Thursday, June 16, 2011

Slapping the post; our need for completion

Slapping the post, tapping the fence, smacking the wall...I've seen runners do them all.  On Saturday a lady jogged up to the fence post, patted it once, and turned for home.  I've caught myself doing this when visiting a scenic location - walking to and touching some part of the landscape before leaving.  What does this have to do with business and Behavioural Economics?

We are geared for completion.  Humans like to finish, to see things through. In the case of running, it can mean physically marking your progress by slapping the post.  In a business context,
- If you manage staff, this means that when they resign or are reassigned from a project mid-stream, you would do well to have them conclude their contribution in the form of a presentation to you or other staff.  A handover session is not the same thing - ask them to formally present what the project is, what they did, and what is left to do. Why? Psychological closure for you and them.  Motivation will take a hit it you do not take steps to close-off the work.
- If you provide a loyalty program (like a coffee card) for customers, start them with points/stamps because they will be more compelled to finish the card.
- If you provide merchandise, offer things in collector's sets to compel people to attain them all. (You can look to fast food outlets for examples of this)

So when next devising a project or marketing activity, remember to include the compelling nature of completion to your thinking, making the most of our need to slap the post.

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