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Copyright © 2006 The National Learning InstituteThese articles may be freely published electronically. They may be reprinted for individual use in hard copy but may not be reprinted in hard copy for commercial purposes.

Group Think

Group Think is Alive and Well

March 23, 2015 No Comments

Andrew O’Keeffe ©2015

How groups make decisions is a key part of human living. “Group think” is alive and well. If we know the dangers in group think then we can take steps to avoid the traps.

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Feedback Sandwich

Why The Feedback Sandwich Does Not Work

December 16, 2014 No Comments


Andrew O’Keeffe ©2014

The ‘feedback sandwich’ might be a good idea in theory…BUT… for humans it doesn’t work.

The sandwich refers to an approach to giving negative feedback from a manager to a staff member. The sandwich metaphor refers to the negative feedback being placed between two positives; start with a positive, go to the negative and then end with another positive.

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I’m Interested in You as a Person – How Our Mindset Affects the Way We Manage

November 6, 2014 No Comments


Andrew O’Keeffe ©2014

The mind and our beliefs are a powerful thing. They affect our health and wellbeing and affect our energy and output at work. Mindset should be part of a leader’s toolkit.

In psychology the power of the mind includes the placebo effect. The placebo effect in the medical field is that many (sometimes, most) people get better from a medicine independent of whether the medicine they are prescribed is the real medicine or a sugar pill.

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Sharing information

Why don’t people share vital information?

October 1, 2014 No Comments

Andrew O’Keeffe ©2014

A common complaint in workplaces is that people from different parts of the organisation don’t cooperate. This very human phenomenon is often expressed as “silo behaviour”, as “knowledge is power” and as “tension between teams”. The behaviour gets in the way in situations such as cross-selling where different products and services could be sold to the same client, cross-functional teamwork where solutions require different groups working together and in mergers and acquisitions where different groups are coming together.

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Zero privacy

Protection in a Zero Privacy World

August 18, 2014 No Comments

©2014 Meryl David  BA (Hons), ABC, AIMM, GAICDD

It’s simple. If you want to (or your business wants to) engage with people under the age of 35 with whom you cannot have face-to-face contact, it’s important to accept that “you have zero privacy anyway; get over it!” (to use the 1999 words of Sun CEO Scott McNealy). Of course, if you have enough money, you can significantly improve your chances of buying the privacy you want for your information. But if you have that kind of money (as an individual or an enterprise), you are likely to have a higher profile and so be more of a target for those who seek to invade your privacy.

What can you do?

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Customer meeting

Can a “face” make a difference?

June 2, 2014 No Comments


Andrew O’Keeffe ©2014

To lift motivation and performance of a team, put a face to their task – have them meet someone who benefits from their work.

Humans are a face-reading species and as the truism tells us, there’s nothing like putting a face to a name. Once we have met someone we have greater empathy.

It’s not surprising that the science confirms significant impact on job motivation and performance if people who don’t usually meet their clients do so.

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Best managers

The Secret to Appointing the Best Managers

March 31, 2014 No Comments

Andrew O’Keeffe ©2014

One of the most important decisions organisations make is who to appoint as a manager. It’s not surprising for a social species that the leader of a group of humans plays a key role in team engagement and output. Our track record in manager appointments tends not to be good, and we could significantly improve our hit rate by using one lever. We could move the power of the decision from above and pass it into the hands of the followers.

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Too many jams

Are we spoilt for choice? Too many jams!

March 3, 2014 No Comments

Andrew O’Keeffe ©2014

Over the January holidays my wife and I dined with a friend at a fine-dining restaurant. At the early stage of ordering our meals there was so much choice we had trouble deciding. First we were presented with three menus (a la carte, degustation and “future concepts”) and in turn on the a la carte menu there were an incredible number of choices. The three of us struggled to choose!

While choice is a good thing, maybe we can have too much. The subject goes to human motivation and has implications in our dealings with customers and staff.

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Bonell Family

Does team size matter?

February 3, 2014 No Comments

By Andrew O’Keeffe ©2014 Hardwired Humans

Jeni and Ray Bonell live in the Australian city of Toowoomba. They are parents to a family of 15 children! Instinctively we know that’s an awfully big family – it’s clearly outside the normal size of a human family. We immediately wonder how they cope. The same question applies to workplace managers asked to manage teams of that size. How can they possibly cope? The short answer is managers can’t as the group size is beyond human tolerance.

The Bonells have a chance of functioning because in their case they are kin. But managers in workplaces aren’t generally managing kin. In abnormally large work teams team members get “lost”, the team fractures into sub-groups, and engagement and productivity suffer.

Two recent studies provide insight into our nature and the implications of team size.

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Who is your customer? Why customers are different to consumers

January 16, 2014 1 Comment

To any savvy business manager, that may seem a simple or even silly question.  “Of course I know who my customers are, I wouldn’t be in business otherwise” might be the natural response.  However, one organisation who got this drastically (and what could have been tragically) wrong, and which almost crippled an entire country (well at least for a couple of weeks), was the US Federal Aviation Administration.

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