Structure is concerned with key factors that influence people’s behavior over time such as money, information, knowledge, rituals, rewards, cues, and time. People from any point on the globe when placed in the same structure will eventually act in much the same manner. The pervasiveness and momentum of structure places enough pressure on individuals to force change (Senge, 1990).
Let’s say for example, you grow up in a small town and learn to drive in a relaxed, courteous manner. Because of the local town structure, you know, at least marginally, most of the people in town. You always slow down to let other drivers change lanes or turn. And because of the great connection to those around you, it’s highly likely you will stop to let a pedestrian cross the street, even if they’re not at the corner or in a cross walk. Then, you move to a large city like Montreal with very busy and congested traffic. The traffic structure consists of traffic jams and little or no personal connection to those around you. Now, when you drive in a slow, courteous manner, people cut you off and honk at you. When you try to change lanes, you put on your signal light and wait, and wait, and wait, and no one lets you in. The Montreal traffic structure influences your behavior with cues and rewards that almost go unnoticed. Before long, you find yourself forcing your way into lanes of traffic and cutting other people off so you can get to work and get home on time. Gradually and over time, you become a more aggressive and less courteous driver because the reinforcing structure of big city traffic makes life too difficult for you any time you try to go against it.