VIEWS: How to Get People to Change (for the Greener): Part 3

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.

Our analytical capacity is wonderful, but we face too many choices. If you give customers in a grocery store an assortment of 24 jams to sample, they're actually less likely to buy any of the jams than if there are only six jams. Very often we paralyze our analytical side by offering it too much to analyze. The same thing happens if you give your employees too many things to think about -- like having a "mindset of customer service." As an employee, there are 45 things I could do that might improve customer service, and I don't have time to do all of those things, so I end up doing none of them.

This is SO important for companies with a green program.  You can’t just encourage employees to “go green” or “reduce your carbon footprint”.  Get specific!  Part of creating a smart sustainability strategy is creating a set of guiding principles that allows you (and everyone else in your organization) to set priorities.  Give people a few key options to choose from—rather than leave them in limbo with a hundred thousand potential actions.  That not encourages employee to change their behavior, but also makes sure you get the biggest bang for your buck from a green initiative.