Prototying for behavior change

Designing for behavior change

In a previous post I described the Kick-Off workshop of a project with the Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung in India on how to change the patriarchal mindset. We support the FES partner organizations in order to think about their work in the field of gender equality from a new perspective. By building empathy for people who are usually not in their focus – the withholders of change – we hope to come up with some interventions that can make a difference for school girls, business women, female elected government representative and ultimately the whole society.

What happened so far

Since the last workshop the participants were supposed to conduct their own research and come up with initial ideas. It was great to see how the different organizations benefited from the empathy research approach. New insights came up, which they had not thought about before. All participants agreed that this way of thinking from different perspectives  – especially the one of the withholders – and actually engaging with the people provided some very new insights and encouraged them to think about their work in a different way. Not only did they learn new things about their field of work, but also new methods were tested.

Design for behavioral change

This time the workshop had the goal to introduce the concepts of prototyping and iteration to the participants. Inspired by their research the different organizations came up with three low-fidelity idea concepts which they presented at the beginning of the workshop.

As behavioral economists have shown, our decisions and our life in general is often much less conscious then we think. For the workshop we heavily drew from the insights provided by Dan Ariely in his books and online resources Especially the concepts taught in his PlusAcumen course on design for behavioral change were exceptionally useful.

The participants in our workshop first learned about six simple mechanisms that can be used to introduce behavioral change:

  • Simplicity & Defaults
  • Concreteness
  • Pre-Commitment & Loss Aversion
  • Choice Architecture
  • Incentives
  • Social Proof

We then conducted a world café with four stations dedicated to four of the concepts. Each participant could easily contribute his or her view to each of the mechanisms. The powerful discussions were documented on posters and presented to the rest of the group.

Behavior change through social proof

© Moritz Gekeler

Iterate in order to succeed

After the discussion the participants reviewed their ideas and prepared a first iteration. How can the newly learned concepts be included into their project ideas? Based on these iterated concepts they prepared a quick pitch, in order to show their iterations to the other teams.

Using a customized version of Edward de Bonos „Six Thinking Hats“ the participants criticized and improved their concepts in a collaborative effort across organizational boundaries. Each partner organization worked closely with the other to improve their idea and a second iteration evolved.

Prototyping complex concepts

Finally we used the visual storytelling tool SAP Scenes to create a ‚prototype‘ of the concept idea. This is an amazing tool which can be freely used for non-profit projects based on the creative commons license.

By telling a story with pictures the participants were able to convey the idea very quickly. Based on the concept of the heroes’ journey they came up with a story that describes how their idea will change the world. An interesting discussion came up, which I had not anticipated: The participants were quite uncomfortable to reduce the complexity of their field to a simple framework such as the heroes’ journey. I would be very much interested in hearing other peoples’ stories about their experiences in this regard.

Creating visual stories

© Moritz Gekeler

What happens next?

Based on the SCENES-cartoons they now will iterate the concepts further. The cartoons can be easily tested with other stakeholders from various backgrounds and ultimately each team will have a better understanding on how each idea can be made real.

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