The reDirect Story

Transforming assumptions about human effectiveness.

Stephen & Rachel Kaplan

In the late 1960’s, when Stephen and Rachel Kaplan began researching the effect of environments on human behavior, they never imagined they’d start a fundamental shift in how we understand human behavior. Yet that’s exactly what the husband and wife team—both psychology researchers at the University of Michigan—did. At the time, the prevailing theory of human behavior held that people are rational, and always act in their own self-interest. Steve and Rachel suspected that the truth was a lot more complicated. 

Their pioneering research, culminating in the Supportive Environments for Effectiveness (SEE) framework (formerly the Reasonable Person Model), proposes that “unreasonableness” is not a fundamental human trait but rather that it’s heavily influenced by the environment. In other words, people are at their best when their surroundings support their need to understand and explore; to be effective; and to meaningfully participate. But the Kaplans long believed that academic theory and research are never for their own sake. They wanted their work to reach beyond the classroom and have a meaningful impact by solving real problems. So, after decades of refining their framework alongside students and colleagues, Steve and Rachel established reDirect in 2015 to help nonprofit organizations increase their cohesion, capacity, and impact.

Since its founding, reDirect has helped its grantees be more effective by solving a wide range of challenges, including improving onboarding strategies; humanizing teamwork and one-on-one communications; investing each staff person in the work of the organization; and strengthening volunteer experience. While Stephen Kaplan sadly passed away in 2018, Rachel and the reDirect team continue to grow—expanding the framework and Steve’s legacy.