Once upon a time, when management communications happened in person, a term was coined to describe the blame we attach to negative outcomes – in a single explanation. It was the fundamental attribution error. This error was identified whenever someone was not motivated to perform a task the right way.
Example: Bob didn’t load the truck. His manager assumed he did not want too.
Human behaviour was reduced to a simple view of motivation. The motivation movement grew as we bought into this world view. You may have bought a book on motivating yourself. We might have believed that we failed our diet, exercise programs, school exams, simply because we didn’t want it bad enough.
I am not sure if enlightenment happened but we discovered that our ability, social relationships and culture could have an equal influence on our behaviour. I fear, in our technological age, we are at it again – blaming a single thing when it is much more complicated.
When we build online communities, we conduct usability studies to test the impacts of our tools. These tests often determine the tools to be insufficient. We add functionality, fix navigation, simplify the look, make the site more logical, and add a much improved database. We do all this because the behaviour and influence we expect our sites to cultivate, did not occur.
The reasoning – if the site was constructed better it would have delivered the desired result?
Don’t make this mistake – see the kaleidoscope that is human behaviour. Use diagnostic tools and approaches that enable a balanced and layered view. Take a page out of the Balancing Act and apply it to our communications, technological or not.