Hi there,

Suddenly, I wonder if you are familiar with terms like behavioral economics and social psychology.

Personally, I think it has been used more and more in the context of understanding human behavior from data after big data became popular in recent years.

Behavioral economics Wikipedia
Social psychology Wikipedia

The reason why I mentioned the above phrases this time is because there was a time when I wanted to change my own behavior.

Well, it could be to fix a habit that comes up in certain situations at work, or to become proficient in a certain skill, or whatever, but there is a part of me that puts off these nebulous goals.
In the situation now, THAT has a higher priority and urgency, so I will do THIS after it. or
Since this and that must be prepared before we can do THIS, so let’s put it off.

Now, there is a person who has attempted to expand behavioral economics and apply these concepts to individuals.

His name is B.J.Fogg PhD

Behavioral Design

He (B.J.Fogg PhD) has been associated with Stanford University for over 25 years and has taught a variety of classes.
He remains appointed as an Associate Professor in the Department of Health and Human Performance (HHP).

Now, what he has presented to the world is behavioral design.

It is a way of designing actions to achieve goals without relying on willpower (or motivation).

This may sound rather hard and ritualistic, but it is a very simple concept.


The diagram above illustrates his premise in advocating behavioral design.

It says that B=MAP behavior occurs when motivation & ability & prompts meet certain conditions.

Here is a specific example.

Examples of Behavioral Design

In front of the station next to the town where I live, there is a person who sells a paid free newspaper called BIG ISSUE.
(Ignore the fact that it’s called a free paper, even though it’s paid for)

※ BIG ISSUE=An attempt to solve the homeless problem by creating a magazine and making it the exclusive sales business for homeless people.
It originated in London as a business to promote self-support by providing jobs, rather than charity.

I buy this magazine whenever I visit this station and the seller is there.

So why does this behavior of me buying it every time occur?
Let me briefly explain.

  • Motivation: I want to support people who are trying.
  • Ability: Its price of 4 dollars and a half is affordable for me. Also, I have cash in hand since I am out of the house in the first place.
  • Prompt: If the seller was not in front of the station, I would not have purchased the product.

As you can see, my motivation, ability, and prompt fitted perfectly, so I took action.
Perhaps if any one of the above was missing, I would not have taken action.

The following diagram shows how this action can be viewed.
When motivation and ability are high, the action curve, which is the turning point for taking action, is easily crossed.
And that action will happen as long as there is a trigger.

Trigger = Prompt

Behavioral design takes one action as a trigger and prompts the next action, such as doing A and then doing B.
In fact, this trigger is the P (prompt) from the previous formula (B=MAP).

For example, when I wake up in the morning I open the curtains.
However, this action is not something that someone is asking you to do, nor is it a goal you are setting.
The act of getting up itself is a trigger, subconsciously prompting the next action.

Consider the Trigger

Now let’s consider an example of a trigger. Let’s decide to take up reading.

Suppose I am in a situation where I want to read more, but I am currently not reading anything at all.
Planning to do this and that doesn’t work.

The pattern of failure in such cases is as follows.

  • Frequent reading (make a schedule! Or make a mental note to do so)
    → Making a schedule alone requires willpower because it is not connected in any way to other actions.
  • Put a time in your calendar to read
    → These disappear when things don’t go as planned.
    And while we can encourage action with calendar reminders, etc., it often loses priority to other matters (because we think we can do it at any time).

In short, there is no trigger designed that can be associated with doing A and then doing B without the use of willpower.
So what exactly is the behavioral design that makes reading possible?

An example of an answer is shown below.

  • Goal: I want to read
  • Issue: No time to read books
  • Behavioral design: When you wake up in the morning, leave your room with a book on your pillow. Before going to bed read only one page.

The above is a behavioral design in which A triggers B (or A assists in doing B).
As a result of adopting this method, I too have made it a habit to read a little bit of a book every day (and I feel like I have become a better reader).

It is tempting to doubt whether this is true, but when you go to bed after a day’s work, if you find a book on your pillow you will be tempted to flip through it. I recommend it.

Business Processes, Workflow and Behavioral Design

I find behavioral design interesting, because I am in charge of marketing at our company during the day.
Of course, all of our company’s operations have been converted into Apps (workflows) with Questetra BPM Suite.

In looking at our workflow diagram in this environment, I found something that I felt could be useful (to move operations without the need for conscious effort), so I decided to write a two-part blog post about it.

In this first part of the series, we will discuss how to do B when you do A (or the triggers for doing B are established).

Tips on How to Get The Job Done Without Using Willpower

If you look for things that must be done every day in the business you will find quite a few.

For example, daily reports, morning meetings, evening meetings, numerical measurements, progress checks, production work, etc.

I’ve already come to the conclusion that it would be a lot easier if, for example, when you come to work in the morning it is clearly stated what your tasks are for the day.

In addition, it would be even easier if all of those tasks were assigned an order of priority.
This is because the day’s work can be completed in order without the use of willpower.

I’m open to objections that it would be that easy (haha).
Of course, there will inevitably be time spent on tasks other than your own as they arise.

And yet…

In an environment where your tasks are automatically identified each day, you can recognize that these are the « core » tasks that you need to handle, and therefore you can flexibly allocate the time you have to other tasks.

And now that I’m starting to sound like I’m trying to persuade you with an explanation or an opinion piece, I’ll explain the specific items.

Behavioral design pattern

  • Do A, then do B.
  • Handle Task A when you arrive at work. (Assign Task A to my task list)

This is already incredibly easy.

As shown in the figure below, it is simplest and easiest to use a timer to start a task at a regular time on weekdays.

Tasks automatically started by the timer will appear in My Tasks as shown in the figure below.
All you have to do is to process them.

« What’s all this? » Some of you may be thinking, « I don’t need to hear this again. »

Yes, that is probably true.

However, knowing is not the same as being able to implement (or make a habit of doing) something.

This example is also an extremely simplified way to illustrate behavioral design.

First of all, we hope that you understand that you can rely on a trigger that does not honestly use willpower.

This is because the object that we used to think we could simply activate with a timer can be redefined as a trigger that does not use willpower.

This story is related to the concept of automation, but if we take the viewpoint of taking some action without using our willpower it is possible to change our attitude toward automated outputs.

※ It can also encourage more intensive work, such as automatically launching a task once a week to generate a hypothesis for the breakdown of the numbers, instead of just looking at the numbers.

Well, that’s all for this issue.

In the next part I would like to introduce the developmental system.

If you are already interested in trying out timer activation at this stage, please try our free trial.

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