Feb 04 Takeaways from BJ Fogg’s Behavior Design Bootcamp

As part of his professional development at Rêve, Sr. Strategist Taylor Larson recently attended the Behavior Design bootcamp organized by innovator and behavior scientist BJ Fogg.

Who is BJ Fogg?

BJ is one of the founders and foremost thought leaders in the emerging field of behavioral design. He started the Stanford Persuasive Technology Lab and the Stanford Behavior Design Lab. BJ spends some of his time teaching at Stanford and some of his time consulting with various companies on improving their products and services. Name a company that tries to help people create healthy behaviors and habits and chances are BJ has worked with them at some point.

What was the most memorable moment at the BJ Fogg bootcamp?

The group was basking in the warm glow of a setting sun on the shores of the Russian River, BJ’s geese lazily swimming in the tributary behind him, the crisp smell of creosote brush occasionally drifting down the valley, and a flip chart firmly planted in the pebbles of the river bank. BJ begins by punnily explaining the utilization of motivation waves in behavior design. He first describes the futile attempt that most organizations undergo to change a person’s motivation. An endeavor made difficult by competition among motivators, personal differences in motivating factors, and changes in motivation over time. BJ goes on to explain an alternative method by which you watch for potential spikes in motivation caused by other observable factors. When a spike is seen, you trigger your user to take action. The magnitude of the spike should determine the type of behavior you trigger—the larger the spike, the newer or more difficult a behavior change you can trigger.

What three insights have stuck with you and informed your work at Rêve?

1) Information-action fallacy: People rarely change behavior as a result of being educated or informed. Take 30 seconds and think of an example where people have sustainably changed their behavior at scale due solely to information. It’s hard, isn’t it? The world is riddled with examples of information failing to change behavior, everything from eating healthy to global warming. Despite overwhelming evidence, we are still eating McDonalds and driving vehicles with the square footage of a tiny home.

2) Emotion creates habit: It’s evolution and it makes a lot of sense when you look at it from that perspective. Over millions and millions of years, emotion was created as a tool to reinforce behavior and increase the likelihood of repeating that behavior over time, thus creating habits. So if you want your costumers to develop a habit, make sure they feel something.

3) Start small: Break down behaviors into smaller parts and pieces. This lowers the barrier to creating action, requires less motivation, and eliminates behavior fatigue and so it’s much easier for you to facilitate or simplify the action that is desired. If you want to put this theory to the test, try BJ’s Tiny Habits class where you identify behaviors you want to create and learn how to make them habits.

Where will you be directing your curiosity about behavior design next? Where’s your next frontier?

BJ’s work has a huge amount of applicability to service design and I would like to map that thinking to some of our tools and client experiences. Equally interesting is the applicability in change management. Mapping the desired behaviors of those in or outside of an organization and then systematically finding ways to simplify those behaviors is an elegant way to think about an old problem.

Rêve Consulting
Rêve Consulting

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