Sunday, May 15, 2011

22 Minutes to a Better Business, my new book

I have been following what I can of the 'normalisation' Behavioural Economics. By that I mean, how businesses are applying the lessons learnt in the lab about our propensity as consumers to not always act rationally.  To my surprise, I have discovered that there seems to be a gap between the theory, or more precisely, the findings, and instruction on how they may be applied to common business issues.

Headcount pressures, budgets cuts, whether to increase prices/change your service mix/introduce a new fee, closing the sale, losing market share, staff productivity...these are the key issues with which every business grapples.  So where's the guidebook?

Welcome to "22 Minutes to a Better Business: How Behavioural Economics can help you tackle everyday business issues".  I wrote this short book because I believe that Behavioural Economics can deliver better business outcomes for no additional outlay - it's about what we do today, just better.  In the book I cover 18 common business issues, outline the behavioural principles at play, and provide a short case study to illustrate the point. 

And why have I called the book 22 Minutes to a Better Business?  Well, I figure if a show like Two and a Half Men can hold the attention of so many for a run-time of 22 minutes, then that should be my objective too.  I'm asking for you to skip one episode of a sitcom re-run and read this quick dip into Behavioural Economics applied to common business issues...surely you have nothing to lose?

Here's an example of issue number 14; A business that is trapped in an incremental change cycle when it needs to do more.

Issue #14 Deck chairs: Incremental change when more is needed
It's the talk in the corridors. Why aren't we doing more?!  What can you do to get your business leaping rather than tip-toeing forward? As the saying goes, are you moving deck chairs around on the Titanic?
Behavioural Principles to Apply
Not Invented Here Bias - it is our nature to shun ideas from others because we may not understand them.
Commitment - it's difficult to let go even when things aren't working due to our aversion to loss. You need to cast an eye to where the current course is taking you. Restating your desired future will help you reset your short-term plans.
Group think - odd man out. If theirs is a dissenting view, people will tend to doubt themselves, relent and  go with the pack. Galvanize your allies and raise your voice if you want change.
Short term and status quo bias - making short-term targets through cost cutting or expedient deals can be attractive. If your business doesn't reward longer-term projects then you will need to appeal to non financial reasons like legacy and ego to  secure support.
Case studies
Unfortunately, most businesses tip toe.  Sony fell into this category when they failed to see the rise of MP3 technology.  Yellow Pages have likewise taken too long to move to digital from print.  But it is too easy to judge these businesses in retrospect - at the time the people involved are swayed by the status quo.  It is hard to shape the future, particularly when you are the incumbent.

Pilots are trained to challenge if they see their co-pilot going off course. But in business, fear of "career limiting moves" can stymie dissention.  Train to challenge the status-quo; make it an expectation.

The crew at Intel tackled there need for change by asking "If we got kicked out and a new CEO came on board, what would they do?". When in doubt, think like an outsider and give yourself the same latitude.  Throw off your aversion to loss, your status quo bias, and think like Richard ("I love tackling lazy industries") Branson. 
How can you get a copy of 22 Minutes? The book is available to purchase on, and is priced at cost until midnight 30 June 2011, after which I will be introducing retail pricing. A preview is available below.  I am also providing a softcopy to the first 50 people who mention 22 Minutes when they connect with me through LinkedIn, so jump to it! 

Most importantly, please spread the word because 22 Minutes to a Better Business is there to be shared.  I hope you enjoy.

Book preview


  1. What was your inspiration when you wrote this book, Bri? The title is pretty interesting! Good thing you were able to share how you came up with that. Anyway, why isn't it available for preview? =(

  2. Hi Raela, apologies for the delay I have only just spotted your comment.

    My inspiration was the gap between the principles of behavioural economics outlined in books like Predictably Irrational and explanations as to their application to common business issues. I strongly believe that BE provides businesses with meaningful ways to improve their outcomes without having to spend a fortune.

    Sections of the book are available to preview, so let me know if you are having difficulties. Feel free to email me at

    Thanks so much for your interest.