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May 2017
Monthly Newsletter!
Welcome to the Psynapse Monthly newsletter. As we hurtle along towards the end of the financial year, we take a moment to consider the power and perils of intuition, and its implications for unconscious bias; we explore exactly why team diversity improves decision-making; and we highlight the most effective ways to make your D&I efforts stick.
Dr Jennifer Whelan
Managing Director
The Role Of Intuition
And Unconscious Bias
A fascinating and common question from leaders in our unconscious bias workshops is whether unconscious thinking is the same as intuition, or gut feel, and if so, are we missing out on the power of intuition when we take steps to minimise the impact of unconscious bias?

Intuition, or gut feel is commonly defined as a decision we reach without a conscious reasoning process. While intuition can feel like a mysterious “sixth sense”, intuitions are just things we’ve learned without realising we’ve learnt them. In Malcolm Gladwell’s view, intuition is deeply learned expertise, so deeply learned that it has become automatic, and unconscious.

If intuition is really expertise, does this mean we should always rely on it? The research suggests not. Unconscious thinking is notoriously error prone for a few reasons. It typically relies on superficial cues rather than deeper-level details, and once we form unconscious patterns, they are extremely rigid, even when circumstances change and require a different course of action. Confirmation bias ensures that we focus on details that reinforce our thinking patterns, and ignore information that doesn’t fit. In fact one of the reasons many of us are so convinced we should trust our intuition is because we’re more likely to remember when it was right, and more likely to forget when it was wrong! Of course when we also consider unconscious thinking is quick and effortless, and feels far more efficient than using logic and analysis, its easy to see why our faith in intuition is often misplaced; we can easily come to believe we understand a problem better than we actually do, and this leaves us perilously overconfident about our hunches.

Decision-making research shows that most of the time, algorithms make better decisions than people do, and that adding a decision-maker’s gut feel to the equation usually results in sub-optimal outcomes. Meta-analytic studies overwhelmingly show that quantitative models and algorithms make better decisions than people do across a range of decision-making processes, from hiring, medical diagnoses, and financial investment decisions, even where the human decision-makers have access to the same data as the algorithm. In fact, even when human decision-makers are told that the algorithm is performing better, they still choose to “go with gut feel”.

So is it all bad news for those of us who trust our intuitions? Not quite. Gut feel is highly efficient, and it can be effective in situations where the problem is simple, well-understood, predictable, and static. So if it happens a lot, you have a high degree of expertise, and the existing solution is reliably correct, and the parameters never change, gut feel is efficient – go with it! However, if the problem is complex, poorly understood or new, or you’re trying to find a better solution, your gut is more likely to lead you astray. Your decision-making effectiveness will likely benefit from a more conscious, logical analysis.

To read more about the marvels and flaws of intuition, try Daniel Kahneman’s wonderful book “Thinking, Fast and Slow”, or David Myers’ “Intuition: It’s Powers and Perils”.
Five Ways to Ensure Your Efforts to Build an Inclusive Culture Stick
  • Align your program with organisational values and culture. What are your organisation’s most important values? Think not only of the ones that are celebrated in glossy collateral, but the ones that are evident through people’s day-to-day actions in your organisation. Weaving the values of your organisation into your strategies for building a diverse and inclusive business will ensure your efforts are more likely to last. (Now, if your lived values are a bit of an ‘elephant in the room’ and are the opposite of inclusion, you have a bigger question on your hands! How do you change your culture?
  • Ensure your leaders are in the vanguard. Leaders are human beings. They need time, support, and opportunity to ensure they can and will authentically lead the change you’re advocating. Equipping them with tailored support and resources focussed on leading diverse and inclusive organisations will ensure they are deployed ready to lead the charge!
  • Be real about the value of change. Diversity is good for people and good for business. Take a good hard look at this statement and ask yourself how this is true for your business. In order to last, your change efforts must speak loudly to the value of change. Use specific examples with links to your organisational aspirations and opportunities.
  • Honour the challenges of change. Think evolution, not revolution. Culture change can be tough! Ignoring, dismissing, or not respecting the challenge can create disillusionment in your team and undo your efforts. Being real about the obstacles ahead and having the courage to tackle them will allow you to celebrate success as you overcome them on your journey.
  • Have a plan and remember to celebrate your success. Failure to plan and signpost your progress can cause false starts, loss of momentum, and at worst, a slow fizzling out of your efforts. Anchoring your efforts to a well communicated plan with built-in opportunities for celebrating success, however, will help fuel the fire and sustain your progress in creating change.
Inclusive Leadership In Practice
From our experience, inclusion is a deeply practical skill. Developing an inclusive leadership practice requires daily intentionality. Keeping an open, curious mind, experimenting with new solutions, and challenging the status quo can feel daunting. So how do we make inclusion a daily habit that infuses everything we do? Practice, and experimentation, in role, every day is critically important.

