Extroverts can lead to disappointment


In a recently published study, it seems that the confident-in-every-situation, I’ve-got-great-ideas, extrovert is, in the long run, not that effective. ULCA Today published a great article summarising the findings of the study…

Extroverts promise, but neurotics deliver as team players

Your department is interviewing candidates for a team to launch an ambitious new project. Among them is Darren, an energetic, confident extrovert of a guy bursting with a “can-do” attitude. Then there’s Doug, who has the right experience but comes across as downright neurotic — anxious and obsessive — in an interview.
The choices seem obvious: Hire a team of go-getters like Darren, pass on Doug and others of his ilk, and the new project is a surefire success. Right?

Wrong. Because the bright, shiny bubble of extroversion can implode in a team effort, while the neurotic viewed as a loser may perform way beyond anyone’s expectations, according to new research by Corrine Bendersky. An associate professor in the UCLA Anderson School of Management, Bendersky studies status — the respect and esteem in which one is held by peers in teams and organizations. She is particularly interested in how people’s status changes over time, for better or for worse.

“I was starting to see a pattern of some types of people who seem to systematically be losing status and other types of people who seem to be systematically gaining status,” Bendersky said. “That led me to start exploring what kind of individual differences I could identify to help understand and predict this.”

Business professor Corinne Bendersky explores how people gain status, and lose it, on the job.

Drawing from what psychologists call “the big five personality traits” — openness, conscientiousness, extroversion, agreeableness and neuroticism — Bendersky and co-investigator Neha Parikh Shah, an assistant professor at Rutgers Business School, focused on two of those traits in research published last month. “The Downfall of Extroverts and the Rise of Neurotics: The Dynamic Process of Status Allocation in Task Groups” appeared in the Academy of Management Journal.

Their research subjects were fledgling M.B.A. students at the Anderson School who, prior to their first quarter, were assigned to five-person study groups that would spend a significant amount of time together collaborating on class exercises and group assignments for their core courses. The researchers conducted personality assessments; the 299 students were asked if they agreed with statements such as “I like to have a lot of people around me” (an extrovert trait) and “I often feel tense and guilty” (a neurotic trait). Then, about a week into the quarter — enough time for students to have formed initial impressions about each other but before their projects geared up— they were asked to rate the status of each member of their small groups, themselves included, and predict how much of a contribution each of them would ultimately make to the group’s efforts.
The more of an extroverted personality someone had, Bendersky and Shah found, the higher that person’s status and the more their peers expected they would contribute to group efforts. Neurotics, on the other hand, were given low status and weren’t expected to contribute much.

But when the students were revisited at the end of the quarter, the picture was quite different. “After working together for 10 weeks on a variety of different projects, the extroverts were perceived by their peers to have contributed less than expected, and they lost status as a result,” Bendersky said. “And the neurotics were perceived as having contributed more than expected and increased in status as a result.”

Neurotic colleagues, brimming with anxiety, can play a surprisingly positive role in collaborative efforts.

What’s going on? For extroverts, some of the very qualities that make them shine can tarnish in the glaring light of teamwork. And for neurotics, traits that aren’t very exciting turn out to be quite effective on the job.

“The core of extroversion is wanting to be the center of attention,” Bendersky said. “[Initially], there’s a very strong, intuitive assumption by others that the enthusiasm, outgoingness and assertiveness of extroverts is associated with being very strong, positive contributors to tasks at work. But extroverts like to talk more than to listen. They’re not particularly receptive to other people’s input. While they really excel at tasks where they get all the credit, in interactive, collaborative settings, their peers start out with high expectations for them and end up disappointed.”

Neurotics, on the other hand, possess qualities that help them rise to the occasion.

“The neurotic personality is really [plagued by] an anxiety of not wanting to disappoint peers and colleagues,” said Bendersky. “Because of that, neurotics are motivated to work really hard, especially in group contexts. And that really surprises us, because most of us look at these really anxious, withdrawn employees or prospective employees and think, ‘Well, they might be okay working by themselves, the back-office kind of person.’ But [in groups], they’re going to be really well-prepared and work hard. They can even be very generous and supportive and helpful.”

Bendersky emphasized that the research didn’t find that extroverts plummet to the bottom of the pole, nor do neurotics take over at the top. Extroverts still contribute in teamwork — just not as much as we expect them to — and they come in handy for roles like the charismatic team member who does the on-stage presentations. Neurotics, meanwhile, can get the job done, but sometimes not without a lot of worrying and grumbling that can irritate everyone involved.

