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How does Behavioral Design work?

In 2020, we launched our (remote) Behavioral Design Workshop offer for cross-functional teams keen to crank up their impact. Of course, we have rigorously tested and iterated the workshop format, including at Zurich’s UX Camp, World Usability Day 2019, and UX Switzerland’s Last Thursday Talk. In 2020, we were invited to lead more than 10 of these workshops. We had a great time and are looking forward to more!

3. March 2021
Remo Bebié Gut, MSc

Expert Behavioral Customer Experience, Consultant

Elizabeth Immer, MPhil

Expert Behavioral Customer Experience, Consultant

Behavioral economics, what?

You’ve heard the term “behavioral economics” or "behavioral design" but don’t know what it could mean for your work?

You are not alone – we hear this frequently. We were inspired to develop a workshop format to help teams of behavioral econ-novices to dive into and start using the “good stuff” of this science in their work, quickly. 

Why a workshop?

Our aim is to support teams in exploring the potential of this science in their work. In the workshop, we use our Behavioral Design Canvas and some of our favorite techniques from the Design Sprint toolbox. We included a few nudges to help us and our teams toward target behavior too; can you spot them? ;-)

Marketing teams, CEOs, UX and CX specialists, writers, visual designers, developers and CTOs, process engineers and product managers have participated in these workshops.

Participants tell us they take away:

  1. Heightened understanding of applicability of behavioral economics principles and its potential value in their work,
  2. Excitement to use behavioral economics, and
  3. A concrete concept (prototype) with broad buy-in. This concept is most always ready for testing and pre-rollout finalization at the end of the workshop.

Agenda: Basics + The Real Work

In the workshop, we guide participants through the seven steps of our Behavioral Design Canvas. Mini-lectures, quizzes and discussions are sprinkled between hands-on work sessions.

1.    Define goal and target behavior

Defining each of these is key but difficult for many product teams. Goal: What do we want to achieve as a company? Target behavior/outcome: What do we need users (customers or employees) to do (not think, feel) to achieve our goal?  

2. Articulate business impact

Why is it worth investing in this goal and how will we measure our success? This is key to garner support from higher management.

3. Identify behavioral drivers

What is holding users, customers, or employees back from the target behavior today? What brings them to perform the target behavior (or what could bring them to it)? In the workshop itself, we work with hypotheses and assumptions. The teams test these hypotheses with user research after the workshop.

4. Prioritize

Which behavioral drivers do we expect to wield the strongest influence on the target behavior? How easily do we think we will be able to influence these drivers? We are looking for low hanging fruits with big impact.

5. Identify relevant behavioral insights

What biases or other insights are likely to systematically influence users’ behavior in this context? Here we reach into a vast library of scientific literature. We Ergonomen pre-select several relevant insights and present these in the workshop, so that participants can start to work on applying them. (Participants also receive a stack of “insight” cards as a take-home-goodie.)

6. Sketch a solution

What might solutions to our problem look like in concrete terms? All participants work individually. Afterwards, the strongest elements from all ideas are integrated into a common sketch. Many participants tell us that this stage is when things really start coming together and getting excited for them.

7. Plan testing and implementation

We all want to ensure that the gained knowledge and great ideas don’t just end up in a drawer! We develop a plan of action on how to test the results, roll out the new solution and monitor its impact, battling against status quo bias.

So far...

In 2020, we ran these workshops with more than 10 teams. Some workshops were part of broader corporate training programs or the start of a consulting project. Twice, our workshop was included in teams’ remote year-end-celebration (we sent some sweet goodies for participants to munch on during the workshop).

Many of the highly motivated teams we had the pleasure of coaching are now working on implementing the solution sketches and giving us particularly gratifying feedback: that they are having a lot of fun in the process!

... so good.

We are pleased that this Behavioral Design Workshop has struck the chord that it has. We hope that this format and canvas will enable further development in products and processes that work better for people.

If you’re interested in learning more or organizing a similar workshop for your team, reach out to us.


Remo Bebié Gut, MSc

Expert Behavioral Customer Experience, Consultant

Remo Bebié Gut is a behavioral economist and communications expert. A high-speed bicycle commuter with a can-do mentality, he applies behavioural economics to product development and acts as a communications advisor.

Elizabeth Immer, MPhil

Expert Behavioral Customer Experience, Consultant

Elizabeth Immer is a behavioral economist, an ambassador for Behavioral Customer Experience (BCX) and Chief Enabling Officer at the Ergonomen. She is an expert in modeling and measuring human behavior, analyzing drivers behind behavior and customer needs. She enables people to do what they actually want to do.