Most of us want to make a positive impact on the world. That's a good thing, right?
When that feeling of wanting to change the world bubbles up inside us, where does it lead us? Does it lead us to become a member of an non-profit? To watch a documentary? Or maybe join a local meetup group?
Let's not confuse all this effort with results.
1) Your problem needs to be understood through the lens of measurement or data.
2) Your solution needs to be understood through the lens of behavioral psychology.
If you aren't already putting these two domains together as the ground zero of your social change strategy, then you have an exciting road ahead! Remarkable things will happen when you implement the two lenses.
It is kind of terrifying though that so many people, NGOs, cities, schools, committees etc haven't even considered, I mean, have not even really ever thought about, their impact on their data, and how to optimize their strategy for human behavior.
There might be some people at a college who start a committee to reduce waste, without ever considering to measure how much waste the college creates, or what the waste is made up of. They might design and distribute an educational flyer to students and staff without considering that pledges are one of the most powerful ways to solicit a long-term change in behavior.
They don’t know about the value-action gap theory, which has shown that there is no relationship between environmental education and environmental change.
1. Pick an issue you work on or care about deeply.
2. Research all the available data on that cause.
3. Brainstorm at least 10 specific behaviors that will shift the numbers on your cause.
5. Pick the one behavior that the player will need to make in order to make the most substantial change to the numbers.
6. Study behavioral psychology for change, (Fostering Sustainable Behavior is a great book as well as Influence and Designing for Behavior Change) and study gamification design to learn all the techniques you need to learn to know to make great ideas happen.
Watch my most recent webinar for more details and tips on this process.
2. A data-driven mindset will create a shrewdly effective strategy not tempted by fluffy or silly ideas.
3. There's nothing like a focus on numbers to reduce the impact of heavy personalities or loud voices within organisations.
4. It will keep you focused on rationalism rather than emotional triggers or hype.
5. You will optimize your strategy to take advantage of the motivational drivers that all human beings possess.
6. Avoid making terrible mistakes in your communication style (that you can make easily) that can make your cause go backwards, yikes!
7. Make your resources get a lot of change done, i.e. bang for your buck. You have limited time and money. You need to make the most change possible with your recourses.
8. Open you up to new ideas and innovations you may never have thought of.
You know what makes me sad?
I get sad thinking about the many fantastic and empathetic human beings in the world, who care passionately about important causes, yet all their man/woman hours are kind of going down the toilet, as they spend their efforts on projects that just aren't shifting the numbers. They are not on the path to reach their own epic win for the planet.
You know what gets me really excited?
I think about the latent potential of these thousands . . . or even millions of people who are searching to have more meaning, to have more impact, and to have more positive influence. I think if I can reach them, and share the secrets I've learned along the way, such as this basic starting point of the two lenses, I could expedite real change in a big way.
I don't want to tell you "how to recycle", or to "ride a bike" or "go vegan", I want to share with your the strategic tools you need to have the power to change whole cities, campuses, companies, and countries.
I want you to be able to get up on stage after you've been invited to speak (because your social change project was so friggin awesome!) and your speech goes something like this,
"I used to ride my bike, and I was careful not to buy a car. I thought about my own impact and thought I was doing a good job.
But then I started thinking about how I'd have real and measurable change across my whole city.
By looking at the data on car and bike travel, our team developed a strategy to cut car use by 10%. We found a way to influence the city, with a bike-share program, new bike-lanes, a bike repair station, subsidies for electric bikes, traffic safety changes and a community based social marketing for ride-to-work day."