This issue of Sagacious is from December 27, 2019

2019: A Note of Gratitude and the Year in Review


We hope most of you are curled up somewhere on a couch drinking coffee, playing board games, out for a hike, or just enjoying time with family and friends. The holidays are a time for reflection, love, and gratitude. As 2019 and the decade comes to a close, we wanted to take a minute to reflect on how far we've come, and thank all of our loyal readers and supporters. We receive every message from our readers with enthusiasm and an open-mind.


We started Sagacious as a natural way to share our research and learnings with our network. It has grown quickly over the last three years into what is now a curious, engaged community of readers. However you found us, we want to thank you so much for being here.


This past year we focused on increasing the thoughtfulness and unique content in Sagacious. We underwent a few aesthetic changes, and launched our second reader survey to try and better tailor our work. We introduced book reviews from employees, have expanded our writing team, added new insight pieces and issues that reflect current events and reader interests, and launched new Viewpoint websites (VIPCoViewpoint GroupViewpoint Foundation, and Viewpoint Research), where you can find all our original content and past issues. Over this time, our reader base has grown by 26 percent! We are also very happy to have maintained a high level of engagement from our readers. Our open rate is 37 percent, which although is a bit lower than our average last year at 44 percent, is higher than the industry average at 17 percent.

For us, this is just the beginning. We have ideas galore heading into 2020, with specific plans to enhance our content, feature more contributors, and grow our subscriber base. 

As the last issue before we head into the New Year (we'll also be taking next week, January 3rd off), our readers will know we always like to do a "round up" issue, featuring some of the "best of the best" over the last year and decade, from pictures to books, and some work-related content in between. Below, we've featured the full round up, but in the Sagacious issue sent on December 27th, you'll find the top 5, most read Sagacious issues over the last year. 

We are so grateful for this incredible community of smart, thoughtful, and curious people. We couldn't and wouldn't do this without you. We hope you stay curious, keep reading, and share our work when something really strikes you! Till the New Year... 


The Sagacious Team


A Year of Learning


From managing work culture to the intricacies of employee motivation, here are some of our favourite research learnings of this year: 

1

The most effective compensation package is the single bonus contract. Why is this so effective? The researchers suggest that it is because workers are provided with strong initiatives while varying their regular pay as little as possible.

2

Mental strategies that enabled people to persist and be successful in attaining their goal were: 1) focusing on the positive results, 2) thinking the end was in sight, and 3) emotional regulation and trying to stay positive. What was surprisingly the least successful tactic? Distraction.

3

It takes a lot of effort to form and break a habit. "[P]eople who score high on self-control don't achieve successes in life by exerting control...instead, they know how to form habits that meet their goals." It can take two to three months to form a simple habit.

4

You can reinforce norms and values to reduce toxic behaviour in the workplace. Especially if colleagues are encouraged to be the first-line responders when they witness toxic behaviour. “Research has shown that bystander intervention methods have been effective in the military, on college campuses, and in other settings.”

5

Women tend to undersell their work compared to men. This may be contributing to the gender gap in pay and promotions. Unfortunately, research has not found the main driver behind this, although it does not seem to be driven by confidence or by strategic incentives.

6

Asking “What questions do you have for me?” at the end of conversations is more effective. Rather than asking, “Do you have any questions?”, this simple shift in phrasing offers more clarification, encouraging better engagement and open communication.  

7

The placebo effect is so great that even placebo placebos work. According to a recent study, “[a] pain cream with no active ingredients worked even when not used by the patient. Just owning the cream was enough to reduce pain.”

8

A Japanese high tech manufacturing company uses an internal billing and payment system to help avoid useless meeti​​​​ngs. The system, in which every cost is charged back to workers, allows them to rent out a conference room for $100. “The approach has so far paid off. Disco’s operating margin has risen to 26% from 16% since the experiment was implemented eight years ago, and its profitability is the envy of the industry.”

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A Year of Pictures


Take a look through this year in pictures. Here are a few highlights:

January 15 - This 20-foot-long female shark is believed to be one of the largest great whites in the world. 

@JuanSharks/JuanOliphant/Oneoceandiving.com

April 10 - Researchers take the first-ever picture of a black hole. National Science Foundation/Getty Images

June 30 - President Donald Trump becomes the first sitting US leader to visit North Korea.  Shealah Craighead/The White House

October 10 - Women watch a World Cup qualifier for the first time after the 1979 ban on women attending sports stadiums was put in place. Vahid Salemi/AP

A Year of Science 

If you need some interesting discussion topics after a festive dinner to avoid talking about politics, look no further. Here are a few highlights of the scientific breakthroughs and setbacks that defined 2019

1

The resurgence of measles. “In 2019, measles sickened more people in the United States than in any year since 1992.” Surprisingly, two outbreaks in New York made up more than 75 percent of the cases.

2

Clinical trials begin for CRISPR. Researchers begin testing the gene editor, CRISPR/Cas 9, in people. The gene editor has the potential to treat or cure hundreds to thousands of genetic diseases.

3

New depression drug available. For the first time in decades, a fundamentally new drug became available for people with severe depression.” The nasal spray, Spravato, was approved in March.

4

Climate activism surges. As we experienced record-breaking high summer temperatures around the world this year, we also saw record-breaking waves of climate activism.

5

A black box for medical procedures. Just like how a black box records information through a flight to improve overall safety and enable learning from mistakes, the OR Black Box developed by a Toronto-based surgeon hopes to do the same in the hospital.

Defining the Decade

As the 2010s draw to a close, here’s a rundown of what defined this decade.

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