In terms of the study’s practical takeaway, “In no way does this suggest that we should not be staffing teams with extroverted people or only with neurotic people,” Bendersky said. “This work suggests that more of a balance is appropriate. Extroverts tend to be much more risk-seeking, and neurotics tend to be much more cautious and risk-averse. So having a balance of those preferences may, overall, improve decision-making.”
  • Six Characteristics That Make a Highly Effective Team
  • Are You an Ambivert? What It Means for You at Work
  • Why Ambiverts Are More Successful And Influential Than Extroverts
  • The Differences Between Interview Skills and Working Skills
  • Are You An Introvert Or An Extrovert? What It Means For Your Career
  • Groups Grow Disappointed with Extroverts Over Time
  • The Power of Introverts in the Workplace

Livescribe Smartpen has arrived!!


See also: The Pro’s and Con’s of using a Livescribe smartpen – for Business Analysis

BA and UX specialist: A winning combination for superior results in software projects


The following is from a blog post on Modern Analyst.com. It was written by Adriana Beal. I really like what she wrote, and with the kind permission of both Adriana, and Modern Analyst, I am reproducing the post here.

————————————– ~~~~ ——————————————

I’m a fierce proponent of a business analyst role separate from other roles, such as project manager. As I’ve written in the past,

In my experience as a consultant, the most successful projects typically have a business analyst and a project manager working together to accomplish project goals. Activities such as planning the work to be done, identifying and securing necessary resources, determining tasks that must be completed, assigning the tasks, delegating authority, tracking progress, etc., are the responsibility of the project manager, while the business analyst remains in charge of producing consistent, complete, feasible, truly needed, accurate, traceable and verifiable requirements.

But what about user experience or interaction designers[1]? Does every software project truly need a UX/UI specialist (or team of specialists)? Or could this aspect of the solution be taken care by the collaboration between the BA and the development team?

BA and UX specialist: A winning combination for superior results in software projectsNot all software projects will require a UI/UX designer. For example, a project enhancing a system that already provides good usability, implementing changes with zero or little impact in the way users interact with the system, can be successfully completed without the intervention of a UI specialist. This would be the case of a project created to implement massive changes in the business logic that calculates the price of airline tickets, but with no effect in the screens customers use to check prices and purchase flight tickets.

In many other types of software projects, however, the quality of the user experience may have a huge impact in user adoption rates, time-to-market, customer loyalty, and future costs with end-user support and application maintenance, among other aspects that are important for the business. Table 1 illustrates how the UX designer role complements the tasks performed by the BA to provide the right foundation for the work of the technical team responsible for implementing a software solution.

  Business Analyst User Experience Designer Implementation team
Main focus Business problem assessment

Requirements discovery and documentation

Information Architecture

Visual Design

Interface design


Prototyping*, system architecture, data modeling**, technical design, programming

* If not executed by the UX specialist

** If not executed by a data-focused BA

Main deliverables Requirements documents, business rules Wireframes, visual comps, results of usability tests System architecture and technical design documents, code
Examples of decisions How to go about the requirements discovery process (interviews, workshops, etc.), when the requirements are considered “done”. What to align 
with what in an interface, when to use techniques like contrast and proximity to group and segregate 
items in a display.
Which data structure (e.g., simple partitioning, associative array, 10-ary tree) to use to represent the content a large flat text file.

Table 1: How the BA and UX roles complement each other.

Arguably, a BA and a developer can work together to figure out the user interaction elements of a software solution on their own. That’s what happens in projects when there isn’t a budget or interest in bringing a UX specialist to the team. A BA may create wireframes the developer uses to produce the screens, and the developer may be responsible for decisions such as when to use a button vs. a link, or radio buttons vs. a drop-down menu to provide options to users. There are two main problems with designing the user experience in a complex software project without the help of an UX specialist, though:

  • Trying to recruit a single individual with all the skills necessary to be at the center of a systematic approach to defining a solution for the business problem (BA role) or effectively coding the specified solution (developer), who is also knowledgeable in information, interaction, and visual design, as well as cognizant of the advantages and constraints associated with the interface of various types of devices that will be used to access the application, and capable of designing and executing effective usability tests, (UX specialist), is almost like trying to hire a modern-day Leonardo da Vinci.
  • Even if you could find such a talented professional, there’s still the problem of competing demands for her time and attention.

Imagine you are in the middle of a project in which everything is going well (the business stakeholders have approved the requirements and the proposed look-and-feel, and the initial prototype built to confirm the solution was fit for purpose was a success). As the developers work on the final code, they discover that there is a problem with a data feed, which at times may prevent all the expected data to be included in one of the reports the application is to provide.

