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The Behavioural Design Blog - overview

The Behavioural Design Blog – overview

By All, Behavioural Science Insights

With this Behavioural Design Overview we want to help you to navigate through the Behavioural Design Blog. Our ambition with this blog is to explore how influence works by applying it to interesting real world problems. Most of these blogs appeared in  Behavioural Design Digest, our weekly newsletter. You can subscribe to the Behavioural Design Digest here.

Everything we write is in line with SUE’s mission: ‘To unlock the power of behavioural psychology to help people make better decisions in work, life, and play’. This is the guiding principle behind our Behavioural Design Method© we teach in our Behavioural Design Academy and that we apply in our Behavioural Design Sprints. Curious to find out more about us? Meet us at ‘We are SUE‘ or buy our book ‘The Art of Designing Behaviour‘.

Happy exploring!

 

behavioural design - illustration birdeyes

Essential Reads and Videos

These are blog posts and videos that are essential to our thinking on how to influence minds and shape behaviour.

Behavioural Science Explained

There are concepts and principles in behavioural science that are the foundation of behavioural change. We explain them here.

Customer behaviour

Whether you have clients or customers. Whether you want to attract more clients or want them to buy, click, recommend or return. Behavioural science can help you get the most out of a customer.

Leadership & Team Behaviour

Organisations are collections of human behaviours. These blog posts and videos shed a light on how to leverage behavioural science to achieve operational excellence.

Citizen and Public behaviour

If you want the general public to adopt policies or design behaviours that will creat more welfare or better communities this is the section to keep your eye on.

Personal Behaviour

If you understand key concepts of behavioural science it can help you make better decisions that will improve your life, your work, your happiness and habits. Stay tuned here for self-improvement insights.

Methodology

Behavioural Design is applied behavioural science. It is active and results in tangible insights and interventions. This section will highlight the methodologic part of Behavioural Design.

Applied Behavioural Science

The true value of Behavioural Design is that it is applied behavioural science. In this section you’ll find blog posts on how to unlock the power of behavioural science in practice.

BONUS: free ebook 'How to Convince Someone who Believes the Exact Opposite?'

Especially for you we've created a free eBook 'How to Convince Someone who Believes the Exact Opposite?'. For you to keep at hand, so you can start using our insights whenever you want—it is a little gift from us to you.

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Go ahead, it’s completely free of charge!

How do you do. Our name is SUE.

Do you want to learn more?

Suppose you want to learn more about how influence works. In that case, you might want to consider joining our Behavioural Design Academy, our officially accredited educational institution that already trained 2500+ people from 45+ countries in applied Behavioural Design. Or book an in-company training or one-day workshop for your team. In our top-notch training, we teach the Behavioural Design Method© and the Influence Framework©. Two powerful tools to make behavioural change happen in practice.

You can also hire SUE to help you to bring an innovative perspective on your product, service, policy or marketing. In a Behavioural Design Sprint, we help you shape choice and desired behaviours using a mix of behavioural psychology and creativity.

You can download the Behavioural Design Fundamentals Course brochure, contact us here or subscribe to our Behavioural Design Digest. This is our weekly newsletter in which we deconstruct how influence works in work, life and society.

Or maybe, you’re just curious about SUE | Behavioural Design. Here’s where you can read our backstory.

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The SUE Influence Framework© Explained

The SUE Influence Framework© explained

By All, Behavioural Science Insights, Citizen Behaviour, Customer Behaviour, Employee behaviour, Personal Behaviour

The SUE | Influence Framework© is a powerful mental model we developed at SUE to analyse the forces that shape behaviour systematically. The framework will provide you with all the human insights you need to develop ideas for behavioural change. A deeper understanding of the forces that prevent people from change or boost behavioural change is essential to influence minds and shape behaviour. In this blog post, we explain the model step-by-step and illustrate it with lots of examples.

 

1. How does influence work?

For a complete overview of the essence of behavioural design, I want to urge you to read our blog “What is behavioural design“. For this blogpost, it suffices to understand that you need three ingredients for successful behavioural change: 

  1. Understand how people think and how they make decisions. (cognitive psychology)
  2. Know how you can analyse the forces that shape people’s behaviour (SUE | Influence Framework©)
  3. Learn how you can come up with ideas for behavioural change 

One of the biggest misconceptions of behavioural design is that it’s limited to this third ingredient. Think about all the persuasion techniques in the field of interface design and UX to boost online sales. Booking.com has turned these techniques into an art form

However, if you don’t consider what happens inside the human mind you try to influence, you can use as many persuasion tactics as you want; you’re not going to be successful. 

Let me illustrate this with an example: You can use all the scarcity, authority, social proof in the world to persuade me to make my next city trip with Flixbus. But as long as you haven’t addressed my (probably irrational) prejudice that travelling by bus coach will be a social nightmare, full of annoying people, my brain will stay locked for every attempt to change my behaviour.

Flixbus

 

2. The forces that shape behaviour

The best way to think of the SUE | Influence Framework© is to think of it as a tool that brings the dynamic forces to the surface that shape behaviour. With this framework:

 

You will understand why people do the things they do and what prevents them from changing their behaviour.

Understanding these forces helps you to spot opportunities for behavioural change. Only when you have armed yourself with these opportunities you can start to come up with ideas. 

To illustrate this with the example from above. Only when you consider that I have anxieties, doubts and prejudices that prevent me from travelling by coach will you have the proper insight to come up with ideas to influence my decision-making. You will ask yourself how we might take away the prejudice that cheap coach travel equals a social nightmare. 

If you want to design a successful strategy for behavioural change, you will have to work outside-in. You start with learning what happens inside people’s minds, and you adapt your intervention to this understanding. 

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The SUE | Influence Framework© has three parts, with a total of seven elements. We will delve into these three parts below.

  1. Part 1: Current and Desired Behaviour 
  2. Part 2: The Job-to-be-Done
  3. Part 3: Pains, Gains, Comforts and Anxieties

3. Current and Desired Behaviour 

The best way to think of behavioural change is that you need to have someone (or yourself) switch from a current to desired behaviour. This sounds obvious but is actually quite challenging. Because people need to stop doing the things they do and start doing something new. Stopping is hard because your current behaviour is full of comforts. You don’t need to think about it, and your behaviour is more than often driven by habits that are difficult to control. 

Furthermore, there are several difficulties associated with new behaviour too: Am I able to do this? Do I want it? Do I trust it? Do I get it? Can I afford it? What will others think of me? 

You immediately sense that, if you want to get someone from A to B, you will have to deal with several forces at work that lock us in our current behaviour and prevent us from switching to the desired behaviour. The SUE | Influence Framework© is nothing more or less than a tool to uncover these forces.  

4. The Job-to-be-Done

If you want to understand why people do the things they do, then the Job-to-be-done framework by Clayton Christensen is essential. In a famous Harvard Business Review paper, Christensen argues that people “hire products and services” for a job that arises in their life. Understanding the “job” or “task” is the key to understanding what motivate people to do the things they do. If you want to know how to get more people to buy milkshakes in a fast-food restaurant, you need to understand the job-to-be-done for which people would come in and “hire” a milkshake. In the famous lecture below, Christensen argues that most people who buy milkshakes at a fast-food restaurant buy them because they have a long and tedious drive to work. They want something to fill their stomach while keeping the commute interesting. The milkshake does this job better than any other product. It keeps you busy for at least 10 minutes, it doesn’t crumble all over you, and you can easily keep it in your hand while steering the car. 

 

Job-to-be-Done thinking unlocks a deeper understanding of the human behind the customer.

A while ago, we discovered in a Behavioural Design Sprint we did for a health tech company that the real Job-to-be-done for people with diabetes is to live everyday life. They want to be reminded as little as possible by their disease. People with diabetes look at every product and service through the prism of this Job-to-be-done. The unconscious question they ask themselves is: Does this product help me to approach my Job-to-be-Done to live a care-free life in which I am bothered as little as possible by my disease? This insight was crucial because, until that point, our client always communicated to people as patients.

Case: Zoku Amsterdam

The founders of Zoku Amsterdam had given themselves more than two years to figure out how they could design the ultimate hospitality experience for people who needed to stay longer in a city because of their job.

 

Zoku Amsterdam - Hotel Room

 

The Job-to-be-done that Zoku took as the critical opportunity for their prototyping is that people want to feel at home. They want to feel part of the community of the city. And this experience is precisely what most hotels don’t offer you. Every hotel reminds you in everything of the fact that you’re just a passenger. Zoku designed the room with this Job-to-be-done in mind. The centrepiece of the room is a dining/working table, not the bed. Lunch and dinner at Zoku are to be consumed at a long communal table. You can invite your customers for meetings, and they have daily activities in which you can participate. More about Job-to-be-Done:

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5. The forces diagram

We already argued above that the biggest challenge with designing for behavioural change is that people need to stop doing things. Furthermore, they have all kinds of insecurities and discomfort about the new behaviour we want them to perform. We have also argued that the best way to motivate them to embrace new behaviour is to connect with their deeper goals in their life (called Jobs-to-be-done). 

