Our everyday lives from what we eat to how we travel, and how we work are having a profound effect on our own health and that of the people around us.

Diabetes and other chronic diseases, along with obesity, are on the rise – alongside rapid growth in levels of work related stress and mental illness. According to the World Health Organisation, there are 36 million preventable deaths every year from these health problems – a devastating social impact and a major financial burden.

Last year, IDEOBupa and the International Diabetes Federation collaborated on an OpenIDEO challenge that addressed the question: “How might we create healthy communities within and beyond the workplace?” The global OpenIDEO community developed some excellent concepts and you can check them out here.

Through the process we learned some amazing things about health & wellbeing, particularly within the workplace or other kinds of communities. I hope these are useful to you if you’re working in this area or even if you’re just trying to make or sustain a change in your own health:

  1. Understand the motivation to change
    – help people tap into their own personal motivation
    – provide evidence that making a change will work
    – make it fun
  2. Create commitment & social accountability
    – Set goals (e.g. climbing the equivalent of Mount Everest)
    – Shared goals are even more sticky (consider a health buddy)
  3. Measure progress
    – There are a ton of great tools available to track your health and even a movement now called the ‘quantified-self’ movement. One of the OpenIDEO concepts suggested a partnership between Glassdoor and Bupa to measure a company’s approach to wellness. Check out James Robertson’s idea here.
  4. Provide options
    – Not every get-fit scheme suits everyone so make sure there are lots of options in your program
  5. Leverage existing behaviour
    – People are more likely to adhere to a program if it’s easy to fit into their daily routines.
  6. Start with small changes, and support them
    – Johan Löfström’s concept ‘ Gamify Microexercise builds on new research that small bursts of exercise that work with our busy schedules actually lead to greater change and are more sticky.
  7. Provide both bottom-up and top down nudges
    – Demonstrate you value health in your organisation by providing clear incentives, for example Ashley Emblad’s Active Fridays idea or Jason Jonhson’s Healthy Benefits concept.
  8. Think holistically to create lasting change
    – Recent trends in the wellness space suggest that thinking about our physical, mental, & spiritual needs as a whole will create greater balance and help sustain change. Suzy Stone and the IDEO team interviewed Janice Marturano, an expert in mindful leadership about this topic, read more here.
  9. Provide hybrid motivations (health is a proxy for other things)
    – Vanity is a powerful motivator
    – Competition is something we often overlook, but can be a powerful motivation especially when used to bring a community together.
    – Higher purpose e.g. Matt Cooper’s On Your Way Home concept.
  10.  Don’t preach to the converted. 
    – Focus on where the biggest change can happen. E.g. Those who aren’t focussed on Heath yet. 

I hope these are useful, please share any feedback or comments you have below, I’d love to hear your thoughts.

– Nathan