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


In February 2010, SSC President, Jennifer Woofter, commented on points made by Chip Heath and Dan Heath (of Made to Stick fame)  in an article featured in Inc., How to Get People to Change.  In the article, the authors discussed their new book on change management and Jennifer thought that it was a fascinating look at what it takes for people to shift their thinking and their actions.

What follows are some excerpts from the article, as well as her 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.

This summer, we're giving sharing the best articles from the SSC website, going back eight years. The article above was originally posted on February 22, 2010. We'll be back in September with all new content. In the meantime, if you're interested in learning more about SSC, or working with an SSC consultant, please contact us!