A solution must be found quickly to avoid costly delays in the project. The BA immediately starts to work on understanding and communicating the issue, as well as analyzing the alternatives to propose to the business stakeholders. Meanwhile, realizing that the report will have to include some sort of visual indication to alert users whenever the data set they are viewing is incomplete, the BA engages the UX specialist to begin thinking of how best to convey the information in the screen (using color codes? a warning message? an icon that when tapped or clicked opens a pop-up message explaining the issue?). In parallel, the developer will be working on the logic necessary to validate whether all the expected data was received in the last feed, or a subset is missing, thus requiring the warning to be displayed for users.

With each professional working on one aspect of the solution, it’s much easier to ensure the issue will receive the best possible treatment in the shortest period of time. In a case relatively simple like this, if time wasn’t an issue, it might be relatively easy for the BA and developer to work together and achieve a solution that was fit for purpose. But if time is limited, or the issue would have a more substantial impact in the user interaction design, having a UX specialist involved may become crucial to avoid creating a system that does what it’s supposed to do, but is so hard to navigate or complete a task with, that users refuse to adopt it.

Investments in usability can easily translate into better profit margins, sales/employee, success rates of new products, customer satisfaction, repeat purchase rate, dropout rate, length of new product introduction cycle, and more. Even a 5% improvement in success rate of a checkout process in an ecommerce website, driven by usability improvements, may represent millions more in revenue for the business. Likewise, cutting in half the time an employee takes to find a physician in the system to refer to a patient may create savings of millions a year for a healthcare company.

Creating an easy to use and pleasant user experience is a collaborative effort. In many of my projects, after seeing the visual comps a talented UX specialist designed, I’ve made a suggestion to reorganize the elements of a screen that was accepted and incorporated into the visual design. Or, during user acceptance testing, a user has asked for a change in color or size of buttons after using the application for a while. The key contribution a UX specialist brings to a project, though, is a deep understanding of UX principles, and the ability to bring together multiple viewpoints to “connect the dots” and do what’s right for the end users.

Smart companies know that ill-conceived software products end up costing them millions (if not billions) of dollars and many headaches. Some companies put UX specialists in charge of product requirements, some hire a BA to take care of the requirements and expect the project team to collectively make the interaction and visual decisions. Smarter organizations know that the combination of BA + UX offers the best approach to ensure that their software projects have a shortened programming time and delivers a superior product. Together, a business analyst and a user experience designer make it much easier to produce feasible-to-build, easy-to-use, attractive product that enables the user and the business to achieve their end goals. Their combined efforts make it possible for software developers to keep focus on the technical challenges of creating quality code for a well-designed software product that does complex things simply.

Author: Adriana Beal received her B.S. in electronic engineering and MBA in strategic management of information systems from two of the most prestigious graduate schools in Brazil. For the past 10 years she has been offering consulting assistance throughout the software development life cycle for organizations implementing large, complex software projects.

[1] Interaction Designer, User Experience Designer, and User Interface Designer are usually interchangeable job titles. UI can be seen as a subset of UX — it focuses on how you interact with an application, while UX is the sum of all that you experience with the application. For example, for the same UI to select and and play a video, you could have a different overall user experience depending on delays associated with video streaming, the sharpness of the images based on screen resolution, etc.

  • BA and UX specialist: A winning combination for superior results in software projects (Modern Analyst.com)
  • The myth of the “UX designer” (elliotnash.me)
  • Why Business Analysis Fails the User Experience (versionux.net)
  • SWOT analysis on websites and mobile apps with usability testing (e27.co)
  • What is UX? (alikaspar.com)

“You’re out of here” – getting rid of your friends

not friends

A recent foray into Facebook led me to an post where the author said that he had unfriended some people because they started arguing, and complaining about what he had written.

If we translate this into the real world, effectively what the author had done was say “I don’t like your opinion, I don’t want to be friends with you any more.” Just because of a comment. Pretty harsh stuff.

This brings up a couple of points that bother me with regards this realm:

1. It’s called “Social Media”. Dumping your friends just because they said something you don’t agree with isn’t being very social.

2. What sort of “friend” are these people, and what sort of “friend” is the author, when just because you don’t like what’s being said, you say “I don’t want to be friends anymore.”

3. I agree that you can build up friendship through common interests, etc., but where’s the line between friendship, and acquaintance?


  • Becoming me. (wethesam.wordpress.com)


Pharma and social media….examples of why it’s risky


A couple of weeks ago I came across a fascinating piece describing Facebook’s decision to insist that Pharma companies allow commenting on their Facebook pages.

The article raises some interesting questions about social media, and being responsible for the content, including that entered by others (e.g.comments on a page). 

I urge you to read the article, and leave a comment below. What are your thoughts? Is this a good thing or not? Should Pharma be held responsible for content created by others when that content is just a comment?

