Review of Humanizing Rules by Christian Hunt

Review of Humanizing Rules by Christian Hunt

If you do something wrong as a bank, or you have people doing bad things within the bank, it costs you much more than any credit risk or market position.
— Sergio Ermotti, former CEO, UBS

42courses had the pleasure of crossing paths with the brilliant Christian Hunt at Ogilvy’s Nudgestock festival.

His Human Risk podcast is one of our favourites and is full of wonderful interviews, including an unmissable conversation between Rory Sutherland, Gerald Ashley and Paul Craven.

So, we were eager to dive into his gem of a book, Humanizing Rules: Bringing Behavioural Science to Ethics and Compliance.

It’s so good it even made it onto the holiday reading list of one of our team members!

Now, you might be wondering, what on earth does "Humanizing Rules" mean? How can you possibly make rules feel more human?

Christian delves into this fascinating topic in his book. He uncovers the truth that many rules, especially in risk and compliance, are often mindlessly followed without considering their actual value or future benefits.

Take, for example, in-house safety training.

There is often no followup to check how well the information is understood; for most of us it just feels like a box-ticking exercise.

To make matters worse, it's usually delivered by someone who hasn't received proper training on how to present information effectively meaning we forget most of what we’ve learnt almost immediately.

So how can you combat this problem?

Fortunately for us, Christian drops a pearl of wisdom which forms the book's core lesson:

"If you want to influence your employees' behaviour effectively, don't focus on what you want them to do, but rather on what they are likely to do."

He urges us to chuck out the old toolkit of traditional compliance tools to escape the dreaded "that's the way we do things around here" mindset. 

These have traditionally been: Orders (decisions made for us we’re expected to follow), Rules & Principles, Bribery & Punishment, and The Marketing Approach (given freedom after listening to lectures on risks, i.e. from parents).

It’s time to approach compliance in a new way. Enter Christian’s  H.U.M.A.N.S. behavioural toolkit.

H.U.M.A.N.S. stands for Humans, Understand, Manageable, Acceptable, Normal, and Salient. These principles become the foundation for crafting interventions tailored with your employees in mind.

If you feel like you've already botched up an intervention, the H.U.M.A.N.S. toolkit can help you understand why your employees are reacting the way they are and get you back on the right track.

Christian wants to make one thing clear, though.

This toolkit isn’t designed to be a step-by-step guide. It's more like a stepping-off point to spark your imagination and challenge your thinking when facing tricky problems.

So, whether you're a rule-maker or a rule-follower, Humanizing Rules: Bringing Behavioural Science to Ethics and Compliance is a must-read that will leave you both pondering and inspired to revolutionise your approach to the rule game!

If you’d like to learn more about applying behavioural science to behaviour change, check out our Applied Behavioural Science course, made in collaboration with Rory Sutherland and the wonderful team at Ogilvy Consulting.

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