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Big Money = Big Project = Big Success! Right? Wrong!

In a funny and thoughtful TED video, ad man Rory Sutherland says many flashy, expensive fixes are just obscuring better, simpler answers. To illustrate, he uses behavioral economics and hilarious examples.

Sutherland's premise:  "...large organizations have actually become completely disconnected with what actually matters to people."  And "...our sense of self-aggrandizement (demands) that big important problems need to have big, important and expensive solutions attached to them."

Sound familiar?  A hospital spends $100 million on a new bed tower because "patients demand private rooms."  Well, of course they do.  What other options did you give them?

It's axiomatic that someone given $100 million to solve a problem will solve it quite differently from someone given only $1 million.  And, depressingly, there's absolutely no guarantee that the expensive fix will be the most effective.

If you want to know how to better serve Medicaid patients, don't ask a rich, suburban hospital.  They'll just give you the big-money, big suburban hospital answer.  Big money and, likely, wrong.  No, ask Chicago's Mount Sinai.  If, like GE, you're selling $100k diagnostic machines, where do you find out how to sell machines just as capable for $5,000?  Rural India of course. 

By the way, I love his riff on why Accenture dumped Tiger Woods, when most of Woods' transgressions seemed to perfectly fit Accenture's 'outsource and multi-task' advice model.


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