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Business Well Done by Locomotive Solutions LLC is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License. Business Well Done is a trademark of Locomotive Solutions LLC.
Locomotive Solutions

Business Well Done™

On the challenges faced by leaders of established businesses.

Everyone is rational

You've been frustrated by this.  You set before a customer/employee/peer an option that is so perfect, so in his best interests, that he would be crazy not to take it.

Instead, he chooses an inferior option.  You think, "That makes no sense.  It's totally irrational."

To you, yes.  But not to him.

He's acting completely rationally based on his view of the world.  You just don't understand him yet.

I've been able to dig around in many different organizations (hundreds), and with many different kinds of people.  The context in which people make decisions is complex because people are complicated.  So it's rare that someone sees a situation exactly as I do.

The customer who rejected your proposal... the one where you offered a better price, higher quality and a faster timeline?  She isn't irrational.  She just cares less about price than you think, or measures quality differently, or doesn't believe your timeline, or (and here's where it gets really complex) has another weighty motivator that isn't even on your list: her relationship with her boss, her self-image, her time available for the project.

The employee who keeps doing "dumb" things that undermine your confidence in him?  He may care about your confidence... some.  But he may care more about how his peers view him, or a feeling of autonomy.  Or he may prefer to tank his own potential rather than risk rejection later.

This is critical stuff because we make all kinds of plans and investments based on our view of what's rational for others:

  • "Of course they'll want..."
  • "Why wouldn't they buy..."
  • "They'd have to be crazy not to..."

Who do you need to understand better?