Today I read an interesting article in the International Business Times, the headline was…
Uber conspiracy: Research claims drivers are colluding to hike prices
Drivers allegedly log-out at the app at coordinated times to deliberately cause a drop in the number of rides available.
you can read the full story here
The reality is that any user of a system will figure a way to get around what the system was originally designed to do or use the system to maximise benefit.
Anyone who designs systems knows that everyone plays the system. People are actually rewarded for knowing how to evade rules. (Tax advisors, Lawyers etc professionally in the business of knowing how to bend, or at least play the system and are well rewarded for it).
Now how you use behaviour economics to nudge behaviour and choice architect a solution to drive behaviour and get a desired outcome is how “the system works”.
In fact we are impressed when we see how people work around a particular rule and so you need to be aware of unintended consequences of any system you develop.
Let me illustrate this with a story (one of many)
When I worked at BT, one day I was at BT labs and I met a scientist who had just joined BT from AT&T.
I was curious about his reasons for joining and how he compared BT to AT&T.
He said he was very happy at BT as they provided everything he needed, such as buying him a new computer.
I was fascinated by his story and asked did AT&T not buy him a pc. He said no they had put a cap and they were not allowed to by pcs.
I asked what he did and he said that the way they got around the system was to buy the pc in parts such as motherboard, processor, graphics card, case etc and that is how they got around the system.
Now the funny thing is not only did they apply their ingenuity to get around the system but they also spent a lot of time building them and it actually cost more and so one learns that given the motivation, people will find a work around to “fiddle the system”.
How many times do countries make rules and systems and people find a way to foil the system ?