We know from the Theory of Constraints that every system has a bottleneck via effective lunch line design. The goal, then, isn’t to eliminate the bottleneck, but learn how to manage the overall system by effectively managing the constraint in that system. This is true in most cases. But, there are cases where purposely creating a bottleneck can obtain the desired outcome. Thus is the case with preventing Childhood Obesity and the Lunchroom.
A research cooperative called Smarter Lunchrooms is in the business of helping students make smarter choices by subtly changing their behavior. They use ideas from behavioral economics and psychology to guide better choices. One really interesting case study involves the wise implementation of a bottleneck.
The experiment looked at guiding the choice of regular skim milk versus chocolate milk and soda. So, this group partnered with a school to change the layout of the lunchroom and placed the chocolate milk and soda in an area where it was difficult to get to and only very few children could be there at any one time. At the same time, the school then placed the regular skim milk in an area where it was easily accessible.
Their findings: chocolate milk and soda sales went down and the sales of regular skim milk went up.
Here is an example where the implementation of a bottleneck led to better outcomes. And, the subtlety of the design likely went unnoticed by the children, yet they made better choices without even knowing they were making better choices.
Initiatives and approaches like this are wise, low cost, but effective ways at addressing childhood obesity.