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How awesome was that! A secret to changing people’s behaviour

Changing behaviour and helping people adopt new ideas or new ways of working isn’t easy. We are creatures of habit, inherently lazy (seeking the path of least resistance). But given a compelling vision, nudges and support we are surprisingly adaptable and able to change. All our work at Brand Learning boils down to changing behaviour. Here we share one of our most valuable principles for achieving this: beautility.

Our lives are made up of a series of experiences the most amazing & memorable of which have the greatest lasting impact on us. We forget (thankfully) all the bland stuff that happens in between. If you reflect on the workplace experiences that help you learn new behaviours that are needed to drive your business forward, what do you remember? When was the last time in a learning programme you said, “Wow – how awesome was that!”? This is certainly not a call for style over substance. It’s about blending both.

In early January of this year I was suffering from some post-festivity blues. I had a stinking cold and it was grey and miserable outside. I decided to cheer myself up by visiting the Design Museum in London. I was hoping to be re-invigorated.

Walking around I came across an impressive wall installation. It was a collection of everyday things that ordinary people loved for their design, whether it be their aesthetics, form or function. This got me thinking. Is there any parallel between these memorable but everyday products and how we design and deliver our learning programmes? I continued exploring the exhibits, and came across the original London Tube Map designed by Harry Beck. A masterpiece of simplicity & elegance that has now been adopted across the world for transport maps.

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This is when the penny dropped, and I made the connection. There are basically only two things we strive for in designing our learning experiences. Firstly, to make them engaging, entertaining and emotive. Secondly, and with equal importance, to make them useful, succinct and informative.

How can we make them be both Beautiful and have Utility? Or put another way, how can we make our learning experiences exhibit Beautility?

To be successful in delivering beautility you need to be and act like a craftsman. It requires all the sound instructional design skills as well as flair, imagination and sensitivity. It is a blend of heart & head, science & art.

The best beautility craftsmen genuinely care about their audience. They create an experience that works for their user and helps propel them to embrace the change, work through the inevitable challenges along the way and ultimately flourish and perform better than before.

You can apply beautility at several levels:

  • Overall programme design with multiple learning interventions
  • A single intervention
  • The specific support material or resource being created

You don’t always need Beauty and Utility in equal measure, though. Often a powerful creative theme or strong visual identity can engender a deeper emotional connection and memory hook. And sometimes the balance is more on utility – a simple and easy to navigate playbook can be valued for the clarity it brings to the learning process. But there should always be a consideration for both.

An example of Beautility in action is our award-winning work with Brown Forman and Purple Media. The program helped ensure everyone who is new to Jack is afforded the opportunity to become a passionate brand advocate. The learning journey was based around a virtual tour of the Jack Daniel’s Distillery, establishing key elements of the brand: authenticity and history. Its strong identification with the town of Lynchburg, Tennessee was reflected in the learning experience, leaving 94% of participants “truly excited to be working on Jack Daniel’s.”

So, the next time you commission or review a learning programme, ask yourself: does it meet the dual goals of beautility? And therefore, will it deliver the desired change in behaviour?

To discuss how to inject beautility into your behaviour change programmes, do get in touch. We’d love to collaborate with you.

Read how large organisations like Mars are inspiring behaviour change.


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