Developing your Growth Mindset: Early Insights from our First Cohort

We’ve officially graduated our first cohort of learners who have completed our Developing your Growth Mindset program.  The results have been fascinating.    Here’s a sneak peek on what we learned….

We saw the highest average scores in the areas of aspiration, autonomy and resilience

  • Ambitious aspirations were appropriately scoped, well prepared and thought through
  • Many learners had a broad range of self-awareness which was evident. They could talk about skills that were innate and positive for them and at the same time, they could frame their challenge areas with candor and with the sense of possibility for growth.
  • Stories of past resilience were rich, detailed and inspiring
  • Autonomy was clear and the stories in this area were balanced and optimistic. We saw our learners be open and flexible about how things might unfold for them in the future and they grounded these in the opportunities they see for themselves.  Almost all our learners were honest, in a balanced way, about the uncertainty facing them.
  • Most learners came up with very specific, tangible and interlinked next steps


We saw lower scores in the areas of inner voice, curiosity, reward and networking.

  • The inner voice presented in some cases as overly critical, in others we saw outdated labels or being unable to let go of shame or deep emotions related to past events.  However, it’s important to note that learning from past failures was strong almost across the board.  For some, reassurance techniques were in place to counter the negative inner voice, in others, this continues to be a work in progress.
  • Quiet undertones of imposter syndrome were present in some of our participants. (aka “I’m not sure if I’m ready”, “I don’t have all the requisite experience to make that next step”, “people will think who is she to do that?” etc.)
  • Oftentimes, the bigger reason “WHY?” for the ambitious aspiration wasn’t clear or immediately evident.  We encouraged our learners to think through how their growth areas fits into their bigger life journey.
  • Curiosity is an area to keep plugging away at.  “Better” here looks like more investigation, questioning, ability to recognise bias, challenge assumptions and experimentation.  Many hadn’t examined their assumptions underpinning their growth goal.
  • Networking: here the opportunity for our learners is to tap into broader networks to support them in their growth aspiration moving forward.  By seeking out different profiles, (eg. potentially people who might feel in the outgroup to us) will only help with curiosity, challenging conventional wisdom and making progress against our ambitious aspirations.
  • And finally, we all need to try to keep a focus on habits – with busy, metrics oriented people, these small cues and routines will allow us to keep on track with our personal growth


If you’d like to pursue this program, we are offering a time limited discount of US$99 (RRP US$250) until 30th July 2020.  Click on this link for more details:  Sign up here

Light for the Uncertain: Microlearning and Coaching

By Karen S. Walch, PhD

Is there someone who encourages your development or talks with you about your goals? Do your opinions and purpose seem to matter?

Do you have the opportunity to do what you do best? Do you know what is expected of you at work right now ?

These are some of the uncertainties many of us are facing right now. Economic disruption and a global health shut down set the stage for lost trust, uncertainty, and anxiety about finding a way forward. Such a systemic shock creates the conditions for increased social isolation, nervous system break down, and brain freeze. This kind of freeze and dissonance limits prosocial behaviors which are required now more than ever for recovery. Microlearning and coaching present the most effective and targeted nudges for stepping forward.

Neuroscience findings about simple or pure nudges highlight how the most effective approach to unfreeze and unlock high performance requires small and supportive changes to preexisting inattention, laziness, or defaults to fear. Stretching and transforming prosocial behaviors to help and support others comes about through simple behavorial not grand moral nudges.

Moral nudges are those that trigger fear, shame, or pride. Moral nudges reward “doing the right thing” and require social proof – “9 out of 10 people in your city pay their taxes on time—you are currently not one of them”. These nudges run the risk of backfiring and do not stimulate long term change.

Practical Nudges: Microlearning and Coaching

The need for active listening, turn taking, support, and positive reinforcement are prosocial behaviors that require small nudges at a time. Microlearning and coaching present the most effective targeted nudges for measurable results during a perfect storm of uncertainty, increase in doubt, hesitation, or isolation. In order to hold business together and ideate for the future on the front line requires mindsets and behaviors of motivation while managing feelings of threats or hesitation.

