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Monday, October 29, 2012

Online Systems for Behavior Change

I've always believe that to truly have impact on performance, we need to be experts at Behavior Change.   I've written a few times over the years on aspects of solutions that ultimately drive a change in behavior that leads to performance improvement.  I'm now working on an very interesting project that is designed to lead to some important changes in behavior that has already had dramatic impacts.  But we want to push for more, so ultimately this post is asking for help, please comment or tweet (add @tonykarrer) on:
What online systems have you seen that ultimately drive behavior change?

What do these systems do that leads to behavior change?
For example, there are solutions out there like:
that look to be interesting - although I don't have insights into specifics.  I would love to compile a list of other such solutions.  I also would love to hear about aspects of these systems that you feel drive behavior change.
Going back through my own writing/thoughts, it's remained fairly consistent over the years.  In Data Driven, I said:
If you want to really improve the numbers via a performance improvement initiative then you need to start and end with the data.
This solution relies heavily on humans to push each other to ultimately change behavior.  Using data as a means of assessing how you are doing from an action and results standpoint is an important aspect.
This is reinforced by Goals Accountability and Social Support for Big Impact where I used the responses to a monthly Big Question to arrive at the following as the basis for driving behavior change:
  • Guide through setting meaningful personal goals
  • Teach how you can hold yourself accountable to those goals
  • Help the user set up social support
  • Teach the social supporters how they can help hold the personal accountable
  • Send lots of reminders to the individual and the supporters
When I've looked at other articles on Behavior Change, I found similar kinds of conclusions.
Most of the behavior change strategies, however, boil down to the following three “levers”:
  1. Increase the number of triggers leading to the desirable behavior.
  2. Enhance ability to perform the behavior (make it easier to do)
  3. Amplify motivation for doing the behavior with intrinsic and extrinsic motivators.
I'm definitely a big fan of The Power of Habit book.  I think there's a lot to be learned.  But for right now, I'm most interested in how these translate into online solutions that change behavior.
Please contribute and I will post back more on this.


Unknown said...

Are you interested in online systems for children and teens? I use in my classroom. I am a behavior support teacher and I work with students whose behavior impedes their learning. My goal is to help them develop coping skills and strategies for success in life.

Tony Karrer said...

Laura - that's an interesting one. I'll definitely go through it.

Clark Quinn said...

Tony, two things, neither about technology. One is the folks that wrote the book "Crucial Conversations" also have one out about "Change Anything", a book about how to change any behavior.

I once also looked seriously at how you change people's attitudes (may or may not be relevant). At core, it seemed to consist of several steps:

* make people aware of their attitudes (they may not be)

* show them alternatives and the tradeoffs

* have them commit to an alternative

* support them through it

Good luck.

Tony Karrer said...

Thanks Clark. The site is rather limited, but I think your model is well stated. I will get the book to go through it.

Ara Ohanian said...

Tony, I’m also a believer in the need to focus on behaviour change as a result of learning. And believe that systems can help us .However, not all behaviour is the same. Systems are probably best at helping us with easily described things that we do, such as how we deal with customers, or, the way we carry out an engineering task. At the other end of the scale there are deeply ingrained behaviors which take a cultural shift to change for example, sexism and racism. Systems can help us with the former but with the latter we need strong leadership and a clear communications strategy throughout an organization

Tony Karrer said...

Great point Ara in terms of deeply held beliefs and related behaviors.

How many psychologists does it take to change a light bulb?

Only one, but the light bulb has to want to change.

It does make me wonder how much people who we are trying to help really do want to change, are they aware of it (as Clark says), ...

Jacques said...

Hi Tony

Thanks for introducing the topic of behaviour change. I do believe that, as Learning practitioners, our sole aim is to bring about change of behaviour - start doing things in a new way.

Have you explored the link between online learning and the way the brain works? What needs to be incorporated into the learning design to optimise brain functioning and subsequently bring about new behaviour?

Anonymous said...

Hi Tony -

Richard Boyatzis (Primal Leadership, Resonant Leadership) incorporates something into his model that I think starts people off on a good foot towards positive change and also serves as a great touchstone throughout their process: start by creating a compelling, emotional image of what reality will be like when you have achieved the desired change - what you will look like, what you will feel like, who you will be surrounded by, etc.

I can imagine a system that would ask users guiding questions to get them to that vision and also use an interactive mechanism to remind them of that vision...

Tony Karrer said...

@Jacques - I'm exploring the linkage, but its a complex field and turning it into meaningful design is the challenge.

@Devta - great point, but again, it can be a real challenge to get that vision exercise to happen in an online environment. I'd love to see an example.

Anonymous said...

Hi Tony - it is certainly a lot easier to work with a living, breathing human who can pick up on your cues and get you to a place where your vision is really vibrant. There are ways to simulate this without a human presence by asking leading questions. For example:

- Imagine that you have been asleep for 3 years. You wake up and everything about you, your environment, your job, your family is exactly as you had always hoped it would be.

-- How do you feel about the way things are in this picture? [to make sure strong emotion is part of the vision...]
-- What does this picture look like? [to make sure that the vision is real enough that they can envision it]
-- Who is there and what are they doing?
-- What did you have to do differently to make this picture possible? [to see their role in the change]