psychology

Inattentional blindness

Inattentional blindness is when we are so focused on some things that we completely miss other things that should be completely obvious. This can be used to hilarious effect, as you’ll see below, and at the same time is something we need to take into account in business.

Cognitive load

Cognitive load is an indication of how hard the brain works to perform specific actions. Although often used as just a conceptual model, cognitive load can be measured by watching cerebral blood flow while performing different tasks, and many formal studies of programming tasks do exactly this.

Polyvagal Theory: Understanding safety

Polyvagal Theory is the work of Dr Stephen Porges and describes what we know today about how our nervous system, and entire body, responds to how safe or threatening the world feels to us. This has significant implications for the behaviours we see in ourselves and in others. It’s important to note that we react based on our perception of how safe the world is, and not how safe it actually is.

Attribute substitution

Attribute substitution is a situation where, when we are faced with a computationally difficult decision, we will often substitute a more easily calculated decision in it’s place and answer that instead, without even realizing that we did this.

How We Think: Systems 1 and 2

In his seminal book Thinking Fast and Slow1, Nobel prize winning psychologist Daniel Kahneman talks about two very different kinds of thinking that we do. He refers to them as System 1 (fast, but often wrong) and System 2 (slower, more accurate).

  1. Thinking Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman 

Perils of Why

In a coaching context, asking “why” questions can be problematic. They can often give results that we did not intend and should be used carefully and sparingly.

Logical Levels

Robert Dilts’ Logical Levels Model (also called Neurological Levels), is a framework to analyze and understand human experiences, behaviours, and change. It provides a structured way of examining different levels of human experience and helps individuals identify and work with those levels to create effective change. It’s based on earlier work from anthropologist Gregory Bateson.

Motivation & Self-Determination Theory

We tend to over-simplify motivation into just two buckets: intrinsic and extrinsic. According to Self-Determination Theory (SDT)1, there are in fact six kinds of motivation2 and it’s worth considering the full range.

  1. Self-Determination Theory: Basic Psychological Needs in Motivation, Development, and Wellness by Ryan & Deci, 2018 

  2. SDT is a much larger model that encompasses more than just motivation. This chart is one part of the Organismic Integration Theory, that is is turn just one of six mini-theories contained within SDT. 

Pre-requisites for Continuous Improvement

Continuous improvement is a process of constantly seeking out ways to improve and optimize performance, processes, and overall organizational success. An agile environment hinges on this notion of continuous improvement. We don’t expect to be perfect today but we do expect to be improving over time.

Power of words

The words we use are far more important than most people realize. They have the ability to make deep changes in unconscious behaviour in ourselves and the people around us.

Neuroscience of psychological safety

I find that many of the conversations we have about psychological safety tend to devolve into platitudes: “It’s good and we should have more of it” or “managers should create safer spaces”. This doesn’t give anyone any context into why it’s actually important or how we can go about improving it.

Book recommendations for Agile Coaches

I talk a lot about neuroscience, psychology, hypnosis, body language, and other topics as they relate to Agile methods and I’m frequently asked: “What books do you recommend as an introduction?” There is no single best book to start with so I’m giving you a bunch of categories to pick from.

The millennial whoop and our brain as a prediction engine

Our brains are highly advanced prediction engines1. They are constantly trying to predict what will happen next so that we can be prepared for what’s coming. When our brain makes a successful prediction then we get rewarded with a tiny shot of dopamine that makes us feel good.

  1. Professor Lisa Feldman Barrett explains how our brains evolved as a prediction engine in her excellent book Seven and a Half Lessons About the Brain 

Google’s Project Aristotle

You may have already heard of Google’s Project Aristotle. Back in 2012, Google set out to identify what made their most effective teams so much better than others. They wanted to reproduce that magic that some teams had across the company and so they interviewed 180 teams and collected all kinds of data.

Code coverage as a perverse incentive

While code coverage can be a useful measurement for teams to improve their own results, the moment it’s tracked by people external to the team, particularly management, it becomes a perverse incentive.