Behavioral change, insight, and energy for action in the post pandemic world requires a reappraisal about psychological safety, curiosity, empathy, and prosocial behavior. It also provides a critical time for reappraisal of enterprise wide coaching strategies and a coherent learning system that is timely, deliberate and effective.  Small timely steps can unfreeze and unlock innate resilience and positivity to engage with others in stepping through uncertainty together.

Simple Nudge: Re-building Trust

A microlearning session on a virtual learning platform, along with human coaching and feedback is an example of a simple nudge with high impact. In The Experience Accelerator study conducted on the methodology of a trust building course, results captured through analytical measures of trust building performance, along with personalized coaching and feedback yield positive outcomes.

In such a microlearning experience combined with personalized coaching, learners can study on their own pace and practice important aspects of trust building, credibility, reliability, empathy and ‘other’ focus. The session analytics track a participant’s credibility and reliability skills. Systematic overall tracking shows how the practice of credibility and reliability actions are strongly correlated with behavioral performance (the higher the individual scores on credibility and reliability the higher the overall trust building score).

The data analytics and personalized coaching in microlearning conclude that the impact of learning is best prioritized towards these attributes in trust building. Curiosity is also correlated with overall trust building performance. Open-ended and ‘why’ questions also correlate to building trust. For example, in microlearning conversational analytics, the average turn time appears to be an important metric. The average turn time for a participant who wants to build trust matters greatly to the quality of the conversation. The top quartile performers had an average turn time of 45 seconds vs. 30 seconds for the lowest quartile. If someone wants to establish credibility and reliability, it requires supplying quality evidence with examples and proof points, which takes longer than simple questions or statements. In addition, there is a required exchange in turn taking rather than dominating the trust building conversations.

Investment in Coaching: More Opportunities, Less Cost

The targeting learning through on-demand microlearning, along with personalized coaching, unlocks and enhances learning toward effective prosocial action. Personalized and attentive coaching by itself has been researched and measured for decades and provides significant results. For example, in a study conducted by the International Coach Federation, learners have increased their ability for smarter goal setting by 62.4% and have increased their energy and sense of a more balanced life by 60.5%. In addition, they experience less stress and burn out, with sick days, clinic and hospital days reduced by 51.1% compared to the control group. Coaching and personalized attention also increased self-confidence 44.4.% and overall quality of life by 43.3%. Completion of projects increased by 35.7% and increased income by 25.7%.

There is a lot to learn, experience and develop as the global economy and activity find a new normal. For most of us, there appears to be little that we can control through the uncertainty. However, on an individual and team level taking the lead on personal and professional development is more critical and motivating than ever before. There will be many ways to unfreeze and to collaborate more effectively with others, and experimenting with microlearning and personal coaching is a great way to begin.

 Virtual and on-demand microlearning and coaching to try:

  1. Quantum Negotiation – audio course
  2. Negotiations for Industry 4.0 Series – coaching and feedback course
  3. Agile Collaboration – coaching and feedback course


Augmenting our coaches with machine learning insights

After a period of hard grafting, digging deep on data and testing many many hypotheses, we’re starting to pilot our Augmented Feedback solution in coaching conversations with our clients. As we debrief our coachee’s Experience Accelerator scenario, we share human- and machine learning-generated feedback on the quality of their conversations. Bringing data science to the art of good conversations is a fascinating journey. Nuanced, intriguing and not always what you would expect!

“Power With”​ meets “Power Over”

By Dr Karen Walch, Clair-Buoyant™ Leadership, LLC and QuantumNegotiation™

I have always had a deep curiosity about power in social interactions. My studies through PhD research and teaching experiences around the world had left me dissatisfied with the current state of knowledge and wisdom on negotiation. Much of the study and practice is about having political, legal, social “power over” others in order to get compliant behavior. Unconscious, ineffective “power over” behaviors have become habits for negotiators which often lead to success and wins measured by how much one can win over a counterpart – even at the expense of a relationship.

