10 Chapters
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8. Your NewSmart Behaviors Assessment Tool

Hess, Edward D.; Ludwig, Katherine Berrett-Koehler Publishers ePub

In chapters 4–7 we presented the four NewSmart Behaviors that we believe underlie the higher-level thinking and emotional engagement skills that humans will need to master in order to thrive in the SMA. Here we present a tool for you to assess your strengths and weaknesses with respect to those NewSmart Behaviors. The assessment reflects that each behavior requires you to excel at many different sub-behaviors or component behavioral parts. For example, Reflective Listening includes paying attention to a speaker’s body language and not interrupting. The assessment asks how often you engage in these various sub-behaviors on a scale of 1 to 5. For most questions, the higher your score, the better you’re doing; however, for some questions the opposite is true. We learned from experience that adding these reversed types of questions (which we’ve marked with an asterisk) slows people down and gives them time to reflect before grading themselves, making their scores more realistic.

Note that because of this varied rating scale, you cannot easily add up your numbers for a total or average NewSmart Behaviors score. We did that because an average or total score could mask significant sub-behavior weaknesses. Our message is that you have to excel at many sub-behaviors in order to excel at the big behavior. An average or total score won’t help you do that. Ed has used this diagnostic with several hundred people in his teaching and consulting. We’re sharing it here because many of those people found it helpful in assessing their weaknesses and in creating a NewSmart Behaviors Personal Improvement Plan.

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1.The Smart Machine Age: A New Game Requires New Rules

Hess, Edward D.; Ludwig, Katherine Berrett-Koehler Publishers ePub

We can be humble and live a good life with the aid of the machines or we can be arrogant and die.

—Norbert Wiener

Norbert Wiener, an MIT mathematics professor and computer science pioneer, wrote those words in 1948 in a recently discovered unpublished essay for the New York Times. He literally meant them as an apocryphal warning about the dangers to humanity of uncontrolled advances in automation and artificial intelligence. For decades, such dire predictions remained on the fringe of societal concerns and relevant only to science fiction fans. The technologies that were only a gleam in Wiener’s eye, however, have finally come to fruition.

Smart machines are becoming autonomous and able to tackle nonroutine cognitive tasks previously thought the exclusive purview of people. Machines are gaining natural language capabilities, voice and facial recognition, and the ability to draft sports columns and analyze due diligence documents better and faster than many human reporters or lawyers. Thanks to advances in automated perception, sensors, and robotics, machines are now able to handle what had previously prevented them from tackling nonroutine manual jobs as well, such as driving cars, picking out products from warehouse shelves, and sorting mail. High-functioning human-oid robots can now be seen on hospital floors and in hotels, restaurants, museums, and shopping malls. They aren’t just flipping burgers behind the scenes: they’re interacting with patrons and patients—like “Connie,” the robot concierge Hilton began rolling out in 2016 in lobbies across the country in partnership with IBM Watson.

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7. Otherness: Emotionally Connecting and Relating to Others

Hess, Edward D.; Ludwig, Katherine Berrett-Koehler Publishers ePub

By now, we hope that you understand how important it is to seek the help of others to thrive in the SMA. We need others because we can’t think, innovate, or relate at our best alone. To relate to other people you first have to make a connection with them. It is by building a relationship over time that you build trust, and when you have caring trust, you have set the stage for the highest level of human engagement. Barbara Fredrickson explains that “good social relationships are a necessary condition for human flourishing. It is scientifically correct to say that nobody reaches his or her full potential in isolation.”1 In other words, we are all just “people who need people” in order to do our best thinking and learning—and doing that is critical for human excellence in the SMA.

So how do you get better at connecting and relating? It’s quite obvious that connecting and relating to people is inhibited by arrogance, self-absorption, self-centeredness, not listening, closed-mindedness, lack of empathy, emotional defensiveness, and the ego protection and fear that flow from the Old Smart mental model. Accepting NewSmart and Humility as well as practicing Quieting Ego, Managing Self, and Reflective Listening lays the groundwork for relationship building with others. What else can you do to help yourself better focus on and connect with another person? Jane Dutton’s landmark work on “high quality connections” is instructive here. For Dutton, there are five keys to connecting with others.2 You have to

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Your NewSmart Organizational Assessment Tool

Hess, Edward D.; Ludwig, Katherine Berrett-Koehler Publishers ePub

Organizations like Google, Pixar, Bridgewater Associates, Starbucks, United Parcel Service, Sysco, W. L. Gore & Associates, IDEO, Southwest Airlines, the US Marine Corps, and the San Antonio Spurs have built systems to drive the desired behaviors to achieve their strategic missions. All are people-centric, high-performance, high-employee-engagement organizations. We believe that people-centricity and high employee engagement are necessary to take an organization to the highest levels of human excellence. That requires Positivity, meeting employees’ Self-Determination needs, and Psychological Safety, along with a commitment to continuous iterative learning and human development.

Where do you start? Here’s what we recommend:

1. Identify the specific mindsets and behaviors that you want to enable and promote.

2. Design an organizational system that enables and promotes those behaviors. By system we mean an organization’s structure, culture, human resource policies, leadership behaviors, measurements, rewards, and processes. This system must be aligned and seamless to send consistent messages.

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4. Quieting Ego

Hess, Edward D.; Ludwig, Katherine Berrett-Koehler Publishers ePub

Quieting Ego is how we can deliberately work to reduce our reflexive emotional defensiveness; have empathy and open-mindedness; engage in Reflective Listening; and proactively seek other people’s feedback and perspectives to stress-test our own thinking. Quieting Ego is a way of practicing and operationalizing Humility. To quiet our ego is to perceive others and the world without filtering everything through a self-focused lens and to tamp down on negative or self-protective “inner talk” that is driven consciously or subconsciously by our fears and insecurities. Inner talk is part of our story of how we perceive the world. In many cases those perceptions are untrue, and this tendency to self-focus and distort reality negatively affects our behavior, thinking, and ability to relate to and engage with others.

Take a moment to think about your inner talk. We all have fears and insecurities, and we all want to be accepted, appreciated, and loved; however, we differ in the degree and the manner in which we choose to deal with our fears and insecurities. The purpose of quieting that self-focused inner talk is to be more open to perceiving the world as it really is—not as we wish or have rationalized it to be—and this clearer, more open and accurate reception is necessary to be highly proficient at the four SMA Skills.

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