Friday 26 June 2015

LT Video Faves - Sweat the small stuff

TED Talks have a reputation worldwide for being the Rolls Royce of business intelligence in a bite-size video format and Rory Sutherland's "Sweat the small stuff" leads that mantle on the attention to detail front. 
 "It may seem that big problems require big solutions, but ad man Rory Sutherland says many flashy, expensive fixes are just obscuring better, simpler answers. To illustrate, he uses behavioural economics and hilarious examples"   
Ted Talks blurb 

I have a confession to make. Even though this video is from 2010, I did not watch it for the first time until April this year. My former UCLan lecturer David Jarratt (@DavidJarratt1) tweeted me stating "Might interest you" and then attached the link to this landmark talk. Cheers Dave !

Opening with tales of how supermodels swapping catwalks for train aisles could lead to consumers demanding slower trains and how speed signs with smiley/frown faces could lead to greater safety, Sutherland declares "there seems to be a strange disproportionality at many areas of human problem solving."   

Berating big organisations for throwing as much might as possible at sticky situations, he declares individuals are often swayed by the smallest changes and presence of a compelling minute detail. Casting shade upon the AOL Time Warner merger and paradoxic light upon Virgin Atlantic's salt and pepper pots, Sutherland's examples will have you wanting him to read you a bedtime story about little things that mean a lot. 

Giving the thumbs up to lifts/elevators that take you to the garage whilst listening to garage or other music selection of your choice and thumbs down to poor airport signage and immediate bank balance displays, the "fundamental disconnect" between what is and what should be is explored.

 "Business and government suffers from a kind of physics envy. It wants the world to be the kind of place where the input and change are proportionate. It's a kind of mechanistic world that we'd all love to live in where, effectively, it sits very nicely on spreadsheets, everything is numerically expressible, and the amount you spend on something is proportionate to the scale of your success.      

Rory Sutherland
TedSalon London 2010 

Presenting a simple quadrant, with axis x being labelled "stuff that has a big effect" and axis y "stuff that costs a lot of money," you can probably guess where he places strategy, consultancy and trivia. Inevitably, this leaves a blank quad, filled by the speaker with a question mark, the area that at present is "woefully neglected." Calling for a Chief Detail Officer in businesses and Ministry of Detail in governments, that fourth quadrant is no longer a mystery. Lowest for cost and highest for impact it takes me back to a quote from a former Disney Imagineer: 

 "What's our success formula ? It's attention to infinite detail, the little things, the little, minor, picky points that others just don't want to take the time, money or effort to do."  
John Hench
                                                  Quoted in Disney Institute's Be our Guest

It goes without saying that I wish I had encountered this video clip a lot sooner, as the subject matter is tightly aligned with everything we are trying to do with LT. Rory might use more grandiose words when explaining the rationale for simplicity and attention to detail across society at large, yet my analogy will always be that the cost may well equal peanuts, but the impact is - quite often - coconuts. 

Written by Tom Metcalf

Founder and Lead Consultant 

 Little Touches ®
Improving B&Bs, Guest Houses and Hotels

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