Its All in the Packaging

A couple of weeks ago, I decided it was time for my two-year-old son, Simeon, to get his first haircut. He’s been bald for the better portion of the past two years, but the wisps of hair around his ears had finally grown long enough for him to look shaggy.

A few days before going in, the whole family got in on the idea of helping him prepare for the event by gently suggesting to him that he could go see the barber with me and his big brother. They reminded him about the lollipop that awaited his good behavior and encouraged him to sit still so he could score more than one.

When the day finally came, I asked him if he wanted to go and he was pretty set against it. He didn’t want his hair cut. He didn’t care about the lollipop. He didn’t want to go. I took him anyway, thinking that once he saw me or his brother in the chair, he’d get on board. I was wrong.

He cried and yelled for a bit before I acquiesced. I held him in my lap while I got my haircut and we went home — long wispy baby hair still attached.

Then we had an idea. My wife told the other kids that she had a hair-cutting robot — a robot that made a tiny buzzing noise. He was hooked. He wanted to see the robot. He wanted the robot to make the noise. He wanted the robot to cut his hair. And just like that, he sat still and let us cut his hair.

What was the difference? How we packaged the idea.

Robots are his thing right now. He’s very into machines. If we’d told him that the barber had a machine to cut his hair, he’d probably have been cool with that too, but we just didn’t think of it in time. Now that we know what motivates Simeon, we can use that data in other areas.

Your team might need something besides a haircut, but whatever you need to tell them, you’ll want to make sure you’ve packaged it in a way that motivates them to take action. If you’re selling them on your ideas with the promise of a lollipop when robots are what they need to get excited, you might mentally convince them, but you’ll miss their passion.

Instead of writing out boring policies in a way that tells them what should be done, you can (and really, for the health and vibrancy of your team, you need to) find a way to talk to them that brings life and energy. Package your information creatively and you won’t just get your desired outcome, you’ll get eager participation.