When you’re crafting a communications strategy to encourage positive behaviour change or facilitating a process to unleash new ideas and breakthrough innovation on a project where do you start? Over time I’ve come across a range of online tools, usually free, that provide useful frameworks or helpful stimulus for shaping change and driving innovation. It’s really inspiring to see how digital media is facilitating the rapid sharing and diffusion of smart and practical ways to create change. This article is both an opportunity for me to share some of the tools I’ve found most useful and an invitation for you to use the comment functionality below to share any you’ve found particularly good with other readers.
Tools for communication that changes behaviour
When you’re wrestling with the challenges of the attitude-behaviour gap to encourage more sustainable consumption and grappling with the emotional and often-irrational nature of the human animal (aka the people your business interacts with) you need all the help you can get. I’ve found insights from the worlds of behavioural psychology and particularly the relatively new discipline of user experience (UX) design particularly useful. Here are some of the best:
Find 101 approaches to influencing behaviour through design organised into eight lenses such as the ‘interaction lens’ or the ‘ludic lens’. Even better, they’re completely free to download.
This tool offers a wide range of scientific insights into the psychology of conversion grouped into five dimensions. While it’s focused on online UX design, the thinking can equally be applied to encouraging more sustainable behaviour; for example the principle of ‘equivalence framing’ is presented in terms of persuading online purchase, but can equally be applied to persuading people to make more sustainable purchase choices. 46 insights are openly available on the website, but you need an access code to view the full tool.
A four-stage approach to creating products and services that form habits. More detail of the thinking behind this trigger, action, reward, investment approach can be found in this slideshare deck or by reading the book.
50 cards, each featuring an insight into human behaviour and how to translate this into better web design; the principles can easily be adapted to tackling the challenges of promoting sustainable consumption; for example an approach like ‘chunking’ (grouping information into familiar manageable units) works as well for explaining a complex sustainability concept as to helping someone navigate a website. Out of print currently, but worth getting when available again – in the mean-time, check out the bookshelf that inspired them.
Tools for ideation and innovation
It’s great to see a prestigious educational establishment like Stanford’s d.school freely publish their best design thinking tools for everyone to use. Either download their full design school bootcamp bootleg toolkit or take a more focused approach by downloading: The understand mixtape: discovering insights via human engagement. The experiment mixtape: advancing your solution via prototyping. The ideate mixtape: generating unexpected ideas via reframing your challenges.
NESTA has brought together 30 practical tools to trigger and support social innovation, grouped into 8 handy categories, such as ‘develop a clear plan’ or ‘sustain and implement’. You may well have come across quite a few of the tools before, but it’s really useful to have them all in one place.
Create your own tools
There are lots of examples of businesses creating brilliant behaviour change and innovation tools of their own, like Nike’s Making app or The Agency of Design’s Energy Trumps. In my work at Given we think ‘cool tools’ can be a brilliant way of engaging employees and customers. This can be something as simple as an app for Virgin Media’s customers to understand how they can help children to get the most from the web while keeping them safe online by becoming a ‘switched-on family’, to creating a Sustainable Brand Builder tool for P&G’s marketing teams around the world to first understand their category’s LCA impact and then provide guidance to focus innovation and communication to address it. What tools could you create for your suppliers, colleagues or customers to change behaviour or spark innovation?
Please comment below with examples of any relevant tools that you’d like to share with other readers.