Test Counterintuitive Things, Because No One Else Ever Does
1 min read

Test Counterintuitive Things, Because No One Else Ever Does

The problem that bedevils organizations once they reach a certain size is that narrow, conventional logic is the natural mode of thinking for thew risk-averse bureaucrat or executive. There is a simple reason for this: you can never be fired for being logical.

From "Alchemy" by Rory Sutherland:

"The problem that bedevils organizations once they reach a certain size is that narrow, conventional logic is the natural mode of thinking for the risk-averse bureaucrat or executive. There is a simple reason for this: you can never be fired for being logical. If your reasoning is sound and unimaginative, even if you fail, it is unlikely you will attract much blame. It is much easier to be fired for being illogical than it is for being unimaginative.
The fatal issue is that logic always gets you to exactly the place as your competitors. At Ogilvy, I founded a division that employs psychology graduates to look at behavioral change problems through a new lens. Our mantra is, 'Test counterintuitive things, because no one else ever does.' Why is this necessary? In short, the world runs on two operating systems. The much smaller of them runs on conventional logic. If you are building a bridge or building a road, there is a definition of success that is independent of perception. [...]
This may be true when you are building a road, but it is not true when you are paintings the lines on it. Here, you have to consider the more complex component of how people respond to informational cues in their environment. For instance, if you want vehicles to slow down, painting parallel lines across the road in the approach to a junction at increasing smaller intervals will help, since the narrowing gaps between the lines will create the sensation that the car is slowing less than it really is.

A great way of saying "No one gets fired for buying IBM" (or SalesForce, nowadays).

The virtue of logic is that anyone following it will get to the same result. But the drawback of logic is that anyone following it will get to the same result. If you're looking for reproducible things, follow logic. If you're looking to innovate, do the exact opposite.