We’ve recently returned from driving around beautiful France. One of the highlights of our holiday was the two days we spent with friends in Bozel, high in the French Alps. Our friends live in a lovely home that they’ve remodelled using reclaimed and re-purposed materials, and it is utterly charming. A wall formed from old pallets had been decorated with memorabilia celebrating the family’s life; skis, bike parts, amazing large paintings that the children have created and much more. Our bathroom was adorned with reclaimed marble tiles, which had only been in their previous home for a few years before the owners fancied a change.
The imaginative use of materials throughout the house was inspirational but one innovation in particular gave me a moment of insight. A problem with the sink in our bathroom, and our imminent arrival, had called for a moment of supreme creativity; the sink had been temporarily replaced by Granny’s mixing bowl! It was a thing of beauty, in opaque green glass, and so resembled a fancy, designer sink that, at first, I completely failed to notice one component normally found in a sink was missing – the hole! (My mind is often elsewhere!) Luckily, my attention was drawn to the fact that the water wasn’t leaving the sink in the normal way before the bowl overflowed!
It suddenly struck me on the second day, as I was emptying the mixing bowl down the toilet again, that the simple omission of a hole had made a massive difference to my awareness of how much water I was using, and how much I might normally use.
I don’t know about you, but we never put the plug in our bathroom sink at home, especially since it broke a couple of years ago, for the second time. (When did the simple plug become so complex and prone to malfunction?) This absence meant I’d never really seen how much water I use. But with Granny’s basin came a new awareness. Consequently, I was careful to turn the tap off when cleaning my teeth – something we do at home, but perhaps not immediately – and washing my hands involved using the water in the basin, rather than just the running tap. In short, I stopped wasting water.
When we design training, we can perhaps be too focused on the solution – the behaviours we want people to adopt. But I believe better results can often be achieved by simply raising awareness of existing behaviours and their impact. When people are given these insights, they can be motivated to identify their own improvements. And we all know that people are more likely to embrace and enthusiastically pursue their own solutions, rather than those imposed on them.
This is one reason why I’m such a huge fan of experiential learning – of giving people experiences that shine a light on their beliefs, skills and behaviours, and why the team building games I've written like Murder at Glasstap Grange, Boosting Glasstap’s Future, Jack Fruggle’s Treasure, Police Chase, etc. have such an important role to play in changing individual and team behaviours.