The third and final component of the SUE | Influence Framework© is four dynamic forces that push people towards or pull people away from the desired behaviour. The Influence Framework works with these four forces: 

  1. Pains of the current behaviour
  2. Gains of the desired behaviour
  3. Anxieties, doubts, and other barriers to the desired behaviour 
  4. Comforts of the current behaviour

Force 1: Pains

Pains are what people experience as shortcomings and frustrations related to their current behaviour.

Pains are often the problems to which a behavioural designer designs a solution. Pain and frustration trigger a propensity or willingness for change. The better you can connect with people’s pain, the higher the eagerness to change their behaviour.

In our behavioural design sprints, we often discover that they reward you with their trust if you can articulate people’s pain quite well. They appreciate that you understand their world. Every populist in the world knows that people are not interested in what you want to do. They want to feel instead that you get their pain. It’s a meme in every sales training that the best salesmen sell pain.


Force 2: Gains 

Gains are the positive consequences that people will experience when they perform the new desired behaviour.

Whenever I stay at Zoku, I can at least work in my room if I want. I can eat healthy without having to go out. I can enjoy hanging around in the big co-working living room with my laptop. I can impress my clients with the view, etcetera. These are all gains you will experience if you book at Zoku. 

However, these gains only make sense relative to the Job-to-be-Done. You appreciate the Gain of the design of your room, the shared breakfast table, the healthy food kitchen and the co-working living room because they all contribute to the Job-to-be-done of feeling at home in the city you have to stay in for work. 

Important to remember: Always connect the Pains and Gains with the Job -to-be-done

 

Case: Pains and Gains and travelling by train 

I often need to travel between Amsterdam and Belgium. I have stopped taking the car, and I only go by train these days. My Job-to-be-done is to spend my time as purposeful as possible. The Pain of driving my car is obvious: I can’t answer e-mails, write blogs, or finish reports. I’m utterly exhausted after a six-hour drive, of which I regularly spend two hours in traffic jams (Belgium is a traffic jam inferno). The Gain of travelling by train is also apparent: Travel time equals working time. I can read, write, or answer e-mails. For travellers like me, a power socket and a little table for my laptop are worth a lot.


Force 3: Comforts

Comforts are the routines and habits that get people to stick to their current undesired behaviour.

It’s not that I wouldn’t like to work out more often. And if I’m honest with myself, I do have the time to go to the gym in the morning. My only problem is that I have too many bad habits that stand in the way: I want to wake up slowly. I need to have breakfast. I need to bring my toddler to school (and she adores not cooperating). By the time I dropped her at school, my window of opportunity to go to the gym is closed. It’s already late, my stomach is full, and my mind is already at work. 

You could argue that everything is in place for me to start working out. I desire to have more energy and lose a couple of kilos (my JTBD). I feel the pain of not being fit. I know how much I enjoy the feeling of being healthy (gain), and I only have to walk 200 meters to my gym, so I can’t blame it on an inability to get there. As the co-founder of SUE, I’m pretty free to decide how I run my schedule (no anxieties). I can’t break through my comforts/ habits. What works for me is that my gym organises a 10-minute abs workout every hour. If I can make it in time to join this 10-minute class, I will probably stay a bit longer.


Force 4: Anxieties 

Anxieties are fears, doubts, prejudices and other barriers to the desired behaviour.

Anxieties could be all the things that prevent you from changing behaviour Anxieties could be related to: 

  • The desired behaviour: Too complicated, too hard, too socially uncomfortable, etc. 
  • The supplier: can I trust this supplier? 
  • My own capability: I’m not sure if I can do this or if it matches with my self-image. 
  • My environment: I don’t know what my significant others will think of this behaviour

Taking away Anxieties are often underestimated in a strategy for behavioural change. However, they form a crucial piece of the puzzle. Sometimes taking away anxiety is the last puzzle piece needed to turn an intervention into a success. Like in the Flixbus example I wrote about earlier: taking away my fears and prejudices towards coach travel and address the most critical force between me and the desired behaviour. 

Case: De Porsche Pitch

In The Perfect Pitch, a book by advertising legend Jon Steel about the art of pitching, the author shares the story of a pitch his agency won for the Porsche account. The killer insight that got them to win the agency competition was that advertising doesn’t need to persuade Porsche drivers. It needs te to convince non-drivers that Porsche drivers are not cars for men with a middle-crisis. They called it the “asshole factor” of a Porsche driver. Taking away these anxieties and prejudices towards the Porsche driver became the most genius advertising strategy ever for the brand.

Want to shape behaviour and decisions?

Then our two-day Fundamentals Course is the perfect training for you. You will learn the latest insights from behavioural science and get easy-to-use tools and templates to apply these in practice right away!

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6. Working with the SUE | Influence Framework©

 The Influence Framework helps you to build empathy for your target audience. Our Behavioural Design Sprints always kick off with five or six interviews. If you interview five or six people from the target audience, you will be able to fill in your Influence Framework©. For a proper Behavioural Design interview, there’s only one simple rule of thumb:   

Past behaviour never lies

When we conduct interviews, we always try to map human journeys. What we’re looking for is how real humans think, feel and behave. How does a successful journey look like? What about a failed journey? Why did people fail? What made them feel uncertain or uncomfortable? Why didn’t they do the things they wanted to do?  

In 5 or 6 interviews, you’ll get a clear idea about the Jobs-to-be-Done, the Pains and Comforts of their current behaviour and the Gains en Anxieties of the desired behaviour. It can also be gratifying to interview extreme users. Experienced people can tell you a lot about Jobs-to-be-Dones and gains. People who are struggling can teach you a lot about pains, comforts and anxieties. When you have mapped out these forces, you can spot opportunities for behavioural change by asking yourself these five questions: 

  • How might we help people to achieve their goals? (Jobs-to-be-Done)
  • Can we come up with solutions that solve pains or frustrations that people experience (Pain) 
  • Can we break into an existing habit? Or do we need to change a problematic habit? (Comfort)
  • Which anxieties, doubts, prejudices, and other barriers do we need to take away? (Anxiety)
  • What could be the psychological value that we can create for people (Gain)

More about this topic: 

 

7. Examples

  • The best way to think about the success of Uber and Lyft – aside from a nearly unlimited supply of cheap investor capital – is that they successfully eliminated all the pain from the taxi experience. Not knowing when your car is going to arrive, not being confident about whether the cabbie will rip you off or having to negotiate about the price. They brilliantly help you to achieve your job-to-be-done to experience the city. An Uber-Gain is that you never have to worry when you go out: You order an Uber when you leave the club, and within 5 minutes, you’re back on your way home.
  • Airbnb is a much more gratifying way to experience new places. This is the ultimate traveller Job-to-be-done. The pain that is associated with hotels is that they’re anonymous. They make you feel like an outsider-tourist. The Gain of AirBnB on an emotional level is that you can feel at home abroad. This feeling gets even strengthened on a functional level: Since you do your cooking and supermarket shopping, you can feel what it is to live like a local. There are some anxieties Airbnb needs to take away, like whether the place is as good as advertised (that’s why they always demand professional pictures). A relatively new anxiety is the worry that the neighbourhood might be sick and tired of Airbnb tourists.

7. The ethics of Behavioural Design

We have argued above that a successful behavioural design strategy consists of three ingredients:

  1. A deeper understanding of human decision-making.
  2. Understanding the forces that shape behaviour.
  3. Using principles from the science of influence to come up with ideas and interventions for positive behavioural change.

The SUE | Influence Framework© is a powerful mental model for understanding why people do what they do and what prevents them from changing their behaviour. It is also the best guarantee that a strategy for behavioural change will be human-centered.

Behavioural Designers always ask themselves what they can do to help people become more successful at what they do or help them overcome their anxieties or help them break bad habits.

Suppose you take your time to build empathy with your target audience, and you use the Influence Framework to analyse their behaviour. In that case, you will always spot opportunities to design positive choices. 

PS: The mission of SUE is to unlock the potential of behavioural science to help people make better decisions in work, life and play. We use this mission as our guiding principle for everything we do. We’re very conscious that behavioural design can be a ‘dark wisdom’ and that those who master it are often the ones with the worst intentions. We don’t want to be naive that people will abuse this knowledge to manipulate people. Still, we firmly believe that the world would be much better off if we can inspire more people with a better understanding of how influence works and do positive things with this knowledge. Please check out our Behavioural Design Ethics Toolkit here.

