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Saturday, June 14, 2014

Book Review: Stats and Curiosities: From Harvard Business Review



If you ever took a college course on stats you are likely to recall counting ceiling tiles as more exciting. However, stats can provide all types of useful and interesting information that can spark the imagination. Within the book Stats and Curiosities you will learn about the human brain, business behavior, health, gender relations, and the economy. It provides tid bits of knowledge and insight into some of the most common things we do but have no idea were doing them. 

Did you know that 19% of high status people believe that others smile at them more? It may not actually be true but how people view themselves has an impact on what they see in the environment. Even more interesting powerful people actually believe they are 6 inches taller.  None of it may be true but it seems to pay psychologically to think yourself high status and powerful.

Of course some statistics have large implications for business. Thirty percent of financial professionals feel pressure to either violate ethics or break the law. That coincides with self-reported ethical people earning 3.4% less than their peers who do not report following high ethical standards. When money is the only goal there is natural pressure and punishment to earn more at all costs. Ethical people are internally driven to resist environmental urges.

What is so special about interacting with others? Social participation gives the same mental boost as a big raise helping employees feel positive. Despite the nearly free employee satisfaction push many organizations have not adjusted their environment to maximize the social benefits that develop a sense of community and positive interaction that raises workplace productivity.

Some of the statistics could help improve your sales and customer satisfaction. Helping consumers feel special also helps them make more purchases. By telling someone they were randomly selected to receive a discount they are 3X more likely to buy the product. The way in which our customer service and sales strategies align help in improving sales revenue.

Statistics are a natural part of our lives and scientists take great pains to ensure that their statistics are actually measuring what they say they are measuring. Despite their tedious nature statistics can provide some great insight into human behavior. The book doesn’t talk about how statistics work or the methodology behind such statistics but does provide a lot of interesting trivia information that can be useful for your life and your business.

O’connell, A. (2013). Stats and Curiosities: From Harvard Business Review. Boston, MA: Harvard Business School Publishing 978-1-4221-9631-1

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