People Juice

I recently read a book titled Switch by Chip and Dan Heath. It was a fantastic and insightful read and one which I highly recommend. One of the most interesting points the authors make when describing the nature of change is this: What seems like a people problem is often a situation problem. The authors go on to describe dozens of examples in which individuals have been stymied in their attempts to affect change when they sought to change individuals rather than their situation. One study cited involved a group of people who were told they were part of a movie screening. In truth, the study was related to eating habits and sought to answer the simple question: Will people given larger portions eat more than people given smaller portions? Every member of the audience was given their own bucket of popcorn, either a large one, or an extra large one (in fact, both bucket sizes purposely contained more popcorn than could be consumed by a single person). The results showed that people, in fact, do eat more when given a larger inexhaustible supply than they do when given a smaller inexhaustible supply. They ate more because there was more, not because they were hungrier, less concerned with their health, or any other personal reason. If you want to eat less, put your food on a smaller plate. See also:

It’s interesting to think about the power of our environment and its affect on us and I agree with the Heath brothers that managers, teachers, leaders, and, well, anyone would do well to recognize when that should be the focus of our efforts, but that’s actually not what this post is about.  Continue reading

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