Posts from the ‘Quoted’ category

A Glow-In-The-Dark Design Solution to Behavior Change

The Netherlands are about to launch a “smart road” system that uses infrastrure to support behavior change through a design solution–glow-in-the-dark paint! Nancy Lee, the godmother of social marketing, shared this innovative approach to behavior change on today’s social marketing listserv saying:

“[It’ll] be interesting to see if a) it is effective and b) whether there are any unintended consequences such as an environmental impact from any toxics related to the materials. Hopefully [they] checked for that already.”

Innovative solutions often have at least one element in common–the creator’s ability to first identify a problem. (Side note: How do you train yourself to identify problems–large and small–that you can help solve? And yes, it takes training.) The designer behind the new Netherlands road system shares:

“One day I was sitting in my car in the Netherlands, and I was amazed by these roads we spend millions on but no one seems to care what they look like and how they behave,” the designer behind the concept, Daan Roosegaarde, told “I started imagining this Route 66 of the future where technology jumps out of the computer screen and becomes part of us.”

How It Works

The “smart road” uses a photo-luminising powder that will replace road markings and special paint that will be used to paint markers along the road. The paint will charge in the sunlight, giving up to ten hours of glow-in-the-dark power come night time. For example, when temperatures fall to a certain point, images like snowflakes will become visible, indicating that the surface will likely be slippery.

Read the full story in to learn how the system works and how its creators say this is just the beginning to rethinking road and traffic safety through design. I also appreciate how this New York Times article, Dignifying Design, also emphasizes the art of “radical listening” to help us adjust our tool belts in how we approach creating a better world through design.

How are you applying design in your work?

Quote of the Week: Are We Ever Done Working?

I was out at dinner tonight and overheard another table. Maybe you’ve heard something similar before. It goes something like this, “He made how much? from that? If only I’d thought of that, I could cash out. Call it a day and be done.” The truth is though, we are never done. I mean really, what is done?

So, as you wrap up your week, ask yourself: What am I working for? Are you working for retirement or are you working with a purpose? Clayton Christensen, over at the Harvard Business Review, offers some great insight into work, meaning and our purpose in life. In his words:

For me, having a clear purpose in my life has been essential. But it was something I had to think long and hard about before I understood it. When I was a Rhodes scholar, I was in a very demanding academic program, trying to cram an extra year’s worth of work into my time at Oxford. I decided to spend an hour every night reading, thinking, and praying about why God put me on this earth. That was a very challenging commitment to keep, because every hour I spent doing that, I wasn’t studying applied econometrics. I was conflicted about whether I could really afford to take that time away from my studies, but I stuck with it—and ultimately figured out the purpose of my life.

Had I instead spent that hour each day learning the latest techniques for mastering the problems of auto correlation in regression analysis, I would have badly misspent my life. I apply the tools of econometrics a few times a year, but I apply my knowledge of the purpose of my life every day. It’s the single most useful thing I’ve ever learned.

Working with a purpose–no matter what that purpose is–whether it be to put dinner on the table, to provide opportunity for your family to doing what you love, matters. And we are never done. Call it an end-of-the-week rant, but what do you think–are we ever done working?

flickr credit: markbarky

PS: Christensen’s HBR article is quite possibly the best article I’ve read to date. It’s worth the read.

Red Light, Green Light or How to Make Change Happen

Change can be a stop-go process, and sometimes, you feel held at yellow for what seems never-ending. On the social marketing list serv, someone recently asked–in so many words–How do you make change happen? You might have this question (I know I’ve asked it plenty of times myself). Today, I’d like to share with you the “traffic light” approach.

In the email, the inquirer specifically wanted to know how to use the concepts and social marketing framework to influence one’s staff and motivate them in their work for change? One of my favorite social marketers is Mike Newton-Ward. Thus, when someone pointed to Jay Kassirer ‘s Tools of Change website and the case study Marketing Social Marketing in North Carolina Public Health–my ears perked up.

