Monday, October 26, 2009

What are the costs of switching, in terms of the Mayor's election in Pittsburgh?

Guy K, a tech guru, tweeted about a blog article that covers the top ten thinking mistakes. Number two on the list was about the status quo, a topic that I love to battle in my (quixotic to some) efforts of life.

The Status Quo Trap: Keeping on Keeping On
In one experiment a group of people were randomly given one of two gifts — half received a decorated mug, the other half a large Swiss chocolate bar. They were then told that they could effortlessly exchange one gift for the other. Logic tells us that about half of people would not get the gift they preferred and would hence exchange it, but in fact only 10% did!

We tend to repeat established behaviors, unless we are given the right incentives to entice us to change them. The status quo automatically has an advantage over every other alternative.

What can you do about it?

•Consider the status quo as just another alternative. Don’t get caught in the ‘current vs. others’ mindset. Ask yourself if you would choose your current situation if it weren’t the status quo.

•Know your objectives. Be explicit about them and evaluate objectively if the current state of affairs serves them well.

•Avoid exaggerating switching costs. They frequently are not as bad as we tend to assume.
The objectives for a city election are important. Lots of people vote out of duty to democracy (little "d" -- not party "D"). Use it or lose it. Well, when we vote if we always know who is going to win because of the party associated with their name on the voting machines, then we are not really voting, we are anointing. Kings get anointed to the thrones. In America, we elect.

An objective of voting, an election and sustaining our democracy -- and keeping that status quo alive -- is reaching a popular decision by ballot. The objective is to insure democracy so as to insure freedom as it is much better to change rulers at the ballot box than with violence and blood.

I'd say, from time to time, we need to toss out the ones in elected office just so we don't make our elections meaningless and rusty of a done-deal mentality. To the fit, it is use it or lose it. Well, Pittsburgh has to pull for the underdog from time to time in the elections or all elections will be lost in terms of relevance.

But here comes the kicker question of this blog ramble:

What would be the costs to Pittsburgh if it got a new mayor now?

You tell me in the comments below.

1 comment:

Mark Rauterkus said...

In Pittsburgh, I'd say that 99% of the people would keep the gift that was presented and very, very few would switch. We love gifts. We wouldn't be so rude as to swap out what was given to us. Makes many too uneasy. We are just a more self-less type.

On the other hand, to extend the root question and conversation to reality -- a larger majority of folks in Pittsburgh would opt for both gifts if they could.