CHAPTER 11The ABC of Behavior Change

Alice has an exchange with the Cheshire Cat in Wonderland that ends with her saying that she just wants to “get somewhere.” The cat responds, “Oh, you’re sure to do that if you only walk long enough.” Even once you’ve done all the hard work of determining your recipe, you’ll wind up like Alice—somewhere—unless you develop a very specific set of actions that will change the behavior of your people.

When you get the behavior change right, the results can be stunning. Former U.S. president Jimmy Carter showed this with his campaign against the Guinea worm, a horrible parasite that afflicted three million people in 1980, as he was leaving office. The worm larvae live in freshwater and can infect those who drink the water. The larvae then turn into worms and grow within the host’s body to as long as three feet. There can be several in one person. After about a year, a worm may erupt through the person’s skin, and it has to be slowly pulled out; sometimes, an incision is made in the skin with a hot knife to get to the worm. To ease the pain, many infected people jump into the water, releasing larvae and starting the process all over again. But through education, the use of guards around water sites, and other measures, Carter’s campaign has almost succeeded in eradicating the disease. The number of cases worldwide has gone from three million to two. Not two million. Two.1

Keep in mind that, when transformations don’t work, the biggest reason is ...

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