OPINION18 February 2021

Rory Sutherland: Instinct vs process

x Sponsored content on Research Live and in Impact magazine is editorially independent.
Find out more about advertising and sponsorship.

Behavioural science Impact Opinion People Trends

There can be a gulf between organisational process and human instinct. Rory Sutherland explores some of the dynamics in the relationship between the two concepts.


A while ago, creative director Dave Trott was on a creative awards jury. Somebody noticed something a bit strange when totting up the votes. It emerged that while the rest of the jury were voting on each entry by painstakingly awarding marks out of 10, Dave had adopted a binary approach. Anything he thought deserved an award he gave a 10; anything he did not think deserved an award he gave zero. The other jury members argued that it gave him more influence over the winners than anyone else. Dave argued that something either deserved an award or it didn’t. End of.

I don’t know how the row was resolved, but this story reminded me of the glorious absurdity in procurement-led pitches where the selection panel is required to score pitching agencies using a ‘balanced scorecard’, based on adding up scores for pre-agreed, weighted criteria. These might include ‘chemistry’, ‘strategic vision’ and ‘creative execution’, and – inevitably, as procurement is ...