Pilots have been using “pre-flight” checklists for decades. Even highly experienced pilots will still defer to checklists because the checklist is more reliable than your memory.
Seeing the success of checklists for pilots, surgeons have recently taken to using checklists as well. And the results are staggering.
According to one study, the simple use of checklists cut patient mortality rates nearly in half.
Can you incorporate checklists into your business?
If you deal with people, sometimes what’s mathematically won’t be seen as being better overall.
Think of this question: how can you make a 3 hour train ride better?
A mathematical solution might be to spend a lot of money to make the trip a few minutes shorter.
A people solution might be to spend a fraction of that money to give people a more beautiful experience by using prettier cushions, cleaning up the graffiti, and maybe installing some charging outlets.
Think of it with respect to a restaurant. You can spend hundreds of dollars on a machine that makes your coffee a few seconds faster. Or you can have fresh flowers delivered once or twice a week.
People prefer beauty and comfort more than speed and power.
People are unlikely to change default settings. So make sure the defaults are optimized for them.
There are good ways and bad ways of doing this. “Click here to NOT receive our weekly spam letter” is a bad way of doing this. It will be effective in the short run, but because people generally don’t like spam, your customers will hate you in the long run.
“Click here to NOT contribute to your retirement plan” is better, because people generally will be happy to have more money for their retirement.
Grocery stores do this with the familiar “Paper or plastic?” The default assumption is you are getting a bag. You have to opt-out of the bag otherwise.
You can’t be tempted by something you can’t see. That’s why cakes and other desserts are displayed under bright lights.
So if you offer an option but keep it hidden, even very crudely, you will find people will do that thing less.
Google moved the candy in their New York office cafeteria from out in the open to opaque jars. Within seven weeks, Googlers had avoided 3.1 million calories of M&M’s alone.
So what unneccsary temptations can you hide this week? And what good things will you shine a bright light on?
Big red buttons work.
They catch the eye and are alluring.
If you need someone to pay attention to something, use a big red button.
If you’re struggling to get walk in visitors to your business, use colors to your advantage.
Pay attention to the colors that surround your business. If you’re street level in an urban jungle, everything is probably shades of gray. If you’re in a suburban environment, there are probably more colors around you.
What you want to do is to put something that will seem somewhat out of place. You don’t have to be over the top; subtle can work. In a hard and grey environment, a red or pink pillow will pop out. In a cheery suburban strip mall, a lot of black will probably catch people’s eyes.
Negative language is stating something a person can do, but then immediately forbidding it with words like “don’t”, “can’t”, “stop”, etc. Negative language puts you (and others) in a negative frame of reference.
Positive language simply informs the listener to what they can do. Positive language is encouraging.
If you say “don’t forget…”, the listener is more likely to forget.
If you say “remember to…”, the listener is more likely to remember.
If you say “I can’t…”, you’re probably right.
If you say “How can I…”, you’re now in the mindset of getting over obstacles.
Getting people to commit to having a cost right now is very hard. It’s much easier to get them to commit to a higher cost in the future.
This is the principle behind “buy now, pay later” policies.
Another example comes from the Nobel prize economist Richard Thaler. Getting people to save their income now is hard. But getting people to commit to saving their future raises in income is much easier. So instead of saving 10% of your income now, which nobody feels comfortable doing, you commit to saving 50% of any future increase in income.
Trusting people to be adults and make the right decision can go a long way.
To tell people what to do is to treat them like children. Instead, show them the outcome of an action, trust they’ll be responsible. Think: stores don’t tell you to “come in and buy something.” Instead, they simply say they’re “open”.
Another example: “employees must wash hands” sounds like a threat. But “washing your hands prevents the spread of disease” is informative.
Also, compare “give me that report by 5 o’clock”, with “I’m meeting with the client first thing in the morning, and I’ll be more effective the earlier I can get your report.”