Change the System, Not the Person

We received our first junior kindergarten progress report for our 3-year old today.   The report showed that she needs improvement on her fine motor skills.  It continued on to say that in most cases too much TV or computer time is the culprit, of course, excluding learning issues.  We agreed, after all she’s always stealing our iPods or iPhones or browsing videos and You Tube videos on the computer.

My wife’s first reaction was to ask how we’d enforce getting her to write more and play with electronic stuff less.    I asked her why she thinks our daughter is so hooked on TV and computers and she replied with the fact that the access to those items is really easy.  She knows how to find music and videos on our iPods/iPhones and knows how to open her games on the computer.

Then she said maybe we should (*shutters at the word SHOULD!) create a craft station that encourages her to write and colour more.  Feeling that my ninja skills were sharp at the moment, I probed a bit more and asked her what she thought the outcome would be and she said with more access to crafts, and if we put our iPhones/iPods up high so she can’t see them, she’ll more than likely do the crafts.

The lesson is, instead of focusing on changing behaviour, change the system to encourage the behaviour you want.  If you’re a manager and have a tendency to blame your employees or label them as lazy or stupid, please think again.   People are behaving in a certain way because of the system and environment they are in and they’re not usually acting in a malicious way.  Do you think the majority of  employees come to work thinking “I’m going to do the crappiest job I can today just to piss off my manager…“?

I can hear her rockin’ out to Chickenfoot on my iPhone so it’s time to turn that “should do” into “will do”.