Lockdown: the power of three to change behaviours for good
Three is a magic number. Across time and space, philosophers and storytellers have drawn on the rule of three to create memorable, compelling narratives, with patterns to help us make sense of the world.
We are seeing an example of this daily in the roundabout of COVID-19 messaging, from ‘Stay home; Protect the NHS; Save lives’ to ‘Hands; Face; Space’, and back again.
The ancient Greeks and Romans believed that life was determined by the three Fates, mythical sisters who determined our destiny, deciding when life began, ended and what happened in-between. Clotho (‘the spinner’) spun the thread of life at birth, Lachesis (‘the apportioner’) measured the thread to determine how long one would live, whilst Atropos (‘the inevitable’) cut the life thread and chose the manner of one’s death.
At a time when the shared fate of humanity is at stake, from multiple crises affecting both personal and planetary health, we can apply this ancient wisdom to current challenges as we seek to ensure a just, green, resilient recovery.
Our shared future depends on how we act in response to the three defining issues of our time:
1. Covid-19 – learning and practising new Covid-safe behaviours to overcome the pandemic and build back better.
2. Climate emergency – changing everyday habits and behaviours as we adapt to living with new extremes of weather, whilst radically driving down emissions.
3. Social justice – reducing inequality and encouraging all citizens to use their voice for good.
To get there, people and organisations are seeking new mindsets and skillsets:
1. Insight – how do we tap into current context and latest behavioural insights to help us act fast now and be better prepared for what’s coming?
2. Inspiration – how do we imagine and implement new ideas, using creative, collaborative tools to co-design possible solutions with colleagues and customers?
3. Impact – how do we tap into examples of best practice, and learn what has worked for others, to identify effective solutions that can be easily and quickly scaled?
At How on Earth (the sustainability strategy, campaign and communications part of the Corporate Culture Group) we help businesses, charities and governments, through consultancy, sprints and training workshops, in three main areas:
1. How on earth do we change behaviours at scale using insight from behavioural science?
2. How on earth do we create sustainable strategies in a time of uncertainty?
3. How on earth do we create more human organisations and cultures to bring purpose to life?
As with that other trio, the three little pigs, we are facing existential challenges, and we need to ensure that our response is strong enough to keep the wolf at bay. Investing in skills and capacity building to maximise your insight, inspiration and impact won’t solve it alone, but is a practical step along the way.
If this sounds interesting, I’d love to hear from you. For an informal chat, please drop me a line at Belinda.firstname.lastname@example.org