We’ve all witnessed it: it’s the end of the semester and the professor’s office is overflowing with nervous students. They’re asking for extra credit, extra assignments, or just a little extra sympathy.
Two economists are walking down the street. One sees a $20 bill lying on the sidewalk and says, “Look at that $20 bill!” The second economist responds, “Nah, that’s not a $20 bill. If it was, someone would have picked it up already.”
Some of society’s stickiest problems aren’t a failure of intention, importance, or value. They’re the result of a failure to understand human behavior at the last mile—the final stage where desires and plans must turn into action.
No matter who you are, whether you are selling soap or shampoo, whether you are a government looking after the welfare of citizens, or an agency promoting financial well-being and better health, or an institution that is responsible for collecting taxes, you are in the business of changing people’s behavior.
It’s easy to feel like you’re the only one. The only one who has trouble finding a significant other, remembering to call your mother, or dealing with your teenage son or daughter when they bring home a dud.