Over the next few days, Kirschner Istamgrammed and threw away 20 more pieces of little. Using Instagram allowed him to quantify the difference he was making in his community.
“I started telling people what I was doing,” writes Kirschner. “One cigarette butt turned into 150,000+ pieces and a movement that’s cleaning up the world.” You can check out the Instagram hashtag here and the website for the effort here.
Because Instagram allows geo-tagging, using the #Litterati hashtag can help map areas where litter is a big problem. Time stamps can show patterns in when litter becomes a problem. Kirschner points out that if people use hashtags to identify the most commonly found brands and products that end up as litter, companies might address the problem. “How might companies use this information to be more environmentally mindful?” writes Kirschner. “It could lead to product innovation, sustainable packaging, and educating their customers. Instead of being seen as the villain, they can be the hero.”
A school in California tried using Instagramming and throwing away litter around the school buildings and the school’s administration realized that the most common kind of litter were straws and the paper wrapping around straws. “So they made a change. They stopped using straws and started using reusable water bottles. Simple and effective,” writes Kirschner.
I like the ingenuity of Kirschner’s idea. And it takes so little effort from casual Instagrammers. Maybe I’ll tag some #Litterati of my own and throw it away.
“Organized common (or uncommon) sense — very basic knowledge — is an enormously powerful tool.”
In our communications we often use what we know about our physical and social experience to provide understanding of something unfamiliar — we use metaphors. A metaphor is a figure of speech in which a term or phrase is applied to something to which it is not literally applicable in order to suggest a resemblance.
By this mechanism, we elevate some terms from describing a specific thing to representing a category — for example, ‘shark’ becomes a generality then a conventional term to describe predatory individuals.
Language is a powerful means of influence. When we use the war metaphor in marketing, we limit our thoughts, understanding, and opportunity. The undefined territory of scarcity of yesteryear has given way to the limitless isle and store of abundance today — we need new metaphors to describe a different reality to operate successfully within it.
We become habituated to certain ways of thinking, talking, and doing. To make sense of the environment and identify new opportunities we would do well to redefine our language, bring clarity of thought to the way we talk. What we need are new habits.
Three ideas for creating better habits in business:
1. Understanding the game
Before we can change something, we need to understand its nature and impact. Just as we do with words. Rather than trying to change the game, we should work on understanding the game we’re in, then shape direction from there.
Much of the ideas on strategy derive from Sun Tzu’s The Art of War. It was in this ancient book that positioning in strategy was explained as being affected both by objective conditions in the physical environment and the subjective opinions of competitive actors in that environment.
Tzu wrote that strategy is not linear planning like a to-do list — it requires fast and appropriate responses to changing conditions. While planning works in a controlled environment, in a competitive environment competing plans tend to collide, creating unexpected situations.
2. Re-defining key concepts
Along with a quickly shifting competitive environment and unexpected situations, language is also in constant flux. The words we choose need to work in the context of our audience. How our words are understood is highly dependent upon the experiences, biases, and context of the listener.
In mature economies with plenty of choices to be had, the game is no longer about who owns what (as it was with positioning) but who is going where. While this concept stems from the ‘war of movement’ metaphor, we can redefine the movement part.
To grow brands, products, and services — new entrants and those looking to reinvent their way — in addition to making smart decisions, businesses need to build momentum. Product/market fit begins with understanding the game we’re in. Brands then create momentum by:
Owning the movement, a direction
Reflecting flexibility and speed in holding the course
Bringing customers on a journey, a specific path moving forward
Many younger brands are doing this successfully. Movement allows a business to do several things that can help grow the business. Things like:
Focusing more on creating and energizing
Capitalizing from collaboration with customers, partners, even competitors
Promoting vision as a way to provide direction
Seeing more opportunities along the way
Doing their own thing and not being preoccupied or consumed with what everyone else is doing — this saves energy
A finite game is played for the purpose of winning; an infinite game for the purpose of continuing the play
The rules of the finite game may not change; the rules of the infinite game must change
Finite players play within boundaries; infinite players play with boundaries
Finite players are serious; infinite games are playful
A finite player plays to be powerful; an infinite player generates time
The finite player aims for eternal life; the infinite player aims for eternal birth
All the limitations of finite play are self-limitations
Staying in the game makes business sustainable, playing with boundaries creates opportunities for innovation, generating time provides duration, eternal birth plays on the necessity to refresh, evolve, and reinvent.
Duke University says about 40% of the actions we take each day are governed by habit rather than a conscious decision. When we create the conditions for different habits, over time we harness the value of compounding.