The case study shares the journey of how social marketing was adopted by North Carolina, but my favorite part is in the notes section where the author describes the process of change in terms of a traffic light:

We’ve learned to take a ‘traffic light’ approach to introduce social marketing very gradually, rather than a ‘race car’ approach where change is presented suddenly. For example, if you’re in your city and the department of transportation is getting ready to put up a new traffic light. They don’t just put up the traffic light and turn it on and you stop one day. They start out months before putting up a sign that says, “Warning, there’s going to be a traffic light here.” Then finally they put it up and it just blinks for a while. And then finally, they put up the sign or the light, so that by the time they do that, people are used to the idea. This approach helps staff acclimate to a change in their way of doing things.

In a world of instant gratification, patience and perseverance seem like words from the stone ages. But they are important for a reason. Persevering doesn’t mean doing nothing–it means learning, absorbing, and evolving. If given a red or yellow light, we should be looking for the little signs pointing the direction along the way. Or, thinking about the little ways we can influence a behavior, belief or attitude at any turn in the process–even if it’s our own. Because, eventually, the light turns green. Persistence–this is how change happens.

The authors of the case study talk about how to make change happen within an organization, but there’s some core take-aways for anyone working to make change.  Read more lessons learned on the Tools of Change website.

flickr credit: maartmeester

Quote of the Week: Why the Web Was Won

Have you ever been in a meeting and someone tells you: We aren’t in the behavior change business, we just want to raise awareness? You are not alone. Put take heart, there are those who know better. Especially in the times of the Web, behavior change–and micro-choices that lead to a great action–are even more possible.

In a post titled Designing for Networks, Mike Arauz captures the potential of the Web–beyond its ability to be a distribution channel, beyond its ability to influence and beyond its use in achieving awareness:

If you only use the Internet in order to raise awareness, and perhaps to influence perception, then you are missing out on what the Web was made for: to enable large networks of people to come together for effective purposes through sharing, cooperating, and organizing collective action.

It might have been okay to work towards just “awareness” in the past, but with today’s technology, we can achieve more. I believe that the Web increases our ability to measure, evaluate and influence behavior change. The thing is: Behavior change is no longer on the same playing field. Just like journalism is evolving and the media, the way we influence behavior change and achieve behavior change has evolved. We, as practitioners, must evolve with it. I recently came across another quote that embodies this belief from one of the TurningPoint Collaborative’s PDFs, The Basics of Social Marketing:

The process of heightening awareness, shifting attitudes, and strengthening knowledge is valuable if, and only if, it leads to action.

Why do we want someone to know to exercise, eat right, and get their vaccines? Because we want them to act on that knowledge to prevent disease. Why do we want teens to know that drinking impairs their ability to drive? Because we don’t want them to drink and drive and hurt themselves or others.

Your Challenge

This week, think about why the Web was won. Sure–it can house knowledge and be a database of information–but it is more and can be more for you, your organization and your cause. Think about your bottom line–What is it you want to accomplish? Solve? Create? End? Start? Because at some level it involves behavior, especially if you are working in a Web environment. Do you want people to click on a certain link, read a certain story, donate to your causes—these are all online behaviors.

PS: Do you like these challenges? Are these helpful? I want to help you in being effective. And, I know I like prompts–do you?

Quote of the Week: Impersonal Engagement

This week’s quote comes from Joseph Yoo of Step by Step–a blogger I discovered through Andrew Conrad. Yoo talks about a time when he was in seminary and worked at the Korean United Methodist Church of Greater Washington. In his post, Yoo shares a story with us about a small significant moment that I think is significant still today and outside the walls of the church.

On this particular day, Yoo was helping out with the church’s youth ministry  where the youth would go out to the parks of DC and hand out sandwiches to the less fortunate. On this day though, there were more people than there were sack lunches available and the following interaction occurred:

As the kids were getting in the car, one of the homeless men came up to the passenger window of the van. Thinking he needed a sandwich, the pastor said, “Sorry, we don’t have any more sandwiches. But Jesus loves you.” The man started yelling back, “I know Jesus loves me! But what about you?”

Impersonal Engagement

Yoo goes on to say how the pastor just kept repeating the same thing: Jesus loves you. And the guy kept asking the same thing: Yes, but what about you? until the car drove off. I won’t do it justice, but Yoo goes on to talk about how impersonal things get sometimes–even when you have good intentions. And that sometimes, to truly make a difference and show you care, you have to get engaged and this may mean you have to roll-up your sleeves, get your hands dirty and get involved.

