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The Myth of the Bell Curve

The Myth of the Bell Curve
There is a long standing belief in business that people performance follows the Bell Curve (also called the Normal Distribution). This belief has been embedded in many business practices: performance appraisals, compensation models, and even how we get graded in school. (Remember "grading by the curve?") Research shows that this statistical model, while easy to understand, does not accurately reflect the way people perform. As a result, HR departments and business leaders inadvertently create agonizing problems with employee performance and happiness. Witness Microsoft's recent decision to disband its performance management process - after decades of use the company realized it was encouraging many of its top people to leave. Does human performance follow the bell curve? Let's look at the characteristics of the Bell Curve, and I think you'll quickly understand why the model doesn't fit. The Bell Curve represents what statisticians call a "normal distribution." The answer is no. 1. 2. 3.

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The Data Visualization Beginner’s Toolkit #2: Visualization Tools (Note: if you are new to this series, the DVBTK doesn’t teach you how to do visualization. Rather it is meant to help people find a less chaotic and more effective path towards the acquisition of the necessary skills to become a data visualization pro. To know more, make sure to read the introduction to the series first.) The DVBTK #1 introduced books and study material to make sure you acquire the right knowledge in the right order. Studying is the first step and there’s no level of practice that can substitute for it. That said, it is extremely important to realize that good visualization cannot happen without practice.

The corporate kabuki of performance reviews Not exactly a state of mind anyone wants to have. But we don’t need neuroscience to tell us why the annual performance review song-and-dance is so universally reviled. We have our own reasons: the endless paperwork, the evaluation criteria so utterly unrelated to our jobs, and the simplistic and quota-driven ratings used to label the performance of otherwise complex, educated human beings. And then there’s the buggy software and tedious online tools that make what should be a simple process-sitting down for a cup of coffee to talk about how things are going-downright exasperating. Just ask Pete Juratovic, an Air Force National Guard executive officer who is also the founder of Web design and marketing firm Clikzy Creative in Alexandria, Va.

We’re heading into a jobless future, no matter what the government does (AP Photo/Denis Farrell) In an op-ed in The Wall Street Journal, former Treasury Secretary Lawrence Summers revived a debate I’d had with futurist Ray Kurzweil in 2012 about the jobless future. He echoed the words of Peter Diamandis, who says that we are moving from a history of scarcity to an era of abundance. Think Twice: How the Gut's "Second Brain" Influences Mood and Well-Being As Olympians go for the gold in Vancouver, even the steeliest are likely to experience that familiar feeling of "butterflies" in the stomach. Underlying this sensation is an often-overlooked network of neurons lining our guts that is so extensive some scientists have nicknamed it our "second brain". A deeper understanding of this mass of neural tissue, filled with important neurotransmitters, is revealing that it does much more than merely handle digestion or inflict the occasional nervous pang. The little brain in our innards, in connection with the big one in our skulls, partly determines our mental state and plays key roles in certain diseases throughout the body. Although its influence is far-reaching, the second brain is not the seat of any conscious thoughts or decision-making. This multitude of neurons in the enteric nervous system enables us to "feel" the inner world of our gut and its contents.

Delivering an Effective Performance Review - Rebecca Knight It’s performance review season, and you know the drill. Drag each of your direct reports into a conference room for a one-on-one, hand them an official-looking document, and then start in with the same, tired conversation. Say some positive things about what the employee is good at, then some unpleasant things about what he’s not good at, and end — wearing your most solicitous grin — with some more strokes of his ego. Read This and Take the Rest of the Day Off Carlos Slim is a pretty successful guy: either the world's richest or second-richest, depending on which measure you use and how much he spent on lunch that day. So it's worth taking note when he has something to say about work and productivity. At a conference recently in Paraguay, Slim, who controls America Movil, the largest mobile-phone operator in the Americas, pitched a radical overhaul of the 9-to-5 grind: People would work three days a week, though they would put in longer days (11 hours) and they would retire later in life (at around 70). The extra days off would give people more time to relax and invent things, Slim said. On the other side of the world, the Seoul city government was singing a similar tune -- a lullaby, actually: Workers will soon have permission to take afternoon naps, though the nap experiment is restricted to the summer months. This work-less, nap-more ethos is not new.

Lean Management Vs Modern Management April 6, 2014 In the fall of 2009, at the time I started digging deeper into Enterprise 2.0 and the management principles this organization approach implied, I set up a list of 10 management principles and how it differentiates with management as we know it. About 12 months later in November 2010, Jim Womack, co-author of The Machine that Changed the World or System Lean, wrote a piece called Lean Management Vs Modern Management where the author applies a similar approach and compare 10 key Lean Management principles with the corresponding approach in Modern Management. This article has been written for Gemba Walks, an awesome collection of short essays #hypertextual will soon sing the praise for in a dedicated blog post. While my original blog post may look a bit shallow and messy in retrospect, this piece spawned from the wisdom and lucidity of a master with 30 years of Gemba Walks is deeply inspiring. So here they are :

101 Google Tips, Tricks & Hacks Looking for the ultimate tips for Google searching? You've just found the only guide to Google you need. Let's get started: 1. Ditch Performance Reviews? How About Learn to do Them Well? - Maxim Sytch and D.Scott DeRue by Maxim Sytch and D.Scott DeRue | 10:23 AM June 22, 2010 Few activities in a workplace polarize like performance reviews. Some see them as subjective and ungrounded, one-sided and boss-dominated and something we should do away with entirely, an opinion put forth most recently in a Wall Street Journal article. Others find them an invaluable tool to develop employees and move the company forward. Our view? Sharing Economy – What Airbnb and Uber Have Inspired In the Q1 2014 issue of WARC’s Market Leader, my article on the sharing economy praised the work of Airbnb and Uber for creating a world where everyone had the chance to experience entrepreneurship as a result of sharing pre owned assets. In the following issue, Paul Kemp-Robertson attributed the success of this trend towards a trust deficit brought about by the consistently broken promises of larger brands. The idea of sharing has of course inspired a new generation of Airbnb’s such as

We'll get it right next time: Gut vs Head Dan Gardner's Risk: The Science and Politics of Fear offers a psychological model for how we, as ex-hunter-gatherers, make decisions about stuff. Apparently we have two separate modes of thought, which psychologists call System One and System Two and Gardner, with rather more of an eye on bestseller status, calls Head and Gut. Instinctively, you can guess what those mean and some careful thought plus a bit of research would tell you you were right. Gut is where elections are won and lost. The Secret Ingredient in GE’s Talent-Review System - Raghu Krishnamoorthy by Raghu Krishnamoorthy | 10:00 AM April 17, 2014 GE is often highlighted as an organization that develops some of the most effective leaders. Most companies have a version of the talent-review system we use at GE. But judging from what I hear from managers of companies that visit us to benchmark our system, the difference between our approach and theirs does not lie in forms, rankings, tools, or technologies. It lies in the intensity of the discussion about performance and values. The debate, the dialogue, and the time taken to have an exhaustive view of an individual − evaluating them based on both what they accomplish and how they lead − are far more important than any of the mechanics.

Scientists: Democracy Too Good For Human Race Scientists discover what Kent Brockman knew all along: The democratic process relies on the assumption that citizens (the majority of them, at least) can recognize the best political candidate, or best policy idea, when they see it. But a growing body of research has revealed an unfortunate aspect of the human psyche that would seem to disprove this notion, and imply instead that democratic elections produce mediocre leadership and policies.The research, led by David Dunning, a psychologist at Cornell University, shows that incompetent people are inherently unable to judge the competence of other people, or the quality of those people’s ideas.