I was once incharge of managing the waste generated at a large cultural event. I needed many volunteers to help out with the task. When I asked the kids in my neighbourhood, only a handful of them agreed. For most kids, taking the trash out at an event isn’t the idea of a fun afternoon.
However, one small act totally flipped this situation around. I gave each kid that volunteered a little badge to pin on their T-shirts. A few minutes, more children approached me and offered to help in exchange for a badge. Soon, almost every kid sported a badge and was helping out with segregating waste and disposing it scientifically. A few pieces of laminated paper made all the difference.
Status and recognition is a central human need. Once we realize this, we understand how a tiny unassuming badge can turn into the biggest motivator for the kids in the neighbourhood. What’s more? It can also serve as a lubricant for the change we seek to make.