"Perception is reality." How often have you heard that phrase? It might seem like a cliche, but even with the most annoying cliches, there's always an element of truth.
The thing about perception is that it's always subjective. While a situation or object exists in reality, how we view it depends on our perspective. Or, as Sherlock Holmes put it in "The Boscombe Valley Mystery":
"Circumstantial evidence is a very tricky thing," answered Holmes, thoughtfully. "It may seem to point very straight to one thing, but if you shift your own point of view a little, you may find it pointing in an equally uncompromising manner to something entirely different."Executive Creative Director of OgilvyOne and Vice-Chairman of Ogilvy Group UK Rory Sutherland raised some great points worth pondering in this classic TED Talk from October 2009. He notes that most problems are problems of perception. How many problems in life can be solved by tinkering with perception rather than the hard work of trying to change reality?
From the Eurostar train to placebos, the origin of the potato as a staple of our diet to iron jewelry, denim, breakfast cereal, Coca-Cola and even social networking, Sutherland takes a different look at how problems have been solved or brands have been built based on embracing perception as the central element to be improved. He even offers an adman's humorous definition of savings ("Consumerism needlessly postponed."). But through it all, he makes insightful commentary on the value we create and where it might be most effective.
Main points / takeaways:
- All value is subjective
- Persuasion is better than compulsion
- Create intangible value to replace material value - particularly when we can place a far higher value on things that already exist rather than creating new things
- Change the interface to change the behavior
Or, perhaps put a little more bluntly:
"What you do in this world is a matter of no consequence," returned my companion, bitterly. "The question is, what can you make people believe that you have done."
— Sherlock Holmes, A Study in Scarlet
How are you creating value? How are you persuading others? The answer to your challenge may be revealed if you change your perception.
Image credit: Wikipedia