The Theory of 150

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This is the 62nd episode of the Mind Your Noodles podcast. In this episode, we will discuss the Theory of 150 on social relationships and the size of your organization. Sign-up for The 95 Method executive education program – free previews at Mind Your


[00:00:06] Mind Your Noodles Podcast – Episode 62
[00:00:27] Episode 62 – The Theory of 150
[00:01:11] Dunbar’s Number
[00:02:32] Malcolm Gladwell’s The Tipping Point
[00:02:47] Gore Associates
[00:07:44] Do Not Copy and Do Not Use Prescriptions Every System is Unique

Here are some resources mentioned in this episode:


Tripp Babbitt: [00:00:06] Take care of the brains that take care of you with a Mind Your Noodles podcast keep you up to date on the latest neuroscience research and practices to keep your brain healthy and strategies to help your organization brain-friendly .

Tripp Babbitt: [00:00:27] Hi, I’m Tripp Babbitt, host of the Mind Your Noodles podcast, and this is Episode 62. This week, I’m going to be talking about what I call the theory of 150. Now, I didn’t make up this theory. It started with a gentleman by the name of Robin Dunbar, who is an anthropologist and an evolutionary psychologist. But what the theory of 150 basically is, is, is his work, which was is often referenced as Dunbar’s number. And so let’s just get an operational definition of what Dunbar’s number is.

Tripp Babbitt: [00:01:11] Dunbar’s number is a cognitive limit to the number of people with whom one can maintain social stable relationships, relationships in which an individual knows who each person is and how each person relates to every other person. Now, more easily put. It’s the number of people you would not feel embarrassed about joining uninvited for a drink if you happened to bump into them in a bar.

Tripp Babbitt: [00:01:42] Now, one hundred and fifty is also kind of my focus on organizations that I typically like to work with. So if they’re over a hundred and fifty, a lot of my work is associated with those somewhat larger organizations, if you will.

Tripp Babbitt: [00:02:03] But this doesn’t mean that the method that I use, the 95 method, doesn’t apply to smaller organizations. It’s just that because you can maintain these social relationships in between people, in smaller organizations, often they don’t have the same types of problems. Sometimes different organizations really do have to some degree, different problems that larger organizations have.

Tripp Babbitt: [00:02:32] And so Dunbar’s number was something that was highlighted by Malcolm Gladwell’s The Tipping Point. And he talks about it quite a bit.

Tripp Babbitt: [00:02:47] That, you know, he worked with or did some research on Gore associates that makes cortex types of products. And they’re a very unique type of organization. And I can tell you, I’ve I’ve over the years have worked with a number of organizations, tried to copy what Gore associates have done with little success, because what works for Gore Associates doesn’t necessarily work for your organization. And it’s one of those things that I warn every Organa organization against is don’t copy other organizations. They’re different. There may be different by industry. They may be different by people. They may by be different by customers. There’s a number of things that make systems unique, but that doesn’t mean that we can’t learn from some of the things that they do. But Gore Associates has no organizational charts. They have no budgets. They really don’t even have strategic plans within the organization. And there are no titles within the organization. But again, I’m going to cost in you. That doesn’t mean that that you should go out and copy what Gore Associates is doing. They’ve been a very successful company and and people like working for them. One things that I do want to say about this is when you use a 95 method, the executive education program that I’m putting together, that still should be ready by the end of this month, at least the first few releases.

Tripp Babbitt: [00:04:30] And the advantage of it is I don’t give you a prescription. What I do give you are new theories for you to be able to try at some point. But you can’t even do that to you. Understand what learning through a customer lens and then learning through your own thinking lens. How are you thinking about the way you do things within your organization? And again, this is the first components of the executive education program that I’m putting together. So you do not get a prescription what you get as a method for learning and figuring out different ways to build your organization from the way front, from learning what works better than what you’re doing today. But we’ve got to know what we’re doing today and we’ve got to understand how the customer sees that today. I’ve found that really big firms, you know, 20000, 50000 people have been slow to innovate and they’re slow to change. And because of that, a lot of them are falling by the wayside because it’s difficult to keep up with more nimble organizations. But that doesn’t mean large organizations can’t operate that way. And in other words, as a small organization, but they have to go through a learning process to figure out how they can become more nimble, more innovative, more open to change by looking at their own system and discovering new ways.

