This week’s focus: The UK government’s approach to managing the impact of the coronavirus is controversial. Critics say that it is too relaxed and that the government has failed to get a proper grip. And then they point to the more draconian measures that have been taken in other countries, such as the Republic of Ireland, France, Italy and Singapore, to justify their points.

In his book, Influence, Robert Cialdini identified six psychological traits that can be used to influence others. One of these traits is ‘social proof’, which is based on the notion that we are persuaded that a certain behaviour is correct if we see others are already doing it.

This psychological trait is useful to escape a fire, for instance, but you can also see it being used in canned laughter and when bartenders create a tips jar with a few £s in it to promote the idea that tipping is good. You can also see it in many of the arguments currently being made to have a more draconian approach to managing the outbreak of Covid-19.

Time will tell whether the UK government’s approach is the best way forward or not, but being aware of the power of social proof, and recognizing when it is simply ‘the madness of crowds’, is critical to effective decision-making in business.

Here’s one example. It now seems more than likely that there will be a recession in the UK this year. As a leader of your organisation, you will be under pressure to batten down the hatches, cut costs and try to ride out the storm – not least because all your competitors will be doing the same. The easiest costs to cut will be those discretionary activities, such as training and investment in new growth projects.

Yet, the evidence of past downturns is clear: it is those companies that continue to sensibly invest in future growth initiatives during a downturn that benefit the most when the recovery happens.

What plans are you currently taking to help your organization to manage business performance during the next few months? Are you simply going along with the crowd and planning to cut the ‘easy’ costs, or are you daring to be different and protecting those initiatives that will best drive your growth during the recovery and beyond?

Off The Record: Don’t Stop by Fleetwood Mac

Don’t stop thinking about tomorrow

Don’t stop, it’ll soon be here

It’ll be better than before

Yesterday’s gone, yesterday’s gone

How You Can Support SportsAid – And Get A Free Strategy Day With Me

This year I’m offering six small businesses a free day’s strategy session with me. All I ask of you is that you support one of SportsAid’s highly promising young athletes for a year. The costs is just £1,000 and you might find that you’ve helped a future Olympic champion reach the next level of performance – Jess Ennis-Hill, Tanni Grey-Thompson, Steve Redgrave and Daley Thompson are all SportsAid alumni!

So, if you own or run a business with annual revenues of £5 million or less and want to find out more, just click here 

© Stuart Cross 2020. All rights reserved.