How to change people’s behavior

I have been traveling the past week while also preparing to present at the 2011 Senior Sales Executive Conference. My topic is, “Driving Collaboration and Effective Change Initiatives.” I have been using Tom Kelley’s Advice and thinking like a traveler. When we travel, we open our eyes and see things we may not usually see. I was looking for signs of people driving change.I found many examples that I will use in my presentation. Everyone I met along the way told me great tales of change they wanted to see and how they were working to make that change happen. My experiences meeting and hearing these many stories reinforces my belief, as I have shared many times in this blog, that we are made of stories, stories bind us together and stories can be found at every turn in life.

My favorite find along the way was what I call a vivid equivalent. I use these often to bring facts and figures to life in presentations. For example how would you describe 12,417,947 gallons of water to someone? Sounds like a lot of water but it’s difficult to really envision how much water. That is enough water to fill 31 Olympic sized swimming pools. The comparison obviously helps you understand the size and scope of that figure.

This simple find was at Peet’s Coffee in San Francisco at the Ferry Terminal. Throughout the facility, they make it very easy to recycle by regularly placing cans marked as trash, recycling or organic waste. Near the artisan restaurants and food stands, you can find these three bins about every 30 feet.

But take a look at the picture in this post. Peet’s made a statement on the trash can built into their coffee bar. I took the best picture I could get on my phone. The placard under the waste bin reads “Trash/Landfill.” It’s a simple statement. It reminds every person that anything they toss into that hole will be going straight to the landfill.

But that was not the full story. Yes, it made me think differently about all trash cans but was it making a change. So I asked the Peet’s employee and he said that prior to adding that sign, they emptied that garbage can up to once every 30 minutes during busy times. Today, it only has to be emptied every 2-3 hours. He was very proud of the fact and the change that they drove by this simple branding of the trash can.

Think about how you can drive change by simply ensuring you message is clear and concise and that you have explained your topic with a vivid equivalent that helps someone understand the situation.

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first image by Katrina Snaps

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