A New Construct for Social Secrets of Success

The new construct for social secrets of success comes from the first six months and 14 episodes of the “Science-Based Business Success” podcast show (see http://scienceofsuccess.libsyn.com, previously the “Science of Success: Social Secrets” podcast). Comparing the social secrets from these episodes to the skills needed for the 21st century workforce as reported by the National Research Council (http://www.nap.edu/catalog/13215), there are no skills missing. However, trying to categorize social skills may very well be an exercise in futility since social skills are not mutually exclusive but inherently related depending on context. The context for these podcast episodes is people who have done impactful and meaningful work that involved others. The hope is that the construct of social secrets provided here will serve to change your perspective on what it takes to succeed in what you are trying to accomplish in the workplace. A new perspective is worthwhile because it can reveal opportunities for improvement you had not seen before. May you see opportunities for improvement that will help you contribute to a better workplace and a better world!

The new construct for social secrets of success consists of the following 5 elements: innovation, effective strategic thinking, effective interpersonal interactions, high-performance teams, and effective communication. These five elements are not mutually exclusive. For example, innovation and strategy are not possible without high-quality team work. In addition, high-quality team work is not possible without effective communication and effective interpersonal skills. However, this construct of social skills is a simple new way of covering the 21st century workforce skills identified by the National Research Council in their 2011 report. In other words, if you practice the social secrets comprising these five elements, then you have the 21st century workforce skills covered.

Twenty percent of the social secrets related to innovation. These social secrets revealed four pillars for innovation as follows: knowing where to look to find attractive opportunities for innovation, creating an environment most conducive to innovation, having an innovation guide, and involving those trained in or possessing the key skills needed for innovation. The specific social secrets for innovation by pillar are summarized in the tables below.

Pillar of Innovation 1 of 4
Pillar of Innovation 2 of 4
Pillar of Innovation 3 of 4
Pillar of Innovation 4 of 4

Fifteen percent of the social secrets related to effective strategic thinking. These social secrets revealed two key skills for strategic thinking as follows: involving important others and taking a systems perspective. The specific social secrets for strategic thinking by key skill are summarized in the tables below.

Strategic Thinking 1 of 2
Strategic Thinking 2 of 2

Thirty-five percent of the social secrets related to effective interpersonal interactions. This content revealed three key skills for effective interpersonal interactions as follows: modifying your approach to the situation, pursuing healthy relationships that are good for well-being, and being responsible for emotions because they are contagious. The specific social secrets for effective interpersonal interactions by key skill are summarized in the tables below.

Interpersonal Skill 1 of 3
Interpersonal Skill 2 of 3
Interpersonal Skill 3 of 3

One-quarter of the social secrets related to high-performance teams. This content revealed three secrets to high-performance teams as follows: practicing flexibility and openness (requires trust), preparing adequately, and using appropriate process (which includes collaboration when appropriate). The specific social secrets for high-performance teams by secret are summarized in the tables below.

High Performance Team 1 of 3
High Performance Team 2 of 3
High Performance Team 3 of 3

Only five percent of the social secrets related to effective communication. These social secrets revealed three secrets to effective communication as follows: to not take for granted how hard it is, to involve key stakeholders early, and to involve all perspectives needed for the communication to produce the desired outcomes. The first secret of not taking for granted how hard it is to communicate effectively is the result of a tendency for people tend to exaggerate how well they communicate: both how well they understand other people and how well they have gotten their own message across. These intuitions for good communication are so strong that we don’t feel the need to test our communications for the intended message and impact. When the communication has an important impact on the organization’s mission, then the communication deserves the up-front time required to test it and revise it as needed. The second secret to involve key stakeholders early is especially important when you are asked to do a technical analysis. This is because the best way to make a technical analysis both credible and valuable is to involve the decision-makers early and throughout the analysis. Involving the decision-makers helps to focus the analysis on what matters most and to make assumptions, as needed, which are appropriate and relevant. Involving key stakeholders early is recommended for any important communication that takes preparation. Finally, the third secret, to involve all perspectives needed, can be illustrated by a science and technology company needing to create effective public communications about one of their products. In this case, four types of expertise are needed. One type of expertise is someone who understands the science or technology involved. A second type of expertise is someone with the skills to analyze cost, risk, benefit, and decisions relevant to the public. A third type of expertise is someone with behavioral science expertise to understand how to design, test, and deliver messages to produce the desired behaviors. The fourth and final expertise needed is someone with communications skills to synthesize the input from the other three experts into the right format and channels to achieve the desired communication goals. All highly effective communications require the involvement of different perspectives relevant to the goals of the communication.

While the least amount of energy in terms of social secrets discussed in the first 6 months and 14 episodes of the “Science of Success: Social Secrets” podcast was around effective communication, this is likely the hardest skill to perfect. This is because we are not aware of how poorly we communicate to others and how poorly we understand others. Baruch Fischhoff and John Kadvany summarize the behavioral research findings regarding communication in Risk: A Very Short Introduction as follows: “people overestimate the extent to which their beliefs are common knowledge, and, as a result, leave too much unsaid. They overestimate how well they have conveyed their intent, and, as a result, exaggerate how well others can read between their lines. People also overestimate how well others perceive the situational pressures on them and, as a result, neglect to explain important reasons for their actions.”

Considering how these five elements relate to one another results in a pyramid with effective communication at the base and innovation at the top. Effective communication is needed in order to have effective interpersonal interactions which in turn are needed for high-performance teamwork. High-performance teamwork informs the best strategic thinking which in turn leads to opportunities for innovation. This pyramid illustrates the skill hierarchy needed for high impact in a career. This pyramid represents the skill secrets to our collective future success.

Skill Secrets for Success SNIP 9Jun2016