You’re being a nudge!
But, it’s working.

Written by: Tim McCleary, Chief Experience Officer


There it was, a message screaming from my morning French vanilla latte – each and every day.

But, was I listening? More importantly, was I acting on the nudge?

Starbucks has been working hard to change my behavior. They’ve been nudging me to order ahead and pick up my morning pick-me-up at the counter, instead of having to queue up – or drive up.

There are perceived benefits for both of us. I don’t have to wait in a line and they gain insights into my ordering habits through the Starbucks app.

That’s the coffee purveyor’s marketing machine at work.

This example lays the foundation for the nudge – providing a person with a selection of options, but steering them toward the option that benefits them more.

The nudge is not the work of marketers – rather, choice architects. And this is where change programs can soar, instead of joining the 70% that fail.

Two writers at McKinsey recently published a blog post on the use of the nudge.

In the post, Anna Güntner and Julia Sperling cite the work of Richard Thaler, winner of a 2017 Nobel Prize for his research on behavioral economics.

“The key, says Thaler, is to responsibly use ‘nudges’ – subtle interventions that guide choices without restricting them,” to encourage people to make reasonable decisions that “make it more likely that they’ll land on the most beneficial decision for them – and your organization,” report Güntner and Sperling.

So, how can we become skilled choice architects when it comes to encouraging change in our organizations?

Here are four steps, based on our work within the Involvement Practice at Urban Emu, that should prove helpful:

  1. Build awareness of your change through a creative teaser campaign.
  2. Immerse your employees in the current state, followed by the desired future state.
  3. Give employees the choice of several actions to take [insert nudge here] to support the change – encourage them to choose one that benefits them – and your organization.
  4. Frequently remind them of their commitment to take that action and ask for feedback on how they’re progressing.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to step away from my laptop, grab my smart phone and order my afternoon latte for pick up.

Thanks for being involved today.

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Urban Emu is an experience agency with a fast growing team of experience designers, facilitators, strategists, researchers, UX/UI designers, and software engineers that create innovative experiences to improve and transform businesses.

We love to hear about ideas big or small. Please don’t hesitate to get in touch with us regarding your project.

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