In this blog I try to provide more answers than questions. But when it comes to Decision Making style and technique, it is more relevant to ask you some questions:
- Do you notice varying degrees of decisiveness in your colleagues?
- Do you think the differences correspond to personality types?
- Do teams approach their task differently from individuals?
- Does the make up of the team matter?
I should be very surprised to hear any ‘No’s in answer to the questions so far. Now let’s step into more controversial territory:
- Does gender make a difference?
Do you find other factors influential?
- Relative level of power?
- How busy people are?
- Educational level?
Please give me as much feedback as possible. I am convinced that the undoubted differences tell us as much about Decision Making as about human psychology. In the weeks to come I shall be looking at some of the most important factors. Your views and contributions will be invaluable.
Clerihew written on the day of the thank you reception for out-going IPA President, Rory Sutherland. Also celebrating the launch of the new behavioural
economics publication ‘Let’s get practical’
Sir Rory Sutherland
Honoured by his Motherland
On his day at the Palace
He will go down with Alice
At tonight’s IPA event (Society of Chemical Industry, 14/15 Belgrave Sq SW1, 6 for 6.45) I am going to be linking four things. First, the IPA’s Behavioural Economics (BE) initiative.
Secondly, Moray MacLennan’s crusade to raise the reputation of advertising and agencies. Thirdly, the work I have done on Problem Solving and Decision Making in the course of researching and writing my book. Fourthly, my experience in advertising as practitioner and consultant, over more than 40 years.
The core of Thaler and Sunstein’s theory of BE in their book ‘Nudge’ is the contrast between “Econs”, people who behave entirely rationally and in line with their economic interests – and the rest of us, who the authors call “Humans”. They talk about choice architecture (how choices can be presented in different ways), and nudges (how “Humans” can be gently encouraged to make a decision which benefits them).
So far the ad industry’s enthusiastic adoption of BE has been confined to persuading consumers to do things that suit the marketer or advertiser. I shall be talking about the application of behavioural insights and psychology in the marketer/agency relationship itself.
My extensive experience of how companies hire agencies, pay them and work with them has much in common with what I have learned from how agencies look for new business, negotiate deals and work with advertisers. It tells me that the business and behaviour models are unusual at best, and dysfunctional at worst. If you are looking for stellar models of effective problem solving, and enlightened decision making, it’s not where you would naturally start. “Econs” would be highly confused, “Humans” would probably take flight.
In tonight’s lecture I am going to be putting forward some suggestions on what might work better.
Personality Profiling is a must in the client/agency relationship
We have all had a psychometric test, or used personality profiling at some time or another. But often it is thought of as a novelty or useful just for recruitment.
It has proved its value time after time for agencies in new business. The pioneer in this field was a remarkable American copywriter turned consultant from Richmond VA, called Stuart Sanders. His vision was to coach agencies into materially increasing their success rate in winning new clients.
Sanders took the classic Behaviour Styles system and translated it for advertising agencies with new language which resonated with them: Headline for driver, Illustration for expressive, Logo for amiable, and Body copy for analytical. He explained to client-facing agency execs whether they were responsive or assertive (agency leaders are frequently assertive!), and taught them to conduct rudimentary profiling on their clients. He then was able to stop them making the classic mistake of putting Headlines up to work with Logo clients, or Illustrations to handle Body copies.
This learning – that opposites don’t attract – is equally important with agencies and clients in ongoing relationships. Ever wondered why you lost that account? Or why you couldn’t stand working with the new account director? With so much at stake, it has to make sense for both clients and agencies to take profiling seriously. In a pitch it is purely the agency’s issue. But when clients and agencies are working together day to day, it is the responsibility of both sides to look for compatibility and steer away from conflict.
So you seriously want to become a better decision maker?
To get out of the rank and file of average performers, you will have to learn about the ranks and files on the board, and how to plot and achieve victories. You will have to accept that a decision is not finite, like scoring a goal or hitting a six. Every decision is a journey, and not a single step.
You have to start with a clear goal – and be adept at solving problems. You have to work out a reasonable set of options. You have to balance upside opportunities and downside risks. You have to decide – in other words make your move.
But that is just the end of the beginning. Implementation is your responsibility, but the outcome will also depend on what other people do. You need a strategy that recognises that, and is flexible enough to cope. Even if your decision leads to the achievement of your goal, history sometimes has a way of pointing a finger.But that is not a bad thing. We only learn from experience. We can only get better if we take the learnings on board. On the chessboard. In decision making. In life.