Most design approaches and tools developed for classic design thinking assume that human beings are rational and make thoughtful choices. Psychology studies continue to reveal that the majority of human decision making is automatic and irrational, and further that human beings are easily influenced by social and physical contexts. Therefore, designing for behaviour change is complex and tricky, and many projects have failed because they relied on users being rational. One pitfall is to make design choices based on user statements (e.g. questionnaires, workshops, product feedback etc.), since it is difficult for human beings to distinguish between intended behaviour patterns, perceived behaviour patterns and actual behaviour patterns, due to our automatic decision making.
Behavioural design is a young field within engineering design. It builds on social and cognitive psychology studies that emphasise describing behaviour mechanisms, however, these findings are difficult to apply in a design practice. The Intervention Design Tool is one of few systematic behavioural design tools available.
The Intervention Design tool is a 3 step tool consisting of a collection of templates to support activities in the early stage development of behavioural design projects. It supports mapping of a behaviour in its context, together with ideation and evaluation of interventions to change, redirect or substitute an existing behaviour. All attributes of the tool are designed to support discussion between multiple team members and/or stakeholders. Finally, the tool is designed to be presentable for clients and other 3rd parties.
The tool templates are divided into three main steps (functions): 1 - analyse, 2 - ideate, and 3 - explore, and the template number refers to the main step. The tool consists of 3 main templates, sheet 1, 2, and 3, together with additional working templates (sheets), sheet 1.1, 1.2, 1.X, and 3.1, and a pile of Intervention Design Cards for ideation.
Step 1: Sheet 1-1.2 support mapping of existing behaviour patterns. The aim is to understand the existing behaviour, and challenge why this behaviour occurs, whilst considering psychological mechanisms in play. Conducting this exercise is beneficial for defining an initial solution space, and provides a solid foundation for a productive ideation session in step 2.
Step 2: Sheet 2 and the intervention Design Cards support ideation of interventions (solutions to a behavioural design problem). Behavioural design interventions consist of a combinations of 3 attributes: a trigger, a trigger channel and a behaviour mean. This is referred to as the tripartition of interventions. The intervention design cards are beneficial to challenge existing thinking patterns during ideation sessions, since each participant draws one or more cards from each category as inspiration for new combinations of interventions attributes. Using the intervention design cards increases variety of ideas, and aims to ideate both realistic and unrealistic solutions. The ideas are assessed in step 3 in order to transform ideas into realistic options.
Step 3: Sheet 3 supports a discussion of generated ideas, and provides a framework for strengthening weak or unrealistic ideas. Sheet 3.1 is an empty sheet for working with promising ideas in more detail. Ideas/concepts (interventions) with potential are inserted in the current behaviour chain on the right side of sheet 1, to explore changes in behaviour after introduction of the intervention. Sheet 1.X is used to explore multiple interventions for comparison. The filled in sheet 1 is afterwards suitable as a presentation sheet for clients or stakeholders.
The Intervention Design Tool started off as the product of a master thesis conducted at the Technical University of Denmark (DTU), spring 2016. The Intervention Design Tool was developed by Camilla Bay Nielsen and Johan Aakerlund through co-creation, workshops and feedback with behavioural design consultancy /KL.7, technical consultancy DELTA (IdemoLab), and DTU students. The project was supervised by associate professor Philip Cash.
Camilla Bay Nielsen and Johan Aakerlund continue to strengthen the Intervention Design Tool by improving existing materials, adding new templates and interacting with students and companies through presentations and workshops. The Intervention Design Tool is implemented in the education of Design & Innovation at DTU.
We offer the tool in its entirety, free of charge for anyone to use both in private and professionally.
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Both Camilla Bay Nielsen and Johan Aakerlund have a master of science in Design & Innovation from the Technical University of Denmark. Besides working with the Intervention Design Tool, both are associated with other jobs and projects. To read more about us and our additional activities visit our Linked-In profiles.