BONUS: free cheat card 'The SUE | Influence Framework© explained'

Especially for you we've created a free cheat card 'The SUE | Influence Framework© explained'. For you to keep at hand, so you can start using the insights from this blog post whenever you want—it is a little gift from us to you.

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Go ahead, it’s completely free of charge!

How do you do. Our name is SUE.

Do you want to learn more?

Suppose you want to learn more about how influence works. In that case, you might want to consider joining our Behavioural Design Academy, our officially accredited educational institution that already trained 2500+ people from 45+ countries in applied Behavioural Design. Or book an in-company training or one-day workshop for your team. In our top-notch training, we teach the Behavioural Design Method© and the Influence Framework©. Two powerful tools to make behavioural change happen in practice.

You can also hire SUE to help you to bring an innovative perspective on your product, service, policy or marketing. In a Behavioural Design Sprint, we help you shape choice and desired behaviours using a mix of behavioural psychology and creativity.

You can download the Behavioural Design Fundamentals Course brochure, contact us here or subscribe to our Behavioural Design Digest. This is our weekly newsletter in which we deconstruct how influence works in work, life and society.

Or maybe, you’re just curious about SUE | Behavioural Design. Here’s where you can read our backstory.

sue behavioural design
SUE | SWAC Tool© Explained

SUE | SWAC Tool© explained

By All, Behavioural Science Insights

Changing behaviour is challenging but certainly not impossible. With the right tools in your Behavioural Design toolbox, you can leverage the power of behavioural science to shape positive behaviours and influence better decisions. This blog post introduces you to the SUE | SWAC Tool©. An easy-to-use tool to develop interventions that will change behaviour predictably. It is part of our SUE | Behavioural Design Method© and the second step after unlocking human insights with our SUE | Influence Framework©. The SWAC Tool© will turn insights into tangible ideas to develop better products, services, policies, campaigns or living environments.

How to design behaviour: Moments that Matter

Behavioural Design is all about creating a context to trigger people to make a decision or take action towards their goals. So, what is needed at this point is knowing what makes up for this context.

The key in creating an influential context is timing: designing for the moments that matter.

When you want to influence choice and shape behaviour you are designing for moments that matter. When is someone most susceptible to change? Or what are the moments we have to make sure someone gets triggered into action? These can be existing moments or moments that we have to create. You will have gained valuable insight into these moments from the Influence Framework©.  But there is another way you have to look at moments that is related to the timeframe needed for behaviour to occur. This has to do with the type of behaviour you are designing for.

It is important to realise that not all behaviour is created equal. Sometimes you need someone to engage in entirely new behaviour (could be going on a sugar-free diet after being diagnosed for diabetics or doing banking online for the first time) and sometimes you need someone to pick up abandoned behaviour they were already familiar with, but somehow stopped doing (could be exercising or going to dentist appointments). Sometimes you need someone to do something once in a one-off behaviour (sign-up for organ donation, apply for university, register online on your website) but often we want someone to engage in the repeat behaviour (showing up at doctor’s appointments on time, not using their phone in traffic, buying multiple products or services from you, making donations). To make things somewhat simpler again, the best starting point is to separate two types of behaviours:

– One-off behaviour (such as registering for organ donation)
– Repeat behaviour (such as a healthy eating habit)

You can imagine if you want someone to only do something once you have less convincing to do and it most probably can be done in a shorter timeframe. On the other hand, routine behaviour takes some more effort and you need to be at someone’s side a bit longer. So, you need to know which one of the two behaviours you are dealing with in the first place.

What about the new and abandoned behaviour then? Well, the fact is, if you want someone to show different behaviour (the whole point of coming up with interventions is causing a behaviour shift) it means he or she has to stop what he or she is doing now. Therefore, you have to consider all desired behaviour as a new behaviour. Even if the behaviour is obvious to someone (such as going to school) or someone knows he/she has to do it (such as paying taxes). But what about the abandoned behaviour then? This is actually a very important notion to consider.

A key in successful Behavioural Design is the acceptance that people will have moments of weakness or forgetfulness and slip into old behaviours again.

So, to get back to routine behaviours just a bit. I know a lot has been written and said about building habits and routines. Some tell you to stick to behaviour for 21 days, others claim that 30 or 90 days are needed to create routine behaviour. I am not sure what is the magic number. The only thing I am sure of (or have experienced myself) is that:

There is a dark side to goals, plans and habits: they are very fragile and therefore you need to be prepared for failure.

Failure seems to hit us time and again. That’s why I love Buster Benson’s ‘Chaos Monkey’ approach to life: don’t ignore the fact that we are vulnerable to having our goals, plans and habits being disrupted by ‘the first rainy day, sick day, vacation day, holiday, grumpy day, low-energy day, or otherwise non-standard day’. The Chaos Monkey comes and disrupts us time and again. If you are designing choice and behaviour, you also have to do this with the Chaos Monkey in mind. People will trip despite their good intentions and slip back into old behaviours. You need to be there at the tripping points, aka (yes you know what’s coming) moments that matter.

Change doesn’t happen overnight for any behaviour.

That’s why you should integrate multiple moments that matter into your intervention strategy. We always like to think about ‘onboarding’ someone. Making sure you stick by someone multiple times, especially in the beginning, and design for those moments that someone will find it hard to show the desired behaviour.

Let me wrap this up by giving you an example about designing an intervention strategy for one of our clients, a national fitness chain. From the membership data, we learned that people continued coming to the gym once they exercised a minimum of two times a week for three months. This is the point that they would actually come to the gym on a regular basis (members have to check in with their membership card at every visit, this is how the data is collected) and renew their memberships. Therefore, we knew we were designing for routine behaviour. We also knew them that the three-month timespan was needed to turn exercising into a habit instead of a strenuous to-do. We looked within that timespan for the moments that matter. Some came from our research. For instance, we found out that making sure you pack your sporting bag the evening before highly correlates with actually going to the gym the next day. But other moments we had to create. The real job of the gym was to keep onboarding people who failed to build up a routine.

You have to design a series of specific, new behaviours for any new behaviour to become a routine.

That’s why we came up with interventions that not only helped someone pack their sporting bag, but we looked into the entire three-month timespan and made sure we designed interventions to help someone make it through successfully. We helped someone book a personal trainer intake, we phoned them after a few weeks, we helped them join classes, we helped them exercise at home, just to name a few. The interesting insight for our client was that they were not in the business of gyms, but they are in the business of building an exercise routine. This opened up a world of different interventions (and new business ideas as a matter of fact).

Want to learn how to shape behaviour and decisions?

Then our two-day Fundamentals Course is the perfect training for you. You will learn the latest insights from behavioural science and we'll teach you how to use tools such as the SWAC Tool© to apply the best of behavioural science in practice right away!

Download the brochure

Go ahead, it’s completely free of charge!

How to design behaviour: SWAC

A lot of very interesting research has been done in the behavioural change field of expertise. And it can get quite complicated. That’s why we simplified it again. Without further ado let’s take a look at the SUE | SWAC Tool©. It is foremost a very easy-to-use tool. It explains which four pieces of the puzzle you need to solve to create a context that will persuade someone into doing something and to have them keep doing it. What makes the tool so easy to use in practice, is that anytime you want to design for behavioural change, all you have to do is ask yourself four simple questions:

When the new behaviour does not happen, at least one of those four elements is missing. The most important implication of this is that by using the SUE | SWAC Tool© as a guide you can quickly identify what stops people from performing the behaviours that you seek.

If a sufficient degree of capability (CAN) to perform a behaviour is matched with the willingness (WANT) to engage in that behaviour, all that is then needed for the behaviour to occur is to set someone into action (SPARK) at the Moments that Matter.

Maybe you notice that in the tool it says moments that matter. Not one moment, but moments. As we learned, behavioural change doesn’t happen overnight. Most of the time someone needs to be reminded of the desired behaviour more than once for it to happen in the first place. Furthermore, behaviour becomes easier when repeated. Therefore, we have to make sure we SPARK someone AGAIN and again to activate the desired behaviour. So, you need to design several interventions at multiple moments that matter. In practice your intervention strategy will look something like this:

The objective of most intervention strategies is not only to change behaviour but to change this new behaviour into a routine behaviour (a habit), so the new behaviour will stick.

Remember, your desired behaviour is new behaviour for people and that’s why it is important to spark behaviour AGAIN and again. Only then the behaviour will take place, as illustrated above as the BEHAVIOURAL CHANGE THRESHOLD. When your objective is to design repeat behaviour, it almost goes without saying that you have to make sure the desired behaviour is performed repeatedly. If you can make someone perform new behaviour over and over AGAIN, it can become automatic.

The result being that someone doesn’t have to think about the new behaviour anymore, he or she simply does it. This way it can become habitual. Illustrated above model as the HABIT THRESHOLD. As Aristotle already stated:

We are what we repeatedly do.

