Behavioural Design Digest
December 24th, 2019

Dear reader,

Have you ever been to Ubud in Bali? Ten years ago it was the closest you could get to paradise. Today it transformed into a mass tourism nightmare. KFC's next to McDonalds, an abundance of yoga studios and a plethora of overpriced organic restaurants, carefully catered to get the last dollar out of the pockets of the sophisticated soul searcher. 

Vang Vieng in Laos is even worse. Once a little hidden gem on a river transformed itself into a binge-drinking paradise for English and Australian youngsters. The number one activity in Vang Vieng is tubing, which comes down to descending the river on a tube while being drunk. The view that made Vang Vieng so incredibly beautiful is now gone because they built backpacker huts in front of it. 

These are just two classic examples of the concept of "pissing in the well". A well is a common good in a community that - if managed well - provides prosperity for everyone. If a community in a remote village manages its access to water well, everyone will be able to thrive. If one person decides to damage it for personal gain, the well will dry up and everyone will suffer or die. This phenomenon is also often referred to as the tragedy of the commons.

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foundation course are now online. Update: Due to high demand we will organise an extra Dutch edition of the Two-Days Fundamentals Course on January 27th and 28th.

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We're pissing in every well we find

The wrongness of the core idea of capitalism that progress is made when everyone pursues their self-interest is never better illustrated than in the tragedy of the commons. The list of tragedies is endless: 

  • We live in Amsterdam. It's a beautiful city, but real estate speculation and mass tourism are gradually turning it into Disney-like attraction. 
  • Watching a Frozen-movie with the kids on TV can be a joyful family experience until they ruin it with five advertising blocks.
  • We want to drive our cars as fast as we want to while musing about the beauty of the countryside. But while doing this, the quality of what's left of nature is rapidly declining, precisely because we're slowly suffocating it. 

I can go on and on. We, humans, tend to piss in every well of beauty and prosperity we find

I don't know the solution to the problem, but I do know that the psychology of happiness points to some exciting directions. The key to living a happy life is not about consuming the things you want to have or to buy experiences. Life long happiness is all about living a meaningful life. It's about forming deep relationships with others, through which your sense of self transcends. Happiness is about learning new things. And it's about contributing to a more significant good. 

Find happiness in restoring the wells in 2020

So instead of pissing in the wells we visit, why not dedicate ourselves to joining forces to restore the wells that we are in the process of destroying: 

  • bring back the sense of belonging in the communities we live
  • restore the wildlife in our regions
  • join forces to speed up the transition to a carbon-free world
  • restore the opportunities for kids who grow in poverty to get access to good education, proper role models and enough opportunities to climb the social ladder

These are the wicked behavioural design challenges for 2020 we are going to focus on. To restore the wells of beauty, meaning and prosperity, what a great mission for the next year. 

Happy 2020. 

Tom, Astrid and the SUE'ers. 

Behavioural Design Academy in Singapore

We are taking the Behavioural Design Academy abroad in 2020. We'll kick off by organizing our two-day Behavioural Design Foundation Course in Singapore on February 6th and 7th. If you consider going... we have got 16 spots available. 

Behavioural Design Course Singapore

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Warning: Our sprints are fully booked till March 2020

We have a bit of a luxury problem. Our sprints are fully booked till March 2020. We're trying to solve this problem, but since it takes some time to rock at facilitating a Behavioural Design Sprint, we urge you to contact us as soon as possible if think about hiring SUE in Q2/20.

Awesome SUE Picture of the week

This map at the SUE training center is a map that keeps track of every nationality we have trained so far in the Behavioural Design Academy. Our ambition was 22 nationalities by 2022. We already crossed the mark of 40 nationalities. Super proud and grateful! 

That's all for this week, we hope to catch you next week!

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