This week has been cold and icy here in my part of the UK. However, in my little hamlet and on the roads we drive to school, there are these yellow boxes on the side of the road labelled GRIT. It’s a brilliant idea. It doesn’t get cold often in this part of the UK. Each year for one week, maybe two, the temperature might hit freezing or below 0. Snow rarely sticks around as the earth is too warm. Therefore, most local councils, including mine, haven’t invested in snow plows or grit trucks (that’s salters and sanders to my fellow Canadians). Instead, they have put boxes full of grit (a mixture of rock salt and sand) in various places along the roads.
The idea is that, on the days it does freeze, the local community members will spread the grit on the road as needed. The council tops up the grit in the boxes, but beyond that doesn’t need to pay for vehicles or staff. And the community can manage the roads around them and take care of each other.
Again, I think it is a great idea.
However, in the two cold snaps we’ve had this winter, it doesn’t work. People seem scared to open the grit box. They don’t know the rules. Can I open it? Isn’t it someone else’s job? Will I get dirty? Will I spread the grit wrongly? If I don’t do it correctly, will I get into trouble? And so the roads remain icy and the grit remains in the box. More than once this week, I saw a car struggling to get up a slight hill or sliding back down. All the while, beside them was a grit box watching on. When I stopped, open the box, threw some grit over the road, I heard them say – thank you and I didn’t know we could do that.
The same is true in many organisations. People create practical templates and solutions for others to make life easier for them. And yet, these resources sit on the shelf watching others struggle with the exact thing they were designed to help with. Too often we create wonderful resources, promote them once, and then wonder why they are not used a couple of months later.
Change requires regular, ongoing, promotion or marketing. Reminders of the resources available. Resources created to help.
And yes, this promotion, these reminders, this ‘marketing’ takes some time and budget. But the other option is to buy snowplows, grit trucks, and staff to drive them, which is a LOT more expensive.
The choice is up to us.