The following is the first of a two part assessment on Behavior Change. Written by current SUMA student, Amanda Stevens.
How do we support widespread behavioral change to increase the sustainability of society, when it’s not just ourselves we are changing?
Consider reducing emissions from household energy use as our desired result. We could tackle this in several ways: altering the individual’s consumption behavior; increasing product energy efficiency at the company level; working with utilities to reduce emissions at the source; and/or focus on policy changes such as building codes. While all of these approaches are essential to reducing household emissions, each requires significant changes in somebody else’s behavior.
So how do we get there? While I love data (I’m a self-professed data junkie), purely informational campaigns rarely succeed in changing behavior in the long-term. Continuing on the emissions example, we know that exclusively knowing the trends and hearing climate change predictions just isn’t enough to actually change our society – otherwise, we would have solved climate change years ago! We need to shift from predominately informational campaigns towards change management programs that target specific behaviors. While I’ve known this for a while, it wasn’t until I interned with Etsy Solar before the lights really went on in my own head. Here was a situation where Etsy wanted to convince their members to install household solar, but simply explaining how much money (or emissions) could be saved wasn’t effective. Instead, we had to identify the other reasons for not going solar (time required, finding a trustworthy installer, property value, and other concerns, etc.), identify feasible solutions, and then roll everything into an easily-digestible process. Let me tell you, comprehensive change management isn’t easy! Here are the top five tips I’ve picked up over the last year: Continue reading “SUMANI Trendster: Enabling a Sustainable Change”