A Lens for Business Practice Innovation
People are the heart of business. Progressive leaders understand this. They know that it’s vital to connect with their employees, customers and business allies both as human beings and as stakeholders in shared success. So, they’re serious about finding ways to make work more enriching, brand experiences more meaningful and business relationships more collaborative.
Serious, but maybe unsure how to make it happen.
At Maritz, we believe strategy begins with a deeper understanding of people underpinned by human science discovery. From research into how people think, feel, decide and connect, The Maritz Institute has distilled three “people principles.”
These principles provide a lens for insightful business practice design:
- People are rational and emotional
- People are driven by multiple motivators
- People are individual and social
Rational and Emotional
The Greek philosopher Plato suggested that reason was dominant over emotion. He proposed that the “horses” of emotion must be constantly controlled by the “charioteer” of reason. Today, we know that reactive and reflective thinking systems are so closely interconnected that both engage for the most basic of decisions.
This intricate interplay helps explain why people can behave in ways that seem irrational, like when someone rejects financial gain when they perceive unfairness to others.
Understanding human decision-making as both rational and emotional has huge implications for business practice design. Positive emotions serve to broaden and build personal and organizational effectiveness. Negative emotions are corrosive to corporate culture.
Insightful design works to create trust and inspire positive emotions that fuel creativity, collaboration and goal progress.
Not long ago, conventional wisdom held that people were driven only by rational self-interest. Today, it’s well understood that human choices are much more complex. Scientific discoveries continue to catapult our understanding of brain function and rapidly advance theories that explain what drives behavior.
In 2002, Paul Lawrence and Nitin Nohria of Harvard Business School published a comprehensive theory of human nature based on integrating their extensive study of psychology, sociology, anthropology, evolutionary biology and neuroscience.
They theorized that nearly every individual on the planet is imbued with at least four biological drives:
- The Drive to Acquire: To compete for and control resources and experiences essential to security and well-being.
- The Drive to Defend: To protect one’s turf, possessions, status, relationships and creations. Once a person has something of value, they often fear losing it more than they prized attaining it.
- The Drive to Bond: To form long-term, mutually caring relationships with others; to engage and cooperate; to build organizations and communities; to be empathetic and altruistic.
- The Drive to Create: To learn and comprehend one’s self and environment. Then, to go beyond by imagining, inventing and expressing our identities in the larger world.
Four-Drive Theory provides an invaluable framework for moving business practices beyond the competitive drives of Acquire and Defend.
Insightful design considers that people are connected, creative and self-expressive by also engaging the identity-based drives of Bond and Create.
Individual and Social
There is constant interplay between individual thought and action and the social environment in which we live. While every person is truly unique, the human brain has evolved based on living with others. According to neuroscientist Matt Lieberman, the brain’s primary “operating system” is hardwired to be social from birth.
In fact, people are so attuned to social cues that we unconsciously mimic the behavior of others, and individual emotions can be contagious within groups. This has profound implications because businesses are social enterprises connected by networks that run through and around the hierarchy.
Insightful design recognizes the extent to which people are both individual and social. Progressive practices help people build valuable connections, develop new skills, express their passions and acknowledge individual and collective contributions to success.
People Principles Video
The Maritz Institute has distilled three "people principles" from the human sciences to bring a deeper understanding of people to the design of Maritz client solutions.
While they may be simple, they are not simplistic and provide an important lens for understanding human behavior.