Monday, September 10, 2012

Make it Real. Make it Tangible

A serving of protein should be about the size of a deck of cards.

How many times have you heard this example used?  When trying to help people understand a concept, we must make it real and tangible in their mind.  A 4 oz. serving of protein is difficult to measure unless you have a scale.  But when a serving is partnered with the image of a deck of cards, we now have a more useful comparison anchored in our mind, one that we can apply each time we go to cook or eat.

Taking this idea even further in the area of food and nutrition are the new Lifesize Portion measurement tools.  These measuring cups for the various food groups are designed to make it easier to create balanced meals and lose weight.  I would imagine that using them regularly will fix the image of a right-sized portion in our minds so that after a short time, the scoop itself is no longer required.

Make it real.  Make it tangible.  I'm convinced many change efforts (personal or organizational) fail because we fail to take an abstract idea and partner it with a concrete visual.  Evidence of the importance of doing so surrounds us: model homes, CAD-CAM three-dimensional mockups, product showrooms.  Upload a photo of yourself at Warby Parker and the site lets you virtually "try on" eyeglass frames before purchasing.  Clothes shopping is more social now that we can instantly email images of new outfits to friends right after trying them on in the dressing room.

Concepts become more real when connected to a context we can understand: how is this new idea you are sharing like something that is already familiar to me?

So the next time you have an idea to introduce, a vision you want others to embrace, or a behavioral change you hope people will adopt, identify what tangible tools you can use to help them understand your concept and enact it in their own lives.  Craft a before and after story that helps people visualize and take hold of the changes you are asking them to make.  Offer comparisons and metaphors that connect abstract ideas to concrete images and examples.  Use rapid prototyping to create mock-ups that move the idea from talk to tangible.

So here's a simple mantra to embrace: to seal the deal, make it real. Doing so may just help you nudge people into believing and doing something new.

1 comment:

texas defensive driving school said...

Yea. I agree. Some people often forget to that though. Persuading is different from just explaining. It's more than that. I love your thoughts there though.