Environment Changes Behaviors
During the Vietnam war, a lot of American soldiers became addicted to drugs, in particular to Heroin. It was rampant, as many as 40% of the solders tried it and nearly 20% of them are addicted. It was such a big problem that the-then president Nixon set up a new office called "The Special Action Office of Drug Abuse Prevention"
And then, as if by magic, the problems disappeared overnight. Over 95% of the people all of a sudden quit drugs.
Who waved the magic? Obviously not the government special office. The miracle was done by this little guy called the "environment"
When the soldiers are at war, the stress is all round (getting killed is apparently something that scares a lot of people!), and they are also surrounded by easy access to drugs. (As is often the case, drugs and prostitutes, a lot of them being forced to,travel with War) In that kind of environment, where you are constantly bombarded with stimuli that induce you to drugs (stress, easy address to drugs, friends that take drugs), it is hard saying no to drugs.
However, when the soldiers return home, their stress level decreases as now they dont often face the threat of death on a daily basis (unless you work in an internet company, that is). They no longer have easy access to drugs. They no longer have drug addicts friends.
Their environment changes, and hence their behaviors.
This major insight we often overlook. Most people believe that knowledge changes behavior. Yes, it does, but not very often. Knowledge just by itself is a weak change agent. Most people smoke not because they dont know smoking is bad. People dont often change after knowing something. People often change, though, if you alter the environment.
What does this have to do with us?
A lot. Since August, we have been preaching values. We will start rating everyone based on these values starting this month, and we are now recruiting people based on these values, and next year, we will start training people based on these values. The reason is that at work, your biggest environment is the people you work with, and if you are surrounded by gritty, passionate, humble and results oriented people, you yourself will become gritty, passionate, humble and result oriented. Environment shapes behavior.
This goes for something as small as a meeting. In meetings, we often require everyone put their phones into a box because we know mobile phones distract you, and just telling people to pay attention wont work. Making sure you dont have a phone around, on the other hand, will work. Once again, the knowledge that you will need to pay attention wont change your behavior, but altering the environment will shape the behavior we want.
This goes even for how we shape the behavior of our drivers. Getting enough supply is very important for our business, and we find out an office with a convenient location with free parking is almost the most important decision in any city launching. If we pick a often congested area with no parking, we will fail to get supply and the city will experience very slow growth. Again, knowing that we are in town will not make drivers come, but allowing them easy access to our office with free parking available will change their behavior.
After reading this letter, i want you to change too. I dont want you just have the "knowledge" because we have just said, "knowledge itself often does not change behavior" I want you to think about at least ONE idea where by altering your environment, you can bring about a desired behavior that you have long wanted.