Which came first, the chicken or the egg?

I wish I had already solved this dilemma.

I’m not saying that we need to know the sequence of everything, but this might have helped me a lot in supporting with scientific explanations what I am going to analyze.
We have to live with the sequence of events as we know it today.

Luckily, the chicken and the egg of today’s topic are not essential to know in their sequence.


Last Sunday I did the first few miles of my workout running holding used paper tissues and the plastic bag that contained them. I wanted to throw them in a trash can but unfortunately I was not in an urbanized area and no trash cans were available.

I experimented on myself the equilibrum of the forces between the behavior of individuals, on one hand, and the environment in which they are immersed, on the other.

These dynamics are also replicable in microsystems like companies and their internal organisations?

I think the question should be placed to understand how much is possible to influence the behavior of other individuals by acting on the environment they live into.
In detail, to influence the behavior of others through the preparation of a specific environment is possible or not?

In addition, how strong is the behavior of each individual, despite the external influences from the environment in which they are living?
Knowing more about these aspects could help a lot in managing the expectations, especially when we believe others should behave in a certain way.

The biggest fadigue on my last Sunday was to resist the temptation to throw the tissues on the roadside, in areas where there was already other waste thrown unconsciously by other individuals.

Why was I going to give up? How much is the influence of the environment on our behavior? It is more important to be judicious as individuals or matters the most to create an environment that guides people’s behavior?

Sunday I experienced on my skin that the second solution works a lot. I directly know how hard was to resist, and I realized that any other times I might have fallen in mistake and thrown them away. Maybe we can put some additional personal effort to avoid being tempted. I can assure you that the temptation to get rid of the tissues didn’t came out where the environment was clean.

I thought about all the cases in which cars with foreign licence plates are driven fast regardless of speed limits. I thought also about cases where the inhabitants of small towns tend to behave differently because their anonymity is at risk. I have also thought about cases where, believing not be seen, the people adopt seemingly irrational behavior.
It came to my mind also opposite cases, in which the surrounding environment allows us to walk down the streets of a seaside town in beachwear while in a mountain town, even in summertime, this is unacceptable. Situations in which the certainty of penalties and hassles become an effective deterrent, or other situations in which the behavior of those around us is flawless and “de facto” prevent those present to adopt unconvenient attitudes.
Moreover, how many cases there are in wildlife where the environment led not only behavior but also the evolution of species?

Later on I reinforced my idea that, though in some individuals willpower exceed the limits imposed by the environment, a good enabler to achieving results by driving other’s behavior is strongly dependant from an appropriate environment and can not be reached only by educating each and every individual.

I do not think that there are so many people who ignore the consequences of certain behaviors, there are just many more people who make it a matter of personal convenience.
In some cases the personal ego or laziness win.

That’s why we implement processes in work groups.
That’s why we make annoying audits.
That’s why we keep the workplace clean.

The Lean way of thinking made the mantra mandatory.

That’s why every day there is the Gemba Walk.
That’s why we make the 5S
That’s why the KPI exists
That’s why we adopt visual management.
That’s why we avoid searching for culprits
Here we are.

Like with the chicken and the egg I have not yet figured which came first, the positive environment or people who made it such a positive place.

Now don’t need this answer anymore.

Now I just need to know that to better guide the other’s behaviorI have to create a better environment, and together with it I have to create a context in which the behavior mutate towards the desired direction. Thanks to this will be much easier to guide others than just providing trainings.

Earl Nightgale said that “Our environment, the world in which we live and work, is a mirror of our attitudes andexpectations.”; let’s leverage this symbiosis to get desired behaviors through improved environments, although it is not a maximum guarantee of success, that’s an aspect that I would never leave more apart.


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