Archive for the ‘Examples’ Category
As the focus of cognitive design is to address deeply felt but unmet psychological needs, bullying is definitely a relevant challenge. Not only to help victims cope and ultimately forgive but to help design interventions that have the best chance of preventing bullying in the first place.
I hope readers of the Cognitive Design blog will take up the challenge.
In cognitive design we look for specific features and functions that reliably produce a given psychological impact or mental state. For example, the facial features of big round eyes, a prominent forehead and pudgy cheeks generates the psychological response that what we see is cute, adorable and even squeezable.
I have cataloged 310 such design patterns and the theories behind them. But I am always on the lookout for more. A new entry I am considering is based on the research, Rituals Enhance Consumption, recently reported in Psychological Science.
The researchers conducted four experiments that suggest adding rituals and delays to food consumption more deeply involves us in the experience of eating and has a significant impact on how much flavor and enjoyment we experience. And the rituals do not need to be complex. Here is what they used:
“Without unwrapping the chocolate bar, break it in half. Unwrap half of the bar and eat it. Then, unwrap the other half and eat it.”
Of course, the experimental situation is contrived and so applying this result requires establishing a personal ritual. Personal rituals have meaning and create a state of mindfulness and thus enhance the experience. But how do we break that down into the features and functions of a design pattern? Saying we need to ritualize is too vague.
Every year organizations and individuals spend billions of dollars and countless hours to develop soft-skills. These include personal productivity and interpersonal skills such as communication, teamwork, creativity, assertiveness, influence, self control, time management and the ability to work well under pressure. Often developing soft-skills are part of a larger attempt to build even broader competencies in areas such as leadership, innovation, emotional intelligence or personal effectiveness.
Building soft-skills means reading how-to books, taking seminars, being coached and doing developmental exercises or projects. While such efforts can lead to increased motivation and conceptual knowledge they often fail to produce behavior change and improved business or personal outcomes. I have dramatized the situation for a hypothetical training class below.
While most participants in the training class will give high marks to the experience (happy! score on evaluations) and pass a quiz demonstrating conceptual knowledge, few will achieve lasting behavior change that translates into improved organizational or personal outcomes (e.g. increased sales or weight loss).
The question is what are the people at the lower right of this graph doing that others are not?
They are showing a positive deviance that we need to understand. They have mastered a technique or small set of vital behaviors for converting general advice and how-to knowledge that they glean from reading and training into new outcomes. If we can understand and replicate that we have an opportunity to dramatically improve the impact of our investment in soft-skills.
I have conduct several studies aimed at answering that question. The results are clear. People getting the most out of soft-skill development efforts are able to take the macro-scale concepts and techniques taught in books and seminars and break them down down into small short experiments they can try in a real setting on a regular or daily basis. In short, they are natural born micro-learners or they have coaches that are.
I am going to discuss these studies and how we can use the results to improve the impact of soft-skills development at the Online Learning Conference in Chicago that runs September 17-19 at the McCormick Place Lakeside Center. I will be doing three speed sharing best practice sessions on Thursday morning 8:15-9:00 am. You can access the supporting handout HERE.
Hope to see you there.
The Management Innovation Exchange (the MIX) is hosting an open innovation challenge to identify radical ideas (hacks) and success stories that illustrate how to dramatically expand the leadership capacity of an organization. Called the Leaders Everywhere Challenge they believe the key is to redistribute power so more individuals can participate in leadership and to equip and motivate emergent leaders to be effective without formal authority.
My entry is titled Using Micro-learning to Boost Influence Skills in Emergent Leaders. It demonstrates with a success story how you can use cognitive design to do interesting things in leadership development. Check it out and please leave your comments. I’ve copied an extend summary below.
There is a call for a crowd-funded project to reduce tobacco consumption worldwide. P&G has requested proposals for disruptive new products in multiple categories. There is $2000 prize for the best idea on how to use data about the state of your house (from utilities, devices and sensors, etc.) to create useful and exciting consumer services. And another $2000 prize for figuring out how the PC should evolve in the next 3-5 years. Entries are due late in May.
