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.
One of the most basic mistakes that psychologists have documented is that we tend to blame people and their personalities for problems and ignore situations. One of my students, a director at Nike, thought of herself as a very open manager. She had an open-door policy, but when she asked for feedback, she learned that her staff thought she was a bad communicator. After talking with her team, she realized the problem was the way her desk was set up. When an employee came in and sat across from her, her computer was right in the middle. She got distracted when e-mails showed up. After she rearranged her office so she would have to turn her chair away from the computer when an employee came in, she immediately got positive feedback. By fixing that environment, she fixed the problem.
I see this problem a lot working with clients. Take the issue of recycling. Companies often complain that employees don’t take advantage of recycling opportunities, throw up their hands, and admit defeat. Instead, we recommend they try three simple things before giving up (or investing in anything expensive):
The next time you’re up against a green problem, look for a solution that makes it easier for people to change. Often, just making the green option more convenient will result in a noticeable difference!
This summer, we're giving sharing the best articles from the SSC website, going back eight years. The article above was originally posted on March 8, 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!