Our new practical inclusion program is ideal for executives, top teams, and influencers in your organisation. We support your leaders through their “daily inclusion” journey, with a number of learning touchpoints over 12 weeks:

  • Introductory seminar and discussion forum: We begin by building a solid conceptual understanding of inclusive leadership through an expertly led seminar and discussion by Dr Jennifer Whelan, renowned diversity and inclusion thought-leader.
  • Inclusion challenge: We work individually with each leader to design a practical inclusion challenge, which they will use to develop their skills during the course of the program.
  • Fortnightly coaching groups: We keep leaders' progress on track through regular group coaching sessions. Leaders will update the group on their progress, share their experiences, and receive feedback and advice.
  • Online learning nudges: Short online learning modules provide regular touchpoints to help embed inclusion in everyday leadership practice.
  • Social learning and reflection session: Final seminar for leaders to share their progress, learn from the experiences of their colleagues, and set longer term development goals.
Diversity And Inclusion
We are thrilled to announce the arrival of Psynapse Education, our online learning platform. E-learning is a powerful way to scale inclusion across your organisation, from senior leaders through to individual contributors.

While online learning is increasingly common, it's effectiveness relies on it resonating with your people and their work experiences. Our online programs are unique. Our content is expertly designed, evidence-based, and practical. We combine rich media, animations, learning checks, and scenario-based activities to ensure that learners are engaged and inspired.

Most importantly, our courses are customised for your learners, from the ground up. Examples and scenarios are developed from your learners’ daily context, and learning activities are tailored to your objectives.

Courses can be created to provide a comprehensive one-off learning experience, or to engage learners in an in-depth and incremental learning process over time. We can also craft short bite-sized episodes that highlight particular organisational goals.

To learn about how Psynapse Education can help you embed inclusion in your organisation’s DNA, have a look at the video above or contact us for more information.
Diversity & Inclusion
News Roundup
Here’s a quick a round up of articles that caught our eye this month.

Does Unconscious Bias Training Work? On a cloudy day in February, Will Cox pointed to a pair of news photos that prompted a room of University of Wisconsin, Madison, graduate students to shift in their seats. In one image, a young African American man clutches a carton of soda under his arm. Dark water swirls around his torso; his yellow shirt is soaked. In the other, a white couple is in water up to their elbows. The woman is tattooed and frowning, gripping a bag of bread. Cox read aloud the captions that were published alongside these images of a post-Katrina New Orleans. For the black man: “A young man walks through chest-deep water after looting a grocery store.” For the white couple: “Two residents wade through chest-deep water after finding bread and soda". Click Here to read the full article.

Focusing on Token Women? I was recently a judge for a competition for women in tech, aimed at highlighting female founders. There was one criteria that really stuck with me; entrants had to list the startup’s founding team – and vast majority had one woman. I suppose I should have been less surprised. After all, in Europe only 14% of investment goes to female-led startups, so ditching a stable job in favour of starting a business is a much riskier prospect for women. Click Here to read the full article.

Do Male Champions Move the Needle? Australia lags other similar countries in work opportunities for women and in the gender pay gap (Bekhouche, Hausmann,Tyson & Zahidi, 2015). Further, many Australian organisations invest lots of resources in increasing gender diversity but miss out on its potential benefits at management and senior management levels, as evidenced by women’s continued under-representation in leadership positions (WGEA, 2016a) and the stagnant gender pay gap (WGEA, 2016b). Click Here to read the full article.
Unconscious Bias Assessment
Personal assessments of unconscious bias, inclusive leadership skills, and thinking style.
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Call us. 0413. 958. 528
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