In last week’s insight, I shared a little about my 30-day quest to change a behavior. Specifically, to eat healthier. The good news is that I made it through the challenge, primarily because I was in close connection with a circle of family members who were tackling the same feat – the Whole 30 Diet. All of us achieved our healthy eating goals together and learned a lot – and we have also agreed that we will try to eat healthier for the rest of our lives. Our journey was not exactly deprivation, but it was pretty hard at times. I believe that we only succeeded because of mutual encouragement, shared resources and holding each other accountable. We formed what I like to call a Social Accountability Circle – and we intend to keep it going.
I have thought about the idea of Social Accountability Circles for years. Couldn’t we all, as members of the human family, benefit from circles of mutually accountable relationships when it comes to improving our physical, emotional and financial health and wellness? How would these Circles be designed and supported using new technologies, communications and systems of rewards and disincentives? This got me thinking about understanding successful, existing models of social accountability groups or circles. What principles or strategies can we learn from successful organizations, solutions or businesses that already exist? That made me think of Weight Watchers® as a “tried and true” model to better understand this dynamic.
Weight Watchers is a well-known, popular weight loss program that has developed a scientifically-designed SmartPoints ® system. Each week, members are given their daily and weekly SmartPoints which assign different point values to foods based on nutritional factors. Basically, people are encouraged to eat more fruits, vegetables, lean protein, and less sugar and unhealthy fats to create better, more sustainable eating patterns. We all know that this is the kind of diet that we should follow – but not all of us do. However, there is ample evidence that a good portion of people in the Weight Watchers “circle” actually do modify their eating behaviors and lose weight as a result. Let’s dig a little deeper on how it works for some insights.
Weight Watchers offers different plans that members can join and subscribe to monthly. These plans consist of a Digital subscription, where members have access to the app and website to help themselves stay on track with their goals. There is also a Digital + Studio subscription (formerly “Meetings”), which allow members to meet weekly at in-person Wellness Workshops. Here, members of this plan can talk to each other and a Wellness Coach about strategies to help them reach their lifestyle goals, or simply talk to other people who are going through the same process. Finally, there is a Coaching subscription that gives members as much support as they need through the Wellness Workshops, as well as personalized one-to-one meetings with a custom-made plan specifically for that member. In my opinion, Weight Watchers checks all of the boxes necessary for a highly effective Social Accountability Circle.
Here are four key takeaways that I think any organization or marketer can apply to accelerate positive behavior change – whether that change be for their organization, their partner supply chain, or their end-user customers.
In future Insights, we will explore the power of Social Accountability Circles. In the meantime, let us know if you are aware of any new technologies or programs that are unique and interesting that are advancing positive behavior change. Shoot me an email with your thoughts and ideas at firstname.lastname@example.org.
February 1, 2019
Written by Tom Sullivan
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