Smart cities: The art of persuasion in action

“When you eliminate friction and make something easier, it’s more likely to happen.”

This idea is at the core of the Persuasion Slide, a framework that could have a big impact on smart cities.

The framework was developed by Roger Dooley, author of Brainfluence. It helps marketers and others interested in behavior change think about the elements of what can cause a desired behavior. That behavior could include anything from placing an online order to riding mass transit to work instead of driving a car.

The Persuasion Slide uses the metaphor of a playground slide. Gravity is the force that makes slides work and represents the person’s initial motivation – their needs, wants and desires. The Nudge is the gentle push at the top by a parent, and in the framework describes a triggering action of some kind – an ad, phone call, email, etc. The Angle of the slide represents the added motivation – the logical or emotional appeals that drive the person to act. The fourth element, Friction, represents the difficulty of completing the action, just as a rusty slide slows down or stops a child.

Don’t ignore friction

Dooley argues that friction is often overlooked, and that reducing or eliminating friction in the change process is often the easiest and least expensive way to drive desired behaviors.

At Smart City InFocus in Yinchuan recently we saw some great examples of how this can work in a smart city context.  After all, the starting point of almost any smart city initiative is improving citizens’ lives.

Dooley explains, “Amazon, for example, has emerged as the dominant ecommerce firm in part because One Click ordering and other innovations have eliminated almost all friction in placing orders. Just as businesses are learning to prioritize customer experience as a competitive advantage, cities like Yinchuan are focusing on how citizens and businesses interact with City Hall.”

Simplification smooths progress

Yinchuan Vice Mayor Guo Baichun shared how previously convoluted processes in the city have been simplified. Common tasks like getting a business license or travel visa could take weeks and required multiple ‘stamps’ – often from various departments in different locations.

The city adopted a one-stamp policy, meaning only a single approval was needed for any transaction. Further, all departments responsible for approvals had to relocate to City Hall – turning it into a one-stop shop. In some cases, the intention is that eventually no stamps will be needed.

In an exclusive interview with Dooley, Guo revealed that in 2016 more than 20,000 new businesses were registered – a 48 percent increase from the year before. Removing friction is helping Yinchuan attract bigger business to set up in the city too, Guo said.

Dooley concludes, “There’s a lesson that both businesses and governments can learn in Yinchuan. Eliminating pointless paperwork, collapsing layers of approvals and streamlining processes can save money at the same time as these steps unleash creativity and increase desirable outcomes.”

Read Roger’s full post on Forbes and find out more about the Persuasion Slide.



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Sarah is a freelance writer and editor with an interest in new technologies and how they impact our everyday lives.

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