Behavior and Incentives – Establishing a Sticky Habit and Culture

Setting up an incentive to promote a good   behavior is a very common practice across the spectrum. Whether it’s at work or being a dad to 5 year old. It’s a great way to motivate people and hopefully cultivate a good habit in the long run. But will it really? I have observed through personal experiences at work and raising children that recognizing a good habit in others and leading by example is what truly creates a long lasting culture and habits.

Simply throwing incentives to promote good behavior creates a culture driven by carrots and sticks. God habits and good culture are hard to inculcate. But it is made truly ours through recognition and we reap the reward as it brings order and success in life.

Managing The Unexpected


I recently read the book, Managing the Unexpected, by Weicke and Sutcliffe.The book is a collection of many case studies of organizations and people dealing with emergencies; disastrous emergencies. It tries to get to the bottom of what caused it and if it could have been avoided. Were there any signals way before the disaster struck? It then goes on to show what organizations can do to become resilient so that they can manage the unexpected.

One thing that I have picked up from this book is to treat near misses as a failure. Not to heave a sigh of relief that we got lucky and then move on, but treat it as a disaster and how we got so close to it. Worth a read.

Clarity Trumps Cleverness

In communication, clarity trumps everything and most of all cleverness. Clarity determines the style, the length, the time and mode of communication.

This is true in other areas as well. As a programmer in my “other” life, I learned early on that if you use a smart logic or lines of code to accomplish some task, ensure that you comment in detail because when you’ll see that code after few weeks, you’ll have no idea what it does.

Clarity brings purpose into focus and enhances engagement. True for clients, true for life.

Good Idea, Bad Idea

Sometimes the difference between a good idea and a bad idea is in the execution.

In marketing and other areas of growing a business, two people may execute an idea along a same line but may see very different results. Let me explain this with an example.

E-mail nurturing is a powerful way to engage with your prospects to grow business. Two different organizations send out relevant emails to their prospects on the same day and yet have very different results. Here are tiny details that I have seen can make a huge difference.

  1. Time when the email is sent out. Is it sent out immediately when a prospect shows interest or an hour later? We have seen that best results are seen when an email is sent immediately while they are still on your website or toying with your product. An hour later, in some cases even 30 minutes later will not show the same result because someone else may have engaged them already.
  2. Both sent relevant content. But one personalized it further by job title or the industry the prospect belongs to.
  3. One sent an HTML email that screams, “marketing content!” and the other a plain text email that seems more personalized and a better chance of being delivered and read.

These seemingly minor differences can draw a line between success and failure.

We See What We Want To See

In an age of data overload and analytics we swear by, I am reminded that caution is in order.

A quick snapshot into analytics can be very misleading; it can tell you where you are, but may completely fail to tell you where you are headed. If you are doing a correlation, sometimes, strange data sets or events may seem related and may totally mislead you.


Approach analytics with a child like curiosity and intensity. No hunches or premonitions. Scan the length and breadth of the data and be wary of snapshots. Otherwise, we’ll see what we want to see.

Near Miss Or A Total Catastrophe

You just escaped an event that could have resulted in a major financial loss or a serious injury. But you escaped it. You are now out of it and your finances are in place and your health is intact. You take a deep breath and move on with your life. Or do you?

Rollback a bit and take a pause. What just happened there? In simple words, you just got lucky. What are the chances that it won’t happen again? A more pertinent question may be, why were you in that situation to begin with? Were there signals out there hinting of a looming disaster? Did you ignore them and just moved on until you were almost hit by it? Now that you got lucky, what do you do? Move on or fix what brought you so close to a disaster? The answer is obvious.

In a book, Managing the Unexpected by Karl Weick and Kathleen Sutcliffe, they argue that resilient organizations treat near misses as failures and make sure that they are never faced with that situation again.

If we as individuals, start to treat near misses as failures and take actions to prevent a repeat, we’ll be better at managing our work, relationships and responsibilities we are entrusted with.

What Do You Do When You Hit A Wall?

When you hit a wall, what do you do? Do you take the easy way out or do you stick in there and dig?

There’s a lot that you can do by playing on the surface. But that won’t make a difference. You’ll have to roll your sleeves and dig in deep. You’ll have to get out of your comfort zone and explore new ideas and strategies. If you are not sweating and not feeling the pain, the walls are not going to shrink.

So, when you hit a wall, don’t squirm around, dig in!

3 Steps To Dig Out From Your Social Media Rut

Are you managing your company’s social media marketing? How are you performing? Are you making an impact or are you stuck?

Most professionals would like to think that they dig and find new ways when they hit a wall. However, in reality, many squirm around the problem and hope that somehow their efforts would yield results. It doesn’t work that way. When you are stuck, you have to dig.

How do you dig out of it? Let’s deal with this situation head on.

Your social media content is not creating the buzz and not engaging with your followers.

I have seen many businesses treat their social media channels as a gateway to share cute and hopefully enthralling news from around the world. They will throw in great stories of samaritans, animals acting funny on cameras and of course, how to beat the Monday blues and get excited about weekends!

We do this because who wouldn’t like those warm and fuzzy stories. But in this pursuit, we lose the focus of why fans are following our business on Facebook and Twitter. If they want those fuzzy stories, there are organizations that champion and promote such stories. They can always get it from them. More importantly, you are simply curating content that’s gone viral and very likely they have been viewed by everyone all over the web umpteen times. Where’s your creativity, what’s your contribution?

To conquer this challenge, you must first answer the big question.

1. The Big Question

What’s the motivation behind creating this social media channel? Do you want to help your clients learn more about your product? Do you want to engage with prospects? A mix of both? Do you want to establish yourself as the thought leader in your business space? Do you want to cater to a certain group of professionals by providing them with helpful tips? What’s the goal? You have to be absolutely clear about it. Keep the goal focussed. Having too many goals will only derail the impact.

Nike created their Facebook page with the goal to motivate people, athletes. They are not selling products, they are not providing customer support, simply encouraging followers to be active and out there.

Once you know your goal, start thinking about your audience.
2. Know your audience
Who are they? Knowing your audience will help you promote your Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin posts. What really helps is creating a persona of your followers. Who’s your typical follower, sketch the persona of that person and keep it in front of you when you write the content. Try to understand their pain points and align that with your goal.

3. Build a Strategy
Once you know your goal and the audience, now’s the time to strategize. Many marketers would start with the strategy straight away, Don’t. You’ll only be shooting in the dark and throwing everything around to see what sticks.

If you are looking to upsell to your clients, focus on upcoming products, give them discount coupons. Engage them through promotions and referrals. If you are trying to convince prospects, focus on case studies, testimonials, thought leadership articles. You have to strategize based on your goal and audience. Also, being aware of your brand identity and the kind of product or service that you offer and the budget that you have will all play into your strategy.

But if you are stuck, and want to dig out, you’ll have to roll your sleeves and strategize.