How to really make change happen

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It shouldn’t surprise anyone that what we say and what we do often don’t match up.

For example, this paper exploring the green consciousness of Egyptian customers says that more and more people say they are concerned about the environment and want to contribute to protecting it by buying green products.

In reality, they don’t do this consistently.

Many companies in Europe are going to start doing energy audits over the next couple of years to try and find opportunities to save energy.

A lot of these will result in recommendations that go into a report, which then sits on a shelf because going from what we should do, to doing it is not easy.

When trying to change behaviour we can easily think of all the things we can do to change things.

At home, we could turn lights off to save energy, control the amount of chocolate we eat to lose weight or set the alarm a half hour earlier to get up and go running.

If we rely on willpower, however, then the amount of willpower we have left determines whether we do something or not.

After a tiring day at work and a late night with the kids it takes superhuman effort to get out and go for a run when there is sleet and rain falling out of a dark sky.

So, how can we make a change?

The research talks about the market as the intermediating factor

When we’re trying to do something new, say a new gadget, the worst question we can ask people is whether they would like a gadget like the one we have.

That’s called an ice cream question – because no one says no when you ask them would you like some ice cream?.

A better question to ask is what gadgets have you bought recently?. Maybe they’d love to have the latest things but can’t justify buying them.

Or they’d love to save energy, but consistently leave lights on in at least five rooms in their house in the evening despite spending all their time in just one.

To find a change pathway that people and organisations will adopt, we need to understand how they change now – and that change is best seen in the way they have been spending money so far.

The case for change needs to be made in the same way previous cases were made and approved to have a chance of succeeding.

We have to make it easier for people to get their money to where their mouth is.

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