Monthly Archives: April 2010

Easy is easier than hard #

I’ve been thinking recently about the rule of thumb: “Make desired behavior easier than undesired behavior.” It’s been a running thread that I’ve connected to several unrelated areas over the past month (My PhD work, Boy Scouts, refereeing soccer, software design, and even parenting.) In the broadest sense, this is what society tries to capture with laws—although not always successfully..

In economic terms, when you add friction to a transaction, the transaction becomes less desirable. The illustration by designer Brad Colbow, “Why DRM Doesn’t Work (or how to download an audio book from the Cleveland Public Library” is a great example, as is a similar graphic from (It’s also a great explanation of why I dislike animations that can’t be clicked past at the start of so many video games.)

Enabling good behavior (and discouraging undesired behavior) is an undercurrent in the change management literature as well as in the policy compliance literature I’m reading. It explains why lecturing is often the most ineffective method of teaching, because it requires attentive behavior in the listener, rather than enabling it.

It’s a concept I will certainly need to keep in mind as I prepare to teach next semester.

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