"Nudge" in Organizational Change Management

Nudge is an established concept in behavioral sciences. Through nudge, we are essentially “designing choices”, which is called choice architecture. In this podcast, Emma talks about:

  • Taking advantage of nudge to influence success
  • Using nudge for an effective change management strategy
  • Developing nudge as a strategic management tool


Podcast Audio Transcript

Alisha: Hello listeners, this is Alisha; thank you for tuning in to yet another exciting and informative podcast from us at Infosys BPM. Today, we are discussing about the “nudge” concept of organizational change management. And to talk about this, we have here with us, Emmanuelle Blons, Associate Vice President at Infosys France. Welcome Emma. How are you?

Emma: I’m doing great, Alisha. Thank you for having me today.

Alisha: The word “nudge” is something new within the area of organizational change management. Could you explain this idea for our listeners?

Emma: Absolutely. Yes, for most people, nudge can be a new concept. When it comes to organizational change management, nudge assumes the meaning of a gentle metaphorical push towards positivity. It means a positive reinforcement or indirect suggestion to guide a person’s behavior towards a desired outcome.

It’s an established concept in behavioral sciences. Through nudge, we are essentially “designing choices”, which is called choice architecture. However, it doesn’t take away one’s freedom to choose. It only influences positive changes. Nudge is an indirect suggestion to steer behavior towards a desired outcome. You can also call it persuasion without coercion.

Alisha: That’s very interesting, Emma. And could you touch upon how we can use it in an organization?

Emma: Yes Alisha, organizations can really take advantage of the nudge concept. Behavioral sciences can extraordinarily influence success. As an example, consider how the city of London succeeded in reducing the number of cigarette butts on the streets. As you know many Londoners are football fans; ashtrays were installed on the streets with labels that read “Who is the best soccer player in the world?” One part of the bin represented Cristiano Ronaldo while the other Lionel Messi. Smokers could vote by throwing the butt in the side of their choice.

There are other examples too. For instance, printing the nutritional score of a food on its packaging makes people become more health conscious. Showing pop-ups of other customers taking advantage of a particular offer increases overall conversion. These are all examples of nudge being used effectively by organizations to influence consumer behavior.

Similarly, companies should also look at understanding their employees' way of thinking. Then, by integrating this behavioral knowledge into a holistic approach of change management, desired patterns can be achieved.

When applied correctly, the principles of nudge can help develop an effective change management strategy to address typical organizational challenges. In practical terms, nudge can be an integral part of a successful change management approach.

Alisha: I didn’t know the City of London used this concept so effectively. Very interesting. What is your thought on when an organization should embrace the nudge model?

Emma: That’s a very relevant question, Alisha. As suggested by a company called BVA Nudge Unit, I would recommend six aspects to consider before implementing nudge in an organization.

  • Behavioral change: Similar to the earlier case of Londoners, if you perceive that a behavioral change is necessary among your employees, then nudge should be implemented effectively.
  • Strategic change: Consider a strategic shift in your organization. For instance, imagine your organization is going to embrace the “anytime/anywhere” model to behave like a Live Enterprise. That would be a major change. Nudge can be quite effective in such cases.
  • Ineffective current approaches: If your current approaches to influence employee behavior is not proving effective, then it may be time for you to give nudge a go.
  • Overall benefits: If you estimate that the intended behavior can be quite useful for everyone, then you should definitely embrace nudge. For example, in plants some companies use posters with mirrors to raise awareness around security rules adoption. Seeing oneself in the mirror has proven to increase compliance with the rules.
  • Intention to act: As an organization you should have an intention to make sustainable, positive changes. If this intention is present, nudge can be quite powerful in bringing significant results.
  • Behavioral advocacy: You should identify and appoint behavioral advocates within your organization. This helps in effective implementation of the idea of nudge.

Alisha: I agree with you. All organizations should have behavioral advocates who can help with major positive outcomes. Now, are there any specific things you need to pay attention to, such as ethical dilemmas?

Emma: Yes, you need to consider a few important aspects. Nudge as I mentioned earlier is a passive and non-coercive method for influencing change. But there are cases where it could be misused. For instance, if someone uses it for manipulative purposes, that poses an ethical dilemma. That’s why before embarking on the behavioral science journey, it is important to consider the ethical issues associated with these interventions.

In case of employees and customers, nudge should only be used to bring positive effects, satisfying the long-term interests of stakeholders. It is all about instilling a more virtuous and efficient mindset within companies. Nudge should be used to influence people’s behavior for the common good.

Today, several innovative and successful companies are integrating behavioral science at a rapid pace. Nudge entities are emerging, and new functions are being created, such as the chief behavioral officer (CBO), who is responsible for applying behavioral sciences within the company.

Alisha: That’s quite true. Behavioral sciences should only be used positively. Emma, thank you so much for coming to our podcast and giving us this wonderful talk.

Emma: It was a pleasure, Alisha.

Alisha: Dear listeners, if you enjoyed our podcast today, please don’t forget to share and like it on social media. Our social handles are mentioned in the podcast page. The podcast will be available on various platforms like Google Podcasts and Spotify, in addition to our website.

Also, if you have any queries, do reach out to us through the email address on the podcast description. Watch this space for more exciting podcasts coming up. Once again, thank you for tuning in, stay healthy and socially distanced. Have a nice day!

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