Help! I want to save a life

23 Apr 2013 2min read

I’m not one for quoting quotes generally, but I came across this one the other day from John Stuart Mills: “Happiness must be approached sideways, like a crab.”

It resonated with me because, as a human factors and design person, I’m frequently asking people to do something they don’t always want to do: read the instructions, take the medicine, inject yourself…

The temptation is to regard the person as perfectly motivated and compliant; after all, why would they not take the medicine, it’s in their interests after all. The reality is that people are much more likely to do things they want to do, or are going to do anyway. Approach ‘happiness’ sideways: don’t ask people to do something directly, get them to do something they want to do that has the side effect of achieving your aim too.

Help Remedies came up with a simple and ingenious way of getting people to register as bone marrow donors. If you cut yourself (shaving for example), you’ll need a plaster. Give people a plaster that has a swab and reply paid envelope, and maybe they’ll send back a blood sample that will help build a potential donor database. Help Remedies did this, and have nearly tripled the number of donor registrations.

“Help I Want To Save A LIfe” – Case Study from Graham Douglas on Vimeo.

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