Skip to main content

The business & marketing dangers of the ‘Kick the Dog Effect’

We are discussing human behavior and Sejal tells me something that stops me in my tracks. She tells me the sour constant and angry complainers aren’t necessarily venting against those on the outside. They are in fact railing against the unhappiness they harbor deep within. Their anger is directed at themselves though on the surface it seems otherwise. I think about it and I recognize ‘projection’ at play and know it’s a common defense mechanism employed by many. It’s a coping tool that works best for those unwilling to face up to the bitter truth about themselves.

Trying to help isn’t a smart idea in such cases because getting to an admittance of the problem would probably be next to impossible. Dealing with unhappy people is bound to take a toll and if you are saddled with such people in your family or social life, the burden can get to you. What about at work? Ditto! Unhappy complainers and blamers suck the energy out of workplaces, and if they are in positions of leadership you can bet the drain on employee motivation can even be fatal. Expecting an admittance of a problem from such people at work is a futile pursuit. Katherine Philips, Professor of leadership and ethics at Columbia's business school when asked why leaders at business firms don’t admit to mistakes had this to say, ‘One of the basic kinds of psychological needs of human beings is to save face - right? - and to not look stupid, and not look like they don't know what they're doing. And people who are in powerful positions, and in charge, oftentimes feel that pressure even more so.’

In marketing, the propensity to project marketplace failures on to external elements and never look within can have devastating effects. Marketing stumbles when superior value isn’t created and delivered to buyers, A lack in value in most cases comes from a mismanagement of the marketing elements. It’s almost always a flaw in either the product, or its availability, or the price charged, or even the way psychological value is created and communicated to the target buyer. Smart marketers are those that are finding newer ways of value creation in a constantly altering marketplace. To ensure they are at the forefront of innovation as a prime driver of value, marketers regular revisit processes in place to assess what they do in the light of changing technology and other evolving macro-environmental variables.

Such organizational and marketing revisits and redesigns are only possible with a leadership that doesn’t suffer from the need to project failures on to the outside. That means people who are psychologically healthy enough to look within and admit to shortcomings when needed. For business and marketing’s sake, I am hoping the tribe that Sejal described that keeps ‘kicking the dog’ don’t stay around long enough to inflict irreparable damage within organizations.

I know, easier hoped than done. 


Popular posts from this blog

Situational Involvement of Consumers

There are two types of involvement that consumers have with products and services, Situational and Enduring. Situational involvement as the term suggests, occurs only in specificsituations whereas Enduring involvement is continuous and is more permanent in nature.

Decisions to buy umbrellas in India are driven by the onset of Indian monsoon. Monsoon rains arrived in India over the South Andaman Sea on May 10 and over the Kerala coast on May 28, three days ahead of schedule. But then, after a few days of rain, South India is witnessing a spate of dry weather. Temperatures are soaring in the north of India. The Umbrella companies in the state of Kerala are wishing for the skies to open up. So is the farming community and manufacturers of rural consumer products whose product sales depend totally on the farming community. The Met. department has deemed this dry spell as 'not unusual'.

India's monsoon rains have been static over the southern coast since last Tuesday because of a…

Prior Hypothesis Bias

Prior Hypothesis bias refers to the fact that decision makers who have strong prior beliefs about the relationship between two variables tend to make decisions on the basis of those beliefs, even when presented with the evidence that their beliefs are wrong. Moreover, they tend to use and seek information that is consistent with their prior beliefs, while ignoring information that contradicts these beliefs.

From a strategic perspective, a CEO who has a strong prior belief that a certain strategy makes sense might continue to pursue that strategy, despite evidence that it is inappropriate or failing.

Ref : Strategic Management : An Integrated Approach, 6e, Charles W L Hill, Gareth R Jones

Wearing Cuba means Walking Cuba

There's something ethereal about wearing 'Cuba'. Suddenly its the streets of Havana, smoke filled and lit by the groovin', more than the lights. The bars are packed to hilt and dreamy women seem to glide by. The feeling's beyond magical.

How did I get there?

Before I explain, I gotta tell you about the power of brands to take you places. Brands bring with them an ability to prompt you to conjure up the unreal. They can transform your reality into fantasy. And consumers are more than willing partners to brands as the drudgery they face in everyday life begs an injection of fantasy. Brands that operate in a zone of the unreal do the conjuring act as there's nothing else that consumers can call for, while making judgements. For instance, what should I be judging the lip paint on? Its colour and tone or its ability to turn me into a diva?

Cuba's a perfume. The moment I wear it, I am traipsing the streets of Havana. Its smoke filled bars I see. Its music I hear and…