Consider the Impact of Behavior Changes…

One thing that hasn’t been discussed enough during the explosion in gas prices, the financial meltdown, is the impact on multiple industries with consumer changes in behavior. Sellers of non-imperative products are finding it rough going: car manufacturers to their dealers; insurance companies and consumer electronics; clothing and, frankly, retailers of all types; the tactical behavior changes people are making to save money are going to really make an impact this Fall selling season.

I’ve been observing my own behavior changes as I struggle to become more energy self-sufficient while still living in a housing development with pretty stringent convenants (would be tough, for instance, to stick a windmill in my backyard or solar panels on my roof!). Fortunately, my incentives to be ‘greener’ and more self-sufficient outweigh the inconveniences.

For readers of this blog, you’ll recall I purchased a Neuton rechargeable lawn mower this summer and posted about it here. For the same reason our family recycles like crazy (it takes two cans to hold everything and our trashcan is always half full), I bought it in order to start the process of making ourselves increasingly ‘green’ while experiencing what it’s like to be dependent on the substantially weaker energy we can pack into batteries vs. what’s in a lawnmower tank filled with gasoline.

The mower has precipitated a behavior change in me. Since I mulch, it sometimes take two passes to properly cut and make sure the grass is dispersed. It’s frustrating since it’s turned a 50 minute lawn cutting adventure in to nearly two hours (actually I learned to cut it once now…but have to cut every four days instead of once a week). I also have to make certain both batteries are charged otherwise I can’t cut the lawn in one evening, and I’ve forgotten a couple of times delaying my ability to cut the lawn by a day!

This week I’m taking delivery of a new Prius and will be giving up my Mercedes E320 CDI (the diesel version). Yes, the MB got great gas mileage, was safer, more comfortable and with more snob-appeal, but the Prius is the best compromise between fuel efficiency and comfort I could find (and I plan to hack it with non-destructive hacks like this one) and is my inevitable step toward a plugin hybrid when they’re more widely available (and when, like it’s rumored with Toyota, there will be step-up models that are more luxurious along with a possible separate Prius brand).

What does this all mean for you? If you’re delivering web applications, using them or trying to get them adopted within your company or organization, you must consider behavior changes necessary for successful adoption since few people are strategic goofballs like me, willing to compromise and step-down, in order to step-up and be more green (although one could argue I’m NOT an early adopter when it comes to cars but hey, I’m in Minnesota and like substantial cars for our winters).

It takes alot longer than you think — barring a crisis like gas price spikes or a financial meltdown — to see people change their behavior all on their own. Though it’s possible that in our current state of global flux we have a golden opportunity to introduce new things requiring behavior modifications (and people should be more open to compromise and changes), there is also a limit to what people can change all at once, so tread lightly while giving strong consideration to the implications of behavior change on whatever you’re delivering to yourself or for others.

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About Steve Borsch

Strategist. Learner. Idea Guy. Salesman. Connector of Dots. Friend. Husband & Dad. CEO. Janitor. More here.

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Connecting the Dots Podcast

Podcasting hit the mainstream in July of 2005 when Apple added podcast show support within iTunes. I'd seen this coming so started podcasting in May of 2005 and kept going until August of 2007. Unfortunately was never 'discovered' by national broadcasters, but made a delightfully large number of connections with people all over the world because of these shows. Click here to view the archive of my podcast posts.