He added ‘Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit’. To sum it up: The more often you do something, the easier it gets. So, there you have it: the four elements you need to change behaviour.

Aristotle quote, ancient Greek philosopher, scientist and physician, 384 BC-322 BC, no original source known.

 

How to design behaviour: Capability

Before we start working with the tool, let’s go back one little bit.  As Behavioural Designers our outset is to design for someone’s system 1.

Our job is to help people make better decisions without them having to think.

This is the foundation of this model. When you look at willingness (WANT) and capability (CAN) there is something very interesting and important going on. We are all so used (and trained) to have the best arguments, deals, offers, rewards or promises to convince someone (or ourselves). Historically, we are all shaped around motivation (WANT). If we need to sell something, we are hardwired to try to create willingness to buy. If a personal resolution fails, our first (conditioned) conclusion is that we must not have wanted it badly enough to keep up the self-discipline.

 

What if I tell you that making sure someone wants something often isn’t the most powerful starting point to change behaviour? Making someone WANTs to perform the desired behaviour is just one side of the medal in getting things done. In fact, it even isn’t the shiniest side of the medal. Here’s why. There is something particular going on with people’s willingness to change; It goes up and down. When relating this to our fundamental know-how on human decision-making this makes perfect sense, as:

Willingness to change requires cognitive action.

It is a system 2 activity like self-control and focus. You cognitively decide you want something. You decide this consciously. I want to lose weight, I want to save money, I want to recycle, I want to spend more time with my kids. We have learned that our system 2 has only limited bandwidth. Therefore, your willingness to change falters, it goes up and down in waves. This is the reason why most new year’s resolutions fail. On January 1st you WANT to lose weight, or you WANT to stop drinking or you WANT to go to the gym. And then comes along your best friend’s birthday. Or you’ve pulled a whole-nighter because that precious offspring of yours refused to sleep. And now you don’t WANT to exercise and not drink anymore. You want to vegetate on the couch (sleep deprivation isn’t a walk in the park) or have a blast (hey your friend only turns 40 once). You feel so deserving (your system 2 post-rationalisation working full speed for you) and so you will start next month. You simply CANnot do it today. Your willingness to change behaviour has dropped like a mic on an empty stage. This is perfectly human, but something we have to take into account when designing for behaviour change. Chaos Monkey Galore!

Luckily, as Behavioural Designer, you have an ace up your sleeve by making behaviour very simple. Our brain LOVES simple. Bonus is that when things are simple, we are able to do things without needing that much willingness. That’s why we always start with thinking about possible CAN interventions. This is designing for system 1. The best behavioural change ideas are in their core capability ideas.

Making something very easy to do is something that requires little or no cognitive action from someone.

Let me illustrate how this can work with a real-life example. Most people WANT to save money, but many of find it hard to do (CAN). You could design saving behaviour without having to really stress the willingness to save too much but by focusing on making saving behaviour easier instead. This is exactly what Bank of America did. Their human insight was that people wanted to save money, but never did especially making regular contributions was very hard. They have introduced a program called ‘Keep the Change’. What it boils down to is that every time a client pays with his or her debit card for daily purchases like buying coffee, going to the dry cleaners and so on, they round up their purchase to the nearest dollar amount and transfer the change from someone’s checking account to their savings account — or to their child’s savings account.

From a JTBD point of view, I find the last brilliant by the way: a lot of parents want to save money to for their children to have a little money in the bank once they go to college or need some extra funds otherwise. So, let’s say you have to pay something of $ 4,60 then $ 0,40 is automatically transferred. You don’t have to think about it, it just has been made very simple for you. The result of this behavioural design intervention has been very impactful. Ever since the program launched in September of 2005, more than 12.3 million customers have enrolled, saving a total of more than 2 billion dollars. Of all new customers, 60% enrol in the program and Bank of America reported that 99% of the people who signed-up with the program have stayed with it.

Would you like to power up your team with Behavioural Design?

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Designing behaviour: Willingness

But mind you, the behavioural change medal still has two sides. One cannot live without the other. If you WANT to perform a behaviour, but you CAN’T nothing will happen for sure. If you CAN perform the behaviour, but you don’t WANT to, well that’s a tough battle to fight too. So, the best chance for successful outcomes is when capability and willingness are sparked at the same time. There should always be both willingness and capability, but you do not need to always maximise the two. There are two simple guidelines:

  1. When someone’s really WANTS to change, someone CAN perform even hard behaviour
  2. When someone CAN easily perform the behaviour, someone doesn’t have to WANT it so badly

I have a system 1 cue for you to remember these four blocks of behavioural change: To design someone’s behaviour you need to have SWAC. Sounds like swag (which is a bonus), but it stands for this easy to remember formula:

Behavioural Change = Spark * Want * Again * Can

If you want to make somewhat of an impression on someone you can always tell them SWAC stands for sparking willingness again and capability. Whatever works for you, as long as it helps you remember what four elements you need to include in your ideation for lasting behavioural change.

Let’s showcase how this interplay of the four elements works by discussing an example. Think about quitting smoking. If someone doesn’t WANT to stop smoking. You can SPARK them him all you want, but nothing will happen, as quitting smoking is very hard to do (CAN). You could try to boost his or her willingness to quit, but this will only have an effect if you make the quitting as easy as possible for them at the moments, they are most seduced to light up that cigarette (Moment that Matters). The same goes for someone who does WANT to stop smoking. You might not have to work as much on their willingness to quit, but even then, they will have indecisive moments in which they will struggle to keep their back straight to withstand temptation.

Think about that Friday drink when you have that glass of alcohol in hand. Helping someone to quit smoking is a typical example of helping someone change behaviour that CAN be very hard to change. So, you need to make sure you continuously help them by making quitting smoking as easy as possible. You have to make sure you are by their side at those moments of weakness AGAIN and again. Make it easy to resist temptation. For example, vapors/e-cigarettes or nicotine gum can provide an alternative to smoking at the moments that matter. And the longer you can help someone fight the urge to light up that real cigarette by using SWAC, the more that person becomes a non-smoker and passes the habit threshold. That new habit becomes not smoking instead of smoking.

This shows that, by adding repetition to the mix (AGAIN), yes you probably know what is coming, you hardly have to think about the behaviour anymore and it becomes a system 1 activity. Task accomplished! We designed for system 1 and helped people make better decisions without them having to think. Don’t you just love it when a plan comes together?

Working on capability (CAN) is designing for system 1.

Designing behaviour: Behaviour has to be sparked

Let me wrap up with the sparks. A spark is easily put a cue or call to action that drives desired behaviour. Roughly there are three kinds of sparks:

  1. Reminders: you can remind someone of the desired behaviour
  2. Obstructions: you can pause the undesired behaviour
  3. Interruptions: you can interfere with automatic behaviour

Without a spark, someone may WANT and CAN perform the behaviour but there’s simply no call to action.

A very good example of this is that little optic in your car dashboard that shows you how much full you have left. I think none of us WANTS to run out of fuel and we all CAN fill up our gas tank quite easily (on European motorways we have gas stations everywhere). But if we didn’t have the SPARK, that little red light flashing up when it is really time to pull over and fill up your tank, I guess a lot more people would be needing to call road assistance.

 

Summary: Designing behaviour is a matter of having SWAC

When you want to develop interventions that shape decisions and influence behaviour the SUE | SWAC Tool© is a very helpful tool. It brings down designing behaviour to asking the right questions:
  • CAN: can someone perform the behaviour?
  • WANT: does someone want to perform the behaviour?
  • SPARK: is someone set into action at the right moment?
  • AGAIN: more than once?

However, understanding is one thing, making it work is another. We had to design behaviour in practice, we had clients who came to us with real behavioural challenges that needed real answers. So, we wanted (and needed) more. We wanted to know how you can boost willingness to change or how to grow capability using the power of behavioural science. How we do this is the subject of the blog post that will come up the blog soon.

 

Astrid Groenewegen

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How do you do. Our name is SUE.

Do you want to learn more?

Suppose you want to learn more about how influence works. In that case, you might want to consider joining our Behavioural Design Academy, our officially accredited educational institution that already trained 2500+ people from 45+ countries in applied Behavioural Design. Or book an in-company training or one-day workshop for your team. In our top-notch training, we teach the Behavioural Design Method© and the Influence Framework©. Two powerful tools to make behavioural change happen in practice.

You can also hire SUE to help you to bring an innovative perspective on your product, service, policy or marketing. In a Behavioural Design Sprint, we help you shape choice and desired behaviours using a mix of behavioural psychology and creativity.

You can download the Behavioural Design Fundamentals Course brochure, contact us here or subscribe to our Behavioural Design Digest. This is our weekly newsletter in which we deconstruct how influence works in work, life and society.

Or maybe, you’re just curious about SUE | Behavioural Design. Here’s where you can read our backstory.