Focusing on design concepts that are optimized for how our minds naturally work (as cognitive designers do) will lead to strong entries in each of these areas. I hope you are up for the challenge!
The National Science Foundation (NSF) convened an international panel of experts and held a workshop to explore scientifically validated game designs that boost attention and well-being. The finding are encouraging.
They claim there is ample evidence that some types of video games enhance attention and executive control which in turn can improve self-regulation and well-being.
We also have a long-way to go before we understand how to design interactive media for specific cognitive effects. The panel cited research that showed many serious games (those designed to purposes other than education) failed to produce the desired outcomes. While at the same time some produce widespread unintended but fortunately positive effects. The panel called for more research into the cognitive impacts of specific game mechanics, a focus on social/emotional skills and individual differences as well as improved validation and commercialization methods.
The full report is worth reading for cognitive designers working on game, interactive media, self-control or well-being applications.
In an earlier post I described enhancing well-being as one of the grand challenges of cognitive design. I received emails and comments asking for more detail. Fortunately, the Society of Personality and Social Psychology just held an annual meeting that highlighted some relevant findings. Researchers reported on several surprising connections between actions and well-being including:
* Getting a good night sleep enhances our ability to feel gratitude and other prosocial emotions which is essential for well-being.
* Spending money on others or even giving money (and time away) enhance our sense of wealth and contributes to a sense of well-being.
* Buying experiences (e.g. going to a concert) rather than something material (e.g. a new shirt) and telling stories about it enhances our sense of well-being.
Designs that maximize the psychological effects of being well-rested, generate a wealth effect from giving, and help us savor experiential purchases are examples of some of the cognitive effects we can consider when designing for well-being. Once we reach a basic level of health, wealth and happiness further enhancing well-being requires some real insight into how minds actually work.
Wellness programs are a key application area for cognitive designers. These programs seek to shift employee health behaviors in an attempt to lower employer costs and improve workplace productivity. Wellness is big business as over 90% of larger employers have some plan in place and there are many provisions in the Affordable Care Act (aka Obamacare) that focus on health, wellness and prevention in the workplace. So I am always on the look out for scientific studies of what works in wellness.
For example, Rand just released a must-read report that provides a Review of the US Workplace Wellness Market. They examine 33 studies and outline core elements in a program, itemize interventions used, provide uptake and participation statistics and draw some important conclusions. It is clear that wellness programs have passed the “proof of concept” phase but we don’t have a clear evidence base for interventions that work. The key conclusion on impact:
“Based on the available literature, we find evidence for a positive impact of workplace wellness programs on diet, exercise, smoking, alcohol use, physiologic markers, and health care costs, but limited evidence for effects on absenteeism and mental health. We could not conclusively determine whether and to what degree the intensity of a wellness program influences its impact.”
The report is quick to point out most wellness programs are not even assessed and those that are often lack rigor in assessment. From a cognitive design standpoint we know that without frequent assessment and feedback at the individual level it is nearly impossible to do the learning from experience necessary for lasting behavior change. And this must go far beyond the individual health risk assessments wellness programs use. Same for the program level. Without frequent assessment and feedback at the program level it is not possible to do the continuous improvement and organizational learning needed to optimize a wellness initiative.
More bluntly, you won’t get deep, broad and lasting behavior change at the individual and group level unless your wellness program is designed to measure and provide frequent feedback on physiological, activity, process, participation and financial measures. The more transparent (shared) and real-time the better.
There are big opportunity for cognitive designers in wellness!
The answer is yes, at least according to a recent meta-study that reviewed five projects including some 9000 smokers. More specifically,
“… smokers who used mobile messaging interventions were twice as likely to make it six months without smoking than those who didn’t.”
Messages included scheduled motivational statements, hints for managing temptations and rapid response to texts about cravings. Motivation, skill and help from someone else when you are about to fail is powerful cognitive design for making any type of behavior change. Unlike many other health apps this solution reaches out and engages the smoker acting as a nudge, reminder and coach.