VIEWS: How to Get People to Change (for the Greener): Part 2

Dispatch from SSC President Jennifer Woofter

In the February edition of Inc, authors Chip Heath and Dan Heath (of Made to Stick fame) discuss their new book on change management in an article How to Get People to Change.  It’s a fascinating look at what it takes people to shift their thinking and their actions, and I wanted to look at some of their thoughts in a “green angle”.  What follows are excerpts from the article, with my reflections as a sustainability consultant.

… Microsoft had some very stubborn programmers who thought they were writing brilliant software. But six out of 10 customers Microsoft surveyed couldn't figure out how to use the new feature. When they told the programmers this, their response was, "Where did you find six dumb people?" Microsoft brought the programmers into a usability-testing lab and put them behind a two-way mirror. When the programmers watched a real customer struggle with the software they designed, the programmers immediately started thinking about ways of changing it.

People need to see the final results of their actions.  Take a company field trip to your local landfill and watch people’s eyes open.  Not so radical, but equally effective: show them the electric bill.  Consider posting the electric bill at the front doors every month and you’ll be amazed at how energized people become about turning off those unused bathroom lights. 

Lesson: some people need to see with their own eyes before they will be willing to change their behavior.  Don’t just tell people about the importance of going green—show them.