Never trust an evangelist

  • By ben hawkes
  • 17 May, 2016

First of all, apologies if you are one of those 29,272 LinkedIn folk who have "evangelist" in your profile. (I see there's another 55,549 who describe or have described themselves in the past as a "guru". That's a whole other questionable life choice right there.)

It's hard to write about evangelism without a nod to the word's religious roots. But you and I both know that religion is one of the three things that should never be shared on LinkedIn, the second being political views, and the third being photos of your lunch. (Don't dump those lunch pictures yet though. They go crazy for them over on ResearchGate.)

This image has been cited 1,354 times on ResearchGate.

I'm sure you've encountered evangelists in your field: those folk with a viewpoint, a pitch or a product that is the solution to   all   of your business problems. High staff turnover? You need an engagement survey. Dissatisfied customers? You need an engagement survey. Complaints about the staff cafeteria? You need a better caterer. And then an engagement survey.

I've nothing against engagement surveys you understand. I could have chosen any solution that is appearing right now in my LinkedIn feed: HR analytics, mindfulness, emotional intelligence, competency models, mindfulness again, Myers Briggs...

When all you have is a hammer,

every problem looks like a nail.

The problem isn't that these tools are without merit. (Even Myers Briggs). The problem is that when all you have is your single solution, it becomes the answer to everything: when all you have is a hammer, every problem looks like a nail.

The French have a phrase for it. (The French have a phrase for everything : it's like a whole different language.) They call it   déformation professionnelle , or 'professional deformation'. It's that tendency we develop of looking at the world and our work through the filter of our profession. For me, as a psychologist, this is so easy to do. Because everything is psychology, right? So the solution to pretty much every business challenge is to psychology the hell out of it.

But that's just not true. Psychology isn't going to improve the quality of food in your staff cafeteria. And psychology isn't   necessarily  the best solution to growing your revenue. Maybe the answer for that is better technology. Or even an engagement survey.

By all means, be passionate about what you do. Preach it from the rooftops. (Unless health and safety is your passion, in which case you'll be busy shouting at all those people to come down off the rooftops.) And keep your hammer all lovely and shiny and up to date. Just remember that not everything is a nail.

But if you would like to hear more about my particular hammer, email me directly at

By ben hawkes 17 May, 2016

As Ben is currently co-authoring a chapter (with Dr Iva Cek and Dr Charles Handler) on using games to assess personality, measure cognitive ability and predict job performance, he has the perfect excuse to play games on company time.

One of the most intriguing games that we've seen is from Lensa, co-founded by  David Szilagyi . Having played it last year, we've come back to it again and see that David and his team have given it a facelift and enhanced its reporting.

By ben hawkes 17 May, 2016

Jeopardy-bothering robot brain IBM Watson can now (allegedly) assess your personality based on your LinkedIn profile.

Want to try it for yourself? You can let the   Watson Cognitive Head Hunter analyse your LinkedIn profile here:

This is what Watson has to say about me:

  • You are shrewd, somewhat insensitive and tranquil.
  • You are driven: you have high goals for yourself and work hard to achieve them.
  • You are adventurous: you are eager to experience new things. And you are energetic: you enjoy a fast-paced, busy schedule with many activities.
  • More than most people, your choices are driven by a desire for self-expression.
  • You consider achieving success to guide a large part of what you do: you seek out opportunities to improve yourself and demonstrate that you are a capable person.
  • You are relatively unconcerned with tradition: you care more about making your own path than following what others have done.

Do I agree with it? Maybe more than I would care to admit. It's close, anyway. Close enough to convince me that we're going to be seeing a lot more of this technology in the future.

IBM isn't the first to develop the capability to assess personality based on text or even on social media activity. What's different about this is that not only will Watson assess your personality, it will also recommend specific roles that fit your profile. (This demo will only match you to roles within IBM.

It works the other way round, too. Choose a role and Watson - living up to its Cognitive Head Hunter   title - will recommend people that are a close fit based on their profiles.

Will this automate the work of real recruiters and ultimately replace them? I doubt it: just like Watson's applications in healthcare, this technology will augment   human judgement, not replace it.

The science of personality assessment based on text is a new one, and - as many of my fellow psychologists would agree - needs much more research and development before it will see its true usefulness. I hope though that this gives you an insight into the potential of this technology.

Did you let Watson assess you? How accurate was it?

By ben hawkes 17 May, 2016

Actually, we don't know the first thing about geese, and even less about what innovation-related wisdom they can share. In fact, neither geese nor innovation have much to do with this post at all.

However, our title does contain at least something in common with titles of the top 1,000 posts on LinkedIn, according to  research from Percolate :

  • 27% of them contain the word "You".
  • 20% of them are a list post.
  • "6" is one of the most common number of list items.

But even with these statistics to guide us, coming up with a topic or title for a new post is hard work. So to help us - and you - we took some of the most popular LinkedIn posts (according to Google), chopped them up and created an automated  LinkedIn post title generator  (link for copy-and-pasting: )

 The generator can create over 10,000 combinations of post titles. Some sensible, some not. Very much not. For instance:

  • 7 Things Angry Birds can Teach You About ERP Systems.
  • Want to Know About Success? Look no further than Zombies.
  • Everything I know about Presenting I Learnt from Swedish Furniture.

Maybe it'll give you some inspiration for your next post. Or at least some mild amusement for a few minutes. But if you do end up writing "10 Things the Walking Dead can Teach You About Brand Loyalty", we'd love to read it.

By ben hawkes 17 May, 2016

If you've cared for a relative with Alzheimer's Disease or other forms of dementia, you'll know what a wretched condition it can be. (I've also listed a few resources at the end of this post that you might find useful.)

So I was very interested to hear of a new game designed to assist research into the disease. Sea Hero Quest  is free, available for iOS and Android devices, and created by Alzheimer's Research UK, UCL and UEA in partnership with Deutsche Telekom.

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