Retrospective Magic

Are your retros running a bit flat? Need something to spice them up and make them more effective and also more interesting for your team? Join us as we walk through a collection of techniques from psychology and applied neuroscience to give your retros that edge you need.

Six Thinking Hats

Six Thinking Hats is a technique to improve creativity by focusing our attention on only one perspective at a time. Useful wherever we need creativity - from retrospectives to product planning to strategic visioning.

Exploring the Anti-Anxiety Toolkit

Stress and anxiety are widespread in our industry and you may have already noticed that it’s really hard to coach someone who is highly stressed or anxious. It’s also really hard for you to personally perform at your best when you’re in that state.

Brain Talk

Words direct attention. Some words will encourage superficial conversations while others will allow you to quickly get into deeper, more meaningful ones. Learn some of the language patterns used by hypnotists and other effective communicators.

Apex Problem

In hypnosis, the “Apex Problem” refers to a situation where the client is cured so effectively that they don’t remember ever having had that problem.

Teddy Bear Effect

As the story goes, the computer science lab at Reed College has a rule that before you can ask for help with the programming problem you’re working on, you have to first explain that problem out loud to the teddy bear in the corner.

Leveraging the Doorway Effect

Have you ever walked into the kitchen, only to realize that you’ve now forgotten why you walked into the kitchen?

Clean Language

Our brains process an incredible amount of information through the use of metaphor (comparing one thing against another). When you listen carefully to the words we use, you will begin to notice how often metaphor is used in conversation.

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neuroscience

Five chemicals (neurotransmitters) that drive behaviour

While science has identified hundreds of different neurotransmitters in our brains, there are five that are most commonly identified with behaviour. Each of these are part of our survival mechanism and will encourage or discourage specific behaviours with the goal of keeping us safe.

Neuroscience of psychological safety

I find that many of the conversations we have about psychological safety tend to devolve into platitudes: “It’s good and we should have more of it” or “managers should create safer spaces”. This doesn’t give anyone any context into why it’s actually important or how we can go about improving it.

Book recommendations for Agile Coaches

I talk a lot about neuroscience, psychology, hypnosis, body language, and other topics as they relate to Agile methods and I’m frequently asked: “What books do you recommend as an introduction?” There is no single best book to start with so I’m giving you a bunch of categories to pick from.

The millennial whoop and our brain as a prediction engine

Our brains are highly advanced prediction engines1. They are constantly trying to predict what will happen next so that we can be prepared for what’s coming. When our brain makes a successful prediction then we get rewarded with a tiny shot of dopamine that makes us feel good.

  1. Professor Lisa Feldman Barrett explains how our brains evolved as a prediction engine in her excellent book Seven and a Half Lessons About the Brain 

Retrospective Magic

Are your retros running a bit flat? Need something to spice them up and make them more effective and also more interesting for your team? Join us as we walk through a collection of techniques from psychology and applied neuroscience to give your retros that edge you need.

Exploring the Anti-Anxiety Toolkit

Stress and anxiety are widespread in our industry and you may have already noticed that it’s really hard to coach someone who is highly stressed or anxious. It’s also really hard for you to personally perform at your best when you’re in that state.

Back to Top ↑

psychological_safety

“This is a safe space”

I’m seeing more and more situations where someone will say “this is a safe space” in a meeting invite or at the beginning of a session. While I appreciate that the person saying the words really wants that to be true, the fact they feel the need to say it, highlights the fact that it probably isn’t. If it really were safe, we would already know that.

Neuroscience of psychological safety

I find that many of the conversations we have about psychological safety tend to devolve into platitudes: “It’s good and we should have more of it” or “managers should create safer spaces”. This doesn’t give anyone any context into why it’s actually important or how we can go about improving it.

Google’s Project Aristotle

You may have already heard of Google’s Project Aristotle. Back in 2012, Google set out to identify what made their most effective teams so much better than others. They wanted to reproduce that magic that some teams had across the company and so they interviewed 180 teams and collected all kinds of data.

Back to Top ↑

workshop

Retrospective Magic

Are your retros running a bit flat? Need something to spice them up and make them more effective and also more interesting for your team? Join us as we walk through a collection of techniques from psychology and applied neuroscience to give your retros that edge you need.

