Every time I drive on Texas highways I see these digital boards that display the (current) number of deaths on TX roads (e.g. "1356 DEATHS THIS YEAR ON TEXAS ROADS"). In the words of Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) spokesman Mark Pettit “We think that pointing out the number of deaths that have occurred so far this year will make somebody think twice maybe about whether they should pick up that cell phone and text somebody, or whether they should buckle that seatbelt.” (See TxDOT Signs To Regularly Display Traffic Death Numbers « CBS Dallas / Fort Worth).
From an OCM perspective I see it as a great communication challenge where we are using visual displays as a tool to modify driver behavior.
But does it really help?
I am not so sure. I feel it is a classical case of what John Kotter calls "Analyze, Think, Change" vs. "See, Feel, Change" approach. According to this Professor Emeritus at Harvard Business School as expounded in his book The Heart of Change:
- Changing behavior is less a matter of giving people analysis to influence their thoughts than helping them to see a truth to influence their feelings. Both thinking and feeling are essential, and both are found in successful organizations, but the heart of change is in the emotions. The flow of see-feel-change is more powerful than that of analysis-think-change. These distinctions between seeing and analyzing, between feeling and thinking, are critical because, for the most part, we use the latter much more frequently, competently, and comfortably than the former.
And so I am thinking of approaching the TXDOT with some of my thoughts on how we can do this differently. The aim of the following poll is to validate some of my thoughts before I reach out to them.
Please select a choice that you find most appealing that is most likely to modify your driving behavior. I have included the current way (let's call it "Highway" ) and only one new way with a fictitious name (we will call it "My way"). There could several other but all of them would refer to one specific person and not some vague statistic. The last choice is for you to share any of your thoughts.