The BehaviourWorks Method
What's the problem?
Experience tells us that many organisations need help defining the problem to begin with, so the Exploration phase focuses on 'unpacking' the problem and build a shared understanding of it.
Understand the system
As a society, we are dealing with increasingly complex problems and working in environments where there are many competing agendas. To get everyone on the same page, we use a range of tools such as process mapping, actor mapping and influence mapping to identify the individuals, groups and organisations involved in the problem - and who may be part of the solution. This step can reveal where behaviour change will have the biggest impact - ideally for the least effort.
Engage with stakeholders
In order to gain a deeper understanding of the problem and how it is experienced in the real world, we now engage with the key stakeholders and consider all sides of the story. While we use a range of engagement mechanisms including surveys, we are increasingly using our unique Facilitated Dialogues as creative exploration exercises to bring the stakeholders together to define the challenge and identify opportunities for action.
Review and collect evidence
This is a fact-finding step; one that focuses on identifying what is known - and not known - about the problem and the factors that are contributing to it. Apart from conducting literature and practice reviews, we invest time gathering data from the partner organisation, as this is often an underutilised resource for helping us precisely define the problem.
Identify priority behaviours
Unpacking problems can produce a plethora of potential behaviours to change. How do you decide between them? Our Impact-Likelihood Matrix helps to narrow the options down by mapping the behaviours on a visual prioritisation framework with two key dimensions, 1: Potential impact on the issue and, 2: Likelihood of adoption (will they do it?). We also look at existing penetration levels, cost of compliance and barriers to adoption.
However, if we want to understand the audience in more detail (what matters to them and why they do the things they do) and develop more targeted interventions, we will need to conduct a Deep Dive.
The purpose of the Deep Dive is to understand the explicit drivers and barriers influencing the behaviour from the target audience's perspective. In our experience, this step is often overlooked and is instead based on assumed models of behaviour. By exploring the context, barriers and motivations behind the behaviour - and what has worked in the past to change them - we can develop more effective interventions and, importantly, know why they did (or did not) work.
In order to determine how we are going to change the target audience's behaviour, we first need to identify a likely theory of change, given the context. There are many models of behaviour drawn from a wide range of disciplines and traditions. Our job is to consider these models, understand which is relevant to the behaviour under consideration and agree on a theory to guide our investigations moving forward.
Drivers & barriers
Rather than making assumptions about the audience, we need to spend time getting to know what matters to them in the context of the behaviours we want to change. While qualitative and quantitative methods can be used to learn more about the circumstances impacting the behaviour, people aren't always aware of the things that influence their behaviour (e.g. biases and social norms), so we often need to draw on data and statistical analyses to empirically compare the relative importance of of a broad range of individual and population-level factors.
In the Exploration phase of The Method, we reviewed the literature in relation to the specific problem. In the Deep Dive phase, we conduct highly-targeted evidence and practice reviews to examine the influences on the target behaviour and the types (and success of) intervention approaches that have been used in the past to change them.
Whether it's an education campaign, a persuasive communication piece, an incentive, a regulatory measure, a nudge approach or capability building, our choice of intervention strategy is based on the knowledge and insights gained in the previous phases of The Method. We now explore and debate the different intervention options, approaches and audiences with our partners and discuss what resources will be required to pilot these approaches.
Underpinning the Application phase of The Method is an acknowledgement that, to have a measurable impact on behaviour, our trials must be implemented in a way that allows them to be properly evaluated.
Measures of success
The ultimate measure of success is, of course, behaviour change, but how do we know we have achieved it? BehaviourWorks has developed a range of robust Monitoring and Evaluation (M&E) frameworks to help us determine what type of data should be collected (and how often) during the trial intervention.
Trial the intervention
Rather than going straight to roll-out, we may test several different intervention options with a smaller group, in a smaller setting, so that we capture impacts and effects. We may conduct field trials, observe people engaging in the behaviour or undertake formative research and evaluations in the laboratory. These trials often challenge our own assumptions and reveal important insights that allow us to refine - or redesign - the program to maximise its impact.
Evaluate and Adapt
This step is about documenting the learnings from our trials (both our successes and failures) and ensuring this knowledge is disseminated in a way that allows for changes to be made in an efficient manner. We use Adaptive Management techniques to facilitate decision-making, acknowledging the skills, expertise and contribution of multiple stakeholders.
A key pillar of the BehaviourWorks Method, and our approach in general, is to build the capacity of our partners to undertake behaviour change programs on their own. We share knowledge through multiple channels, including our project reports, traditional academic channels, events and presentations.
Request a brochure
A brochure on The Method, as well as our Facilitated Dialogues, training programs and other key services is available by request. Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.