Harvard’s Principled Negotiation and mutual gains practices from the Program on Negotiation were emerging while I was in graduate school which led me to explore more of win-win outcomes and practices. This inspired me to explore the field of negotiation as an academic study. Win-win, mutual gains was a real paradigm shift at the time. Mutual gains practices moved our thinking beyond WHAT we wanted as negotiators and HOW to problem solve and not focus on coercing, or manipulating others to cooperate with us in negotiation.

Through Principled Negotiation we learned how to explore our counterpart’s interests and WHY they would be motivated to cooperate with us.   Principled Negotiation also showed us how to use the BATNA – the best alternative to a negotiated agreement in the event of no agreement. WHAT IF we cannot reach an agreement, we will know our alternatives.

Over the last 30 years, I have continued to study and experience the impact of these teachings in my post-doctoral research and in the decades of teaching. Not only do coercive, hard ball tactics leave negotiators feeling dissatisfied, mutual gains strategies were missing the mark as well.  “Power with” others created more resources, perceptions of shared interests and ways to problem solve together. However, we need to prepare for the important human elements of emotional, social and spiritual dimensions. It turns out that the most essential elements in our social relationships are invisible to the eye.

Quantum Negotiation: The Art of Getting What you Need, became a collection of many examples of negotiators who practiced “power with” vs. “power over” in their negotiations and found increased vitality and satisfaction as negotiators. Uri and Robert, for example, were working as co-project leaders of a global team. They were in a very common situation most negotiators I meet today; rapid change, uncertainty, and continual movement of people collaborating across the globe in diverse national or organizational cultures.

Uri and Robert were not aware of it, but on many days their nervous systems and anxiety became unbearable. They needed to get things done quickly, but the more they pushed, the more they became strained, stressed, and unable to be creative or empathetic to each others’ concerns. At one point, Uri and Robert reached an impasse. Even though they were both very clear about WHAT they wanted and WHY it was important to the overall project that they cooperate, they could not agree on anything.

They wanted the same things, but the way they communicated with each other led to increased frustration and lack of interest in working with each other. Upon their Quantum Negotiation preparation, Uri realized that as he discovered more of WHOhe was and what he valued, he had a very strong belief in communicating in an instructive and direct manner. However, Robert’s preference was a more indirect communication style with lots of exploratory questions, less about giving instructions. Once they discovered that much of the impasse was created by their gaps in communication style, they were able to transform their discussions into better understanding and appreciation for problem solving. This led to a much more engaged project of creativity and inclusion of their diverse ways of thinking.

As the sciences have emerged in social and emotional intelligence, mind/body/spirit connections, and brain science and anthropology, I can now see the power of integrating the wisdom in these fields with understanding better WHO we are as negotiators.  We need to know WHO we are and WHO our counterpart is. Coercive, disrespectful, and dehumanizing behaviors do not motivate or engage others to cooperate in helping us get what we need. The practice of “power with” others creates an energy of cooperation, trust, and satisfaction in working and personal relationships.

At The Experience Accelerator, we are exploring how behavior and negotiation preparation can be enhanced through coaching and practice. Here are some insights from our recent webinar.

As part of our ongoing research, we are conducting a survey to assess your latest thinking about negotiation. Explore The Experience Accelerator and learn more about your ability to increase your vitality and ability to get what you need in negotiation.

Three common missteps when delivering feedback (told by the data!)

At The Experience Accelerator, we’re in the process of building unique data sets on behavioural skills.  Through our fully virtual “visualise/practice/feedback” learning loops, we are gaining tremendous insights on what goes systematically right and wrong for our learners when seeking to improve their soft skills.

In a world where people analytics and delivering change at scale is ever more important, we’re excited to share what we have found.

