One of the most effective ways of cementing change is to create conditions that make it almost effortless for employees to perform whatever new behaviours or processes you are encouraging them to do. This tactic is called the “nudge”.
The nice people at Starbucks wanted me to register my gift card on their website. About ten times during the past 6 months of morning coffees, I was gently reminded to visit their website and register my gift card to receive the occasional free coffee, discounts and other rewards. Each time, I left the store with the best intentions of registering the card. Of course, I never quite got around to it.
This morning, my friendly barista said “If you haven’t registered your card yet, Tara is standing right over there with her computer and she will get you all signed up.” After getting my order, I wandered towards Tara and, her computer screen already on the Starbucks website, we registered my card in about 3 minutes. It was just the nudge I needed to complete this task. Starbucks gains information about my consuming habits and demographics; I now receive occasional rewards for buying their products.
Having Tara with her computer ready to sign up customers comes at a cost. An innovative change manager must conceive of a cost-effective nudge, rally sponsors to support it and encourage managers to implement it. Nudges require change managers to go beyond their usual communication activities. But the rewards are worth it.