Innovator: Can You Make It Fun?

By: Prof. Shlomo Maital

In the Roman Senate, Cato the Elder ended every speech by insisting, Carthage must be destroyed! (“Carthago delenda est!”).  He got his way in the end. In the Punic Wars, it was obliterated.

My personal equivalent is “innovate in dark corners.” Be creative in places where creativity is lacking or absent. Global New York Times* brings a great stimulating piece by behavioral economist Richard Thaler – make it fun!  He shows us how to alter behavior, in the right direction, simply by creating…fun.


For instance: The Swedish division of Volkswagen gets its works to use the stairs, rather than the escalator, by making the steps into a keyboard, with each one playing a note. You make music by going up the stairs. Result: stair use rose by two-thirds. The viral YouTube video so far has over 17 million views. Or – Taipei City created a lottery for dog owners who deposit their doggies’ waste in a bin; they become eligible to win gold, turning (literally) crap into gold.

Thaler says, “if governments want to encourage good citizenship, they should try making the desired behavior more fun.”

So innovator: Can you make doing dishes fun? Cleaning the house? Taking out the garbage? Going to work? Changing the baby’s diapers? Going on a diet? Working out?  Studying for a test? Doing your annual tax return? This too is creativity. Try it first on yourself. Then spread the word.

*Making Good Citizenship Fun, by Richard Thaler. Global New York Times, OP-ED, February 13, 2012.