Identify Institutional Change Tools for Sustainability
A tool is defined simply as a technology, system, or process used to meet a need. An example would be a time card, which is a system for tracking and verifying work hours. An organization's tools support its standard operations and ensure consistency over the long term; tools both allow and constrain behavior practices.
Changes to institutional behavior must be supported by modified operational standards and tools. When an organization's tools are in opposition to change, the change is harder to achieve in the short term and less likely to endure in the long term.
How does this information apply to sustainability and behavior change? In the case of sustainability, a tool can be used to support, and in some cases enable, existing and new energy-efficient behaviors.
Altering or Developing New Tools to Support Change
Knowledge about rules and roles should inform alterations to existing tools, as well as the creation or selection of new tools. As you develop or modify technology, system, and process tools to meet site needs, keep in mind the rules and roles that that are being targeted in efforts to achieve energy and sustainability objectives. What types of tools could help others at your facility do their jobs more easily and consistently while using less energy? Knowledge assembled about rules and roles—especially when gleaned from dialogue with relevant staff—can inform the selection of tools tailored to affect behavior changes. Tools can target the individual or organizational level.
Whether new or modified, tools should focus on behaviors, unique context, and desired outcomes. Tools are not interchangeable and must be carefully matched to situations. A hammer and drill serve different purposes, and so do formal standard operating procedures, competitions, and real-time feedback. Likewise, just as both hammers and drills are both essential to a project, changes to multiple behaviors involving tools may be necessary to achieve and maintain sustainability goals.
Tools can be replicated or customized based on successful examples. One way to identify helpful tools is to review the tools that successfully support desired behaviors in other departments or agencies and to replicate or customize those successful tools for your own site.
Tools should support desired behaviors and positive habits. Finally, for the desired behavior to become automatic and habitual, tools must support it. It's important to avoid the impulse to think that technology alone will overcome unsustainable behaviors.
Targeting Tools Deliberately
Tools—the physical equipment, processes, and procedures that shape a workplace—must align with the organization's mission to be effective and persistent. When tools are modified to achieve sustainability goals, the modifications should not impede the ability of the organization to achieve its mission objectives. (Ideally, a change in tools to enhance sustainability can also enhance other organizational objectives, as per the Multiple Motivations principle.) Decisions to modify tools should be made strategically with key staff, including "who uses," "who controls," and "who maintains" the equipment, process, or procedure.
- Step 1
- Step 2
Identify Rules, Roles, and Tools
- Step 3
Develop an Action Plan
- Step 4
Implement an Action Plan
- Step 5
Measure and Evaluate
Refine or Set New Goals