Your Challenge

Does this sound familiar? I find Yoo’s story relevant because in the world of social media–it gets easy to thank someone for a RT. It gets easy to post a photo. It gets easy to give a #followfriday shout out. It gets easy to ask them for feedback or respond to an inquiry. It’s gets easy…and impersonal. So, here’s your challenge:

Take Five Steps Back

  1. Review your communications. Look through your Twitter feed and Facebook postings. Count the number of times you have an authentic interaction with a customer versus the number of promotional postings or generic responses.
  2. Review the conversations you’ve had with customers. Have you taken the conversation to the next level? Did you answer their question?
  3. Talk to outsiders. For example, call local media–not to pitch a story. But just to ask them what they think about your organization or cause.
  4. Know your competition. Look at your competitor’s website, Twitter, Facebook, blog, etc. How are they engaging people? What can you learn from them? What gaps exist?
  5. Get outside your comfort zone. Talk to people that don’t work in your department or function within your organization. Showing people you care inside the organization will build an attitude of caring.

What else? How can we make sure we are authentically engaging people and building relationships?

Like they say: If it were easy, everyone would be doing it. Don’t be everyone. Be unique–this is how you will offer true value to your customers.

flickr credit: Matthew Yaktine

Quote of the Week: The Cost of Dreams

They say the best things in life are free. They also say that everyone has their price. Up in the Air, a movie starring George Clooney, puts these two sayings on the line.

The storyline is based on Clooney’s character, Ryan Bingham, a corporate downsizing expert who fires people for a living. This quote is taken from the movie during one of the time’s Clooney’s character is firing someone:

This is a wake-up call…Your resume says you minored in French Culinary Arts. Most students work the frier at KFC. You busted tables at IL Picatorre to support yourself. Then you got out of college and started working here. How much did they pay you to give up on your dreams? At what point, were you going to stop and go back to what made you happy?

In response, the man being fired answers: $27,000. During the interaction, you learn that the man has worked for the same company his whole life and now makes $90,000 but that all those years, there was never one happy day on the job. For one blogger, he recounts the day he was offered $9,000/year to work full-time at Kay Bee Toys as the same day he gave up on his dreams. This breaks down to $4.25 an hour. What’s your price?

In January, Taylor Marsh of the Huffington Post wrote that this movie was the best of 2009–saying that it represents a walk through today’s America and captures our current economic moment. I know times are tough–back home, many of our neighbors are looking for jobs. These are smart, talented people who are good at what they do–from lawyers to accountants–the full spectrum. The impact is real.

Dreams Survive

I have to hold on to the idea that dreams are not dead.  This isn’t being idealistic–it’s being hopeful. To see what I mean, watch the clip below from the Lemonade Movement. It’s based on one of those other sayings–turning lemons into lemonade. See how 16 people answered their “wake up call:”

No matter your situation, believe in yourself and your dreams. It’s easier said than done–there’s worries of health insurance, the pressure to provide, there’s reality–so find support, write down your thoughts, reflect and do. Your dreams are waiting for you.

flickr credit: THQInsider

Quote of the Week: Unleashing Love

This week’s quote comes from one of my favorite people in the non-profit tech community, Stacey Monk of Epic Change:

In America alone, we spend $14.6B annually on Mother’s Day for “stuff” that could just never say what’s in our hearts. What if instead, we all just unleashed that love on the world? How would it impact our world if we stopped using stuff as a surrogate for love? What if we invested that love to make the world a better place for Mamas & children everywhere?

Love Your Mama

This thinking led to Epic Change’s latest fundraising initiative, in honor of mothers everywhere–including Mama Lucy. Mama Lucy is Epic Change’s Tanzanian partner–the money raised from the effort will go towards the children’s home Mama Lucy wants to build for her primary school.

To date, over 200 mamas have been honored and over $11,000 has been raised–making a home for 12 children. The goal is to create a home for 50 children. You can contribute by unleashing your love and honoring your own mama by create a heart space–an online, visual tribute to your mom over at

Unleashing Love

The idea of unleashing love, however, can live beyond Mother’s Day and can be applied towards an organization as well.

  • Have your employees felt appreciated lately?
  • Is there an organization with an unmet need in your community?
  • Are you following the golden rule–treating others as you want to be treated?

