Behaviour change… that old chesnut

Elon Musk is a master of behaviour change. His ability to set goals and reassess them towards a final solution to a wicked problem is pretty awesome. I’m sure he hires some brilliant folks too, it’s what smart people do ūüėČ I’d like to invite you take your time and go read the article which so evocatively and succinctly captures the magic of decision making by a master such a Musk. It is so craftily captured by waitbutwhy in this awesome drawing of how Elon makes things transform from wants, to goals, to strategies.

wait but why elon musk secret to success sauce

Goals and strategies, its always been about the motivations and the moves needed to execute on them. The path of behaviour change is a strategy that many of us apply to ourselves, our tribes, and into the world. Always striving to have a growth mindset we often pursue a series of behaviour changing paths. In obtaining external goals we also see individuals and organisations seeking to change and influence behaviour for the greater good or for their own gains.

The supreme art of war is to subdue the enemy without fighting. РSun Tzu

How might we subdue our own change challenges by applying Tzu’s principle of not fighting?

We might do so by understanding the motivations for behaviour change on individual and group scales. I’ll be focusing on the individual this week and in preparation I wrote a bit about how motivations tie into the structure of behaviour change success. I learned that insight is drawn from the source of desires. The ‘why’ behind a motivation can make our brain prioritise burning the requisite calories in order to sustain it. Today, on the plane on the way to lovely Portland I hand wrote this wee piece about behaviour change from another frame.








Warning! A rant on thoughtless interactors!

thoughtless interactor

Have you ever been on the receiving end of a thoughtless interactor? Have you ever been approached by a person whose thoughtlessness in their communication to you created irritation? An interaction that simply bamboozled you in its obliviousness and immediately annoyed you? Someone who just made you shake your head in disgust and ask:

  • Why are you emailing, texting, or calling me at inopportune moments?
  • Why are you¬†sending massively verbose documents and requiring feedback via email?
  • Why do you think that I don’t want to interact with you?

As a thoughtless interactor could it be that you are on the receiving end of these negative client/customer* situations?

  • Because you haven’t taken the time to get to know me enough to gauge how I will take your message. Stop charging ahead with what you want from me before you understand me.
  • Because you keep making more work for me. Stop adding things to my to-do list and make it easy for me to talk to you.
  • Because I don’t like your thoughtless approach to getting what you want from me. Stop and think before you¬†create an interaction.

Basic human interaction design principles centre around lessening the ‘cognitive burden’ on the client or customer of the interaction. Many daily interactions could be better with a small dose of human interaction common sense!

Basic interaction design principles would encourage us all to:

  1. Understand the client/customer & their world
  2. Know your role in interacting with the client / customer
  3. Craft your messaging, medium, & response required from the client / customer to fit or exceed their expectations
  4. Follow through & follow-up to create follower-ship (the making of advocates)
  5. Be fun, different, & a breath of fresh air (apply the power of positivity)

Let’s all be thoughtful interactors! Huzzah!

Rant over.

*Remember that everyone you interact with is your client or customer in one way or another. When in doubt follow the chain of customer-ship.

Dubious Delivery: How dull are the words Design Ethnography?

Earlier this afternoon I was asked, “what exactly is design ethnography?” A simple and common question that my classmates and I get asked chronically by a variety of people. I have answered this question in a plethora of ways in the past. Sometimes I would chirp back, “people watching with a purpose,” which is one of my favorite phrases. It came to me during one of the first assignments we had on our master’s course. We were exploring our personal definitions of the course. Other times I would launch into lengthy discussions of our mother subject, anthropology and the methods of ethnographic study that grew out of it. To designers and artists, I would emphasize the influence and relationship design ethnography has with design, by providing indicators and actionable insights (which basically means that it helps people tailor design better to actual needs and uses). Patrons of the pub I used to work at would ask, “what are you studying?” They had no idea of the can of worms they were opening. I would smile back and clearly enunciate, “design ethnography.” Then 9 times out of 10 the bloke or bird would roar with laughter and reply, “Design and PORNOGRAPHY?” I would crack up, they would crack up, and it was all good craic¬† in the end (craic = fun).

Two Polish people living in Oklahoma, who happen to be my parents, still don’t really understand what it is that I study. I can’t seem to be able to get the concepts to communicate correctly in Polish. The know its some kind of social science-y voodoo magic, and they hope it will make me happy and successful. Friends from my university days back in Tulsa find it hard to grasp as well. I will carefully explain it to them, and then it flies right out of the other ear. That’s because it’s a mouthful and it’s hard to communicate. I fail at this communication constantly.

No matter how I deliver design ethnography the transmission error makes communication failure imminent. Occasionally, I get so caught up in trying to make someone understand where I am coming from, this realm of design ethnography, that I completely botch the delivery. I end up sounding like a schizophrenic Frankenstein, who couldn’t possible study people for a living, because I obviously cannot communicate an answer to one of the most common questions we get asked, “so what do you do?”

Regardless of all these issues, I don’t live in fear of being asked, “what do you do?” I just view each person as a new opportunity to tailor my message, and maybe one day I will hit the nail on the head discovering the universally understandable definition of design ethnography. Though I highly doubt that will ever happen, because a new issue has arisen. I don’t think I know what design ethnography is anymore. Every time I glance in the direction of design ethnography it morphs. It melds itself. It is a shape shifting chameleon that everyone wants to use and abuse but no one seems to stand behind. We are constantly being pushed to higher and higher levels of insight and achievement within design ethnography. What is appropriate? Where do the demands end? How far can you stretch the powerful tool of design ethnography before it snaps?

Could it be that design ethnography will save us or will it implode under the pressure?

To some degree design ethnography is people watching with a purpose, but lately I am conflicted and confused.