Embrace cake in your transformation

Are you feeling overwhelmed by the rapid advancement of new technologies in the market? It’s not surprising, given the buzz around the latest trend — Large Language Models (LLMs). Many are treating LLMs as the key to unlocking success, and the hype only seems to be growing by the day. However, while LLMs undoubtedly offer tremendous potential, it’s important to remember that they are not a silver bullet solution. At the end of the day, it’s the people within an organization that are truly the driving force behind success. So, while it’s tempting to get caught up in the excitement around new technologies, let’s not forget the most important ingredient in any company’s recipe for success — its people. But, as I’ve discovered, there may be another secret ingredient that is often overlooked — cake. In this article, we’ll explore the surprising ways in which cake can contribute to a company’s success, and why you might want to consider incorporating it into your own workplace culture.

Now, you may be wondering, what does cake have to do with it? Cake is actually a metaphor for celebrating small successes along the way to achieving a bigger goal. Just as we savor every bite of a delicious cake mmm…, we need to savor every small win on our journey. Celebrating these small successes boosts morale, fosters collaboration, and creates positive momentum that propels us forward towards our larger goals.

But why is this so important? Our brains have a negative bias, meaning we tend to focus more on potential threats and risks than positive outcomes. This is not our fault, but it does hold us back. As humans, we are wired to identify risks and potential threats, which made sense for our survival in prehistoric times. However, in today’s world, if we do not actively fight this negative bias, we miss out on our full potential and the potential of our team. Fortunately, it is possible to change this, but it requires effort.

One of my breaking points in realizing negative bias was when a tired co-worker told me over coffee that he felt overlooked and unappreciated. He simply said, “all I need is a pat on the back.” I was surprised because he was fantastic, and I wondered why he didn’t know he had done great work during the past months. When I asked him if he ever received positive feedback, he replied, “Never.”

This is a common pattern; we don’t stop to tell each other when it’s going great, and that we appreciate the work that people do. Also, we do not congratulate ourselves when we are successful. We don’t stop to celebrate; we are just on to the next problem. In the long run, this is exhausting. Getting positive reinforcement and bringing energy back into things like a draining transformation is key. And yes, transformations are always to some extent draining.

Now, let’s get to the good news: just like LLM models’ brains can be trained and we have the power to rewire our brains. It is just a different kind of programming. In addition to being a data and analytics professional, I am also a certified yoga teacher. Through my yoga practice, I have come to understand that my mind is a tool, rather than my identity. If this concept is new to you, I highly recommend reading Eckhart Tolle’s “The Power of Now,” in which he explores how people’s emotional issues are often rooted in their over-identification with their minds. While this idea may sound far-fetched at first, you might be surprised to discover how much you have been missing out on in life by getting caught up in your own thoughts.

So how can we practically change our negativity bias in a workplace? Here are some concrete examples I have found useful.

· Never let anything positive go unnoticed. If you have a positive thought, share it out loud. This works well not only in the workplace, but also in everyday life. It can make someone’s day!

· If you are a leader, make sure to share positive feedback so that many people can hear it and make it part of the culture. When you do, you will see that others will start doing the same in the team.

· Don’t take things for granted. It’s easy to get caught up in what’s not working, but what is working? There are likely many things that are going well. When was the last time you pointed them out to everyone and not the least yourself?

· Finally, add the “cake KPI” to your dashboard. How many times have you celebrated with cake this year? Count and celebrate those moments. As they say, what gets measured gets done. So, start measuring and focus on the positive.

KPI update: Cake moment 2 and 3 or 2023

To fully unlock the potential of our teams and ourselves, we must overcome the negative biases that our brains have. While it’s important to embrace new technologies like LLM models, we mustn’t lose sight of the bigger picture. Rarely is success achieved through technology alone. Other factors, such as teamwork, communication, and a positive workplace culture, are essential to making things work. By keeping our focus on these important aspects, we can create a well-rounded and successful organization that thrives in the long run. So let’s also focus on the power of human connection and appreciation. Whether it’s acknowledging hard work, sharing positive feedback, or adding the “cake KPI” to our dashboard, every little bit counts. By doing so, we can create a culture that values and supports our colleagues. Remember, it’s never too late to start celebrating and making someone’s day, even if cake prices have gone up!