In a before and after learning study conducted with final year students at the University of Bahrain, we discovered the impact of our platform supported a 40-80% improvement in feedback delivery skills.  But it was really when we scratched the surface of these findings along with our data set of close to 100 learners that we started to see some interesting patterns:

Performance declines the further you get through the feedback conversation.  Our learners start well, build a good foundation for the conversation and communicate clearly the intent for why they are sharing this feedback.  Most learners also describe the context and what happened reasonably well.  Then things start to go off track.  Learners tend to skip over describing the impact of the situation which in turn impacts their ability to create ownership from the other person and worse still, we see a lack of tangible next steps or commitments to future improvement.  And so no surprises when we assess their ability to structure a feedback conversation more holistically, they don’t score as well as they or we would like.

So why is this trail off so pronounced across so many learners?  We see three factors in play:

Automaticity  is the ability to do things without occupying the mind with the low-level details required, allowing it to become an automatic response pattern or habit. Source:  Wikipedia.  Being able to hold the 5 or 6 things in your mind that make for a good feedback conversation takes deliberate practice and focus before it becomes simpler and more automatic.  Many traditional learning practices simply don’t create the time and space to build this automaticity.

Mindset about relationship damage – it’s critical to examine your motives for giving (or not giving) feedback to a colleague, friend, manager or direct report.  Many of our learners, particularly our Millennial and Gen Z learners, cited concerns about “breaking the relationship” if they gave developmental feedback.  This translates into a) prevaricating before sharing what happened and b) an abdication from the steps of describing impact, encouraging ownership and helping to formulate the “what now”.  We work on helping to flip this mindset with questions like:  “what if that person continues to fail in this particular situation because you have chosen not to tell them?”

Emotional hijacking – Daniel Goleman coined the term amygdala hijack and you can learn more about it in this short interview.  An interview with Daniel Goleman. What we observe is we come to these (often difficult) conversations with a certain amount of stress (see point 2 above!) and often, the recipient of our message may react defensively or start to attack our beliefs, observations etc.  This seems to trigger a fight or flight response for many of our learners which causes them to derail on some of the latter steps.  They become emotional themselves, they argue or they retreat.  We encourage a combination of empathy, genuine curiosity, preparation and facts as tools to protect against hijacks.  It’s also important to help learners understand how high performing teams deliver positive and developmental feedback in much more different ratios than you’d think – there’s an interesting HBR article here on that:  Give your team more effective positive feedback

We’ll close this short blog with a fascinating observation from a dear colleague and partner of ours:

“Fundamentally, we are messy beings with lots of needs.  Learning how to manage someone elses’ while regulating your own takes a certain amount of focus and mastery.   Iterative practice is so useful in this domain” – Dr Diza Sauers, Professor of Practice, Eller Management School, University of Arizona

For more information about the learning vehicle that helps us generate these insights, please visit us at:

Are your negotiating skills fit for Industry 4.0?

Wondering if your negotiating skills are fit for Industry 4.0? Catch up with the conversation between Dr Karen Walch and Sarah Schwab on our recent webinar to hear answers to questions like:
*** How are effective negotiating strategies different in an Industry 4.0 environment?
*** What are the common mistakes we see people make?
**** What does the research tell us about how to change our negotiating behavior?

3 effective behaviors of a great change leader

I mentioned last week that we’ve been working with a number of leaders who are about to announce a major change initiative to their teams. We’ve been helping them prepare and practice their initial communication. It’s crazy that we don’t do more deliberate practice in this area – it makes a HUGE difference! What we’ve learned through the data analytics of their performance? Here’s where the focus is:

I love how this article from LimbicZen deconstructs why these factors are important from a neuroscience perspective.

Are your negotiations Win-Win or Win-Lose?

I’ve always been a fan of Dr Karen Walch. She’s wicked smart, kind, funny and committed to making an impact through her academic thought leadership. As so often happens, if you surround yourself with great people like Karen, good ideas bubble up and I’d like to tell you about one of them today.

But first, a bit of context. I founded the Experience Accelerator to help equip early career leaders with the behavioural skills necessary to help them be great leaders and managers – affordably and at scale. And it’s going pretty well. We’ve been working with leaders across Europe, Middle East and Africa, on foundational leadership behaviours like: how to give feedback, using coaching as a tool for performance, building trust, having difficult conversations etc. It’s turning out to be a popular, high impact way of learning.

Karen was one of our first beta testers and we have been nurturing an idea about creating a set of scenarios focused on the latest thought leadership on leadership behaviours. Too often, the latest thought leadership does not attain its true impact, in part, because once the book is written, workshops designed and key note speeches delivered, the dissemination of the great ideas hits a scale problem – the author is consumed with delivery and there’s a finite set of days in a given year they can devote to delivering, let alone building out their next great set of ideas. We think there might be a new solution to this dilemma – here’s our first case in point:

Karen is an expert in negotiation training – you can see her latest post on the topic here–1c/

Together, we’ve generated a two part training series entitled Negotiation for Industry 4.0 – where a learner can get access to the latest thinking and models on negotiation strategies and why leaders are evolving their negotiation approaches to be more effective in today’s business environment.  Learners focus on managing negotiations which are: complex or strategically important and where managing the relationship with stakeholders is key. They get to practice running a real negotiation in a safe environment both in a solo warm up activity and then with one of our Livetutors on a video call. Based on their performance in the video role play, they get a personalised feedback report on what they have done well and where they can improve. It’s personalised, practice-oriented training – and is delivered fully virtually and can be learned in bite sized chunks – so perfect for busy leaders. This scenario targets mid career professionals who lead complex internal or external negotiations on behalf of their organisations. 

In keeping with a core tenet of Negotiation for Industry 4.0, it’s a win/win business model for us both. We at The Experience Accelerator get to share some of the world’s best ideas on behavioural leadership and Karen gets to share her great thinking at greater scale to more of the world’s leaders. 

So three calls to action:

If you are responsible for improving the quality of your internal and external negotiations and want to learn more, check out our Negotiation for Industry 4.0 learning objectives here

If you want to get a sneak peek into some of our early observations on performance, join us on June 17th for a webinar – click here to register:

If you are a thought leader in behavioural leadership and want to learn more about our scenario creation and qualification process, email me

Stepping into Management Shoes in 2018?

As 2018 beckons, there’s a cadre of folks set to have extraordinary impact on the careers of many others. These people? The new managers of 2018. Turns out, that after the promotion celebrations are over, I’ve come to hear how relatively few first time managers still get ANY structured support, training or advice about how to make this important career turn. Meeting a senior VP at a major multinational just before Christmas, I was struck by his comment when discussing the need for new manager support:

“my CEO will tell me that of course these new managers know what to do, we wouldn’t have promoted them if they didn’t”

But why will they?! Too often the very behaviours rewarded for an individual contributor role are completely different from those of a successful manager. And I’ve seen enough light bulb moments over the years when new managers are shown the significant impact their behaviour (good or bad) has on others to know this is a big step for many. So late last year, I turned to a group of experts in the field and we discussed what first time manager behaviours bring the biggest impact – and here’s what they said:

Show the Way: Set a clear and compelling vision and outline clear team goals which are your goals. Make sure every person has responsibilities, tasks and a timeline. When you manage a team, your job is not to do their job or to tell them how to do it, it is to set the conditions and clear obstacles, so they can do the best possible version of they need to do.

Be a Better Version of Yourself: Learn to self-reflect, show tremendous humility and willingness to learn. Work hard on your self-awareness. Recognise that you can make mistakes, don’t try to hide them, but share so everyone can learn and move on. Work hard on active listening and building trust.

Be Inspiring: Set the example for preferred behaviours, be a role model and show others the way, Coach and develop your team. Understand how powerful your honesty, integrity and authenticity are in driving performance.

A Team is a Collection of Important Individuals: Put your employees at the heart of organization. Talk with your team, not at them. Spend time with each team member, be curious, get to know what motivates each one – remember they are individuals. Observe behaviours without bias. Start with describing what you see rather than judging. Remember diversity enriches and often shows different ways forward.

Know someone starting a manager role for the first time? Please send them this article – it’ll be a positive jolt of energy for them and their team.