Nudging is an interesting concept I talk about in my workshops on changing organizational culture. Nudging theory was developed by economists Thayer and Sunstein in 2008. A nudge is defined as an action “influencing behaviour without coercion”. Nudges are not tied to financial incentives but rather they direct choices towards optimal behaviours.
I am fascinated by the concept of nudging as it blends behavioural science, behavioural economics and political theory. Do we really have free will? Well, that’s a good question and one I would love to debate!
As far as developing the leadership tool box goes, nudging makes sense in the workplace. Culture is constructed by keystone behaviors – recurring behaviors that trigger other behaviours. An effective method to cue teams to adopt a desired behaviour is through a nudge. A commonly cited example is the placement of fruit at the front of the cashier line and the fries at the back nudges people to consider the healthier choice.
Nudges lead to changed behaviour which drives actions and outcomes that affect the bottom line. The good news is that nudges, according to Thayer and Sunstein, ought to be easy and inexpensive so developing a nudge in your workplace is something everyone can do.
What is the “fruit choice“ in your organization? What behaviours are you trying to encourage and what would a nudge look like?
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