There is one news item that I have been following very keenly in the evening newspaper , going back home from work, daily. It caught my attention a week ago and ever since, it has been on my radar. The news is not related to the bad state of economy, nor connected with sports , movies or music. It is the ‘Get London Reading’ news story published on the front page of London Evening Standard newspaper. This caught my attention because of the very title of the campaign and the positive vibes being generated and the potential impact and change it would create. The very title of this initiative is a great example of a behavior definition, nevertheless if it is a tad bit broad and ambitious, if not ambiguous.
Behavior change is possible
In my last post, we looked at what behaviors are and the main types of behaviors. Some people actually asked me the difference between a behavior, goal and task. When I have seen the ‘Get London Reading’ campaign, it instantly occurred to me as an example to help clarify this. A quick look at the campaign page hosted online will give you an indication why I refer to this as an exemplary behavior change programme. Well, in this post , let us take the next step and understand the Behavior Model touching upon the relationship between motivation, ability and triggers. I wish to draw some insights from Fogg Behavior Model (aka FBM) proposed by Prof. B.J.Fogg, using my examples.
The Poppy Appeal – Persuasion success story
A couple weeks ago, people in the UK observed Remembrance Sunday paying tributes to the armed forces personnel who sacrificed their lives in the line of service. People from all walks of life came forward to commemorate the bravery of soldiers in various ways. There were donations collected in different forms , the most visible of them being the Web site making the ‘poppy appeal’ and of course, the sale of poppies on the roads. You would have seen many people in London and other cities wearing and flaunting these poppies proudly, to show their support to the Royal British Legion. The poppy appeal program is a massive hit, garnering generous amounts of funds, besides all the attention. I wish to take the poppy appeal case as a success s story to elaborate my case about persuasion and behavior change.
Will do -> Want to do + can do
Let us consider a case when somebody comes and asks you to donate funds for the cause of soldiers. How many people will donate the money? Notice that some people do want to donate, because it is serving the noble cause of helping the defence services personnel, albeit in a small way. But not always do you find that all these motivated people can actually give. So, it is not enough to want to give funds, but most importantly, people should also have the ability to donate amounts. Great, so you found some people who want to and also who can donate. Is the job done? Not exactly. They need to be asked, reminded and provided with ways to donate . These are all the various triggers used to facilitate these motivated and able people to take the step and donate the amounts. Then and only then, would the motivated and able people come forward to donate.
Fogg Behavior Model (FBM)
So, from the above example, let us try and generalize this using the Behavior Model proposed by Prof. B.J.Fogg, Director of Persuasive Technologies Lab, Stanford University. You would have understood that people will do a task, not only when they are motivated but also when they have the ability. In other words, the first step in the process of behavior change is to identify those people who have high motivation. The next step is to simplify the task or process, or to increase their ability to do the task.
However, it does not always happen that these people actually do the tasks, until they are triggered with the right call to action. These triggers have to be placed on the journeys or paths of these people, at the right time, in the right place and with the right visibility. That’s the secret behind many successful products and services, which have been able to bring about a behavior change in their users.
Change is in the air – Lean & agile
You would have seen that this persuasion and behavior modeling is all about change, but change of a different kind. Organizations and products have been trying to induce the behavior change in the people. The beauty of this model is that it perfectly aligns with the spirit of other successful contemporary models for change management . These include but not limited to Agile product development and lean startup. All these models and schools of thought have an almost similar ideology. Agile product development is about identifying and responding and managing changes with the right people, tools and techniques. Lean startup embraces the philosophy of doing something in a small way leading up to a gradual and sustainable growth model. The behavior model encompassing behavior modeling, behavior change and persuasive design combines the best practices from psychology, change management, design and product engineering areas.
Mantras for changing behaviors
FBM is a powerful model which is applicable across different industries, product lines and market segments. It is very apt in the scenarios where you wish to make a long term behavior change, with an aim to make a positive habit among your customers and users. Here are some tips and guidelines, given by Prof. Fogg, based on the points discussed in this post.
- Behavior depends on how motivated users are, their ability and response to the right triggers for action
- People’s behaviors can be changed by motivating them, making it simple and/or inciting them to act
- Place triggers on the paths of motivated people who are able to do the behaviors
- Habits can be formed in people through behavior change
- Focus on increasing ability by making tasks easier for users
- Help people do what they already want to do
Hope you enjoyed reading this post and it is as helpful to you as the previous ones. Until next post, ciao!