These are just a few examples–but you get the picture, we can unleash love in our daily lives. As As Stacey suggests–What type of impact would that make? Imagine how that could change our world–your world?

So go love–unleashed and with wild abandon.

Quote of the Week: Breaking Habits

This week’s quote encourages us to break habits (our habits) to change the world. It’s poignant, direct and action oriented. Coming from Franke James, author of “The Real Poop on Social Change” and active changeblogger:

As social marketeers, we are often focused on working to change others’ behavior. But, when we look in our own mirror, what behaviors do we as individuals need to change to live healthier lives–and build healthier communities?

James talks about how she broke her 30-year habit: ending the subscription to new newspapers. Why? Because it got to a point where she was recycling 13 newspapers a week–and she was tired of it and thought there had to be a better way. Thus, she entered the world of being an online news reader–and created a new habit.

From changing her habits, James identified six benefits–from reducing waste to saving money. These benefits inspired her to find more ways to make changes. So, now, it’s your turn: What habits could you change to help the world? (Or, what new ones could you form to make a difference?)

Quote of the Week: Removing Barriers

Most of you have never met or read anything from the person with this week’s quote–but she is one of the most insightful people I know and has an authentic, strong, persistent heart for serving others. She is my mom–the woman I call the original SocialButterfly. Allow me the second to thank my family and ancestors.

“Sometimes, we work so hard to change a person. When, what they really need from us, is to help them remove the barriers blocking them from changing themselves.”

I don’t know about you–but what a change in perspective! We often look at the point of behavior and often, we tell people over and over to run, not to smoke, eat healthy, get tested for STDs and everything else under the sun. Even–come out with us on a Friday night or meet me for breakfast in the morning. We want people to make choices, decisions.

But how often, do we look at people and find the boulders in their life? And how often are we helping to lift those boulders rather than tell them of the great valley that lives on the other side? Do we see their needs? Are we listening? For example, how can someone take a walk–if they don’t have sidewalks? Instead of wanting them and telling them to start walking, what if we helped them build a sidewalk? Or, instead of telling someone to eat healthier, teaching them how to grow and cook good foods. Or, making certain foods more affordable. Or, listening to their trials and tribulations, so they can feel cared for and loved and empowered to make healthy decisions.

Just a thought passed on from my mom. Did I mention she’s pretty great?  😉

flickr credit: Okinawa Soba

Quote of the Week: Failure Happens (and One Way to Avoid It)

This is not a boggy-too sad to read post. This post is about failure, yes, but it’s also about what can be learned from it. This week’s quote comes from Sarah Ragsdale over at the Walking the Path blog:

“Failure happens.”

However, Sarah doesn’t mope and pity in the eye of failure–instead she offers insights into why failure happens based on the text Marketing in Public Health. Sarah reviews four types of common failures when it comes to communications interventions:

  1. Strategy failures occur when external barriers exist in the community that cannot be overcome by communication messages. For example, a condom usage campaign may be very effective in raising awareness, but if condoms are not available in the community, the campaign is moot.
  2. Execution failures are the result of poorly constructed messaging or targeting the wrong audience. We must always remember to do our homework and study our audiences.
  3. Measurement failures happen when we planned the communication strategy appropriately and delivered it well, but we had a poor evaluation strategy.
  4. Expectation failure results from overestimating the campaign’s impact in the community. Change occurred but not to the level stakeholder’s expected.

I would like to call your attention to reason number 3–measurement and evaluation. Why? Because this can be one of the easiest to avoid and is also one of the most important elements in any social marketing campaign. Think about a project that you are currently working on–do you have an evaluation strategy for your communications? If not, some resources you may find helpful are provided below:

If you do have an evaluation strategy, I want to also challenge you and ask you two questions: What are you evaluating and why are evaluating it? Often, by asking these questions, you can avoid some of the other failure pit stops that Sarah mentioned. I know our team internally are asking ourselves these very questions on some great projects we are brewing up–and I look forward to continued thoughts from the team and from you. Because when it comes to “success” in social marketing, my head automatically thinks of desired behaviors, behavioral objectives and behavioral outcomes–what does your mind think of?

flickr credit: fireflythegreat