Sweat the Small Stuff

While large companies and governments appear to believe that the more money they spend or the more force they apply to change anything in life is more likely to cause the desired change, behavioral economics tells us that input and change are not always directly related when it comes down to individual choices. In fact, small changes can have huge effects while vast changes can often be of little effect. 

There is compelling evidence that attention to the small details, employing little fixes and making minute course corrections can catalyze change in ways that big fixes and massive, costly solutions does not. Ad man Rory Sutherland presented his unconventional wisdom on this topic at TEDSalon London 2010. I think you will enjoy it!

This logic makes me think of the large problems we face in our society today. Obesity, chronic disease, declining educational outcomes, environmental catastrophes such as the oil spill in the Gulf, dismal voter turnout and the list goes on. Might there be a simple solution or at least simple steps that might make a dent in the problem?

I’m also mindful of the implications for small business. Small businesses by nature tend to lack the access to capital that facilitates large-scale solutions to problems faced in in the marketplace or internally within the company. That said, it cannot be considered a given that small businesses necessarily excel when it comes to detail management. Placing value on small but highly leveraged solutions that take into account the findings of behavioral economics makes sense and is an approach I will emphasize in the days to come.


6 thoughts on “Sweat the Small Stuff

  1. Colin

    This applies to businesses, governments, etc. but it also applies to private life as well. Thanks for the always great video recommendations!


  2. Brenda Ruppright

    Wonderful post!

    I appreciate the fact that a small change can have a tremendous impact and the cost can be minimal. So often we feel change has to come at a great cost whether it be finiancial or in the form of time and effort.

    Here’s to the small changes we can make in all areas of our lives that can have huge impacts!


  3. Doug

    Not a conventional thought for business owners. I have usually equated most increases in my business with a significant capital investment. I’ll have to look again at some of my details to see if there is leverage I’m missing. Bet I am. Thanks!


  4. coco

    Great advice for business but I can also think of some personal situations that this could apply.
    The speed warning with the smiley face being more effective than threats of punishment is a good clue for parents, teachers and pet owners.
    Understanding leverage is a key component to enjoying life. I see poetry as an example of this; few words engendering vivid mental pictures, intense feeling or completely new ideas.
    Gregg, your blog is a great example of a small investment of my time that stimulates ideas and thoughts that have a led to some personal changes I consider significant to my life.
    Your choice of subjects, illustrative materials and comments are intriguing, thanks.


  5. Brad

    much to consider here in how I operate my business ~ Relative to “behavioral economics”, this brings to mind Bob Burg’s book – Go Givers – excellent read about adding value based on clients’ needs & not our own – this is where we make a difference in the world.
    Thanks again!


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