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System 1 and 2 quick guide

By All, Behavioural Science Insights

In our post ‘Kahneman Fast and Slow thinking explained‘ we have elaborated in depth on system 1 and 2 thinking. And Daniel Kahneman’s work. Therefore, this post is meant for those who already grasp the groundbreaking concepts of Kahneman. The concept on human decision making as explained in his book ‘Thinking Fast and Slow‘. However, now and then we need a visual reminder of the differences between system 1 and 2. In short, that is why we have made an overview with the main characteristics of both the system 1 and system 2 operating systems in our brain. By highlighting the differences between the two.

Kahneman: Thinking fast and slow

Thinking Fast and Slow is all about how our brain uses short-cuts to base our decisions upon. For example, one of the short-cuts that have been tested in scientific research is the use of the picture of a brain. For instance, if you use a picture of a brain the system 1 of your listeners will think you are smart. You can use this by putting the visual above on your Keynote slides.

In other words, we thought it was a nice tip before we give you the overview or quick guide.  However, it is just one of the examples of how powerful the understanding of system 1 and 2 thinking can be. Therefore, if you start accepting that we are all irrational human beings. Driven by our subconscious. You start to understand how you can influence behaviour without changing minds.

System 1

These are the characteristics of your system 1.
  • Fast
  • Unconscious reasoning
  • Judgments based on intuition
  • Processes information quickly
  • Hypothetical reasoning
  • Large capacity
  • Prominent in humans and animals
  • Unrelated to working memory
  • Effortlessly and automatically
  • Unintentional thinking
  • Influenced by experiences, emotions and memories
  • Can be overridden by system 2
  • Prominent since human origins
  • Includes recognition, perception, orientation, etc.

System 2

These are the characteristics of your system 2.
  • Slow
  • Conscious reasoning
  • Judgments based on examination
  • Processes information slowly
  • Logical reasoning
  • Small capacity
  • Prominent only in humans
  • Related to working memory
  • With effort and control
  • Intentional thinking
  • Influenced by facts, logic and evidence
  • Used when system 1 fails to form a logical/acceptable conclusion
  • Developed over time
  • Includes rule following, comparisons, weighing of options, etc.

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Go ahead, it’s completely free of charge!

How do you do. Our name is SUE.

Do you want to learn more?

Suppose you want to learn more about how influence works. In that case, you might want to consider joining our Behavioural Design Academy, our officially accredited educational institution that already trained 2500+ people from 45+ countries in applied Behavioural Design. Or book an in-company training or one-day workshop for your team. In our top-notch training, we teach the Behavioural Design Method© and the Influence Framework©. Two powerful tools to make behavioural change happen in practice.

You can also hire SUE to help you to bring an innovative perspective on your product, service, policy or marketing. In a Behavioural Design Sprint, we help you shape choice and desired behaviours using a mix of behavioural psychology and creativity.

You can download the Behavioural Design Fundamentals Course brochure, contact us here or subscribe to our Behavioural Design Digest. This is our weekly newsletter in which we deconstruct how influence works in work, life and society.

Or maybe, you’re just curious about SUE | Behavioural Design. Here’s where you can read our backstory.

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Workers are massively firing their employers.

By All, Behavioural Science Insights
Currently, 67% of all salaried employees in The Netherlands are considering changing employers. Combine that with abundant job vacancies, and you realise that organisations face a huge behavioural challenge. After all, how do you retain your talented employees? Offering more money or a bonus is no longer enough. The key is behavioural expertise. If you understand how choices are made and behaviour is created, you can manage them. We can teach you how to achieve this during our in-company training. You will learn how to do this with a simple method and practical tools. In this article, I shed some light on why employees decide to leave and give three tips to help managers retain their talented employees.

The situation: we’re in the middle of The Big Quit

We recently conducted a behavioural survey of salaried employees. It showed that as many as 67% were considering them to step down to another employer. If we add to that the recent CBS data[1], which continues to show that for every 133 jobs, there are only 100 applicants, the challenge facing managers and executives becomes very clear. Because how do you keep talent in anymore? Indeed, many employees actually take action, also known as the ‘Big Quit‘ or the ‘Great Resignation‘. Well explained from behavioural psychology, because where normally change comes with a lot of uncertainty, confidence that a new job will be found in no time has also risen.

The problem: money is no longer enough to motivate employees

Managers and executives are tasked with understanding what motivates their talent. This sounds logical, but in practice it is not so easy. Because every employee is different and everyone needs something different. Combine that with the high workload of most managers. And the fact that hybrid working is the rule rather than the exception, literally making 1-to-1 contact with their team members more difficult, and you get the idea that managers have a very challenging task. Often, the ‘tool’ that managers get from the organisation to motivate their teams is to award a salary increase or bonus. But at present, that really no longer seems to be enough to motivate employees sufficiently. But what does work?

 

The opportunity: understanding your employees’ choice psychology  

The key to retaining your talent is understanding how they make choices and how their behaviour comes about. Really understanding what drives them and why they take (or don’t take) certain actions. Behavioural science offers many useful insights for this purpose. Only, these insights are often very theoretical. What can you do with them in practice? The work crisis is now and demands action from managers now. That is why this is the perfect opportunity for you to follow an in-company training with your team. You will receive all the essential insights from behavioural science translated into a simple method you can use to influence choices and behaviour in practice. You can use it right away to successfully retain your talent. And money and bonuses do not turn out to be the most effective at all.

Would you like to power up your team with Behavioural Design?

If you wish to add behavioural intelligence to your team, be sure to check out our in-company training. Bringing your talent up-to-speed with the latest in behavioural science and teaching them hands-on methods and tools to apply this in practice right away. Tailormade to your organisation.

Check out in-company training

PS. We've trained many teams already! From leadership to project teams.

The solution: the real crisis is a crisis in appreciation and personal growth

A fundamental insight from behavioural psychology is that people do not work purely for the work itself, but what work brings them. What it helps them realise. This is the so-called job-to-be-done. The name is slightly confusing in this case, because here the ‘job’ has nothing to do with a function or set of tasks, but with the deeper motivation why people work. Often, employers try to retain their talented employees by offering higher salaries, bonuses or extra monetary fringe benefits. This is important because it allows employees to achieve their functional jobs-to-be-done, such as paying their mortgage, being able to afford holidays and buying goods. But employees’ emotional and social jobs-to-be-done are often forgotten and even more often underestimated.

There is, in fact, something interesting going on. If you ask employees about reasons for changing employers, higher salary is indeed cited as the number one reason. But this is closely followed by a better work-life balance, more challenge and more meaningful work. Asked about behaviour, “What would you actually leave your employer for?” very different factors emerged. A whopping 1/4 of ‘overachievers’ said they missed recognition. Followed by: ‘I am not happy in my current team’ (social), ‘I have no opportunities to grow’ (emotional) and ‘I want to learn something new’ (emotional). The major work crisis appears to be mainly a crisis in appreciation and personal growth. Yes, salary is absolutely important, but rather a prerequisite. It is an improvement in achieving the emotional and social jobs-to-be-done by which you, as a manager, are most likely to retain your talent. But how do you do that? Here are 3 tips.

Tip 1: Provide context and make personal impact clear

Zooming in on meaningful work, it becomes increasingly important for an employer to create a work context where employees can see their roles and contribution. Share what the company stands for, what contribution your employee and his team make to it, and make clear what success means. And above all, make time for your employee to experience the positive impact of his work. Something as simple as installing an ‘impact habit’, the behavioural routine of giving an employee time two weeks after completing a project to ask/see what his work has delivered, can boost motivation enormously.
 

Tip 2: Be mindful of commitment and express appreciation

Ultimately, as humans, we are all looking for recognition and appreciation. This does not mean that as a manager, you have to give compliments all day long, even though compliments are often forgotten, and successes are not celebrated enough. Recognition is also in trust. It is about allowing people to schedule their own time and not micro-manage. This can also fulfil the great need for a better work-life balance. This does require clear goals and behavioural routines that keep the employee’s visibility sufficient (also for the manager). But it is also about explicitly acknowledging work performance. Have goals been met or even exceeded? Has someone helped a colleague or customer exceptionally well? Has someone grown enormously in their role? Or, on the contrary, are there blockages that you need to help them remove so they can continue their personal development? This actively helps to overcome difficulties that come with work (both job-related and mental) and helps meet your employees’ need to grow, learn something new and retain job happiness. An employee wants to be seen, helped and appreciated. Again, simple behavioural routines can make a big difference.

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Tip 3: Recognise that you, as a manager, make the difference

Our research reveals, among other things, the critical role a manager or supervisor plays in employee retention. Humans are social creatures; we copy and follow the behaviour of others. How you appear in the workplace as a manager makes an impression and significantly impacts employee motivation. But the fact that you yourself are genuinely enthusiastic about the organisation or believe that you and your team can make a difference also makes you better able to motivate others. So also reflect on your own contribution. What makes you proud to work for the organisation? What successes have you already achieved with your team? How did you ensure that talent could grow? As a manager, you just as much need all the aspects we highlighted in our employee survey to be and stay motivated yourself. Realise that as a manager, you do make a difference. Motivation and enthusiasm are contagious.

