Health Month, the game

Health Month:

Health Month is a new game (currently in beta) designed to help you find that ever-elusive motivation that you need to improve your health. Here’s how you play. It takes place every month. Before the month starts, you choose your own rules that you’d like to follow. These rules are flexible. You can decide to give up drinking altogether, or you can decide to limit yourself to only 30 drinks a week.

The Wind and the Sun

A lesson from my new Mad Men infatuation:

The North Wind and the Sun were disputing which was the stronger, when a traveler came along wrapped in a warm cloak.

They agreed that the one who first succeeded in making the traveler take his cloak off should be considered stronger than the other.

Then the North Wind blew as hard as he could, but the more he blew the more closely did the traveler fold his cloak around him;

and at last the North Wind gave up the attempt. Then the Sun shined out warmly, and immediately the traveler took off his cloak.

And so the North Wind was obliged to confess that the Sun was the stronger of the two.

Persuasion, not force.

Hospital service training is dreadful

Hospital customer service training is dreadfully dreary. Honestly, please let me know of any programs that are not. Look what hotels are doing:

Before two luxury hotels, the Andaz 5th Avenue in Manhattan and the Elysian Hotel in Chicago, opened their doors in recent months, both added something extra to their usual employee training practices: they hired improvisational comedy experts.

The Benjamin, an upscale business travel hotel also in New York, took a similar tack to help its staff better serve guests, offering them a series of life-coaching sessions this summer.

Other hotel brands — including Hilton Garden Inn, Aloft, Homewood Suites and SpringHill Suites — are using devices like iPods and the Sony PlayStation Portable to help with staff training.

These tools are not reserved for luxury hotel brands. We can do so much better.

Behavior change through online networks


Unlike infectious diseases and news, behavior change spreads faster through online networks that have many close connections instead of many distant ties. Redundancy is key, as people are more likely to engage in a behavior if they see many others doing it.

The Decision Tree:

In other words, when starting a new, healthy behavior (say exercise), knowing ten random people who run may help motivate you.  But if that group of ten people is a close-knit group of running buddies who all know each other, the chances of sticking to your new routine go up.  Way up.

Can we re-metaphor?

Ever since a friend recommended “Metaphors We Live By” I have been completely taken by them. We use metaphors constantly–most of the time unknowingly. When you start to think about the message metaphors can carry it becomes important to use them surreptitiously. 

Which is why I was excited after reading Seth’s post this morning:

If you worked on the line, we cared about your productivity, not your smile or approach to the work. You could walk in downcast, walk out defeated and get a raise if your productivity was good.

No longer.

Your attitude is now what’s on offer, it’s what you sell. When you pass by those big office buildings and watch the young junior executives sneaking into work with a grimace on their face, it’s tempting to tell them to save everyone time and just go home.

The emotional labor of engaging with the work and increasing the energy in the room is precisely what you sell. So sell it.

Because today’s healthcare delivery metaphor is very much manufacturing. Productivity. Efficiency. Cost cutting. Front-line staff. Turn around time.

When increasingly, as Seth writes, it’s about smiling.

The manufacturing metaphor has brought healthcare delivery a long way–business respectability in an industry that very much needed it. But I just wonder what might be possible if we re-metaphored to something like, say, conversations. Or relationships. Or something else?