Nudging is a tool used by a decision architects to gently push people to take the “right” decision. The point is not, to do something against peoples will, but encourage them to take better choices. I will briefly present choice architecture and nudging, and illustrate them with a couple of examples, and give inspiration on how this can be applied in your business.
Choice architecture is the way in which decisions are influenced by how choices are presented. There are six principles of good choice architecture; incentives, understanding mappings, defaults, give feedback, expect error, structure complex choices. These principles are called nudges (Thaler, Sunstein, 2008). Choice literature is often from a customer perspective, but these issues are also highly relevant in organization setting. HR, CEO and managers work as choice architects in order to maximize the output of the organization, throughout human capital and resources (Felin, 2014).
Nudging is frequently used in the traffic. For example, the white stripes before a roundabout or intersection, with the goal of making you slow down. These are constructed so the first white stripes have some distance between them, and the closer you come to the roundabout or intersection, the distance between the stripes decrease. When the stripe distance is short, the sound and vibration increase. This leads your brain thinking you are driving faster then you really are, and causing you to slow down.
Be on the lookout for these stripes – you are being nudged!
In a hotel in Denmark, they use a cool way of nudging. In the elevator, there is an overview when the breakfast is served at the hotel. It looked something like this:
The point of the traffic light is to indicate when there are queue at the breakfast. The hotel also stats something like; the early bird gets the best offer. Why is the hotel doing this? To save staff cost! Instead of staffing up to a busy peak, they can now have a more stable supply of hotel guests arriving at the breakfast, and therefore, manage with two employees instead of three.
Can this be applied at your workplace to improve health? If you have an elevator and stairs, you can mount a red sign on the elevator and a green sign at the stairs, and see what will happen. Another way, which is commonly used, is the use of stories in the company with the purpose to share a way of doing things; this strengthens the culture and set a framework for the decisions in the company.
Thaler, R. H., & Sunstein, C. R. (2008). Nudge : Improving decisions about health, wealth, and happiness. New Haven, Conn: Yale University Press.
Felin, T. (2014). Nudge: Manager as Choice Architect. ReseachGate, 1-33.
(credit to Håvard Hansen for the examples)