I've always thought that the single most valuable skill of a strategist or planner, if you prefer, is the ability to be constantly on the alert, noticing things and then interpreting them.
This is called having insight.
It doesn't have to be an earth shattering revelation, just 'apprehending the true nature of things'.
Our thanks then go to our Tahlia, in the Sputnik Insight and Planning Lab, who noticed this yesterday and pointed the rest of us to it.
An excellent short sequence of heavily loaded tweets - posted below - from the Obama 2012 campaign that clearly demonstrates that - despite Cass R. Sunstein's recent departure from the Obama camp - applied behavioural economics are still very much part of the Obama strategy.
Before Charlie gets at me, a quick note that this post is merely an observation on a piece of the Obama communications strategy, I'm not close enough to the policies debate or other political issues in the US to be voicing any informed opinion.
(My own representativeness heuristic does, however, lead me towards feeling that Baz is the the choice most capable for the next term, so there you go.)
A quick look at a couple of the key tweets.
'317,954 who gave were giving for the first time'
In psychology this is called the Bandwagon effect or Herding – this influences our tendency to do (or believe) things because many other people do (or believe) the same.
Also known as social proof.
This is all about momentum-as-strategy.
Despite Obama being the current Prez and therefore extremely popular with a section of the electorate there are still more (a lot more) NEW people joining the cause.
This acts as a sort-of counter availability heuristic to the neck-and-neck nature of the race as described by the opinion polls (always the scourge of momentum and often the hardest battle).
If I'm unsure about which side to back then this statement is indicating clearly that there's a groundswell for Baz's camp, something is going on.
'$5 or $10 helped, most donations were under $250 but the average was $58'
This is a clever tweet that combines a framing effect plus anchoring and a bit of herding.
Once the anchor is set, there is a bias toward adjusting or interpreting other information to reflect the "anchored" information.
This tweet anchors us on the high figure of 250 (probably too much to contemplate as a donation) however $58 seems reasonable
And that's the average i.e. That's what most people are giving. Those who gave $5-$10 are thanked but clearly are being encouraged to rethink their donation based on the social norm - $58.
The final tweet of the sequence - endings are very important in the efficacy of communications of course - adds the sense of urgency with a clear direct instruction to act. 'RT this link, right now".
The link goes to the donation page, and, wahey!, the page title is 'Build the Momentum: Donate today'.
In his paper 'Understanding how behaviour shapes strategy' Mark Earls concluded with the following paragraph, one which I seem to have commited to memory and find myself oft to recount when talking with clients about strategy.
'...wouldn’t it be useful to think about strategy in terms of momentum?
Strategy as being primarily how to create a sense of momentum in our favour?
About creating the sense that we, staff, customers, citizens or investors are moving more andmore towards something? Or that more of us are doing so?
Or that our velocity in any given direction is getting faster?
And if this is right, shouldn’t we start to judge all strategy by the sense that it is creating or sustaining momentum?'
Anyway, let's notice how the rest of the campaign unfolds.