BE Blogs: A Voice for Responsible Business
As part of our sustainability pledge to discuss best practices openly and honestly, we share insights that allow others to effect change in their community. While companies have responsibility to drive change internally, we believe they also can add to their insights and impact by sharing their experience with others.
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As we all prepare for an action-packed SXSW, BusinessEarth is prepping for another year of innovative thought at Interactive 2012. If you’re going to be at SXSW, come find us! If not, we’ll be reporting from the conference, so you can keep up with the action from wherever you are.
Bradley Short is a SXSW veteran, and represented BE last year. Very aware of the scene, Bradley knows
how to grab people’s attention and get things done at this sometimes chaotic event. He will be blogging
about ideas and developments in responsible business. Also, he’ll be looking for insights into what is working for other startups and what we need to work on as a new company.
Lacey Miller is new this year but just to SXSW; she’s been with BusinessEarth for over a year now and is
ready to take on the SX scene. As a rockstar networker, Lacey is looking to meet some impactful people
interested in sustainability. She also has a very strong network in Austin and will be posting news on
events and things to see while you are in Austin…and as an avid food lover, she’ll probably be tweeting
about Austin’s food truck scene (get BBQ at Franklin; it will change your life)!
BusinessEarth is building a knowledgeable community of industry professionals who see significant
monetary and societal value in social and environmental sustainability.
For many customers, green has lost a lot of its luster. Yes, consumers care about the environment. Yes, they reward good corporate citizens and punish bad ones. And yes, sustainable companies often outperform the general market. But mainstream America still has yet to embrace green practices as the norm. How do we revive mass-market sustainability now that the “green party” is over? How do we take green from niche to normal?
How to create behavior change:
Enter Gamification. As explained in the video below, “gamification is the process of using game thinking and mechanics to engage audiences and solve problems.” In simpler terms, gamification takes the same reward systems that make games fun and applies them to real life actions.
Games are designed to push the little buttons in our brains that signal rewards for certain behaviors (which is also why they’re so addictive). If you can align your green product or service with that primitive desire, you’ll reap profits while we all receive environmental benefits.
So what does gamification have to do with sustainability?
Game mechanics can take an idea that is sometimes associated with guilt: green, and turn it into a competitive and engaging social activity. What if “green living” turned from a culturally divisive lifestyle choice into a friendly competition?
How would this look in practice?
For this illustration, let’s use a public transportation company. It could be a bus system, a subway; it doesn’t matter. What if this PT system successfully designed an online game where users competed against their peers to earn rewards by utilizing public transportation rather than driving places? Users would earn points by swiping their metro card, and by doing so, would achieve a higher status in their online world. They’d compete on things such as pounds of carbon saved, or gasoline saved, or something of the sort. Furthermore, they would be able to see the points and status of closely ranked friends, and the service would tell them how to “beat” the person directly above them, encouraging deeper engagement.
Of course there are environmental flaws in a system like this, but you get the point. Soon enough, riding the bus isn’t about saving a couple of bucks on gas, it’s about beating your friends and becoming the winner…for now.
Now, come up with your own ideas!
Our example is enough to get the point across, but you all probably have much better ideas. How would you use gamification strategies to drive your customers (or your employees) to green action? And for a deeper explanation of gamification and its opportunities, check out the video below. It might just make for the most interesting hour of your day.
Image used under Creative Commons from harrisonweber.
Business and technology can make the world a better place, and some people are really starting to get it. An overarching theme that I’ve seen at SXSW is that many thought leaders are realizing that social good is the best market to work in.
Of course, we have a long way to go to before everyone is on board the corporate-responsibility train, but entrepreneurs are coming up with new business models, new innovations, and new plans to help do their part while making money.