A new approach to Change

Thursday 23 April 2015, 1:59PM


Change is one of the most over-used words at the moment – perhaps even more so that strategy!

Yet, from selling more of our products or services or driving engagement on social media to public sector challenges such as safer workplaces or improving air quality, changing behaviour is the end objective for many of us.

“90% of our behaviour is unconscious and the result of our habits – which means that telling people what they should do and why, rarely works on its own. It also explains why change is so difficult – we’re hard-wired to what we know best,” says Janet MacDonald, Founder of ChangeHub, a Wellington-based behaviour change consultancy that works in New Zealand and Scotland.

“This certainly isn’t about the Nanny State - even David Cameron is getting in on the behaviour change act with his recent Ted Talk acknowledging that people don’t make rational decisions and governments need to be developing solutions that help change.”

ChangeHub’s change ideas are developed through deep research and co-creation with the people whose behaviour we are trying to change.

Janet says, “We are not tied to a communications or advertising solution – although we include these in our suite of tools. It’s about finding out what people want and need, not what we think they need.”

One of ChangeHub’s current projects is broadening the practise and thinking around changing behaviour in New Zealand. As part of this, world behavioural expert Jeff French will be working as a ChangeHub Associate on a range of projects around New Zealand.

An ex-Director of the National Social Marketing Centre, UK, Jeff’s client list includes the WHO, Department of Health (England), DEFRA, the EU and Axa Sun Life.

Although he works with public, corporate and NGO clients all over the world his perspective on change is applicable in many situations:

  • Find out about the world and lives of the people whose behaviour you are hoping to influence. The reality is that you probably don’t know best.
  • Do something! Take action. A Facebook like doesn’t count but uploading or co-creating content might.
  • Light little fires. Get things going. Pilot and test before scaling the ideas that work 
  • Doing more with less is a reality that’s going to be around for a while. This approach allows us to target the areas where change is possible and with ideas that work.

Jeff French will be holding a one-day Strategic Behaviour Change workshop in Wellington on April 28th and a one-hour open session in Christchurch on April 30th.

For more information please visit