Conclusion

If you want to influence choices and behaviour successfully, it is crucial that you understand the person behind the employee. The ability to think outside-in is indispensable. Understanding the psychology of the employee (but also of your customers, your decision-makers, your colleagues or budget holders) is the competence of the future for every manager. In my book ‘The Art of Designing Behaviour‘, I help you develop that competence and put the power of behavioural science to work for you in practice. Want to start right away? Book an in-company training.

The book is now available at Managementboek
Dutch: De Kunst van Gedrag Ontwerpen
English: The Art of Designing Behaviour

Published by Boom Publishers. 

 


Astrid Groenewegen
Co-founder SUE | Behavioural Design

How obstacles are key for innovation

By All, Behavioural Science Insights, Personal Behaviour

I am continually fascinated to discover the importance of behavioural economics in solving the significant challenges of our time: eradicating disease and tackling climate change. After reading an interview with Susan Athey, I realised how robust and starting from choice psychology can be in solving these complex challenges.

How to save the climate and lives with behavioural psychology

Susan Athey is economics professor at Stanford Business School and the woman who managed to:

  • 700,000 lives by having pharmaceutical companies invest in the development and production of a malaria vaccine.
  • The development and worldwide distribution of the Covid vaccine will not take the normal R&D time of 10 years, but will be realised in 7 months (and millions of lives will be saved as a result).
  • Get the commitment (and a billion dollars) from big corporates to accelerate the development of technology for carbon removal from the atmosphere.

Shortlisted for the Nobel Prize, Athey is an econometrician and a specialist in market design. The challenge she tackles is how to get players in a market to invest more rapidly in solutions that save lives. She is not someone who explicitly starts from psychology, but what I find fascinating is that if you listen to her story through Behavioural Design glasses, you see that understanding choice psychology was an essential key in arriving at the solutions to all three challenges.

The Problem of the Mexican Standoff

Back to the 700,000 lives (it was the malaria vaccine) and the Covid vaccine. Athey describes that in both cases there was a deadlock. From her economic perspective, she describes this as a typical market problem. Developing vaccines requires billions in investment. For pharmaceutical companies, the decision to develop and produce vaccines is a very uncertain one. They have to take a gamble in the hope that 1) there will be a customer soon who 2) is willing to pay enough money to recoup that investment and turn it into a profitable business model. Pharmaceutical companies are often dismissed as ‘evil’. But the investments they have to make to develop a vaccine and the uncertainty as to whether there will be enough customers willing to pay a fair price make it extremely risky for them. Apart from the fact that ‘evil pharma’ marginalises the complexity of the healthcare issue, it is in any case not very constructive. It only creates a Mexican standoff situation, in which no party wins and certainly no one moves.

Outside-in thinking 1: Creating movement is about removing barriers.

If you look at it from a psychological perspective, a different picture opens up and opportunities open up. From our SUE | Influence Framework, the uncertainties about market demand are clear ‘anxieties’, or stumbling blocks that stand in the way of desired behaviour (producing vaccines). At the time, for example, there was a lot of uncertainty about Covid. How long would the pandemic last? Wouldn’t the virus die out quickly on its own due to mass immunity? It would take more than a year before a vaccine would be ready and that required huge investments in R&D and production capacity. Would governments be willing to pay a market price at all or would they simply demand the vaccines through legislation? In the US, for example, there is the Defense Production Act, which allows the American president to appropriate product capacity. In short, there were enough roadblocks to prevent the pharmaceutical industry from making decisions and behaving accordingly.

Athey describes what contributed to the solution as counterfactuals. In other words, what would be true under different circumstances? As Behavioural Designers, we always ask ourselves a similar question: what would be true if we were to remove barriers?

Outside-in thinking 2: Fulfilling the Job-To-Be-Done of the market players

From the SUE | Influence Framework, try to present the desired behaviour (producing vaccines) as a better way to meet the goals and drivers (the Jobs-To-Be-Done) of the pharmaceutical industry, than the undesired behaviour of doing nothing. Their Job-To-Be-Done is to realise a healthy, profitable business model (which in turn allows investment in R&D for finding medication for other diseases).

How did this happen in both the production of malaria vaccine (which saved 700,000 lives) and the Covid vaccine? In both cases, the solution of Athey and her team was to realise so-called advanced market (or purchase) commitments.  By calculating from an economic perspective what the economic and social benefits would be -gains in the Influence Framework – if the world were up and running again quickly ($1,000 per person at relatively low cost of the vaccine), they managed to get governments to commit to purchase orders in advance. In short, it appealed to the Job-To-Be-Done of governments: the rapid stabilisation of society and the economy. And yes, the wealthy countries got the Covid vaccine first, but as Athey puts it, Covid was primarily a capacity problem. The wealthy countries invested in widening the production pipeline. They got the vaccines first, but without that investment there would have remained a narrow production pipeline and other countries would have been much slower to get the vaccine. From a Behavioural Design perspective, it is unfortunate framing that these investments were seen as the fight for the vaccines rather than the fight for capacity.

Breaking the Mexican standoff to accelerate carbon capture

Athey is now working on solving the problem of removing carbon from the air. This is another complex challenge, as it requires large investments and there is no real market demand. Who is the buyer? Governments move slowly and there is a freeloader problem that increases inertia. If the US decides to invest, Russia will benefit and vice versa. There is not yet (enough) legislation that obliges organisations to invest in carbon capture. No demand means no bank is willing to finance this technology.

But again, the same approach seems to work. By looking again at who it is desirable to remove carbon from the air (a Behavioural Designer would say: for whom is this a relevant Job-To-Be-Done?), she now works for Frontier. An organisation that grew out of the large financial corporate Stripe where employees and customers are committed to the climate issue. The Job-To-Be-Done Done of a corporate is twofold: 1) scoring well on environmental social and corporate governance (this is the extent to which an organisation contributes to social goals that go beyond the initial goal of maximising shareholder value) and 2) thereby attracting and retaining talent and customers. These Jobs-To-Be-Done Done are so relevant to corporates that organisations such as Meta, Shopify, Alphabet have together invested a billion dollars in Frontier (again advanced market commitments), making banks willing to co-invest (removing anxieties).

Recap

In short, a story that teaches us a number of things. First: any complex problem becomes simpler if we look at it from the Behavioural Design lens. By interpreting what is happening in other domains from the SUE | Influence Framework, it becomes much more understandable. And we can learn from their innovative solutions so that we can apply them to other challenges. Ultimately, everything can be traced back to a behavioural problem. If we understand Jobs-To-Be-Done and remove the obstacles that get in the way of that Jobs-To-Be-Done, innovation becomes not only much more interesting, but also much simpler.

Astrid Groenewegen

Kom naar Behavioural Design Fest!

Op 30 september in Amsterdam. Een fantastische line-up van sprekers die je laten zien welke verandering je met gedragskennis kunt bereiken, zakelijk en persoonlijk.

sue behavioural design

Cialdini on persuasion

By All, Behavioural Science Insights

In this blog post, we will introduce you to the work of Dr. Robert Cialdini. Who is an expert on how to influence people. And in the psychology of persuasion. In his bestselling book, ‘Influence‘ Cialdini identifies six principles of persuasion. And explains the psychology of why people say “yes”.  And how to apply these understandings in real life.

 

6 Universal Principles of Influence

Robert Cialdini’s work can be considered as adding on to the work of Daniel Kahneman. Kahneman discovered what laid the foundation in all thinking about behavioural psychology and behavioural economics. We used to think that we are all rational thinking human-beings. Using information at hand to make a decision. But for the most part, we rely on emotional thinking. The majority of our choices are automatic and based on so-called shortcuts.

In his book Robert Cialdini uncovered six shortcuts that he calls ‘universals that guide human behaviour,’ they are:

  • Reciprocity
  • Scarcity
  • Authority
  • Consistency
  • Liking
  • Consensus or Social Proof

When using these shortcuts, Robert Cialdini states you can make people say ‘yes’ to about anything. Also called persuasion. The action or process of persuading someone or of being persuaded to do or believe something. That’s also the reason why he stresses to employ the persuasion principles an ethical manner.

Unlock the power of behavioural psychology for positive choices.

Which is something we can only stress once more. Behavioural science is a powerful tool. If you know how people think, and how they make decisions, you can influence their behaviour. Our company mission is to unlock the power of behavioural psychology to nudge people into making more positive choices in work, life, and play. We help people grow through change. And true change is all about behaviour. You have to stop doing the things that hold you back. And you have to start doing the things that will propel you forward.