Exploring the Anti-Anxiety Toolkit

Stress and anxiety are widespread in our industry and you may have already noticed that it’s really hard to coach someone who is highly stressed or anxious. It’s also really hard for you to personally perform at your best when you’re in that state.

Brain Talk

Words direct attention. Some words will encourage superficial conversations while others will allow you to quickly get into deeper, more meaningful ones. Learn some of the language patterns used by hypnotists and other effective communicators.

Clean Language

Our brains process an incredible amount of information through the use of metaphor (comparing one thing against another). When you listen carefully to the words we use, you will begin to notice how often metaphor is used in conversation.

Back to Top ↑

motivation

Not motivated to do anything

I occassionally hear from managers that their people just aren’t motivated to do anything. This is rarely the complete story as these people are clearly motivated to do many things, just perhaps not those things that the manager wants them to do.

Motivation & Self-Determination Theory

We tend to over-simplify motivation into just two buckets: intrinsic and extrinsic. According to Self-Determination Theory (SDT)1, there are in fact six kinds of motivation2 and it’s worth considering the full range.

  1. Self-Determination Theory: Basic Psychological Needs in Motivation, Development, and Wellness by Ryan & Deci, 2018 

  2. SDT is a much larger model that encompasses more than just motivation. This chart is one part of the Organismic Integration Theory, that is is turn just one of six mini-theories contained within SDT. 

Pre-requisites for Continuous Improvement

Continuous improvement is a process of constantly seeking out ways to improve and optimize performance, processes, and overall organizational success. An agile environment hinges on this notion of continuous improvement. We don’t expect to be perfect today but we do expect to be improving over time.

Back to Top ↑

retrospective

Six Thinking Hats Retrospective

Six Thinking Hats is an approach for creativity that was created by Edward DeBono. I use it as the basis for an agile retrospective, and find this approach to be particularly effective when the topic we’re discussing is expected to be controversial or heated.

Retrospective Magic

Are your retros running a bit flat? Need something to spice them up and make them more effective and also more interesting for your team? Join us as we walk through a collection of techniques from psychology and applied neuroscience to give your retros that edge you need.

Back to Top ↑

coaching

Coaching to Logical Levels

In a previous article we discussed what the logical levels are. In this article, we’re going to show how we can assist someone at each level. If you haven’t read that article first then we suggest you do that now.

Clean Language

Our brains process an incredible amount of information through the use of metaphor (comparing one thing against another). When you listen carefully to the words we use, you will begin to notice how often metaphor is used in conversation.

Back to Top ↑

decisions

Attribute substitution

Attribute substitution is a situation where, when we are faced with a computationally difficult decision, we will often substitute a more easily calculated decision in it’s place and answer that instead, without even realizing that we did this.

Book recommendations for Agile Coaches

I talk a lot about neuroscience, psychology, hypnosis, body language, and other topics as they relate to Agile methods and I’m frequently asked: “What books do you recommend as an introduction?” There is no single best book to start with so I’m giving you a bunch of categories to pick from.

Back to Top ↑

hypnosis

World Hypnosis Day

Today, January 4, is World Hypnosis Day. If you’re like most people, all you know about hypnosis is what you’ve seen on TV or in movies, and while entertaining, that’s mostly wrong. You may have even seen a live hypnosis show, and while there will certainly be real hypnosis being done, most of what you’re going to notice is showmanship and entertainment.

Clean Language

Our brains process an incredible amount of information through the use of metaphor (comparing one thing against another). When you listen carefully to the words we use, you will begin to notice how often metaphor is used in conversation.

Back to Top ↑

logical_levels

Coaching to Logical Levels

In a previous article we discussed what the logical levels are. In this article, we’re going to show how we can assist someone at each level. If you haven’t read that article first then we suggest you do that now.

Logical Levels

Robert Dilts’ Logical Levels Model (also called Neurological Levels), is a framework to analyze and understand human experiences, behaviours, and change. It provides a structured way of examining different levels of human experience and helps individuals identify and work with those levels to create effective change. It’s based on earlier work from anthropologist Gregory Bateson.

