TED Talks: Perspective Is Everything by Rory Sutherland

Making decisions. Creating ideas. Gaining perspective.

Rory Sutherland talks about the power of reframing decisions and ideas by gaining perspective. Focusing on rebranding “what” we see into “how” we see.

“Advertising adds value to a product by changing our perception of the product, rather than changing the product itself. Rory Sutherland makes the daring assertion that a change in perceived value can be just as satisfying as what we consider “real” value, and his conclusion has interesting consequences for how we look at life.”

Technology, economics, and psychology must be integrative when it comes to successful decision making, engineering brilliant ideas, and providing long lasting solutions.
An idea must encompass the logic of technology, rationale of economics, but as Rory Sutherland argues a deeper insight from psychology.

When looking at solutions, there is no model for psychologists to follow. There are numerous insights, but no framework for consideration. But when looking at solutions technically and economically, there are a plethora of models and frameworks. Sutherland believes there is too much priority is given to technical engineering solutions, and not enough on psychological solutions.

To make solutions logical and rational, all you really need is time and organization. But to make solutions insightful and psychologically sound, you must provide certainty, perspective, relevancy, and value.

Certainty gives us hope and assurance. Our subways have recently acquired countdown clocks for train arrivals. We now have countdowns during our crosswalks. Sooner or later, like Korea, we’ll have countdowns for our red lights.

Perspective gives us context and a window of clarity. Techniques like chunking makes goal setting much less intimidating by breaking up the process of attaining goals into smaller and shorter parts. The cause and effect of money changes all the time; spending money versus donating money, spending money on yourself versus on someone else, money as happiness or money as convenience.

Relevance gives us a frame of reference of which we can use for comparison of solutions. Relevance can change our perception of a product’s value. New running shoes do not make you run faster or jump higher. A car wash doesn’t make your car function better. A designer brand name white t-shirt is still a white t-shirt at the end of the day.

Universal value is an oddball psychological factor, something that perspective has no control over, it is what products and ideas strive to obtain. Coca Cola is an example of a product with universal value whereby the President’s bottle of coke is the exact same as a homeless man’s bottle of coke.

In conclusion, look to improve the enjoyment and usefulness of a product along with its functionality. Be a psychological success, as much as an engineering and economical success. “Focus not on humanity’s hidden depths but on its foreign shallows”. Search for answers that are not without reach, but within reach. Work on the things we have, not on the things we don’t have. Understand the things we know, in depth, not the things we have no understanding of, or the lack of understanding for.