I just gave a presentation on “Happiness at Work” in Norway. I started with the following question:
“True or false – People with more money are happier.”
100% of the audience believed that the statement was false.
In reality, the statement is true. Researchers have shown that people with more money are happier.
When people hear this, they immediate assume that money makes people happy. That is NOT true.
The researchers found that money did not make people happy. Instead, happy people attracted wealth into their lives.
I was on a radio show recently and a woman cited a study that said:
“Women who wear lipstick make 80% more money than women who don’t.”
She used this as an example of why women should wear lipstick. She seemed to imply that if you wear lipstick, you will make more money.
But again, I am confident that the causation is backwards. Lipstick does not create wealth. Wealthy women are more naturally inclined to wear lipstick for a variety of reasons.
In business, it is equally important to differentiate correlation from causation.
Understanding what causes success – or failure – will help you in the future. Avoid making assumptions.
Did your marketing efforts truly increase sales? Did your 19th reorganization really improve performance? Did that consultant you hired really help you grow?
The next time an innovation consultant tells you that their clients increased revenues/improved performance after hiring them, be a bit skeptical. Maybe the consultant didn’t improve the business. Maybe businesses that can afford to hire high priced consultants are already better positioned for growth and would have improved anyway.
Hmmm…if my innovation consulting business drops off in the near future, I will simply assume that this article was the cause.
P.S. The happiness study is this: Sonja Lyubomirsky, a psychologist at U Cal Riverside, who looked at the correlation between happiness and success. She observed that, “Happy people were not necessarily happier after their success than they were before, but they tended to be happier than others who were less successful.” Her conclusion? “Success is related to happiness – but as a consequence, not a cause, of mood…happy people have other personality traits that facilitate success.”
Stephen Shapiro is the author of three books, a popular innovation speaker, and is the Chief Innovation Evangelist for Innocentive, the leader in Open Innovation.