Perspectives is our new magazine. Our first edition explores some of the latest insights into human behaviour and how they can help organisations make better decisions. All the articles are free to read online, and you can download a pdf version to read on your mobile or tablet.
The picture that emerges from the latest research is that people are far from being the rational actors that our economic models say we are. Humans evolved to compete and cooperate socially in complex ways, and to react to circumstances according to ‘fast thinking’ rules of thumb, not logic. We develop habits that no longer make sense but which we find hard to break. We take decisions that are in no-one’s interest, least of all our own. And on the whole we are blind to all this irrationality – at least in ourselves.
Behavioural economics examines how this irrationality affects economic choices and it is a booming field. In our consumption patterns we have long been shown to be susceptible to manipulation. Recently, governments have recently taken an interest in behavioural economics as a means to manage the demand for services, understanding citizens as consumers.
Governments increasingly view behavioural economics as a key to unlocking more cost effective ways of helping people achieve the outcomes which they desire.
But most adults are producers as well as consumers. In fact we spend the majority of our waking hours working. And work is often a social activity: we usually produce alongside others, in teams. We started to gather perspectives on this line of inquiry with the premise that individuals at work are just as irrational as individuals at the shopping mall.
How do we form and instil habits within the organisations we work for? How does an organisation balance its instinct to survive while exploring new opportunities? Corporations are not engines that robotically maximise shareholder value; nor are charities machines that blindly deliver an altruistic purpose. Both rely on the power of fallible minds to achieve their goals.we have worked for the last five years to help organisations measure and understand the impact of what they do, and express this in terms of social value.
This first edition of Perspectives stems from our ambition to better understand what makes organisations effective – and that means understanding the individuals that work in them. We recently developed a powerful 10 minute diagnostic tool to start this journey; feel free to try it online at www.happinessatworksurvey.com