When we began the #RunningDry journey with Mina Guli in late 2018, we thought we were somewhat prepared. After all, we’d worked with Mina on the 7 Deserts Run in 2016, when she ran 40 marathons across 7 deserts, on 7 continents in 7 weeks. We’d also worked on the 6 River Run in 2017, when Mina ran 40 marathons in 40 days along 6 rivers around the world. The difference with #RunningDry was that this campaign wasn’t 40 marathons - it was 100. 100 marathons in 100 days to show what 100% commitment to the global water crisis looks like.
If there’s one topic that all world leaders are discussing at the World Economic Forum in Davos, it’s climate change and the need for urgent changes to address the problem. The Global Risks Report 2019 by the World Economic Forum has stated it in the clearest possible terms…
Every good leader knows the importance of Company Culture, and yet it is difficult to grasp and actively shape. Culture determines a groups capability to respond to change, and to function as more than the sum of its parts. To help get a handle on this seemingly intangible concept let us introduce you to the PARTS of culture.
This week in Cape Town, experts from around the world converge to discuss the use of Behavioural Insights in Government. A partnership between the Western Cape Government (WCG) and the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), discussions focus on how to apply BI to shaping and implementing policy.
Policy and Behavioural Science may not seem like a natural fit, but they are. Our behaviours and choices have a huge effect on the way a city works - for example, how much water we use; what public transport we take; how much electricity we use; whether we litter; and so on. Government can’t force people to behave in a particular way, it always comes down to personal choice.
But government can shape policy in a way that makes it easier to make choices that benefit the most people.
Behavioural Insights (BI) is gaining acceptance as one of the most effective ways for government to bring about social benefit through policy. The Policy and Strategy Unit in the Department of the Western Cape Premier has been studying and engaging with BI since 2012, and the UK government has famously had a ‘Nudge Unit’ (the Behavioural Insights Team) since 2010. But if we look at the South African context, where we’re faced with high rates of HIV infection, crime, obesity and other socio-economic issues, understanding human behaviour and how to change it from within becomes even more critical.
Since 2012, the WCG has worked with the Research Unit in Behavioural Economics and Neuroeconomics (RUBEN) at UCT, to create some of these solutions. RUBEN is an interdisciplinary group of researchers using economic research methods to look at how social, cognitive and emotional factors influence our economic decision-making.
One of the first projects piloted was on energy efficiency - encouraging the Western Cape Government to cut down on energy consumption. We wanted to understand why employees were leaving lights on all weekend, and nudge them to switch lights off.
We identified 6 behavioural bottlenecks that were standing in the way of energy efficient behaviour:
Diffused responsibility: employees not understanding whose responsibility it was.
Moral justification: public service employees felt they were contributing positively to the environment already.
Unit confusion: employees not understanding the significance of simply switching off a light.
Limited attention: forgetfulness played a big part in this.
Identity: when employees were in “work mode” they forgot their energy efficient behaviour from home.
Social norms: there was no reference point for personal energy consumption in relation to colleagues.
We used these insights to design an intervention that led to a 14% reduction in energy, which was deemed statistically significant. This is one of the aspects of BI that is so beneficial to policy: by measuring the results, you gain an understanding of what works - and doesn’t work - before you roll out the policy to everyone.
Behavioural Insights offers a set of tools and methodologies that we can use make a real difference in South Africa.
If you would like to keep track, or get involved, please engage using the hashtag #BI4gov on Twitter or @bi4gov.
The inclusion of BI into the processes of policy-making allows for governmental policy that not only accurately represents human interests, but has practical, well-researched examples and case studies. What does that mean? Everything is verified. BI’s focus is on creating and substantiating policies that prioritise human needs - and behaviours.
Behavioural Insights (BI) offers a set of proven methods that can be used. The field combines elements of psychology, cognitive science and social science to understand how people actually make decisions. These principles of BI are fascinating and apply to all of our lives and decisions. This article provides an overview of 13 proven principles that can be used to nudge our choices and actions.
So many of us get into social media because we admire the work of creatives in the field, the brilliant memes, the awe inspiring videos, the perspective altering tweets. But there’s a gap when we start. What we produce doesn’t live up to our own expectations. Ira Glass’ insights on the creative process remind us to push through the frustrating beginnings of creative work, and keep working until what we produce reflects our good taste
We're all embedded in vast social networks of friends, family, co-workers and more. Nicholas Christakis tracks how a wide variety of traits can spread from person to person, showing how your location in the network might impact your life in ways you don't even know. Christakis highlights how new forms of data collection allow us to locate the central people within a network and ultimately "use these insights to improve society and improve human well-being."
We are realising the limits of virtualisation. We still need to grow real food, wear real clothes, move real things around in the real world. And the way we do that hasn't changed fundamentally in the past 50 years. The internet has given us a new operating system, but it’s time to upgrade our hardware.