By now, many of us are pretty familiar with Nudge theory. In the UK we link it most readily to the work of the Behavioural Insights Team. These are the people who brought us the Opt-out stakeholder pension; road signs which say “take your litter home – others do”; and tax demands which tell you that “98% of people in your area pay on time”.
It’s impressive stuff, and Nudge seems to have a good track record in influencing behaviour. So perhaps the only surprise is that it’s taken so long for the behavioural insights squad to train their sights on learning and development. But it’s happening now, and at the forefront is the CEO of Humu, Laszlo Bock.
Bock – former Senior Vice President of People Operations at Google – has some hard-hitting views about learning and development. Such as that the annual £371billion US spend on training is “wasted”. If we are serious about changing behaviour in organisations he contends, the answer lies in the choice architecture beloved of behavioural psychologists, and the driver of change will be digital communication.
His company has built a Nudge Engine containing thousands of digital nudge messages which can be intelligently deployed to provide timely, personalised and simple prompts for employees to behave in specific ways. Often the target behaviour is experimental, or a stretch behaviour so that the recipient is in effect learning by doing something challenging.
So for instance if your learning need is around developing confidence, you may get a nudge message just before a meeting with encouragement to “say something in the first 10 minutes” or “only ask questions in this meeting”. But what appears to really make the difference is the architecture around these nudges, driving behavioural changes which are targeted, sustained and a basis for profound personal and collective learning.
If you feel all this sounds a little scary, you may be getting visions of Sam Lowry in Brazil or HAL in 2001: A Space Odyssey. And there is certainly justified concern about the potential to use these behaviour influencing tools for unethical purposes, or to persuade people to adopt practices which later turn out to be harmful or erroneous
For those interested in testing the potential benefits of nudge-based development, a little scepticism might therefore be advisable but as a practitioner I can see great promise where well-designed digital engines are linked effectively with clear and worthwhile goals.
It’s an area my company, Passe-Partout, is beginning to explore – using learning apps as part of all our programmes to provide a simple mechanism for targeted nudge communication. We’re really keen to create a conversation within the UK L&D community about these approaches, and what can be learned from early successes and misfires. If you have a similar interest, come and see us on Stand G70 at WOL19.
Award Winning Personal Best Programmes on show at World of Learning
We are delighted to be exhibiting at WOLCE again this year. Our Personal Best programme has achieved such a lot over the last 12 months, since our las time at the NEC. We now have over 2,500 graduates from the programme and the stories of personal success are awe inspiring! That’s part of the beauty of this development – people achieve things for themselves whether it be in their personal, work or creative life. They then they apply the tools again and again……..it just keeps giving. It’s fundamental premise is based on current learning from neuroscience and behavioural psychology – but delivered in a way that is practical, digestible and fun.
We test all aspects of this programme against what we know creates “sticky” learning and this approach has been positively received in our new offer; Personal Best Leader and Personal Best Young People.
We have a full team on stand G70 and can’t wait to tell you more about Personal Best. Watch out for us we will be sporting our neuroscience tee shirts. Also you won’t miss me – after a crashing fall off my horse last week I’ve got a sexy neck collar. So determined to be with you I’ve been self -practising all these tools…….and do you know what? They work………..
Alex has helped many of the country’s leading employers to improve leadership, management and employee engagement.
Latest posts by Alex Taskin (see all)
- Is learning the next frontier for behavioural science? - October 11, 2019
- Are managers doomed to extinction? And are driverless cars the future… - October 10, 2018