Book News: March 14th, 2012

In this book Mark Earls describes a theory for changing mass behaviour by harnessing our true nature. The book is intended for anyone who tries to change the behaviour of large numbers of people.
It is particularly relevant to implementing public sector initiatives. Many initiatives struggle to create real change because of a misunderstanding of the mechanics of mass behaviour.

Public policy and service delivery are not about hospitals, or finances or service level agreements they are about human behaviour.

The book complements the work of the Behavioural Insights Team in the Cabinet Office which has a remit to help local authorities, charities, government and private sector organisations to develop responses that support policy implementation. See Publicnet.

The author argues that there is a need for a new model of mass behaviour, which involves a need to think differently. Most behaviour is the result of interaction with other people. We are a herd animal. We do what we do because of those around us.
From this it follows that behaviour is shaped through our interaction with others.

Individuals are not good guides to understanding mass behaviour because the mechanisms which guide it are largely hidden from the individual. Mass behaviour is the result of interactions with others rather than the aggregate of independent decision making. To change mass behaviour it is necessary to understand how mass behaviour happens.

Communication is not about transmitting persuasive information, but rather about what individuals make of communication in their interaction with other individuals in the social system.

The information content is unimportant compared to the power of the information to affect changes in the way the system operates. The only way to generate consistent long term interest is to be interesting.

Managing, or controlling, customer relationships has always has been an impossibility and believing that specific things can be made to happen is a myth. The role of the implementer is rather that of a coach who coaches the interactions to get the result. Just as it’s not possible to manage what people say to each other, either inside or outside the organisation, it’s impossible to manage what they do.

Published by Wiley. ISBN 978-0-470-74459-8. £16.49