Choice Architecture; how to avoid being a ‘Meeting Lemming’

What's the PONT

Beware Weasels! Obviously not a Lemming, but I saw this while cycling in Austria and had to use it. Beware Weasels! Obviously not a Lemming, but I saw this while cycling in Austria and had to use it.

This post follows the one I wrote about meetings being a virus that use human hosts to reproduce.

Paul Taylor rightly questioned; ‘we know meetings are a problem, but why are we unable to do anything about them?’. Ultimately there’s something strange going on with meeting attendance; people cannot, or do not want to, change their behaviour. No matter how bad the meeting promises to be, no matter how much we recognise this; most of us still turn up to suffer.

The sort of behaviour you might expect from Meeting Lemmings*.

Why?…. Is it just too easy to make the wrong decisions and ‘jump’ with the rest of the Meeting Lemmings? Well this might help…. Choice Architecture. I’ve recently been learning about Behaviour Change Science (and Choice Architecture), with people…

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Planes, Trains, Boats, Tuk-Tuks and good old Shanks Pony!


A major part of my planning for my next trip involves researching what mode of transport I can take. As you can see from the title, a car isn’t on the list. That’s because I drive enough with my job, but most importantly, I have learnt from my previous trips, through travelling on public transport, I have met some people which had led to some lovely enduring friendships with people from across the world. And let’s face it, driving a car wouldn’t achieve that, ever.

I’m currently travelling independently around South Africa. I’ve cons

Looking back from Fishhoek

Looking back from Fishhoek

ulted several specialist guide books/websites for advice on transport options. Most advocate driving. Seat61 (have a read why the site is called Sea61,it’s a great story!) is a website that I have used on many occasions for train

On the way to Stellenbosch by train!

On the way to Stellenbosch by train!

travel ideas. The accuracy of the information he provides is great. Very specific, even down to routes.

To date, I’ve taken three train journeys. I thought I would share my experiences through questions I’ve been asked and have put some suggestions what I would do and actually I did.


1. Did you feel intimidated at all?

Short answer, no. Actually, it didn’t even occur to me. I was approached by two people for money to buy food. Sadly that has happened in many bus and train stations across the world, UK and Cardiff included.

2.What carriage do you choose to sit in?

I tend to hang back and watch if a family gets on. If they do, I try to sit near them.

Train advertising Cape Town Style!

Train advertising Cape Town Style!


There is obviously no guarantee that they are going to the same destination as you. What I also would do would be to look for a carriage which was all women or predominately women.

If the family gets off early than your final destination, you might want to consider getting off at the same time and moving to another carriage where there is another family or large groups of women.

What i actually did was I got on a carriage with a mother and son as there was no families travelling.

3. What about your Travel Documents etc?

I always carry three credit/debit cards. One visa, one MasterCard and a passport cashcard which I load currency on ( I have a dollar, euro and sterling. I load which ever is the more appropriate for the country I am travelling). I always carry them in my bra when I’m travelling, this has nothing to do with South Africa. Now a days with everything electronic, you have very little paper work. So my passport and phone is placed in my safety wallet which I carry inside my clothes.

So in terms of risk, if my bag was stolen, I feel for me I have the most important items on me! So I would just let the bag go and not fight it. That’s what insurance is for. I can still carry on with my travels.

4. Did you pack differently?

I don’t advertise the fact that I have a camera. I carry my camera in a hold-all not a camera bag. I have camera armour around my camera and also wrap my camera in a pashmina which I always carry with me anyway.


5. What would I do differently next time?

My train journey was lovely. The only disaster was that I hadn’t realised there was two train stations in Stellenbosch, and of course I got off at the wrong one! That can happen anywhere! I asked a really helpful law student working fo Ask Afrika, and she walked me in the right direction. Things like this happen all the time on my travels.

The Images in this blog were taken from the trains which I wouldn’t have had if I had driven. I’m a good girl, I don’t drive and take pictures at the same time!

pps and look at the fabulous place a short walking distance away from the train station I’m staying at! The Apple Tree Guest House. Just amazing. And nothing is too much trouble for Noeline and her staff.

What's the PONT

This week has been about failures in communication.  I’ve ended up with 16 feet of timber for fence posts, excellent. Unfortunately it wasn’t in the shape of the two 8 foot lengths I needed. I got four 4 foot lengths. It might as well have been firewood.

I could put this down to a sophisticated act of malicious compliance by my kids, but I’m hoping they aren’t that cruel. I’ve rationalised it as a massive communication failure on my part. This is how the story unfolds.

In the final stages of shed building I’m fencing off an area and needed two extra posts. Fortunately my father in law had two spare 8 foot post that would do the job perfectly. There is a minor hurdle to cross, they are 10 miles away and are just a little bit too long to fit in the car. There is good news however; two…

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