Reasons why projects aimed at behaviour change often fail
Interventions of governments, NGOs and businesses aimed at behaviour change, often have high aspirations but insufficient impact. Even when teams working on change are skilled, highly motivated and have adequate resources. What are causes for low impact? To name a few:
- lack of understanding of behaviour and social context
- false assumptions of how we take decisions and act
- neglecting barriers for behaviour change
- ignoring proven models when designing behaviour change strategies
What I learned from an intensive Behavior Design training
Have you ever been disappointed at your efforts aimed at behaviour change? Dr. BJ Fogg developed the Fogg Behaviour Model to analyse and design behaviour change. He leads the famous Behaviour Design Lab at Stanford, consults innovation teams and provides intensive trainings for professionals.
I signed up for his Bootcamp to find answers for these questions. And I was lucky to be part of a small group of twelve dedicated professionals in September 2015 and learn from him personally in his private home, overlooking the river.
The first crucial ingredient for successful change, is helping people do what they already want to do. We often want to change the motives of our audiences. We often don’t realize we are breaking habits. Changing motives and breaking habits are both very hard, with a high risk of failure.
A second vital element of winning recipes, is to trigger the right sequence of baby steps. Many projects fail because they have great aspirations but did not break this down in doable small steps. Why is this so important? Because one first success leads to new successes. Change is powered by success and blocked by failure. You have to create success momentum!
A third indispensable factor is simplicity: make behaviour easy to do. Think about the popular apps you use on your phone. They don’t ask you to read long manuals. Step by step you are lured in.
So make sure you enable your target groups and facilitate the desired behaviour by making it simple and providing support when they need it.
These are just a few examples of the building blocks for successful programs. If we design our programmes using proven models & methods, they are much more likely to succeed.
Recently, I used the Fogg Behaviour Model during a research project for the social innovation programme of the Dutch Ministry of Economic Affairs. It proved a useful framework to analyse why decision makers in commercial real estate do not use green innovations to make existing buildings more sustainable. The research brought to light how their behaviour can be influenced effectively.
Can I help you to improve?
I assist teams in several ways. I can teach your team via a presentation, a workshop or a training. I coach and consult teams working on a project. And I conduct research to understand behaviour and context. This is the foundation for the design of effective strategies. Contact me if you want to explore opportunities for collaboration.