The French are More Generous than the British

Here is a fascinating chart for you…  fascinating if you have a thing for charts.

Consent Rates

What the data shows is the consent rate for organ donation in different European countries.

It appears that the French are very generous.

If they are unfortunate enough to die an untimely death almost 100% of them have given their consent for their organs to be transplanted and used by others.

Less than 1 in 5 of the British are similarly big-hearted.

The French, no doubt, would say that this is a cultural phenomenon, the British are known for their miserable ways.  (They have a point, we are miserable, primarily because of the weather.)

But cultural differences don’t explain it

If they did why would the Germans and Austrians show such a huge difference? They seem to me to be very similar nationalities.  Or how about the Swedish and Danish?

There is something else coming into play…

And that something else is easy to explain.

Some countries opt-in to donation

In The UK, Germany, Denmark and Netherlands we have to tick a box explicitly stating that we are happy for our organs to be transplanted.  Very few of us get around to ticking it.

Some countries opt-out of donation

In the other countries it is implicitly assumed that you are happy to have your organs transplanted, unless you tick a box stating otherwise.  Very few of them get around to ticking it.

It is all about the tick box

The vast difference in generosity between nations has nothing to do with culture and everything to do with design.

Nobody is coerced; it has just been made easy for people to make the “right” decision.

So if you want your staff and customers to do the right thing…

Make it easy for them.

(How do you know what the “right thing” is?  There is a whole different story.)

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 Tick Box

Read another opinion

Image by mitzpantic


  1. Hi James,
    Does this support the theory that we are, generally, lazy when it comes to decisions like this and systems need to be smarter to accommodate this?


  2. James,

    Great post. Is it about making it easy to do the right thing or making a decision for you? Assuming they know what you’ll want to do or making a decision for you?

    Either way, I agree with your point… if you want employees to do the right thing, make it easy for them.

    Annette :-)

    • James Lawther says:

      Interesting question Annette. Should you make the decision for them, and how do you know it is the right one?

      I guess that one way or another “the default option” is making a decision, like it or not. So I believe we should be very careful what that “default option” is.


  3. Hello James,

    Great point and well made. After 20+ years of experience spanning many organisations looking into all kinds of domains I can confidently assert that human organisations are not designed nor fit for purpose – at least not the one that is articulated. So starting with a specific purpose and designing the organisation to naturally, and by default, to deliver on that purpose would be a great start to generating breakthroughs in performance.


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