A Behaviour Change Strategy for DECC

I recently attended the All Party Parliamentary Group on Behaviour Change. The meeting’s focus was on energy efficiency and the scene was set by Energy Minister Amber Rudd.

Everyone is agreed on the importance of behaviour change, the minister said “behaviour change strategies hold the key for solving fuel poverty and other energy issues”. Good news – but as the speech progressed I became increasingly worried that the minister, or DECC, might not know what a behaviour change strategy was – or what constituted a good one. So at the first opportunity my hand shot up and I asked her that very question.

The answer was unconvincing. Nothing she said revealed that her Department understands how to take strategic approach to changing behaviour. “Behaviour change” was used to describe a piecemeal collection of tactical approaches including communication to provide information to “help householders understand their energy use to make informed decisions”, community engagement events to reach more people with your message, and the provision of smart meters.

I agree that behaviour change strategies can hold the key to resolve issues, but I’m not confident DECC really knows what those strategies should contain. So, as a starter for ten, here’s Cause Action’s list of what should be in any behaviour change strategy.

1) A clear behavioural objective – who you want to do what by when.
2) A clearly defined audience
3) A clearly defined action for the audience to take
4) Insight research to understand what matters to the audience and take their perspective (challenging our assumptions)
5) A clear articulation of “exchange” – the benefits that will motivate the audience and the barriers they face
6) A stakeholder/partner engagement plan
7) An integrated, co-ordinated solution that pulls a number of levers of change (e.g. practical support, knowledge, changing the context, modelling, incentives and disincentives and social norms) that makes it more attractive, easier and more normal for the audience to take action (increasing benefits and reducing barriers)
8) Consideration of upstream change required – changing organisational practices culture.
9) An evaluation plan
10) A sustainability plan – how can the desired action be embedded long-term.

Comments and suggestions welcome!

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