We tackle complex behavioral challenges through a deep understanding
of personal and social context, a range of research methods, and a collaborative, community-based approach that supports stakeholders with the strategies and tools they need. Our approach aims for effective and sustainable behavior change.
A Different Approach to Complex Behavioral Challenges
As one of the first behavioral science and design consultancies, Final Mile has unique and proven capabilities in addressing complex behavioral challenges, in areas ranging from global health and financial inclusion to public safety. These challenges are often difficult to define, lack clear boundaries, and involve behavior that is influenced by multiple social and personal factors interacting in complex ways. For this reason, they have no single or easy solution.
We believe that a thorough understanding of context is key to developing strategies to address these complex behavioral challenges. Our practice is grounded in research and the application of behavioral science and human-centered design – and in the acknowledgement that we are not experts in every field, which leads us to form collaborations with partners.
We thrive on the uncertainty and ambiguity that these challenges bring. We’re not fixated on unattainably perfect solutions – we look for ones that are both practical and effective. And we continue to learn, develop, and strive to create tools and interventions that address the complexity of the issue at hand.
Systematic Approach to Problem Solving
Final Mile’s practice has evolved, and it continues to do so to serve those facing the challenges of complex behavior change projects. We begin by developing a systematic understanding of the external and internal factors that drive or inhibit our target audience’s behaviors. In our work on reproductive, maternal, newborn and child health in India, for example, we saw that nurses’ behavior toward new mothers was influenced by their own beliefs, emotions, personality, and unconscious biases – and also by the pressures of their role, the management and infrastructure of the healthcare facility, and wider issues of policy and social norms.
Mixed Methodologies Research
Final Mile has adapted and integrated a variety of research methods and tools to create our systematic understanding of complex behaviors, because we understand that a single method is not enough. When the need arose to better understand decision-making processes, we created the EthnoLab™, a decision-simulation research method that leverages elements of ethnography, laboratory testing, and gamification. We believe that an integrative approach that incorporates both qualitative and quantitative methodologies leads to better results as we study complex and sometimes sensitive topics.
We apply qualitative and quantitative methods to capture stories and analyze population segments by behavior. In our work with adolescent girls and young women in South Africa we employed a series of mixed methodologies to understand their perspectives on HIV prevention. We began with qualitative research, using several methods to create a depth of understanding around decision-making. We then used these findings to structure our quantitative methodology in order to measure the prevalence of the Behavioural Archetypes and their place within their health journey. Finally, we used discrete choice modeling to understand the HIV product preferences. Through this approach of layering data sets, we were able to develop an understanding of the behavioral pathways of these young women, milestones within their journey, and factors that might explain why different groups of young women take different pathways.
The research methods we use are grounded in academic research and adapted to serve our goal of mapping out the context to understand the complexity of the challenges we address.
Once we have a thorough understanding of the context – the factors that drive or inhibit the behaviors of individuals and groups – we design for our target audience, focusing not just on the end user but the key stakeholders involved in the process. Final Mile knows that a successful intervention in one context will not translate directly to a new situation. To support the scalability of our insights, we continually create and adapt tools and methods to sustain impact and keep things effective and efficient for stakeholders. For example, we’ve developed strategic tools to support institutional decision-making, leveraging behavioral science and human-centered design principles. These tools have been used to engage with a wide range of stakeholders, from government ministries and donors to implementing partners, to support them as they develop their programs.