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When a nudge works better than a hammer

Changing a culture – whether it’s a country, a company, or a small group of friends – can’t be done by mandate alone, it has to be done with subtle nudging. King Mongkut, leader of Siam in the mid-19th century, also knew a thing or two about how to nudge people towards change, avoiding British colonialization not with battle, but by embracing modernization and the adoption of some Western customs. That’s why Thai people now eat with forks and spoons. Mongkut’s son, King Chulalongkorn, followed in his father’s footsteps, and adopted a spiffy style of dress that included stylish English suits and an Homburg.

Effecting change in peoples’ behavior, and changing long-held customs and practices isn’t an easy thing to do, whether you’re a world leader, the head of a Fortune 500 company, an entrepreneur with a small business, a schoolteacher, or anyone who is tasked with the difficult task of changing the way people think. Strong-arm tactics, mandates, and threats may work in the short-term, but seldom end well. According to Sean Murphy, CEO of Lootok, the “push” model is far less effective – a better approach is to change the conversation so that the people you seek to influence begin to demand the desired behavior. It becomes a “pull” model.

Read the full article with commentary from Sean Murphy on The Good Men Project.