Our company mission is to unlock the power of behavioural psychology to help people make better decisions in work, life, and play.

Why we love the work of Cialdini is that he brought the psychology of influence into practice. Like ethical sales, marketing, management, and business applications. He explains the psychology of why people say ‘yes’. And how to apply these understandings in daily life. Cialdini ‘s 6 Universal Principles of Influence were based on three “undercover” years. Applying for and training at used car dealerships, fund-raising organizations, and telemarketing firms to observe real-life situations of persuasion.

True change is all about behaviour. You have to stop doing the things that hold you back. And you have to start doing the things that will propel you forward.

Principle of Influence 1: Reciprocity

The reciprocation rule essentially states that if someone gives something to us, we feel obligated to repay that debt. Could be we give back to others in the form of behaviour, a gift, or service. Key to using the Principle of Reciprocity is to be the first to give. And to ensure that what you give is personalized and unexpected.

In his book, Cialdini illustrates this principle with an example you have probably have experienced yourself. The fact you get candy or peppermint with your restaurant bill. They have done a series of experiments in restaurants. To see if this phenomenon of giving a little gift together with the bill had any effect in influencing the amount of tip given. To trigger the obligation to do something back. This is what happened.

Key to using the principle of reciprocity is to be the first to give. And to ensure that what you give is personalized and unexpected.

The mint tipping example
When a single mint was given with the bill and the end of a meal, tipping amounts generally rose with 3%. Interestingly, if the gift is doubled and two mints are giving, tips didn’t double. They quadrupled to a 14% increase in tips. What turned out to be the most effective in influencing people using reciprocity? If the waiter gave just one mint, started to walk away from the table, but paused, and turned back. And said, “For you nice people, here’s an extra mint,”. Tips went through the roof. A 23% increase, influenced not by what was given, but how it was given. It feels personalized. And it’s unexpected.

You can imagine that using the principle of reciprocity can also improve sales effectiveness. Most of the times we’re not aware how the principles of influence work. But they drive how we make choices. And it once again shows the power of the subconscious mind Kahneman has illustrated so beautifully.

Robert Cialdini about Reciprocity:

Principle of Influence 2: Scarcity

People want more of those things they can have less of. That’s why for example you see so many websites using cues that stress the scarcity of a product or service. Deal times that are running out. The number of rooms left. Only two days to go, etc. Time pressure enhances the feeling of scarcity. And it even increases the perceived value of things.

People want more of those things they can have less of.

When it comes to effectively persuading others using the scarcity principle, it’s not enough to tell people about the benefits they’ll gain.  You’ll also need to be very clear about what is unique about your proposal. And what they stand to lose if they don’t buy your product or service.

Robert Cialdini about scarcity

 

Principle of Influence 3: Authority

This is the idea that people follow the lead of credible, knowledgeable experts. What Cialdini tells us is that it’s important to signal to others what makes you a credible, knowledgeable authority. You have to do this before you make your influence attempt. That can be done in different ways. Diplomas on your wall help. Wearing a uniform also does the trick. And being introduced to someone as an expert does work too.

It’s important to signal to others what makes you a credible, knowledgeable authority.

In his book, Cialdini discusses and example of authority on his website this that is very interesting (the example is directly taken from his website). A group of real estate agents was able to increase both the number of property appraisals and the number of contracts. By making sure the reception staff who answered customer phone calls to first mention their colleagues’ credentials and expertise.

So, people interested in letting a property were told “Lettings? Let me connect you with Sandra, who has over 15 years’ experience letting properties in this area.” Customers who wanted more information about selling properties were told “Speak to Peter, our head of sales. He has over 20 years’ experience selling properties. I’ll put you through now.” This is designing a customer experience that is actually behaviour driven design that can boost your sales.

Robert Cialdini about authority

 

Principle of Influence 4: Consistency

People like to be consistent with the things they have previously said or done. If you did A, you are inclined to do A (and not B). This has to do with the fact that our brain is always looking to reduce our mental stress. And it’s less stressful for our brain to be consistent. Daniel Kahneman has explained in-depth how this works in our brain if you want to know more about this check out this post.

People like to be consistent with the things they have previously said or done.

How can you use this in influence people?
Get someone to do, preferably a public or written, commitment to something. Your chances of influencing that person raise dramatically. Easier said if you can make someone say ‘yes’ to something it works wonders. An example. People who are conducting street interviews. If they would stop someone on the street, and first ask them ‘Do you consider yourself to be a helpful person?”. And if people said ‘yes,’  they would ask them, would you mind filling in this questionnaire for me? Compliance rates rose from 27% to 70%. People wanted to be consistent with their first answer. In other words, you can change attitudes towards something by using this principle of consistency.

If you can make someone say ‘yes’ to something it works wonders.

Cialdini gives another example of commitment in his book. In a study, they found out that the number of missed appointments at health centers was reduced by 18%. Simply by asking the patients themselves to write down appointment details on the appointment card. Instead of the doctor assistants who would normally do this.

Robert Cialdini about consistency

 

Principle of Influence 5: Liking

People are more inclined to say ‘yes’ to people they like. But how can you increase motivation for people like you? How can you influence people’s thoughts and behaviour towards yourself? The science of persuasion gives three very clear answers to this. People tend to like you more if:

  1. You are similar to them
  2. Pay people compliments
  3. If you cooperate with them towards a mutual goals

In short, you can behavioural design the perception of yourself by using the principle of liking.

Robert Cialdini about Liking:

 

Principle of Influence 6: Social Proof

Social proof is a psychological and social phenomenon where people assume the actions of others in an attempt to reflect correct behaviour in a given situation. Social proof is considered prominent in ambiguous social situations. Where people are unable to determine the appropriate mode of behaviour. And is driven by the assumption that the surrounding people possess more knowledge about the current situation (Wikipedia).

In other words, as Dr. Cialdini puts it:

Especially when people are uncertain, people will look to the actions and behaviours of others to determine their own.

Telling people the number of people that have already bought your product. Or the number of people that were happy with your service works. For example you can also design behaviour by referring to others who were in a similar situation as the person you are trying to influence. A well-known example is the research on towel re-usage in hotel rooms. By doing one small addition on the little information card that can be found in the hotel rooms. Stating that ‘75% of people staying in this room, reused their towels’ the towel re-usage rate increased with 33%.

Robert Cialdini about social proof:

 

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How do you do. Our name is SUE.

Do you want to learn more?

Suppose you want to learn more about how influence works. In that case, you might want to consider joining our Behavioural Design Academy, our officially accredited educational institution that already trained 2500+ people from 45+ countries in applied Behavioural Design. Or book an in-company training or one-day workshop for your team. In our top-notch training, we teach the Behavioural Design Method© and the Influence Framework©. Two powerful tools to make behavioural change happen in practice.

You can also hire SUE to help you to bring an innovative perspective on your product, service, policy or marketing. In a Behavioural Design Sprint, we help you shape choice and desired behaviours using a mix of behavioural psychology and creativity.

You can download the Behavioural Design Fundamentals Course brochure, contact us here or subscribe to our Behavioural Design Digest. This is our weekly newsletter in which we deconstruct how influence works in work, life and society.

Or maybe, you’re just curious about SUE | Behavioural Design. Here’s where you can read our backstory.

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Selfishness is going to save the world

By All, Behavioural Science Insights, Employee behaviour

We see selfishness as a bad character trait. We should think of each other, the climate and be more sustainable for the greater good right? Wrong! Selfishness can be a good thing to promote difficult to change behaviour. Read more about it below. 

I once had a discussion with the marketing boss of a Dutch NGO. We had provided him with a framing strategy to convince the Netherlands that development aid is actually good for the country. The strategy was to provide insight into how the absence of war, famine and dictatorships in the world around us is incredibly good for a trading country like the Netherlands. It was a perfect and strong counterpoint to the popular right-wing frame that development aid is a “leftist hobby”.

However, he shrugged off this. His words were literally,

If I have to convince people to donate to us in this way, I don’t need them as donors.

I remember very well how shocked I was by so much offensive leftist moral exaltation.

I believe in the reverse approach. If you want to convince people of difficult behaviour change, then the last thing you should do is ask them if they will do it to make the world a better place. Nor by selling them fear and damnation. That is the great tragedy of why do-gooders just can’t get the majority right on their side.
Their recipes suck.

What you have to sell is nothing less than selfishness and gratification.

Would you like to leverage behavioural science to crack your transformation challenges?

You can do this in our fast-paced and evidence-based Behavioural Design Sprint. We have created a brochure telling you all about the details of this approach. Such as the added value, the deliverables, the set up, and more. Should you have any further questions, please feel free to contact us. We are happy to help!

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Sell selfishness and gratification.

