Here’s A Wild Idea: A Competitive Catalyst

This week’s wild idea spawns partially from my book, and partially from the newsletter of a friend – Andrew Hollo (one of the cleverest people I know).

In 2010, in collaboration with VW, the Swedish road safety organisation NTF trialled a ‘speed camera lottery’ over a three day period. The concept was simple: “ticket speeding drivers as per normal but also to reward motorists who drove at or under the speed limit. Those drivers would be entered into a lottery for cash prizes, financed by the revenue raised from speeding drivers.”

It’s a novel idea, and if you’re familiar with my Value Equation (Reward – Pain = Decision), then you wouldn’t be surprised to hear that it worked.

The result of the trial = a 22% reduction in average speed over those 3 days (from 32km/hr to 25km/hr).

More people decided to drive slower because there was a greater reward for doing so – and the prizes weren’t even particularly huge. Around AUD$3k for the primary winner, and half that for the four secondary winners.

I’d be happy to speculate with you over a drink as to why this idea wasn’t continued beyond the trial, but in the meantime here’s your wild idea for the week.

Wild Idea: When you need immediate compliance or adjustment – gamify it.

As in – really commit to gamifying it. Not just a little score board in some office corner. Make it a competition, create real rewards, and shape a playing field. Oh and don’t forget the spectators who add as much to the stakes as the players do.

It’ll likely come with a little bonus too: a healthy dose of passive change marketing. After all this speed camera lottery happened in 2010 – but here I am talking about it 12 years later!

To Ponder: The Case For Fearlessness

This week I ran a group session for a client on ‘Building A Fearless Culture’. Through it I helped the client reframe how they think about fear in the workplace.

Fear is typically defined as “an unpleasant emotion caused by the threat of danger, pain, or harm.” – but in our organisations, no one is shooting at us. Within our workplaces we’re not operating under the threat of violence, so I suggest that we are better off defining fear as “a reluctance to take on risk”.

Now, if fear is an aversion to risk, then countering fear becomes more meaningful in terms of organisational objectives. It’s no longer about ‘making people feel better’, but rather ‘helping people innovate’ (…and that’s usually much easier to tie to a strategic objective, and accordingly prioritise effort to).

I’ve generally talk about the Deadly 7 Fears, but the for the client this week – there were two that stood out in particular. A fear of embarrassment and a fear of insufficient skill. Both of which can be countered by actively working towards a team culture that embraces and supports failure as part of success.

So this week, ponder:

What are the key sources of risk aversion within your teams?

Could you quantify the innovation opportunity cost are you wearing simply because that fear is present?