Tripp Babbitt: [00:06:11] And this has to be an ongoing process. This isn’t something you just do once and then you’re done with the speed of change that we have in today’s environment. It’s something that you have to be vigilant in and consistent with that you’re constantly challenging the way that you think and being able to adapt as the customer lens change, too. So all of these things that I’m building, the executive education program, are going to teach you about building an organization ultimately that can adapt to changing tastes and preferences of customers, but also understanding how your thinking may need to change as those things change to be. Got to start with where you are today and then you can do constant updates to it. But ultimately, what we’re going to try and achieve is building a brain friendly organization that can adapt. To to all of these changes that need to happen. And so I can’t do that in a prescriptive way, I can give you a prescriptive way of learning, but I can’t do it and say or you do this or be like Gore associates or be like whatever, you know, Apple or whatever company does the movie that you admire. It’s going to be unique for your organization.

Tripp Babbitt: [00:07:44] And so I want people to understand that The 95 Method is not about prescriptions. Now, I’ve talked about the importance of social before and Dunbar’s number plays into this, Matthew. In fact, Lieberman. Lieberman’s book, Social that I’ve talked about before. He talks about the rule of 150, as Malcolm Gladwell calls it. Now, I don’t call it a rule.

Tripp Babbitt: [00:08:16] I think that too many times people have studied these things have a tendency to call things rules for or for whatever reason. They’re not really rules. They’re theories.

Tripp Babbitt: [00:08:32] So I like to call it the theory of 150, because there are some things they think you can learn from or new theories that you can develop from it for your organization to try out. But I. I don’t like the word rule of 150. Now, I do like the idea of getting things broken down. So, you know, one of the things as many of you know, I do a podcast for the Demming Institute. And one of the things W. Edwards Deming railed against was break down barriers between departments. And as I’ve learned over the years, sometimes you don’t even need the departments the way that they’re set up. We all seem to copy the same organizational structure from one company or organization to another. Sales as its own department operations is its own department finances, its own department and so forth. And what this does is it develops these kind of as I talked about in last week’s episode, the kind of in groups and outgroups. If you’re in your technology group or you’re an ingroup because you’re cool and there are people like you and God, those people in operations and sales really don’t understand what it’s like being a cool technology person or in sales.

Tripp Babbitt: [00:09:57] They don’t know what it’s like to interact with the customer in daily basis and try and sell our products. So you could deal with these silos, as a lot of people call them, and I call it the functional separation of work that actually inhibit providing good service to customers. And because they’re not focused on the same things, in many cases, they’re focused on technology things or sales things or operational things or finance things. And what you really need is a mindset that had an. Encompasses all of these things and that you have the knowledge that you need as someone in an organization to not only make good decisions, but in your actions that you take. You are basically able to think in terms of the best of each one of those disciplines. And this is the difficulty, again, I have with universities. They don’t think in this way. They think in terms of what you need to go out and learn this and you learn that. And then they do it in a classroom where you can learn absolutely zero.

Tripp Babbitt: [00:11:21] These are things that you have to learn to apply in real life.

Tripp Babbitt: [00:11:27] And that’s why I’ve built the ninety five minute method executive education program is something that you can apply to your organization. So that’s really what I wanted to talk about this week, was this concept of one hundred and fifty and that you can develop an organization that can. Adapt to its environment very quickly. And you need to because things are changing, the speed of change, as I mentioned, is so great that you’ve got to develop a very agile, adaptive type of organization that can can move with these things. And these are some of the things we’re building in the building blocks of the ninety five method and the executive education program. So the rule 150 is you’ve got to have these groups where people can talk to each other. There is not an us versus them. We’ve got to have a common aim. Things that we’ve talked about before are also things that are built into the education program are being able to get a cohesive group. That’s kind of focused on the on the same types of things. And there is agreement to it. And this is why we do the customer lens and the thinking lens. We need agreement on how we operate, how our customer sees our organizations are great ways for you to start to be able to be able to make and a captive and agile organization.

Tripp Babbitt: [00:13:10] If you are an existing executive looking for new ideas or a refresh, a new executive trying to understand a new organization or an aspiring executive looking for a leg up on other people, that you’re competing for an executive position, the ninety five method provides executive education that can apply. By studying your own organization, we’ll give you the necessary skills not taught at universities in synthetic thinking, neuroscience, executive data analytics, decision making innovation and a customer in organizational structure. You can get. A preview of the training right now at Mind Your Noodles dot com forward slash free or at the ninety five metho dot com for slash free. This was a limited time offer. Before we start to offer the executive education for a an investment that is undetermined at this point.

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