieve at: genevieve@koliso.com.  We look forward to speaking with you!

Thursday, February 2, 2017

Koliso Perspective: The Art and Science of Brainstorming

Read the rest of the newsletter this article was published in by following the link a the bottom of this post.

A client of Koliso wanted his leadership team to use their executive skills and think outside the box. The issue required collaboration across different silos in the organization, and once a solution was identified, everyone needed to get behind it if the business was to succeed.

Koliso suggested using strategic brainstorming focused on the key issues the team was facing. The CEO wasn’t very keen. If you’ve ever been part of a brainstorming session, chances are the main thing you remember is having to shout out lots of ideas in a limited time and compete for your ideas to be heard. This CEO thought brainstorming was a little childish and probably not suitable for a senior leadership team.

That’s not how brainstorming should be viewed. Brainstorming has developed a bad reputation. It hasn’t always been this way; most people don’t know brainstorming was invented. Here is how to brainstorm better (in six steps) based on its origin.

In 1954 Alex Osborn, an advertising executive, founded CEF, the Creative Education Foundation. CEF bills themselves as “where brainstorming began.” As well as inventing brainstorming, Osborn co-founded the ad firm, BBDO. His book, Applied Imagination, lives on in the work of CEF. Along with Sidney Parnes, Osborn developed the Osborn-Parnes Creative Problem Solving Process we know as brainstorming.

Osborn defines brainstorming as, “A creative conference for the sole purpose of producing a checklist of ideas—ideas which can serve as leads to problem solution—ideas which can subsequently be evaluated and further processed.”

That’s what most of us recognize as brainstorming, but that’s not the way it’s usually practiced. Normally, brainstorming is just the part of the conference or meeting where people try to come up with as many ideas as possible to solve the problem… usually followed by some frustration with the quality of the ideas and the planned follow-up.

We sat down with our client and went through how we could prepare the team for their problem-solving session based on what we know about how teams work and the psychology of creativity. The following are the six strategic steps.

1: Preparation. 

It’s not as obvious as it sounds. Rather than do a session on the fly, the process of brainstorming works best with careful planning. Because you ask people to step outside their normal boundaries, it helps if you can define the few boundaries they do have. Define the question, outline the parameters and make the problem easily understood. What’s more, involve the team in coming to terms with the problem so it’s crisply described, which leads to a crisp solution.

2: Incubation.

If you’re going to have a good brainstorming session, it helps to let people know about the session in advance. People will sleep on it. Letting a problem sit in the back of their minds will help them arrive at solutions during the session.

Koliso made sure the team knew the session was approaching, what kinds of questions they would be tackling, and the kinds of solutions the company needed to find.

3: Warm-up.

Thinking is just like any other kind of exercise. You need to provide a few warm-up exercises to get people prepared to be creative.

The problem with ice-breakers and similar is that they can feel childish. Koliso warmed up the team by having them put themselves in the minds of their customers. We asked them to imagine their issue from their customers’ perspective. How would clients describe the quality and operational issues they were facing? How would clients describe the impact on their businesses?

4: Ideation. 

This is the part people usually think of as the brainstorming. When people are coming up with ideas in a brainstorming session there are only four guidelines they need to keep in mind.
•    Don't judge the ideas
•    Piggy back on other people’s ideas
•    Go for quantity
•    Go wild and have fun

Most people like this the most. The key is to ensure all ideas are recorded and expressed. To make sure our group didn’t hold back, we had them work under time deadlines. Within a short while the team was trying to flood the group with their ideas so as not to be cut short by the time constraint.

5: Solution finding. 

 Participants often become frustrated with their lists of wild ideas. There needs to be a clear break so that the ideas can now be narrowed down to those few that will have the most impact on the problem. At this time participants need rules and guidelines to help them evaluate.

Our CEO was concerned that brainstorming would only lead to off-the-wall ideas that wouldn’t be practical or feasible. With that in mind, we agreed in advance on a few rules that we could use to evaluate ideas after the ideation stage.  Basically we created a stage-gate situation—where ideas had to pass strict criteria to make it through the gates—until only a few were left standing at the end.

6: Implementation.

Once the brainstorming ends and the ideas are prioritized, there needs to be a clear path to action.

We regularly create one-page plans for our clients for their key projects and accountabilities. Almost any project we’ve ever seen can be summarized in one page using a simple structure that lends itself to visible action and accountability.

This client came up with a number of options short-listed for implementation. The very process of working together on creating the solution broke down the silos the CEO was worried about. The members were energized to make succeed what they helped create.

When used well, brainstorming is a genuine team-building exercise as well as a problem solving technique that harnesses the creativity of all the participants.

Interested in learning more about this topic for your organization? Contact us.

Read the rest of our newsletter. >

Sign up for our newsletter. >

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

See Dr. David Farrar Speak About Change

Change Their Minds and Change Their World:
How Real Estate Professionals Can Lead Change For Clients and Colleagues


An international consultant, corporate executive and trained psychologist will speak about the psychology of change and how you can become a change leader in your professional and personal life.

