Wired is currently running a story about how one California city got speeders to slow down in school zones, all without the consequence of earning a speeding ticket:
In five Garden Grove school zones, they put up what are known as dynamic speed displays, or driver feedback signs: a speed limit posting coupled with a radar sensor attached to a huge digital readout announcing “Your Speed.”
The results fascinated and delighted the city officials. In the vicinity of the schools where the dynamic displays were installed, drivers slowed an average of 14 percent. Not only that, at three schools the average speed dipped below the posted speed limit.
The signs leverage what’s called a feedback loop, a profoundly effective tool for changing behavior. The basic premise is simple. Provide people with information about their actions in real time (or something close to it), then give them an opportunity to change those actions, pushing them toward better behaviors.
They are in fact powerful tools that can help people change bad behavior patterns, even those that seem intractable. Just as important, they can be used to encourage good habits, turning progress itself into a reward. In other words, feedback loops change human behavior.
This story got us wondering – how can our chapters apply the idea behind feedback loops to improve their chapter’s performance? Here are a few possibilities we came up with:
1. Post the grade for every exam on the wall above your desk.
2. Track the number of hours you spend studying vs. playing video games (or whatever variation suits your work vs. leisure habits). Post the numbers in a place where you’ll see them throughout the day.
3. Tally the number of minutes your chapter spends discussing social events vs. philanthropy planning or LEAD programming and post in a central location in the chapter home. Ask the chapter – what do these numbers say about our chapter’s priorities?
4. For the wellness-inclined, track the progress of your workouts and post them in your kitchen.
Use the comments section below to share some other ways your chapter could employ the idea of a feedback loop.
As the article notes, the more effective feedback loops rely on automated data collection (such as Your Speed signs or other automated sensors). Still, feedback loops present an innovative opportunity to help chapters change negative behaviors and encourage good ones.
The full story is a must-read.