Have you ever had an argument with the sat nav? That feeling when it takes you down a route you know will leave you exasperated by never-ending traffic jams… or when you make an unprecedented stop at the petrol station and the sat nav screams repeatedly back ‘MAKE A U TURN… MAKE A U TURN!’.

‘NO…NO…NO. I’m not listening!’


Rory Sutherland, the vice-chairman of Ogilvy Mather and founder of ogilvychange the behaviour change experts, uses this sat nav example to explain why sometimes we need not to listen to logic (in this case, the U-turn-screaming sat nav). 


No one is denying that the sat nav is an extraordinary feat of technology and a triumph of logical thinking. Developed by US military intelligence, it uses satellites some 10,000 feet above the earth, broadcasting signals with little more power than a 100w light bulb that can pinpoint your location and then map out the quickest route from A to B with astonishing precision. 


So then why are we arguing?


Because the sat nav doesn’t understand human emotion or instinct, it only knows what it knows based on the data it has. What the sat nav doesn’t know is that the driver may gladly wish to sacrifice time for a scenic route that reminds them of times gone by or prefers the longer routes as long as the traffic keeps moving. Either way, the sat nav doesn’t understand emotional decision making, which is precisely what separates humans from machine.


Human decision making is based on a duality in the brain between:


Reason & Instinct


However, that being said - just like the sat nav, the conscious part of our brain has not been configured to recognise many of the instinctive factors that drive our actions. In fact, behavioural theory even suggests that we do not even have access to the reasoning behind a lot of our decision making because, in evolutionary terms, we are better off not knowing.  


It’s exactly this balance however that makes for some strange but absolutely brilliant decisions. Take RedBull energy drinks as an example - their success is not logical. It’s a premium priced, small can of liquid, that in market research tests consumers said tasted disgusting. It shouldn’t work… and yet it does. 


Sometimes we need to abandon the very logic we so often hold on to in order to unleash the best of our ideas. Striking a balance between reason and instinct is often necessary, but in some instances, there is a perfect yet precarious science through which amazing ideas can be born. And it’s exactly that equation that Rory Sutherland will cover on 13th April at 10am where Rory will review his excellent book Alchemy – speaking about the dark art and curious science of creating magic in brands, business and life.


Come to our FREE webinar and learn why sometimes we need to not listen to narrow, conventional logic but to find alchemy in ideas and creatives that take the hand brake off, turn the sat nav off and make decisions that outperform the logical. 


Sign up here


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