Roxy and Jerome from Coglode

We’re proud accredited partners of Coglode and are excited to be offering our version of their one-day applied behavioural insights workshop. In our opinion, they’ve somehow managed to accurately and accessibly distil the very latest behavioural science insights into an incredibly practical methodology and easily-sharable toolkit – plus they’re also a lovely, dynamic duo who are very fun to work with. We wanted to introduce them to our clients and explain a bit more about how our partnership works in this Q&A session.

 Can you each briefly introduce yourselves?

My name is Jerome. I’m one of the two co-founders of Coglode. I have a background in both economics and in design, and Coglode is a synthesis of these two disciplines. I’m deeply passionate about uncovering why people make certain decisions and how to improve them by explaining the mechanics at play beneath the surface.

And my name is Roxy, the other co-founder of Coglode. I’m a teacher at heart, have a strong background in education and I love to see people grow through learning. Over the past few years, I’ve been building out Coglode’s training programmes, which we’ve run globally. Now, Covid has allowed us to develop both remote Coglode Trainings and our Train-the-Trainer programme, which will allow us to get more people than ever aware of, excited about and applying behavioural insights!

What’s Coglode? Why did you start it?

Coglode finds, distills and clearly communicates the latest behavioural research to help you make better decisions.

There’s so much amazing research sadly locked away in journals.

It’s too time-consuming to find, too time-consuming to read, too abstract and lacking practical application.

We started Coglode because this status quo is simply not good enough. Researchers deserve better avenues to showcase their work and generate more real-world impact. Businesses and Governments deserve a better means of finding, consuming and applying this research, and making better, more impactful decisions as a result.

This is why we started Coglode.

What is Behavioural Science and why should I be interested in learning about it?

You’ll become what you repeatedly do, but do you make perfect decisions at all times? If not, don’t worry. None of us do.

But how can you improve your decisions to give yourself the best chances for life success? How do you get more exercise, cut down on Netflix or Instagram binges, save more or make better life partner decisions?

Behavioural science provides the answers to these sorts of questions. Once you understand the deeper behaviour explaining why you’re still in that poisonous relationship (Sunk Costs, Loss Aversion + Familiarity) or you never really set aside money for your rainy day (Present Bias, Defaults + Hyperbolic Discounting), you can start to take meaningful action that improves your life.

Understanding your own behaviour, then, is vital in order to make good decisions. Clearly, nobody is perfect, but armed with the right knowledge, we can start repeatedly making better decisions that, over the long run, will lead to a more satisfying life.

Can you give us some killer real-world examples of Behavioural Science in action?

Ballot Bins 

Smoking in public areas results in a lot of litter and unnecessary mess. Enter Ballot Bins, a yellow metal cigarette butt bin that curiously poses smokers a question and two answers, each with its own butt slot, turning a boring bin into a playful means of humorous, topical self-expression.

Research showed that Ballot Bins reduced cigarette butt litter by 46% in the immediate vicinity of the bins.

SMarT

We’re notoriously bad at saving for our retirement. Luckily, enter the Save More Tomorrow or SMarT programme, devised by Nobel Prize-winner Richard Thaler and Shlomo Benartzi. SMarT is designed around core behavioural principles, such as our tendency to devalue larger future gains over smaller ones today, our need for certainty, avoidance of perceived loss and our cognitively-lazy adoption of defaults. The scheme makes it very easy to  save a small, pain-free proportion of your monthly wages that automatically rises over the course of a few years.

By the end of the 5th year, those in the scheme were able to save 13.6% of income, next to only around 6% for those making their own savings decisions.

What makes Spoon and Coglode a great partnership – why have you decided to work together, what do you each bring to the table?

We’d been looking for a smart partner for a while who could do three things: First, one that exhibited a strong understanding of the complicated and inter-related nuances that underpin our decision-making. Second, one who could combine these with the critical soft skills around emotional design and third, have the capacity to be able to apply behavioural change at significant scale in the real world.

In Spoon, we’ve found that partner. Through our many discussions, they’ve shown themselves to be highly articulate, able to handle behavioural contradictions, adopt the mindset of experimentation so vital to effective behaviour change, and the ability to do so with a creative flair that’s crucial in the behaviour change space.

Coglode will continue to find, distill and build out its framework of behavioural insights along with brand new case studies, tools and methods showing how to apply them artfully to help people make better decisions.

How do you think behavioural science can transform teams and ultimately businesses?

By giving you a powerful new company-wide language through which to better understand people and make better decisions as a result.

The workshops sound great – is it possible to arrange bespoke sessions or get help to apply the methodology to a specific business problem?

Yes. We recommend starting with the one-day foundational training to bring your team up to a common level of understanding.

With that in place, the Spoon team can then tailor bespoke workshops around solving a particular challenge you might have.

How do you think people knowing more about behavioural science can change the workplace?

First, it’s important to ask a few questions. What are the behavioural concepts that motivate us to start new positive behaviours at work? Similarly, which concepts explain why we’re held back from forming habits that are better for the group in the long-run?

From improving compliance, to boosting innovation, to understanding what makes for an effective workplace environment, behavioural science allows us to answer these questions and as a result, design better workplaces that work both for the group and the individual.

And finally, what are your own most irrational habits or behaviours?

Optimism bias + Prospect Theory + Tiny Habits applied to goal-setting and overcoming an irrational sense of failure.

Let me explain.

In the morning, I optimistically say to myself that, as a seasoned runner, I’ll go for a long run after work, say something like a half-marathon, which I do regularly.

However, the problem is that, once it gets to the end of the day, I’m a bit tired and it’s getting on. Do I have time? What about dinner? And the dishes? Moreover, with the high reference point of what ‘success’ looks like now clearly set, running anything short of 21 kilometres would make me feel like a failure.  I’m trapped because of how I’ve framed ‘success’ and anything less feels like, in Prospect Theory terms, a loss state. By setting such a goal, I have inadvertently created a powerful and uncomfortable barrier to going running.

So I don’t run that half tonight. In fact, I don’t run at all. Tomorrow, maybe?

And the great irony here is that running anything at all would be better than staying at home and worrying about not meeting such arbitrary goals, especially because meaningful goals are only achievable through consistent habits borne out in the medium and long term.

By the way, the same challenge applies to setting high goals around speed, so really the issue is around the quantification of goals. Research actually shows that when we quantify experiences, we enjoy them less. And for someone who sets extreme goals for themselves, this is something of a nightmare.

The way to combat this – which you can probably tell I’ve learnt the hard way – is to do two things: First, commit to the tiniest possible task related to running. That is, just get my shoes on and go out the door. Second, remove any quantification from the experience. How about I just go out and enjoy the experience of running? Both these things combined remove the barriers and the pressure attached to what should be a joyful experience.

Having understood my own behavioural biases at play means I’m now, rather ironically, running more half marathons than ever before.

Just don’t ask me how fast I’m going…

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