People will generally do what they’re incentivized to do. That doesn’t apply to everyone, mind you. Everyone is different. Unique. Unpredictable. And therein lies the rub.

People are only predictable as a group.

We rarely account for individual behavior, since we rarely know people well enough to know whether we can expect them to act rationally or not.

Our actions are always subject to our own individual experience, current emotional state and what not. To that extent people can be highly unpredictable.

Is that the norm? I mean, is it normal for people to be different? Strange?

Possibly. But that’s neither here nor there.

Whether the norm is for people to be strange or not, it’s certainly strange to expect them not to be. Therefore people acting strangely, unpredictably, should at least be anticipated as a strong possibility.

With me so far?

The key is to determine if an individual is likely to do what he is incentivized to do versus someone who is likely to act irrationally and shoot himself in the foot.

Here’s my question: How many of you consider that when you’re hiring or considering partnering or working for or with someone?

I’m guessing not many because, until just now, I’ve never thought of it myself. And let me tell you, I’ve been around.

Looking back, this might have been an effective criteria to use in evaluating people and opportunities. After all, tendency to act rationally versus irrationally is quite a predictor of good or bad behavior to come, at least in my experience.

Wish I’d thought of it sooner. Seriously.

But then, I wouldn’t have had this cool epiphany today. So there is that.

Remember that people are only predictable as a group. For it to be otherwise, now that would be strange.

Image credit Djuliet / Flickr