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Wrap-up of articles and videos from 2020

2020 covid habits influence Dec 09, 2020

Influencing Action

Two simple rules for influencing action – on friction to make the old behaviour unappealing and the new behaviour appealing.

Let’s talk behavioural models – (video) on what makes a good behavioural model and what are some of the best to use.

Nanette-ing your approach to influence – The comedian’s role, Hannah Gadsby shared, is to deliberately create tension so they can then relieve us of it. The same approach goes for pitches, presentations and emails. We need tension to engage interest.

Best 5 TED talks on behaviour change – (video) on five TED talks that really resonated with me. Do you agree?

Creating a desire for change – The Zorro Technique (YouTube video) – four questions to take people from “can’t be bothered” to “can’t wait!”

Dan Ariely changed my life (YouTube video) – on how reading one book changed the course of my professional and personal life.

Lazy, scared and overwhelmed (YouTube video) – my talk for Nudgestock Global 2020. It was a real honour to share the bill with people like Cass Sunstein, BJ Fogg, Laurie Santos and Dan Ariely. I felt like I was taking a risk in presenting the way I did, but not only did the content resonate, I was true to myself and what I have to share.


Customer Experience

How to write effective emails – (accompanying video) on how to get your letters and emails right.

Keeping your customers – (accompanying video) on the four customer retention strategies you can implement. Make them want to stay, make them not want to leave, make it easy to stay and/or hard to leave.

Three hard truths about customer behaviour – (video) on what it means for you if they write the script, are the hero of their own story and run on batteries.

6 cognitive biases that get people to buy online – on powerful research from Google, plus thoughts on why more businesses don’t run experiments.

Why bother with this appalling invoice right now? – it felt trite to talk about invoice design in the midst of a pandemic, but the broader lesson is important. Whether it’s invoicing, social distancing, or Covid vaccines, we have to make the best thing to do the easiest thing to do.

Lazy tax is lazy business – I break down how my energy company communicated a price increase is a very clever way. Lessons here if you ever need to put up prices!

Empty supermarket shelves and the power of scarcity – (for Smartcompany) on how to avoid the type of scarcity which results in a negative outcome (e.g. panic buying) and instead use scarcity to compel positive action.

Consumer behaviour comes in two speeds (YouTube video) – on why life feels like a game of whack-a-mole. In my view businesses get fixated on what is changing while overlooking what doesn’t. Human nature.

Staff and Stakeholders

Avoiding overreaction when things get messy – when things are uncertain, the easy thing to do is clamp down and become more prescriptive, insisting on the “letter of the law”, not its spirit. Like having onerous policies for working from home. The better but more difficult course is to trust people.

The problem of exceptionalism – this is a thought I’ve come back repeatedly to this year; it’s the “this doesn’t apply to me” attitude. I’ve seen it during lockdown, I’ve seen it with people undertaking training, I’ve seen it in client workplaces. To influence action means we have to design ways to overcome exceptionalism.

It’s natural but is it acceptable? – on in-group bias, our natural tendency to ‘other’. There’s always going to be a them and us so how do we deal with it?

How to make your priority someone else’s too - (YouTube video) on convincing different types of personality types that they should get on board with your idea.

Business Planning

Dig the well before you get thirsty? Yeah, right – we’re simply not wired to prioritise the future, so how do we make ourselves dig the well before we get thirsty and avoid trouble down the track?

Why we’re all a bit like Trump – on the Ostrich effect, how we stick our heads in the sand to avoid bad news (like slowing testing of Covid so the infection numbers don’t look as bad!) and how to de-ostrich yourself and your workplace.

Once we’re in it, how do we exit? – (accompanying video) on how some of us worry post-Covid that things won’t go back to normal, where others of us worry that they will.

Recipe culture is ruining business – on my frustration with cookie-cutter approaches in business, and how following a recipe is never as powerful as learning to cook, particularly if you are seeking to influence behaviour.

Should you pull a Kaufland and ditch your big, expensive project? – (for Smartcompany) on dealing with the ‘sunk cost fallacy’ to make clear-headed decisions. The reality is we don’t like to step away from projects in which we’ve invested time and money, even if that is the rational thing to do.

Habits and Personal Effectiveness

The trick to portion control – on ‘unit bias’, our tendency to count the container not its contents.

When it comes to habits, should you moderate or eliminate? – tips on finding an approach that suits you best when it comes to managing your habits. Me? I’m an eliminator.

The other reason you are so tired right now – on how the pandemic forced us out of habit-based System 1 thinking and used our cognitive batteries in a completely new way. Re-emerging after lockdown takes us through the cycle again.

Living in a snow globe that has been violently shaken – as COVID-19 was really starting to bite, my thoughts turned to why we panic buy toilet paper, how tenuous trust is and how, ultimately, the snow globe will settle.

When the desire to change fades – written way back at the beginning of 2020 when I was excited we got one whole extra day! Yes, 29th February, our bonus day. Worth revisiting because I talk about the ‘fresh-start effect’, which is what people are pinning their hopes on for 2021.

Mindfulness is overrated (YouTube video) – on why mindfulness is so far removed from our natural state, and my belief we should be mind-less instead.

Videos on technology I use (all on YouTube)


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