Are you more likely to be punished for taking risks at work or will you receive accolades? According to the Harvard psychologist Daniel Gilbert, your prediction depends on what you remember happening to others, regardless of what really happens in your organisation. If you remember lots of stories of people being punished for risk-taking, and you are unable to recall accolades, you will expect punishment. It’s why people buy lotto tickets because only the winners are reported, and for every winner there are thousands and sometimes millions of unreported losers. Here is an engaging talk Daniel gave recently on this topic: “How to Do Precisely the Right Thing at All Possible Times.” 23MB MP3 Link (Thanks Boing Boing)
The City of Port Phillip is tackling a similar problem. Crime in Port Phillip has been dropping for years yet when people are surveyed about crime rates citizens believe crime is increasing. Why? Because crimes are reported while good stories go unnoticed. To remedy this imbalance the City of Port Phillip has launched (today) the Non Crime Hotline where the good citizens of Port Phillip can call in with their positive stories. These stories are then published on their website and in the local newspapers.
A similar intervention was recently designed by one of our business narrative clients on this very issue of risk taking. Their intervention was to find and publicise stories of where risk-taking paid off and was positively recognised.
Do you have situations in your organisation where the general perception is dictated by the squeaky wheel rather than what really happening? Love to hear your examples.
About Shawn Callahan
Shawn, author of Putting Stories to Work, is one of the world's leading business storytelling consultants. He helps executive teams find and tell the story of their strategy. When he is not working on strategy communication, Shawn is helping leaders find and tell business stories to engage, to influence and to inspire. Shawn works with Global 1000 companies including Shell, IBM, SAP, Bayer, Microsoft & Danone. Connect with Shawn on: