Services

Based on over 10 years of executive teaching, experience at world-leading universities and business schools, and top-published research, I provide workshops, coaching, analysis and consulting. Email me for details.

You can watch an interview about my philosophy at Growth-U People First.

Bias-Free Problem Solving

Design thinking, McKinsey’s seven steps, Saaty method: Chances are you have encountered at least one problem-solving toolbox during your studies, in a workshop or in a management book. The reason is that brains – and organisations formed by brains – are lazy and fall back into old routines and heuristics to make decisions. This workshop shows you how to identify when these habits occur and teaches you concrete tools to avoid the biases that result from our unavoidable psychological and organisational limitations.

You will learn why real-world decision making in organisations resembles a garbage can, where available solutions and dominant mental models select the problems to be solved. You will understand what the most popular problem-solving models have in common and which psychological and social biases you can avoid with the right tools. You will work on hands-on simulations and engaging games to practice actionable techniques to hone your problem-solving skills.

The structured approach you will learn focuses on group decision-making, openness of mind, and systems thinking. Practice exercises will prepare you to transfer the learned knowledge and tools to your organisation. These tools will enable you to change entrenched mindsets, structures, and procedures to widen horizons, increase creative flexibility, and assume a systems perspective.

What you will learn:

  • You will master state-of-the-art tools and techniques to make unbiased decisions, individually and in groups
  • You will be able to explain how the most problematic biases work through core behavioural science concepts
  • You will apply these concepts and tools to concrete, real-world executive decision-making in a hands-on simulation
  • You will be able to develop actionable strategies to transform processes in your organisation to make better decisions on all levels

Bias-Free Strategic Decisions

Top-level hiring, acquisitions, IPOs, geographical expansion, restructuring: high-stakes decisions are full of cognitive traps and potential for disastrous mistakes. Strategic blind spots, short-termism, conformism make you miss opportunities, take unnecessary risks and stifle innovation.

You will learn to identify and avoid many biases in executive decision-making, including availability bias (thinking in boxes), confirmation bias (only see what you want to see), endowment bias (escalation of commitment, mission creep) and others. You will encounter biased decisions in planning (illusion of control, planning fallacy), in individual decision-making, in group decisions (groupthink, false consensus, curse of knowledge), and in negotiation and bargaining situations (persuasion techniques).

Through a series of M&A-themed simulations, you will explore different ingenious tools and techniques to examine your tacit assumptions; to create a group atmosphere that welcomes controversial and innovative ideas; to build genuine, trusting, and lasting relations between negotiation partners; to avoid being manipulated in bargaining; to plan for and manage unexpected issues; and to remain open to revising your decisions and to distinguishing between bad outcomes and bad decisions.

What you will learn:

  • You will master state-of-the-art tools and techniques to make unbiased decisions, individually and in groups
  • You will be able to explain how the most problematic biases work through core behavioural science concepts
  • You will apply these concepts and tools to concrete, real-world executive decision-making in a hands-on simulation
  • You will be able to develop actionable strategies to transform processes in your organisation to make better decisions on all levels

Bias-Free Finance

The Nobel Prizes for Daniel Kahneman and Richard Thaler have confirmed what everybody knew already: financial markets are weird. Runaway animal spirits seem to come from nowhere and drive delirious bubbles and bottomless crashes. Traders and managers will persistently make the same mistakes, no matter how experienced they are. They hang on to losers for too long and sell winners too early; they cannot integrate new information into what they already know.

You will learn about different glitches in the brain’s wetware that have disastrous consequences for financial decision-making, like loss aversion, present bias, status quo bias, overconfidence, hedonic treadmill, and our mind’s utter inability to do maths and statistics right (base rate neglect, correlation neglect, hot-hand fallacy etc.).

In hands-on market simulations and games, you will learn why we have these inbuilt cognitive biases, when they become a problem, and how to identify them. You will learn about important concepts such as fast and frugal heuristics, prospect theory, and hyperbolic discounting, and you will learn practical tools and tricks to avoid them or make them work in your favour. In the end, you may even feel the perks at home when you try to quit smoking or stick to your diet.

What you will learn:

  • You will understand the psychology behind faulty reasoning and decision-making in finance
  • You will be able to spot situations and traps that typically lead to bias
  • You will learn tools and techniques that make you make better decisions
  • You will be able to make changes to your organisation that will empower every employee to make better financial decisions

Design Effective Incentives in Organisations

Hourly wages, piece rates, annual bonuses, stock options, promotions: incentives are omnipresent. They serve many different purposes: attract high potentials; smoothen conflicts of interest of bosses (“Work harder!”) and employees (“I would prefer not to.”); transfer risk from those who hate it to those who like it; satisfy different time preferences (money now vs money later); etc.

With so many purposes, it seems inevitable that incentive schemes are rife with problems: hourly wages lead to shirking; employees competing for the same promotion may sabotage each other; workers paid in piece rates will increase quantity by quality shading; team incentives get diluted and create free-riding incentives; when the wrong performance is measured, incentives may even backfire; high-powered incentives may lead to choking under pressure; etc.

You will explore these topics using insights from management, economics, and psychology. Fascinating business cases and scientific experiments expose the root causes of these problems: You will learn about moral hazard, adverse selection, ratcheting, rat races and Cobra effects, monitoring and multitasking, the psychology of social comparison, of motivation crowding out, and the hidden costs of control. You will know which other factors beyond money are critical for motivation, such as purpose, autonomy, trust, and recognition, and learn proven tools like job crafting, peer review and self-set salaries so that you will be able to create optimised, integrated incentive systems that incorporate the full suite of monetary and non-monetary incentives.

What you will learn:

  • You will know the different functions and effects of monetary incentives
  • You will experience hands-on the unintended consequences of flawed incentive design
  • You will practice exploiting the whole menu of incentive options
  • You will be able to optimise standard incentives and implement new methods of motivation in your own organisation

Become a Horizontal Organisation

Every organisation becomes sclerotic with time: mounting bureaucracy slows down internal processes and makes communication a hassle; hierarchies become complicated, multi-layered management confuses decision-making while different departments grow into warring fiefdoms. Turf wars, information silos, politicking, and distrust end up stifling creativity and dynamism, render much of the work unproductive and meaningless, and transform the entire organisation into a sitting duck, unable to navigate an increasingly changing and chaotic environment.

In all areas of life, we claim freedom and autonomy. In economics, we demand free, decentralised markets. In politics, we champion free, democratic procedures: politicians are the servants of their citizens, and the state should keep its fingers out of their affairs. Yet, companies are resisting this idea: despite many attempts at making organisations “lean”, “agile”, “disruptive”, etc., the results are often unspectacular and short-lived. The reason is that, under the hood, the pyramid hierarchy and bureaucratic straitjacket remain.

To truly transform your business, you must change the culture and mindset that produces hierarchies and bureaucracy. By radically decentralising, by abolishing subordinate relationships and strict procedures, organisations can unchain the full potential of all members, maximising creativity, initiative, motivation, and responsibility. You will learn how international business leaders like Patagonia, Spotify, Handelsbanken, Haier, RedHat and Zappos can do without a power pyramid, without middle management, centralised HR, sales departments, even without budgets or job titles and descriptions. How they have transformed monolithic companies into federations of teams, into incubators for ambitious intrapreneurs, and their employees into leaders and partners. Simulations and case studies will teach you diverse methods to transform your organisation.

What you will learn:

  • You will be able to explain the psychological and social mechanisms behind hierarchy, bureaucracy, self-organisation, and autonomy
  • You will understand the mindset and culture of horizontal organisations
  • You will master tools and techniques necessary to enable your employees to assume ownership and develop an entrepreneurial spirit
  • You will be able to develop actionable strategies to transform your organisation to be more open and trusting