As part of the Fellowship experience, we have each been reading books to further our knowledge on design, business, innovation, product development, leadership, and a variety of other topics that have helped us throughout these past 7 months. We’ve decided to start documenting these books, as some of them have really changed how we think.
I recently read Nudge: Improving Decisions About Health, Wealth, and Happiness, by Richard Thaler and Cass Sunstein. It is about how choice architecture, or the deliberate use of design to nudge people into making certain decisions, can greatly impact every domain of our lives, for better or worse. One example of this is the design of elementary school cafeterias. If the food supplier places a basket of fruit in an easily accessible and visible position on the lunch line, compared to a high up, out of the way shelf, children are much likelier to select a piece of fruit. The book gives countless examples of this with regard to 401(k) savings, education, healthcare, sticking to deadlines, and more.
Overall, I enjoyed the book but in my opinion, you can read the first few chapters and get the gist. For an abbreviated version, you can check out their blog Nudges.org. The book spends a lot of time discussing how human psychology, both conscientiously and inadvertently, plays a heavy role in decision making, creating habits, and sticking to habits. This is one of the core justifications of using the human centered design approach to design products, processes, and systems that compliment how people think. There are definitely a lot of great takeaways as we think about how to improve the healthcare system.