This blog post is about making cultural change in large organisations. We discuss one particular technique which is used all over the world, but which is seldom followed in organisations. This can be applied to any behaviour change project and we use the example of a surplus asset reuse program.
The technique is free and if you use our guide and template below it will take you 120 minutes to deliver but have a significant impact.
The technique is to use social and word of mouth influence to help you get your message out and do your job for you. As usual I use the example of a reuse programme for the reuse of surplus assets, but this could apply to anything in sustainability, procurement, facilities, energy management, any sort of culture change that you want to bring into an organisation.
At the end of the article you can download a step by step guide, a newsletter template and case study template that you can fill in and use in your organisation on any campaign you wish.
Taking advantage of the cult of celebrity
The whole cult of celebrities is a bit weird but demonstrates this technique perfectly.
You've got these people who are just like me and you, exactly the same. Yet somehow they are at the centre of attention for a lot of people. Now, some of these people are talented, some of these people can sing and dance and jump really high and run really fast, and some just on the face of it aren't any different, yet they become celebrities.
They're held in high regard by some people in the community, and this is good for salespeople and companies who want to sell their products, because they know that these people are looked up to in some regard, and so if they endorse their product then they increase sales.
You can do the same in your organisation but in a much much more authentic meaningful way!
The best personal example I know of this is Michael Jordan. I remember the day in the early 90s when my dad showed us a VHS video (remember those kids?) of Michael Jordan doing these massive leaps on a basketball court. Basketball was totally foreign concept to a lad from the NE of England. (We weren’t even allowed to play anything else but football in PE at school!)
In that video, I really saw the athletic ability of Jordan . He was a freak of nature. And it just seemed cool, basketball seemed cool, this guy seemed really cool. From then on, I was obsessed with getting a pair of Nike Air Jordan trainers. I saved up my paper round money. (£2 a week!). Amazingly my neighbour chipped in on my birthday to part fund my most expensive ever purchase (still now!) . I got the Nike Air Jordans and I was super proud and it gave me the perception that I was cooler than before. So, Michael Jordan's coolness rubbed off on me (I thought), via the trainers (and my neighbour being £90 down).
Materialism is utterly meaningless in this example, however that whole influencer thing is very powerful.
Applications for your project
At the mid stage of a behaviour change project when the honeymoon is over. The project can often do with a boost of action.
The cult of celebrity is a bit shallow and mostly does not even care about the actual performance of the product.
You can turn this on it’s head in your organisation. Find authentic staff members who have already adopted your behaviour change program- and talk to them. Bring out their character, then publicise it! Here I tell you how.
You will have people in your organisation who are well regarded, who are well known, who have done something that other people might admire. Instead of selling trainers, they're going to sell your behaviour change.
You can apply this to any project, within your organisation, you're going to have people who are using your reuse system, and who are also well regarded in the community.
By doing a staff profile on these people, and understanding why they use your reuse system ( how it makes their life easier, what their beliefs are and why they support the reuse system), by exploring that, doing an interview, do a case study, you can get a clear picture of why someone else should adopt your reuse program or other behaviour change.
You can then publicise this to the rest of the department, the rest of the building, the rest of the organisation, or even externally as part of a press release. You can use that piece of content to publicise and then get buy-in from the rest of the community.
Why are staff going to buy it?
There's a few reasons.
There's some people who admire this person already in some way. They already have some relationship or rapport. They will read the piece because they know them, and admire them, and want to know a little more, and want to know what they're doing, and that will influence their behaviour subsequently.
Another reason why some people might want to read this piece is because they would have heard about your reuse system and they want to know why and how other people are using it, so they'll read this piece for that purpose as well. And they'll say
"All right, this person is regarded on the campus and quite well known, and quite well respected, so if they're doing it, I should at least do it."
What you're trying to demonstrate with this case study is that reuse is easy, that everyone is doing it. Reuse is the social norm. This social influence, this social pressure is coming from this one case study. So it becomes this really influential piece. If it brings in 50 more people into your reuse system, this is a really valuable, low cost, low energy thing to do for maximum impact.
How to decide who to choose
How do you decide which influencer to choose? Log into your Warp It system and you can see there is a feature called "Internal leagues". Pick someone from the top 10 who is well known on your estate.
You'll notice below we've got a download for you, and in this download we have
- A step by step guide to completing this interview / case study project
- A template staff profile newsletter, which you can use to help frame your interview with your influencer.
We're providing you with all the information, all the templates that you need, all you need to do is decide who the influencer is, phone them up and follow our guide and do an interview, and you will generate enough content to be able to do a nice little case study- with minimal fuss and maximum impact!
Let me know how you get on!