When wrestling with the attitude-behaviour gap and grappling with the emotional and often-irrational nature of the human animal (aka any of your business's stakeholders), you’ll need all the help you can get. Whether you’re crafting a communications strategy to encourage positive behaviour change or facilitating a process to unleash new ideas and breakthrough innovation on a project, thankfully, digital media is facilitating the rapid sharing and diffusion of smart, practical ways to create change.
Over time, I’ve come across a range of online tools, usually free, that provide useful frameworks or helpful stimulus for shaping change and driving innovation. Here I’ll share some of the tools I’ve found most useful, and I invite you to use the comment functionality below to share your favorites with other readers.
Communication tools that also influence behaviour
I’ve found insights from the worlds of behavioural psychology and user experience (UX) design particularly useful. Here are some of the best:
Find 101 approaches to influencing behaviour through design, organised into eight lenses such as the ‘interaction lens’ or the ‘ludic lens.’ Even better, they’re completely free to download.
This tool offers a wide range of scientific insights into the psychology of conversion grouped into five dimensions. While it’s focused on online UX design, the thinking can equally be applied to encouraging more sustainable behaviour; for example, the principle of ‘equivalence framing’ is presented in terms of persuading online purchases but can equally be applied to persuading people to make more sustainable purchases. 46 insights are openly available on the website, but you need an access code to view the full tool.
A four-stage approach to creating products and services that form habits. More detail of the thinking behind this trigger-action-reward-investment approach can be found in this Slideshare deck or by reading the book.
50 cards, each featuring an insight into human behaviour and how to translate this into better web design. The principles can easily be adapted to tackling the challenges of promoting sustainable consumption – for example an approach such as ‘chunking’ (grouping information into familiar manageable units) works as well for explaining a complex sustainability concept as for helping someone navigate a website. Out of print currently, but worth getting when available again – in the meantime, check out the bookshelf that inspired them.
Tools for ideation and innovation
It’s great to see a prestigious educational establishment such as Stanford’s d.school make its best design thinking tools free for everyone to use. Either download the full design school bootcamp bootleg toolkit or take a more focused approach by downloading:
- The understand mixtape — discovering insights via human engagement.
- The experiment mixtape — advancing your solution via prototyping.
- The ideate mixtape — generating unexpected ideas via reframing your challenges.
NESTA has brought together 30 practical tools to trigger and support social innovation, grouped into 8 handy categories, such as ‘develop a clear plan’ and ‘sustain and implement.’ You may well have come across quite a few of the tools before, but it’s really useful to have them all in one place.
Create your own tools
There are more and more examples of companies creating brilliant sustainable consumption tools of their own, such as Nike’s Making app or The Agency of Design’s Energy Trumps, both of which facilitate selection of less impactful materials for manufacturing. Here at Given, we think ‘cool tools’ can be a brilliant way of engaging employees and customers — from an app for Virgin Media customers to help children to get the most from the Web while keeping them safe online, to a tool for P&G’s global marketing teams to understand their products' impacts in order to guide innovation and shape communication to address them.
What tools could you create for your suppliers, colleagues or customers to change behaviour or spark innovation?