What do you care if a multimillionaire will finance your hospital if it’s named after him? What do you care if that arrogant colleague rides up Alpe D’Huez five times for to raise money for the Cancer Fund KWF purely for his own ego? What do you care if electric Porsche drivers are primarily driven by signalling their social status. Are you annoyed by all those rich tourists who flood South African parks and act like colonials? It is precisely because there is super lucrative tourism business model that those parks exist and are not converted into farmland.

We need to stop giving selfishness a bad name.

And leftists also need to embrace it much more blatantly. Do we want a more just society with more consideration for the weakest of the weak? Then ask how multinational corporations and the super-rich can get much more appreciation and social status for their contributions.

Do you want us entrepreneurs to start accelerating the sustainable transition? Gladly! But then, in return for our effort, give us other levers to make our lives easier. If you are a trading union that wants to stand up for workers, then for God’s sake, make heroes out of the employers instead of dragging them through the mud. Even when you are right, you make it incredibly difficult for employers to give in.

In conclusion

We need to stop asking people to do something for the world outside them. Look at how much the sustainable transition is accelerating under the impetus of nicer electric cars, cheap energy bills from solar panels, incredibly delicious plant-based food, or the increased quality of life from hybrid work.

Long live selfishness.

One day it will save the world.

Tom De Bruyne 

How do you do. Our name is SUE.

Do you want to learn more?

Suppose you want to learn more about how influence works. In that case, you might want to consider joining our Behavioural Design Academy, our officially accredited educational institution that already trained 2500+ people from 45+ countries in applied Behavioural Design. Or book an in-company training or one-day workshop for your team. In our top-notch training, we teach the Behavioural Design Method© and the Influence Framework©. Two powerful tools to make behavioural change happen in practice.

You can also hire SUE to help you to bring an innovative perspective on your product, service, policy or marketing. In a Behavioural Design Sprint, we help you shape choice and desired behaviours using a mix of behavioural psychology and creativity.

You can download the Behavioural Design Fundamentals Course brochure, contact us here or subscribe to our Behavioural Design Digest. This is our weekly newsletter in which we deconstruct how influence works in work, life and society.

Or maybe, you’re just curious about SUE | Behavioural Design. Here’s where you can read our backstory.

sue behavioural design

5 problems with traditional user research and how Behavioural Design solves them

By All, Behavioural Science Insights, Customer Behaviour

Product, Service and Experience Designers often complain that they lack killer insights into their users. They often feel flooded with insights to the extent that they have no idea where to start. They complain that the insights often don’t inspire strategy and creativity. 

I regularly get the question about what really differentiates the Behavioural Design Method from other ways of gathering user insights. The Behavioural Design Method integrates user research, strategizing, creative exploration, and prototyping and testing in a single sprint process. We deliberately designed this process to solve some of the problems with traditional user research.

I think there are five problems with more traditional research approaches:

1. The quality and depth of the insights

The problem with traditional market research is that people have no idea what they want; they have a profoundly biased understanding of the drivers of their behaviour. Furthermore, their intentions are highly unpredictable. And yet, our surveys and focus groups rely heavily on what they tell us about themselves and what they think they will do in the future.

Behavioural Design experts take a radically different approach. Instead of asking them what people think or feel, we ask them to explore with us their past behaviour. Because past behaviour never lies. We ask them to share successful journeys and failed journeys. We often do in-depth interviews of more than 1,5 hours. During these interviews, we’re not looking for customer journeys but ‘human journeys’. In a human journey, we look for the struggles, obstacles, beliefs, prejudices, anxieties, hot triggers, habits, social pressure, seductions, and many other psychological forces that shape or sabotage the desired behaviour.

2. The switching cost between research, strategy, and design

The problem with separating research from strategy, and strategy from design, is that a great deal of value gets wasted in the handover between each stage. Every stage produces a summary, and the next team uses that summary as the new point of departure. After the insights turned into strategy and strategy turned into the design, the original insights into the users have often been watered down or were carefully selected to post-rationalize the creative idea that everyone loved.

The Behavioural Design Method is an integrated process for strategizing through prototyping. A single team of two Behavioural Design experts interview the users, analyze their behaviour, explore solutions, design and prototype interventions and test these interventions with the users. This highly structured process eliminates switching costs and puts deep human understanding at the heart of the design process.

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3. The disconnect of the strategy and design team from the user

The most powerful benefit of running a Behavioural Design Sprint is that we bring the psychology of the user into the design process. We always insist that our clients attend at least two in-depth interviews and a full day of prototype testing. This active engagement allows them to experience the humans they designed for: What words do they use to describe their behaviours? What are their frustrations and problems? Which barriers stand in the way of success? Which prejudices do they have about themselves or the product, service or solution? How do they describe success? Etcetera. Going through this empathy phase is an enormous source of inspiration for the team, and it gives them a deep understanding of the psychological forces they need to take into account.

The key is to make them fall in love with the user’s problems. They need to appreciate their irrationality, their difficulty sticking to habits, and their deep desire for help or intelligent support to help them to overcome temptation and laziness. Teams with a deeply human understanding of their users find it much easier to design solutions to solve these problems or help them overcome these obstacles.

4. Expert biases, groupthink and cherry-picking the insights that match our beliefs 

When user insights are summarized in a report or abstract user personas, experts often cherry-pick or bend the meaning of the insights to match their beliefs and prejudices. We tend to project our own beliefs, values and experiences onto the user, or we are overly confident that something that worked in one context will transfer to a new context.

Bringing the human into the design process and prototyping and testing our interventions eliminates expert bias. Prototyping and testing take experts out of their judgement mode by treating every idea as a hypothesis. This way of working generates a context of psychological safety for exploring fresh and unconventional ideas.

Would you like to leverage behavioural science to crack your thorny strategic challenges?

You can do this in our fast-paced and evidence-based Behavioural Design Sprint. We have created a brochure telling you all about the details of this approach. Such as the added value, the deliverables, the set up, and more. Should you have any further questions, please feel free to contact us. We are happy to help!

Download the brochure

Go ahead, there are no strings attached!

5. User personas that don’t inspire strategy and creativity

The power of the Behavioural Design Method is that we think of influence as a set of Behavioural forces. In between current and desired behaviours stand:

  • Pains we can solve
  • Gains we can generate
  • Anxieties we need to take away
  • Comforts we need to replace
  • Jobs-to-be-Done we need to fulfill

In conclusion

By plotting our understanding of the user onto the two-dimensional Influence Framework, you’ll get a much deeper understanding of the psychological forces that shape the users’ beliefs, perceptions, and behaviours.

This two-dimensional model generates a much clearer shared problem experience than traditional user personas. Personas tend to become simple narratives of people’s personalities deprived of deeper meaning. Personas become useless as a source of inspiration when everyone can project their own beliefs and preferences onto them.

 

Tom De Bruyne 

How do you do. Our name is SUE.

Do you want to learn more?

Suppose you want to learn more about how influence works. In that case, you might want to consider joining our Behavioural Design Academy, our officially accredited educational institution that already trained 2500+ people from 45+ countries in applied Behavioural Design. Or book an in-company training or one-day workshop for your team. In our top-notch training, we teach the Behavioural Design Method© and the Influence Framework©. Two powerful tools to make behavioural change happen in practice.

You can also hire SUE to help you to bring an innovative perspective on your product, service, policy or marketing. In a Behavioural Design Sprint, we help you shape choice and desired behaviours using a mix of behavioural psychology and creativity.

You can download the Behavioural Design Fundamentals Course brochure, contact us here or subscribe to our Behavioural Design Digest. This is our weekly newsletter in which we deconstruct how influence works in work, life and society.

Or maybe, you’re just curious about SUE | Behavioural Design. Here’s where you can read our backstory.

sue behavioural design

How to motivate your team or employees

By All, Behavioural Science Insights

Do you want to know how you can boost motivation in your team? Astrid Groenewegen explains in her video what you can do to make this happen. 

Experiential bonuses

Think back to when you last rewarded an employee. It probably was with a raise or bonus. Did you know this is not the best way to boos motivation. Monetary gives a short surge in motivation, but is doesn’t last long. Ofcourse, baseline rewards are good because your employees deserve to be compensated for their hard work. But for motivation there is a better way to achieve this.

You should start focussing on experiential bonuses: free lunches, gifts, dinners with their partner, a trip to Disney with their family. These can be standard gifts at Christmas or unexpected gifts tailored to their situation (but not money).

It will boost pride, loyalty and work satisfaction over a longer period of time. Just so you know, if you ask them what they would rather have (money or a gift) they will choose the money. But know that the satisfaction with the cash will run out soon. Gifts will build good will. Next time you have to gift, think beyond the money. It boost appreciation.

Tip: Humans love appreciation not bonusus. Appreciation boosts the social relationship between employer and employee which last longer and has a far greater positive effect.

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