We’re Astrid and Tom; we are entrepreneurs, behavioural designers, writers, teachers, and absolutely dedicated to helping you create successful change and make better decisions using the power of behavioural psychology.
Who are we?
That sounds ambitious, helping you make better decisions and change your behaviour. Before we get into that, a short introduction might be in place. Tom is a clinical psychologist who after an internship of 6 months in a mental institution decided to never practice psychology in the medical arena again. Instead, he started in research followed by advertising. From a qualitative researcher to strategic planner, creative direction, to TED speaker: Tom has done it. Born and raised in Belgium, but now based in Amsterdam and never wanting to leave again (well for Belgium, could be someplace where the sun shines more often). Astrid is a graduated social scientist who decided instead of doing a Ph.D. in communications and do lab experiments, to see if she could add some creativity to the scientific research ending up in advertising too, from account to strategic planning, copywriting and creative direction, she looked at practice from all angles. Born and raised in Den Haag in the Netherlands, but since many years living in Amsterdam and happy there (but she can also be seduced to sunny places).
We met over 10 years ago, we led a digital agency together, we fell in love (not just with the work, but also personally), we both jumped ship together and left the digital agency and started SUE Amsterdam, we put some extra excitement into the mix and got a daughter together, we started SUE Behavioural Design Academy, we got married a year later, and as we speak we’re still a happy, energetic symbioses always looking to learn more, fight indifference and make this world a better place.
What’s the story behind SUE Behavioural Design Academy?
So, what’s the story behind SUE Behavioural Design and SUE Behavioural Design Academy then? When we started SUE Behavioural Design in 2011, we didn’t want to start just another creative agency. We had our roots in the broad spectrum of advertising (we worked for clients such as Nike, Heinz, Philips, etc. and had won over 20 (inter)national awards), but we both thought the real interesting things were not happening in advertising anymore but in innovation. Two powerful forces technology and behavioural economics were in the driving seat of all interesting new businesses, products, and services.
Especially the behavioural economics, or behavioural psychology, caught our attention. It brought us back to our roots. We both choose the studies we did because we were both fascinated by human behaviour. Why do people do the things they do? Why do they make certain decisions or choices? Why do people sometimes take action and sometimes have total inertia? And why do people do things that aren’t always good for them?
It just clicked. This is what we wanted to do. We wanted to become experts in behavioural psychology. But not just the science. We wanted to be the first to combine the science with practice. The science is very powerful. If you know how people think, and how they make decisions you know why they do the things they do or don’t do. You can actually change behaviour.
The SUE Behavioural Design Method™
But science is just science. We wanted it to come alive. That’s where our experience came in. We had experience in coming up with creative solutions for (complex) problems. If we could combine the science of influence with creativity, magic could happen. And that’s what we did. We studied long and hard (and still do) to become experts in behavioural psychology, and we then created the SUE Behavioural Design Method™ to make all this knowledge practical. So, we and others could start applying it to come up with ideas that will change behaviour.
Our method is a combination of design thinking powered up with the science of influence. Design thinking helps you to find out what to make from a human point of view (it puts people in the middle of the ideation process), but behavioural psychology gives you answers to the why (why do people need something, why they do or don’t take action). So, you’ll know how to make your ideas work.
At SUE Amsterdam we use our method to help our clients solve behavioural problems. We do this in Behavioural Design Sprints. An intensive, accelerating work process in which we go from insight to ideation, to prototyping and testing in a short period. Beginning with a problem, and ending with a validated solution. At Behavioural Design Academy we teach our SUE Behavioural Design Method™, so people can start applying it themselves. We were ambitious in this too, so we are an officially recognized educational institution that can officially certify graduated students as Behavioural Designers.
The Missing Layer
We always refer to Behavioural Design as the missing layer. If you to start to think about it…it’s just crazy. We all spent so much time, effort, and money into our ideas, businesses, plans, personal goals. And they all have to do with human behaviour. You have to start eating healthy or go to the gym, your clients have to buy your products, you want your employees to be more creative, you want citizens to recycle, you want the people in your organization to embrace change, you want people to save for their pension, you want people to donate. It’s all behaviour.
And still, we all proceed with our plans without actually knowing how behaviour works. How people make decisions. How people come to choices. And we did it too. For years! While it is actually a science. The science of behavioural economics has researched for over 30 years how human decision making works. It’s not something we claim to have invented; it is proven in hard research. And this knowledge is there for you to unlock. Only we’ve made it easier for you. We have combined the eight essential books, dozens of research papers and scientifical experiments into a simple to follow, learn and apply method.
Just imagine how magical it can be! If you know how people make decisions, you’ll know how behaviour works, and you’ll have the secret ingredient to turn your ideas into success. You will add the missing layer. That’s why we call it Behavioural Design: you can design behaviour if you know how. And we’re all about the how.
Our mission: nudge positive behaviour
Insight into human behaviour can be dark wisdom. It can be used for the good and evil. We want to be a driving force for the last. We want more and more people to use the power of behavioural psychology to help people feel and do better. This is the mission we live by on a daily basis.
To unlock the power of behavioural psychology to nudge people into positive choices in work, life, and play.
That’s why we have clients that came to us for questions like: how can we get people to donate to make life in refugee camps liveable, how can we help youngsters out of debts, how can we stop people from using their mobile phones in traffic, how can help people not to run into problems with their mortgage, how can we make people support entertainment for sick children in hospitals, how can we help diabetics live a healthy life, how can we help people build a sustainable sports habit, how can we have people vote against extremist right, and so on.
Our culture: Knalldrang
We are both Berlin fans, and absolute techno addicts (which amongst others explains the numerous trips to Berlin). We also love making up German words. Astrid has techno playlists on Spotify that all have self-invented German names if you’re ready to dance you should check them out (username astrid.groenewegen). But our culture is also best described with a Germanism, it’s called Knalldrang:
The unstoppable urge
To move things forward
And come up with brand new solutions
At the speed of light
Occurring in the magical collision
Between behavioural psychology, creativity, and fun
Manifesting itself as brilliant sparks
Of energy and super-duper ideas
That people get jumpy excited about
Knalldrang is the fuel for fulfilling the SUE mission. Knalldrang will help us change the world for the better.
What we do in a nutshell
Unlock the power of behavioural psychology to nudge people into positive choices in work, life, and play.
Change is all about behaviour.
You have to stop doing things that hold you back or start doing new things that will propel you forward.
We help people build the habit of using behavioural science to successfully change behaviour.
SUE | Behavioural Design
From training to transformation
Want to see us in action?
One more thing, where does our name SUE come from?
SUE Behavioural Design was named after the famous Johnny Cash song ‘A boy named SUE.’ If you don’t know it, you have got to listen to it. As in: listen to the words. Okay, we’ll save you the trouble (spoiler alert): it’s about a boy who is given a girls’ name by his father. The boy is not happy to say the least (probably had a hard time at cowboy school) and seeks revenge. And then he FIN-AL-LY meets his father. Introducing himself with famous words: How do you do? My name is SUE! He is ready to go in for the kill. His father completely down and out in the losing position explains to the boy it was for his good that he gave him a girls’ name: it would help him to toughen up. Which he knew the boy was going to need as he wouldn’t have him as a father around. It was a beautiful fatherly gift so to speak (reframing always works). Boy breaks. They do a man-hug thing. And it all ends well. We at SUE, truly love interventions that are done for the sake of good….and we are a sucker for man-hugs. So, there you go. Our name is SUE. How do you do?
Hope to meet you one day!