While there is no rocket science to making behavior change, small changes in your approach can make a big difference. So I am always on the lookout for evidence-based practices that may hold small but important insights into how we can make lasting behavior change.
For example. a new article in the Psychological Bulletin reviews 138 studies that examine the effects of monitoring your progress towards a goal to achieving that goal. While the connection may seem to be common sense, the real issue is how to I do it to maximize the effect. Said directly, is there a way to monitor progress to maximize its impact on goal attainment?
According to the evidence the answer is yes – make it frequent, public and recorded. To quote the meta study:
“Furthermore, changes in the frequency of progress monitoring mediated the effect of the interventions on goal attainment. Moderation tests revealed that progress monitoring had larger effects on goal attainment when the outcomes were reported or made public, and when the information was physically recorded. Taken together, the findings suggest that monitoring goal progress is an effective self-regulation strategy, and that interventions that increase the frequency of progress monitoring are likely to promote behavior change.”
The daily huddles that characterize successful SCRUM coding teams and lean daily improvement efforts are examples of how well this results holds up in practice.
Many of us have seen the sit-down stations in drug stores that have you put an arm in a sleeve and give you a blood pressure and pulse reading. The folks at Higi have gone further to create a interactive health kiosk that captures blood pressure, pulse, weight, body fat and BMI and uses it to compute an overall health score called the Higi Score.
You create an account, provide some basic information such as height and age and your progress is tracked. You can access your info from the station, a computer or an app.
There are levels, awards and even a way to create a winner-take-all challenge with a group of like minded Higi users.
They have nearly 10,000 stations across the US and some evidence that the Higi can reduce blood pressure in people that are hypertensive.
The evidence comes from a 3-year study involving 159,000 hypertensive users that was presented at an American Heart Association Meeting:
“Nearly half lowered their systolic blood pressure to below 140 mmHg, the cut-off for high blood pressure according to AHA. Both men and women across all age brackets saw lowered blood pressure over the course of the study.”
From a cognitive design standpoint interesting features and functions include the gamification and the way relatively complex health data (weight, BP, pulse and BMI) is rolled up into one score.
If designed correctly, this composite score can give me something that provides a signal that supports how I learn from feedback better than any of the individual measures.
The Weight Watchers program attempts to do this with a point system for foods.
Add in some gamification or socialization features that make it feel good to try and change the score and you may be able to get some lasting health behavior change.
Anyone up for a Higi challenge?
Tom Davenport offers some interesting insights into why knowledge management has fallen off the executive agenda and is seemingly on its last gasp. Reasons include – it is too hard to change knowledge-related behaviors in a corporate culture, Google made it super easy to find knowledge outside of the organizations, the field collapsed into SharePoint and it ignored analytics. All true.
His prediction is that it will not stage a come back. IBM’s Watson capability is now stealing the knowledge show!
They have received $542M in start-up funds to bring magic back into the world….
“Using our Dynamic Digitized Lightfield Signal™, imagine being able to generate images indistinguishable from real objects and then being able to place those images seamlessly into the real world.”
Mana for Cognitive Designers!
In cognitive design we create artifacts that generate specific mental states when seen or used. In addition to core functionality and ease of use, cognitive designs reliably deliver a particular think-and-feel experience. Retro car designs that invoke nostalgia, educational events that generate wonder and websites that help you forge deep personal relationships with others are examples.
But designing think-and-feel experiences that meet deeply felt psychological needs is hard. One reason is that you must understand what other people really think and feel. And that requires something that business have not normally focused on – empathy.
But all that seems to be changing. According to a recent column by Geoff Colvin in Fortune, Employers are Looking for New Hires With Something Extra: Empathy. The author did a quick online search for jobs paying over $100K involving empathetic traits and got a thousand hits with positions from firms ranging from McKinsey to Mars. Brad Smith, CEO of Inuit (a $4B software company) hits it on the head:
Designing emotion into the product is now something you really have to think about explicitly and measure yourself against”.
This is a big claim from a technology company and one that signals cognitive design is starting to move into the mainstream.
- We want ourselves
- We can build
- Few others see as worthwhile.
Psychology Press recently launched a Century of Knowledge in Cognitive Science, offering readers free online access to nearly 2000 titles for the month of June. Some of the titles will be useful to cognitive designers. For example, check out the practical insights in the areas of decision-making or anxiety, two major cognitive design challenges.
You get complete access to the book from your browser. Check them out and reply to this post with titles especially relevant for designers and innovators.