Two tax experiences I've had in recent months.
I got a car tax reminder. It said got to this website and fill in this number. I did. It produced my car's details and asked me to confirm. I did. It asked me for payment details. I filled them in and the tax disk arrived in the post a couple of days later. Bish bash bosh done. Painless. I didn't give it another thought - even though it was money out of my own pocket.
VAT. Hmm. We've recently opened a new VAT account to set aside funds to pay at the end of each quarter. This meant changing the direct debit which meant entering the ring of hell which is the HMRC webiste. First attempt, after filling in all the new details, the system told me I had to ring HMRC. I did and they told me they'd need to cancel the old direct debit first. I gave it a couple of weeks and tried again. It accepted my direct debit details then, strangely, asked me to make a payment. I didn't have my VAT return ready so I couldn't. I later submitted my return on time. Of course by the time I found out the direct debit hadn't been set up as no payment was made, I was past the VAT deadline. So I went back in and made the payment. I then get a letter threatening me a surcharge because payment was late and had to write back to explain. You can probably guess I'm still furious. As a responsible business I want to pay my tax - just let me do it, please!
To me the contrast couldn't be starker. The car tax was like an Apple product - you click on what you want and it leads you through a frictionless, short'n'sweet process. The VAT was like Kafka's worst nightmare - I was groping around in a dark maze of bureaucratic purgatory when a simple redesign of the system could have made it a simple process.
I find the same with sustainability issues. In many organisations they throw a passive-aggressive guilt trip at people to act in an eco-friendly way and then expect them to jump through all sorts of hoops to do so. I've flagged up the Government's Green Deal as a great idea that no-one can get their head around, so they don't do it. And our towns and cities still funnel pedestrians and cyclists through strange elaborate detours to take us 'safely' across a road system designed only for cars.
A basic principle of Green Jujitsu is to identify and remove such barriers with extreme prejudice. Make the green option easy, intuitive and desirable - think iPhone. Then you might find people will actually want to do it.