Why, when solving problems, do we tend towards addition, rather than subtraction? Not in a mathematical sense, but rather in terms of how we think about things? That's what my guest on this episode Dr Leidy Klotz, has been exploring in some research...
Why, when solving problems, do we tend towards addition, rather than subtraction? Not in a mathematical sense, but rather in terms of how we think about things? That's what my guest on this episode Dr Leidy Klotz, has been exploring in some research and it forms the subject of his new book Subtract: The Untapped Science of Less.
Having had an interest in the subject, Leidy observed how his son Ezra approached a problem they faced while building a Lego model together. You can hear about that in the episode. It prompted Leidy to explore why our natural tendencies drive us to pile on “to-dos” but not to consider “stop-doings.” We create incentives for good behaviour but don’t get rid of obstacles to it. We collect new and improved ideas but don’t prune the outdated ones. Every day, across challenges big and small, we neglect a basic way to make things better: we don’t subtract.
It's highly relevant to human risk because if we're only looking at additive solutions, we're likely to miss subtractive ones, making our decision-making poorer as a result. And if you're in a profession like Compliance, you'll know all about how much easier it is to add rules, controls and policies, than it is to remove them. THe same applies to Regulators, Lawyers and a host of other jobs. So whether you're listening to discover better ways of improving your personal life, or for work, you'll enjoy this conversation.
Leidy is the Copenhaver Associate Professor at the University of Virginia. His research is filling in underexplored overlaps between engineering and behavioral science, in pursuit of more sustainable built environment systems. He is also a former professional football (soccer) player, something I discussed with him on the show.
To find out more about Leidy & Subtract: https://www.leidyklotz.com/
To learn more about Leidy's research on Subtraction, I recommend: https://behavioralscientist.org/subtract-why-getting-to-less-can-mean-thinking-more/https://socialsciences.nature.com/posts/people-systematically-overlook-subtractive-changes
To see the YouTube video he refers to: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1y32OpI2_LM