leadership | October 21, 2019

Why Structure Eats Culture for Lunch: Safi Bahcall with Roger Dooley

Loonshots author Safi Bahcall joined Neuromarketing founder Roger Dooley for a conversation on why smart teams kill great ideas—and how paying attention to structure, over culture, can reverse the trend. 

Why do good teams, with excellent people and the best intentions, kill great ideas? It’s a mystery that gnawed at Safi Bahcall for years. Eventually, he came to understand the behavior of groups through the lens of something called phase transitions. The analogy he uses to explain involves a glass of water: if you dip your finger inside it, the water moves. But lower the temperature, and the water freezes—even though the molecules inside are exactly the same. How do they know to suddenly change behavior?


Similarly, why does a company change as it grows—from embracing new ideas to rigidly rejecting them—even as the people inside stay the same? Understanding phase transitions gives us a new way to think about group behavior, how to manage it, and how to become better leaders. “You can think of the incentives you create, the things that drive those patterns of behavior, as structure. If you award rank, you’re going to get a political culture. If you celebrate intelligent risk-taking and ideas, you’re going to get an innovative culture,” says Bahcall.


Listen to the full interview here.


To book speaker Safi Bahcall for your next event, contact The Lavin Agency today, his exclusive speakers bureau.

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