Small interventions

I liked the point Shawn at Anecdote makes here about the power of small interventions and this example:

This company practices hot-desking and they noticed there were very few conversations among people while they were at their desks. Staff morale was also low. On a typical day people would grab a seat automatically allocated to them resulting in many people siting next to strangers. The intervention involved providing each employee with a name plate (most interventions I’ve seen come with the exclamation ‘no kidding!’) they could slide into their cubicle. The simple idea was that if people knew who they were sitting next to they might introduce themselves. After implementing the intervention it was noticed that adjacent colleagues started using the online staff directory to see what part of the organisation their neighbours were from and discovered things in common. Over time new connections were made and people started to self organise arranging for groups to sit together.

I’m often struck, when facilitating, at the impact apparently small interventions have, for good or ill. In branding, a lot of focus goes on finding the “big idea” – an approach that may leave us missing the smaller ideas that may actually be more important.

1 thought on “Small interventions

  1. Steve Portigal

    Buckminster Fuller was an advocate for the concept of the trim-tab, a small piece that is easier to move than a larger piece, but has a powerful influence, originally part of a rudder, but in Bucky’s parlance it became a way to think about what the individual could do that could impact the larger world around them.


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