Here’s the link to the article: http://www.emoderation.com/facebook-tells-pharma-brands-they-must-allow-comments

And here’s one that discusses Pharma and Pinterest:

See you back soon…

  • Top 5 pharma marketing trends in 2014
  • Why Pharma Marketing is Boring? Archetypes!
  • “This Is How We’ve Always Done It” – A Phrase of the Past in Pharma?
  • Gamification in Pharma Marketing explained with examples
  • Can pharma innovate?
  • Pharma Should Embrace Social Media Despite Regulatory Limbo, Hurd Says
  • Visual web: Cautionary note for pharma about Pinterest

Working Across Time Zones


Chelsea Wilson, the Community Relations Manager from Washington University School of Law (@WashULaw), contacted me recently about a new resource that they had created: the “Working Across Time Zones” infographic. She asked me whether I was interested in sharing this on my blog.

Having worked for teams that are spread across multiple time zones (and having lived in multiple different countries), I know the importance of “awareness” when it comes to communicating with others. (Refer my earlier posts.)

@WashULaw also gave some excellent tips when working across time zones. I’ve repeated these below, and added my own comments.

  1. Stick to one reference point. When discussing a time for a conference call, use a single reference time zone – generally yours or your counterpart’s. This can cut down on the possibility for confusion quite a bit.
    Agree totally. There’s nothing worse than trying to work out whether that’s 3pm your time, or 3pm my time.
  2. Always specify a time zone. Don’t forget to mention a time zone when discussing times. It’s a good habit to be in even if you aren’t making international calls. With today’s interconnected world, you never know where a person might be located when you correspond with them for the first time.
    I would go one further. As well as the time zone, I suggest adding the offset from GMT (or UTC, if you prefer). Just having the time zone of the organiser can be confusing. Not everyone knows what the acronyms mean. But most people know what their own time is in relation to GMT/UTC. And by adding the GMT/UTC offset when discussing times, it makes it easier to work out the time difference. For example 11am NZDT (-13GMT) helps someone in another time zone work out what 11pm NZDT would be in wherever they were.
  3. Use a modern calendar app. Google Calendar, for example, will allow you to create events and email invitations that automatically adjust for each invitee’s time zone. All you have to do is set a meeting time in your own time zone — no calculations are necessary.
    Having the app adjust the time certainly is handy.
  4. Check the time before making a suggestion. Again, Google is your friend. If you search for, “Time in _________” and insert the name of the city you want to know about, Google will tell you the current time in that city. This can be very helpful when calculating the distance between your time zone and your counterpart’s. Once you have an idea of the gap, you can figure out which times are optimal for each of you, and you can start off the conversation by suggesting a time that might work right off the bat.
    The WorldTimeBuddy is a good way of seeing the times of different locations at a glance.
  5. Don’t forget about daylight savings. Some parts of the world observe daylight savings while others do not. On top of that, even if both parties observe this practice, the date when the clocks change might be different. @WashULaw’s  graphic indicates if the cities listed observe daylight savings time but don’t forget to check the specifics prior to scheduling meetings around that time of year.

…and two more that I would add are:

6. 24hour format. The concept of am/pm is not used everywhere. Many countries use the 24hour format for their time. (Even 12am/12pm can be confusing for people who do use am/pm). Best to include the time in both 12hr, and 24hr, format to avoid confusion. E.g. 11pm/23:00.

7. Be specific. Avoid saying something like “half ten”. In some parts of the world “half ten” is a quick way of saying “half past ten (or 10:30). In other parts of the world “half ten” means 09:30)”. This can occur when people from different countries are discussing times. Best to be aware of the confusion that it might cause, and state a specific time.

Here’s the graphic from @WashULaw

Working Across Time Zones

Working Across Time Zones provided by @WashULaw, an online LL.M Degree program from Washington University School of Law

Posted in Communication, Global Team | Tagged Coordinated Universal Time, Daylight saving time, Greenwich Mean Time, timezone, UTC, Washington University School of Law | Leave a reply

A stupid question is …

A stupid question is any question that can be answered through Google.

However, this removes the opportunity for dialogue. For discussing, and learning…

For example, I want to know what HTML5 is. I could go to Google, (or Bing, or any search engine) type the four letters and one numeral in, and get an abundance of results.

However, if I ask someone, there are a number of outcomes:

stupid question

Click on image for a larger version

Do you see what happened there? The easy solution was to Google the answer. Simple, easy & fast. However, by asking someone, I engaged in dialogue, and when the person started explaining the answer, the dialogue started becoming rich, and each interaction created new richness.

People communicating,and sharing ideas, thoughts, knowledge, concerns is, actually, a pretty great thing. :O)

  • The importance of stupidity (an86baby.wordpress.com)
  • How to Ask Stupid Questions (Without Sounding Stupid) (thedailymuse.com)