Frederick Taylor created the concept of “scientific management” where he thought the tasks of workers could be analyzed so that the best way to do a task could be found. The theory was that this would result in a higher level of work production. We have been living with this concept since then. This theory may work for simple tasks; however, it fails to provide for the behavior of human beings that get work done.
Today, we are not that much unlike our cave-dwelling, hunting, and gathering ancestors who depended on each other for survival and social belonging. We may carry smart phones and get social belonging through other means outside of close-proximity human contact. We may use means such as LinkedIn and Facebook; however, we still want self-respect, we still want to belong to groups, and we are still impacted by role models we try to emulate. We are driven by a need to behave in a way that is acceptable depending upon the role we are trying to play.
Sometimes we are lulled into a false sense of security because our technology has evolved so fast. We should not believe that the same speed of evolution has occurred to us as human beings. The processing systems our ancestors had are the same ones we have today. They are what allow us to love, trust, make decisions, and be extremely creative and adaptive.
Human performance does not suffer because of how our minds and bodies work. In fact, it is just the opposite. The fact is we are social animals, but we are different from all other social animals because we can fabricate reality in our own minds. Our ability to construct identities and realities with other people is what has allowed us to excel as a species. We should be in the middle of the food chain. Our relatively fragile bodies are nothing compared to the speed and power of some predators, but our special ability to tell each other and ourselves stories in a way that impacts behavior is extremely powerful.
We should not think of human behavior as a weakness, but as a strength. If we can understand that strength, we can change behavior; improve performance; and have healthier and happier families, teams, and companies.