Successful corporate real estate professionals help clients navigate the stages of change.  How successful would you be if your clients weren’t anxious about change?
  • People value what they have more than they value what they could gain. Why?
  • Why do you clients "grieve" a little for their old spaces even when you show them their new spaces?
  • How are we wired to make change work?
Dr. Farrar will discuss how to lead people through change drawing on his experience from leading large corporate change projects. You will learn:
  • Six steps that everyone goes through whenever they change.
  • Jump starting the desire for change.
  • How changes become sticky.
Dr. Farrar will provide overview of corporate change models and the roles required of change agents and leaders.

Learn about key topics including:
·         Corporate Change Models
·         Speaking Corporate Change Language
·         Help Your Clients and Colleagues Embrace Change

A hands-on workshop will follow the presentation.

Dr. David Farrar
Koliso | The Psychology of Business

Friday, July 15, 2016


8:00 a.m. – Registration/Continental Breakfast
8:30-11:30 a.m. – Program
11:30 a.m. – Boat departs/Lunch Served
1:30 p.m. – Boat returns to dock

Bayview Event Center
687 Excelsior Blvd.
Excelsior, MN 55331
Members: $50.00
Non-Members: $


Cancellation Policy: 
If you need to cancel your registration, you must contact the Midwest Chapter Office by Tuesday, July 12, 2016, to receive a full refund. Unfortunately, cancellations after that time will not receive a refund. Unpaid cancellations and no-shows will be invoiced.

Late Policy: 
Please be aware that registrations received after the July 12 deadline will be charged a $10 late fee.

July Featured Sponsor:
Gardner Builders

Monday, November 23, 2015

High-Maintenance Employees in the Workplace

What effect does the high-maintenance colleague have in your workplace?

We're not talking here about the person who is doing bad work or has overtly unacceptable behaviors, such as abuse or intolerance. We're talking about the kind of person most managers describe as high-maintenance because they demand a lot of time without producing a lot of work.

We have had this issue come up three times with clients in just the last few months. Consider the fictional example of George.

George is good but not great at his job. He always has questions about how to go about his work, has a pessimistic view of the future and resists change and innovations. His colleagues have to overcome these obstacles to work with him and have to resist arguing with him about his views and behaviors. It should be noted that George's work output is perfectly reasonable.

Researcher Eli Finkel at Northwestern University, and many others, have looked at the effects conflict and interpersonal friction have on people working on common goals in relationships—and it's not always what you think. The Finkel research is well replicated and the social coordination model is well understood in psychology. We can apply the research in the workplace and come up with some interesting results.

Managers often feel that the reason for keeping a high-maintenance employee on the team is an issue of diversity or fairness—that it would be unfair to remove someone from the team because of a personality issue. Further, managers often think the issue is one of morale and they can compensate for the Georges of the world by keeping up morale in other ways.

Finkel's research views the problem more as one of social coordination and self-control. It describes self-control as a limited capacity system that can be run down when taxed too much. High-maintenance interactions put a lot of pressure on the capacity for self-control, and so social friction occurs and workplace coordination breaks down.

When personality issues are brought to us we look first at the organization to ensure that everything is set up to position the employees for success. Are goals understood? Are the roles clear? Are there effective processes in place? If the answer to these is yes then the personality issue can usually be concluded as the problem. Colleagues can't collaborate with someone if dealing with them results in more self-control than successful outcomes of teamwork.

We reviewed the workplace, and in George's case the goals, roles and processes were clear. George's behavior was in some way wired-in. As a first step, we advised the managers to bring to his attention the effect he was having on his colleagues. The managers needed to address the situation not as a personality issue, but as specific behaviors that were affecting the ability of his colleagues to collaborate with him.

In our experience, some people find this behavior extremely hard to change. As a leader you have to balance the work the person is accomplishing against the effect they have on the team and make a decision that is best for everyone. In the last three months one of our Georges resigned, one was terminated and one is making a sincere effort to change based on the feedback and the effect on their colleagues.

What’s the take away for business? Managing a high-maintenance employee isn't about exerting control over their personality. The right perspective is to view it as setting up a work environment with smooth social coordination so that goals, roles and processes are achieved collaboratively.

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Making Collaboration Work

We have worked with many executive teams that want to improve the teamwork and collaboration in their organizations. For some, the issue seemed to be the team members’ personality differences while for others it was a lack of focus, or an inability to take a disciplined approach to achieving results. One of our favorite business resources, the Harvard Review Insight Center, gathers twenty general resources and six HBR articles on how collaboration works.

Below is a simplified list of these findings.

1. Everything starts with trust. Trust is based on four things: competence, reliability, openness and principled behavior. If you and your team members don't know how to demonstrate these characteristics, and are not held accountable for demonstrating them, you will not get past first base. 
2. You need shared goals. Call it a vision, a mission or a strategic intent, but what counts is that everyone knows what the team is there to achieve and buys into the common picture of success. 
3. Roles need to be clear. Unless people know why they are on the team and how they and their colleagues can contribute, the team can't work together. You can’t delegate to each other or capitalize on team members’ strengths unless you have role clarity and understanding. 
4. Processes should be simple and direct. Everyone has worked on a team that reinvents the wheel for the sake of not knowing the best way to get something done. Similarly, most people have worked on a team that spins its wheels because members didn't understand the right responses and actions to be taken. 
5. Relationships are key. When we see dysfunctional teams, members often blame one or more people for not being team players. However, our experience is that relationships start to fray as an outcome of poor trust, goals, roles and processes. Focus on these factors before making decisions on relationships. 
6. Communication is everything. Every engagement survey, every satisfaction instrument, every analysis always emphasizes the importance of communication. It is a basic premise of human psychology that everyone wants to feel heard and valued for who they are. Talk with them, and equally if not more importantly, listen.

