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Perrin Carey

6 September 2020 at 10:00:00

As humans, we have understandably evolved with an innate need to survive. This inbuilt behaviour exists within our primitive brain and drives our decision-making. Our awareness of this can support governance of our organisations and promote ethical intelligence.

If we are to move towards better governance of our organisations, we have to dig deep into the understandings of human behaviour.

This is not a 'nice to have'.
Most governance failings within organisations are as a consequence of human choice. A decision. A choice.

Understanding the influencers of our decision-making is critical.

Evolutionary psychology, a branch of evolutionary biology, has been emerging since the early 1980's and provides us with valuable insight into our behaviours and therefore the governance of both ourselves and our organisations.

Research carried out by Nial Moores, the founder of Birds Korea and a eminent researcher looks at the behaviour of wading birds as they navigate their landscape.

He has observed, over many years, that these birds follow a pattern of behaviour whereby they endeavour 'to see, without being seen’.

When wandering, they hug close to small bushes, maximising their view of the open marshland, whilst at the same time not crossing open areas, all so to ensure their survival.

Over the years of studying this, he also came to realise that...
The same is true of humans.

When we walk across an open square, for example, we almost always instinctively circumnavigate the edges of the square rather than traverse across the middle. We do this, as our survival instinct overrides our need for efficiency or productivity.

We do the same in our organisations.

When there are challenges of ethics, we often place our own survival above that of the ‘right and ethical’ choice. Not just because it's easier, but because to stand out, in the middle of the 'ethical square', requires of us to be courageous.

It requires us to cross the middle, be out in the open.

This behaviour of survival, puts the direction of travel of our organisations in ethical jeopardy.

These choices are not deliberate.
They are often, not even conscious.


If we are to improve the governance of ourselves and our organisations, we need to look much more closely at how our decision-making is powerfully influenced by our evolutionary need to survive.

This is part of my work, part of my model of governance.

Moving organisations and people towards better.

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