Nudge literally means "nudge " in English, which could be translated as "encouragement". The nudge theory, developed by behavioural science, shows how simple incentives help us move from good intentions to action.
These studies have recently culminated in the work of Cass Sustein and Richard Thaler, the 2017 Nobel Prize winner in economics, authors of "Nudge - The Soft Way to Inspire the Right Decision".
What does this have to do with our professional life? The desire to develop ourselves is omnipresent (acquire new skills, apply the great training we have received, expand our network, change direction...). The problem is not our motivation: it is fluctuating, certainly, but always there.
We are not short of resources either: thanks to countless theories, training and other tutorials, we know exactly what to do and how to achieve these goals. In many cases, all we have to do is take action. And that's where it gets stuck. Lack of time or energy, laziness, forgetfulness: we constantly face multiple obstacles that prevent us from simply turning this decision to act into action.
This paralysis of the first step, we all have it. The reason is very simple: we are human.Homo economicus does not exist: we are not capable of cold analysis and coherent actions in all circumstances. And since we are not rational at all, knowing that behaviour is beneficial is not enough for us to do so.
The cause? We are constantly influenced by cognitive biases: those little voices that remind us of negative experiences in priority, that make us overestimate the gaze of others...
Originally, these biases appeared to help us: they simplify our environment to allow us to adapt to it as well as possible, for example by helping us to ignore the superfluous in order to make faster decisions. But in a world where we must constantly reinvent ourselves, unlearn and relearn, they sometimes become obstacles. And we are caught between the hammer of our constant need to develop and the anvil of our inertia.
Fortunately, behavioural sciences, which study how our brains make decisions, help us understand and exploit these biases.
To better understand the strength of nudges, let us take the example of their application to the British organ donation policy. In countries requiring explicit consent, i.e. where individuals must give their agreement prior to any removal, the rate of consent is very low: in 2003, in Great Britain, only 17% of people consented to donation, 4% in Denmark... compared to 100% in Austria. The British government then called on its nudge unit, a department of the Prime Minister dedicated to using behavioural economics to improve public policy. The nudge unit, after testing various approaches, proposes to simply ask citizens the question "If you needed a transplant, would you ask for it? If so, become a donor. "What would be the result? Membership increases by 100,000 more donors each year, while maintaining explicit and voluntary consent. And it's all thanks to a simple and effective nudge.
Although nudges made their debut in the public domain, they are gradually being adopted in the professional world. In particular, they represent a great opportunity to tackle the issue of professional development by integrating it into our daily lives. After e-learning, seminars or face-to-face training, the right nudges, at the right time, allow us to put all these beautiful principles into practice. And thus put one foot on the other side of the door, then another, and another, until we reach that goal that we are really motivated to achieve.
The next articles in this column will decipher for you different situations in your daily professional life to help you draw the contours of the biases - and put in place the right nudges to unblock the situation!