In our consulting work we have structured tools that help our clients make significant improvements in each of these six areas. In simplifying these HBR resources for you, we confirmed these basics are the same no matter who the author is or which study you look at.

So what is the take-away for business? Make sure you have good practices around the six areas above, bring in help where you need to and make sure your help understands what really works and has the tools to help you.

Friday, October 23, 2015

The Three Basic Interpersonal Skills

These skills are remarkably easy to learn and practice, and remarkably powerful in the positive effect they have on other people.

1. Treat everyone as you want to be treated
a. With dignity
b. And respect

2. Maintain and enhance other people’s self-esteem
a. Be specific
b. Be sincere

3. Always make an effort to make things better
a. Focus on the issues, not the people
b. Ask for help and engage other people

The keys to social success

The basic skills have never changed. Skill number one looks pretty much like the golden rule: do unto others as you would have them do unto you. Almost every religious belief from Christianity to Buddhism to Hinduism and Islam contains something that looks very much like this as a basic moral precept.

If you have read Dale Carnegie's How to Win Friends and Influence People you will remember that making other people feel good was central to his work. We are wired socially to respond positively to people who make us feel good. We go out of our way to be around them, and we make an effort to help them where we can.

And speaking of people we want to be around, studies consistently show that individuals who have an optimistic attitude and are focused on making things better are more popular and more successful socially and in business. They are also more successful and happier with their lives than people with pessimistic attitudes. They may see how things are not perfect, yet they put their effort into making them better. They offer and accept help and know the importance of engaging people to want to make things better.

You can start to see how the three basic interpersonal skills provide a firm springboard from which to deal with other issues. All workplaces and social organizations work best when using the basic interpersonal skills is just a natural part of how things are done every day.

Start with the basics if you want to look at your personal success, or you want to coach or mentor someone in your organization. Look closely at the basic interpersonal skills. People whose behavior doesn’t reflect the skills will struggle to get things done successfully with other people.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Koliso Perspective: The Psychology of Business—More than a Catchy Tagline

When most people think of psychologists, two prominent images come to mind: the white-coated research psychologist in a laboratory studying rats in a maze or attaching electrodes to someone’s head and the analytical psychologist providing clinical insights to a patient on a couch or interpreting subconscious behavior.

Applied psychologists are different. We’re basically scientists trained to apply psychological methods and frameworks to real world issues and problems.

The founder of applied psychology is not Sigmund Freud but Hugo Münsterberg, a German who immigrated to the United States and taught at Harvard in the beginning of the twentieth century. Münsterberg applied psychology to fields as diverse as legal testimony and confessions, engineering, teaching and business.

The International Association of Applied Psychologists (IAAP), of which Koliso co-founder David is a member, is the oldest international professional psychological society. How do applied psychologists look at solving real world issues?

Let’s consider traffic management. The IAAP has a whole division of members devoted to traffic and transport psychology. As trained scientists, applied psychologists look at the interactions between the traffic system, the behaviors of individuals and groups and the social rewards and expectations attached to driving. This has led to insights into the seven E’s of traffic psychology: education, enforcement, engineering, exposure, environment, emergency responsiveness and evaluations*. Education factors in variables such as in-car versus written examinations. Engineering examines effective signage and the response times needed to react to different road conditions. Enforcement looks at different kinds of controls and fines associated with good and bad driving.

As you can see, psychologists have a much wider influence on traffic management than simply investigating things such as driver road rage.

In the world of business, applied psychologists look at much more than just choosing the right candidates for jobs (traditional research type “test and tell” work) or helping employees deal with workplace stress (traditional counseling type roles).

Business is a series of interactions not just for the benefit of one person or the other, but voluntarily entered into for the benefit of both parties. It’s a system where motivations, expectations, the environment and the way the work is engineered play a significant part in the value of the exchange and how satisfied each party will be.

At different times the psychology of business focuses on the employees of the business, their customers and their community. It can include everything from recruitment, selection, training, performance appraisal, job satisfaction, motivation, engagement, productivity, work behavior, stress at work, reactions to change and effective management.

Applied psychologists are most effective in organizations where human capital is greatly valued: technology jobs, service industries, professional practices and other places where highly skilled employees are central to the business. Applied psychologists are trained to be methodical in their approach, look for predictable outcomes, and evaluate their success with measurable evidence.

Read the rest of the newsletter. 

Interested in learning more about this topic for your organization? Contact us.

Sign up for our newsletter. >

* Porter, Bryan E.. Handbook of traffic psychology. London: Academic Press, 2011.