This is the translated version. The original text is in German.
In times of constant change, buzzwords also change more frequently. Nudging, for example, is on the rise. Never heard of it before? Then it’s time, because such a hype is sometimes quickly over.
Predictably influencing behaviour
Let’s start with the original definition and then slowly work our way forward deductively: The term nudge is originally used in behavioural economics to describe a predictable behavioural outcome. It refers to a predictable influence on human behaviour without having to resort to prohibitions and commandments or change economic incentives. Sounds good, especially if some people are now thinking about their challenges in personnel development. To arouse the desire for further training with a small (thought) impulse, without noticeably scrimping the employee – this is a tried and tested idea for both sides, which should find supporters in principle. Monetary incentives, on the other hand, are probably only assessed positively on one side. So if I subsume this under the requirements for personnel development, the hype does not appear unjustified. If it works. From my studies, however, I know that simple subsumption will not be successful, it also depends on conclusiveness. So let’s take a closer look at the details.
Dear customers, cash desk 2 opens for you
Basically, nudging is about controlled behaviour. If, for example, we are shown relief and/or savings, we move within a given radius of action. You can’t find yourself here yet? Let my tell you a story from yesterday evening: the shops were nearly closing and I needed to do some shopping for dinner. “Perhaps also a beer after work, it has been a long day”, I thought. And then: Only one chash desk in the supermarket is open, a long queue waiting in front of me. The self-predicted waiting time on the basis of a scan of the shopping trolley filling quantities … sighs … the beer after work moves into far distance. But then suddenly the redeeming sentence: “Dear customers, cash desk 2 opens for you”. Now a Sherlock Holmes-worthy reflection row starts: Where will I be faster? There’s no cashier at desk 2 yet, some queue changers are already leaving … am I faster in my queue at the end after all?
Situation defused – by separation
Positive communication definitely creates one thing: relaxation of the current situation through separation. For all those who do not shop so often under mostly unnecessary time pressure: The scenario can be applied analogously to traffic jams and recommended diversions via navigation devices or traffic radio. I believe that this is also the origin of my hesitation with regard to new cash registers: in the experience that the alternative route with its numerous traffic lights and nice towns usually takes considerably more time than the actual waiting time for a traffic jam.
In any case, there is a differentiation of target groups with a positive perception: The experienced do not necessarily take up the new option offered, they already know the second side of the coin. The inexperienced enjoy the new, seemingly better option. With the effect that not everyone acts like the lemmings and thus the challenging situation can be defused by separation.
Designing necessities in a challenging way
Recommendation management follows a similar approach: If there is a basic need to deal with a certain topic, it can be guided in the desired direction by incentives. When installing software, for example, there is a choice between standard (recommended) and manual (for advanced users). This implies a simple way where the provider can perform all his preferred installations, but the user has little effort or no special knowledge required. The same applies to the soccer goal printed in the urinal: the basic need for use is there, now it is a matter of doing this in the best possible way for the owner, i.e. with as little maintenance as possible due to the scattering effect. And for the user the simple necessity becomes more interesting, because more challenges are arranged. By the way, the same happens with step counters in Smartwatch, fitness wristbands or smartphones. Here the user pushes himself in the direction of sufficient movement during the day. Oh, I still need 3,000 steps. So quickly further.
Application in an entrepreneurial context
I think the principle of nudging has become clear. And the opportunities with regard to a broad target group, too. At the end of the day, the system “only” needs to be aligned with your own requirements. So how could a business scenario look like in this context?
I recently visited a customer to analyze the production process for the conception of a training application. I had the pleasure of looking into the production process. Always a highlight for me. During the inspection it turned out that despite detailed and continuous discussions, trainings and instructions, occupational safety is not always taken into account in the event of malfunctions, especially when it comes to protective clothing. If I now place the only storage possibility for protective clothing – that cannot be worn permanently – in front of the area for Intervention in the process, i.e. the user has to take it aside first in order to be able to act at all, he will always have it in focus. And they will use it rather than looking for another storage space.
Placing the canteen’s weekly meal plan on the intranet is also a good way for employees to read the company’s most important news as they click their way there. Speaking of which, I’ll take a look at what we’ll have to eat in Cologne tomorrow. Hopefully it will be roast meat with mustard from Düsseldorf. You can imagine, it was not. So I quickly had to jump into the supermarket, now I’m hungry for it. Maybe get a beer after work. It was a long day. “Dear customers, cash desk 2 opens for you” … Nudge.
Nudging cannot change the world surely, since everyone reacts individually to it. But it can influence thetarget group and thus extend and/or sharpen it. I am looking forward to exchanging ideas about this with you. And whether nudging and gamification are equal – that is another controversial topic. Now I have set a nudge for the dear @Roman Rackwitz, the comment is already burning under his nails. I will enjoy the discourse at the “Feierabendbier” – the beer after work. I got that by now. I have decided for cash desk 2. And won’t tell you if I was faster. Why don’t you try it out for yourself? Nudge!