Back to Top ↑

self_determination_theory

Not motivated to do anything

I occassionally hear from managers that their people just aren’t motivated to do anything. This is rarely the complete story as these people are clearly motivated to do many things, just perhaps not those things that the manager wants them to do.

Motivation & Self-Determination Theory

We tend to over-simplify motivation into just two buckets: intrinsic and extrinsic. According to Self-Determination Theory (SDT)1, there are in fact six kinds of motivation2 and it’s worth considering the full range.

  1. Self-Determination Theory: Basic Psychological Needs in Motivation, Development, and Wellness by Ryan & Deci, 2018 

  2. SDT is a much larger model that encompasses more than just motivation. This chart is one part of the Organismic Integration Theory, that is is turn just one of six mini-theories contained within SDT. 

Back to Top ↑

system1_system2

Attribute substitution

Attribute substitution is a situation where, when we are faced with a computationally difficult decision, we will often substitute a more easily calculated decision in it’s place and answer that instead, without even realizing that we did this.

How We Think: Systems 1 and 2

In his seminal book Thinking Fast and Slow1, Nobel prize winning psychologist Daniel Kahneman talks about two very different kinds of thinking that we do. He refers to them as System 1 (fast, but often wrong) and System 2 (slower, more accurate).

  1. Thinking Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman 

Back to Top ↑

anxiety

Exploring the Anti-Anxiety Toolkit

Stress and anxiety are widespread in our industry and you may have already noticed that it’s really hard to coach someone who is highly stressed or anxious. It’s also really hard for you to personally perform at your best when you’re in that state.

Back to Top ↑

autonomy

Pre-requisites for Continuous Improvement

Continuous improvement is a process of constantly seeking out ways to improve and optimize performance, processes, and overall organizational success. An agile environment hinges on this notion of continuous improvement. We don’t expect to be perfect today but we do expect to be improving over time.

Back to Top ↑

cognitive_bias

Inattentional blindness

Inattentional blindness is when we are so focused on some things that we completely miss other things that should be completely obvious. This can be used to hilarious effect, as you’ll see below, and at the same time is something we need to take into account in business.

Back to Top ↑

creativity

Six Thinking Hats

Six Thinking Hats is a technique to improve creativity by focusing our attention on only one perspective at a time. Useful wherever we need creativity - from retrospectives to product planning to strategic visioning.

Back to Top ↑

culture

Hero Culture

Hero culture is when we rely on individual heroics on a regular basis. Someone pulling an all-nighter to get one thing done, one time, may be ok. Relying on that on an ongoing basis is unsustainable and will destroy whatever teamwork and culture you used to have.

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meta_model

NLP Meta Model

Each of us has an inner map of the world with rich connections between all the pieces. When we attempt to communicate with others, we’re limited by the words we use, which can’t possibly capture the richness of our internal map. As a result, we lose significant information as we try to communicate.

Back to Top ↑

neurotransmitters

The millennial whoop and our brain as a prediction engine

Our brains are highly advanced prediction engines1. They are constantly trying to predict what will happen next so that we can be prepared for what’s coming. When our brain makes a successful prediction then we get rewarded with a tiny shot of dopamine that makes us feel good.

  1. Professor Lisa Feldman Barrett explains how our brains evolved as a prediction engine in her excellent book Seven and a Half Lessons About the Brain 

Back to Top ↑

nlp

NLP Meta Model

Each of us has an inner map of the world with rich connections between all the pieces. When we attempt to communicate with others, we’re limited by the words we use, which can’t possibly capture the richness of our internal map. As a result, we lose significant information as we try to communicate.

Back to Top ↑

polyvagal_theory

Polyvagal Theory: Understanding safety

Polyvagal Theory is the work of Dr Stephen Porges and describes what we know today about how our nervous system, and entire body, responds to how safe or threatening the world feels to us. This has significant implications for the behaviours we see in ourselves and in others. It’s important to note that we react based on our perception of how safe the world is, and not how safe it actually is.

Back to Top ↑