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In 1956, Carnegie Mellon University’s Professor Herbert Simon suggested that, as much as we like to think otherwise, people do not automatically behave rationally or optimally. Instead, he proposed that people mostly do just enough [sufficient] to satisfy the demands of the environment that they find themselves in. He then invented the word ‘satisfice’ to describe this behaviour, combining the words ‘suffice’ and ‘satisfy.’ Subsequent research showed that he was right, and in 1975 Simon was awarded the Nobel Prize for Economics.

Theoretically, the level at which people satisfice depends on two things: Demand, being the value that the organisation, their peers, or individuals themselves place on certain economic routines and behaviours, and secondly their individual Capacity to achieve that behaviour. Improving people’s satisficing levels is a matter of revising and re-valuing specific behavioural outputs, and then providing the Capacity for people to behave according to those rules.

Safety is a good example. Demand would be the organisation, represented by the leadership team, deciding that, from a certain date, all employees will wear safety shoes and hard hats when at work; capacity would be the provision of safety shoes, contextual communication and training; and then finally holding employees accountable to wear the PPE for long enough that the new routines and behaviours become entrenched in the organisation. Embedded in this change would be the business value of ‘safety first.’

Demand & Capacity increases need to be combined, specific and sequential – i.e. moving steadily up the ‘ladder’ in the diagram below. Demand without Capacity, as well as Capacity without Demand, will not result in sustainably changed behaviour. A little demand must be followed by a little capacity. Demand always comes first. Knowing what steps to take and in what order is crucial. Sports training and education are both good examples of this steady, sequential progress.

A Mtwx intervention starts with the clients current performance – there is no gap analysis; no benchmarking or comparison to international best practices, and no subjective assessment of how well a group of complete outsiders think you are currently doing against their theoretical standards.

The only question that needs to be asked is ‘Do you want to be better than where you are right now – i.e. satisfice at a higher level?’ If your answer is ‘Yes’, Mtwx can help you.

To improve performance, the Mtwx intervention, in close partnership, installs ‘Catalytic Mechanisms’ or ‘Catamechs’ [see ‘Turning Goals into Results: The Power of Catalytic Mechanisms’ by Jim Collins; Harvard Business Review July/August 1999 http://caplix.com/pdf/Turning%20Goals%20Into%20Results.pdf]. As codified by Collins, Catamechs have five main characteristics:

- 1. A Catalytic Mechanism produces desired results in unpredictable ways;
- 2. A Catalytic Mechanism distributes power for the benefit of the overall system, often to the great discomfort of those who traditionally hold power;
- 3. A Catalytic Mechanism has teeth;
- 4. A Catalytic Mechanism ejects viruses;
- 5. A Catalytic Mechanism produces an ongoing effect.

Successful and effective installation of Catamechs follows the satisficing model – small incremental demand changes are made sequentially, with affected employees given a little time to develop the required capacity before the next demand rule change is made. As with all adult education, this is an experiential and iterative process, with Mtwx in close attendance to provide capacity and to ensure that the correct interpretation of the demand rules is made.

We don’t do attitudes and ‘mindsets.’ Realistically, the only person who can change your mind is you. We would love to tell you that we can change minds, but we respect minds enough to know that we aren’t capable of reliably changing them. So we stick to helping you change behaviours, and let the minds make the adjustments appropriate to each one.

Humans learn experientially. Our approach is based on David Kolb’s Experiential Learning Theory [ELT]. See http://www.businessballs.com/kolblearningstyles.htm for a balanced overview of the theory. In partnership with our clients, and within the Catalytic Mechanisms framework, we engineer significant behavioural events which are used to guide economic behaviour in desired directions.

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