Bryan Taylor

Why You Should Allow Room for Tacit Decisions

If the word “tacit” makes you a bit uncomfortable, that’s okay. It was a word that I was afraid to use for a very long time, even though we are all far more intuitive in our decision-making process than we probably realize.

If you and I were to be having a beer on my back porch and you were to ask me to explain the physics of riding a bike, I wouldn’t have the foggiest idea where to begin. I can’t tell you how to ride a bike, but I know that if I jump on a bike and move my legs in a certain way and point the handle bars where I want to go, I’ll get there.

In the same way, we all make tacit decisions every day, and we should give ourselves the space to evaluate these decisions. We should find ways to test them and calculate the risk attached to them, but we should also give them enough weight to impact our good design thinking processes.


Riding a bike: Easier done than said. Photo: Drawn

Several years ago, we were brought in to work with a credit union and had very little time to produce a summer promotional campaign (maybe 3-4 weeks) that was focused on auto loans. We didn’t have time for in-depth research, so we looked at what had historically been done, looked at all of the other credit unions offering summer auto promotions, and found that pretty much all of them offered the same rates and the same incentives.

It would have been easy to react with a brighter, louder campaign that stood out, but we had a hunch that rates weren’t the only driving factor in a person’s decision to choose an auto lender.


So we went in a different direction. We created a more responsive campaign that looked at the bigger picture. We dropped the rates from the conversation altogether. We created a campaign about summer driving stories, about first car stories, and, as we got closer to football season, about tailgating stories.

Now, we warned the credit union that they may not see immediate returns within these three months, but on the other hand, when people were ready to buy their next car, they would remember this campaign. At the end of the summer, however, we were quite pleased to hear that the credit union had secured a record number of loans thanks to this campaign.