Author Matt Wallaert shares a fresh approach to product design with Chamber members

By: Maggie Wilson Posted: 07/22/2019

Four insights on how to consider human behavior as you design a product or service

Booked Matt WallaertOn June 28, the Seattle Metro Chamber hosted Matt Wallaert, a behavioral scientist for Clover Health, for a discussion on his new book, ‘Start at the End: How to Build Products that Create Change'. In the book, Wallaert shares his expertise, gained from years in the tech and healthcare sectors, on how to design products and services informed by human behavior.  

“I fundamentally believe that everything that we build, we build to change behavior,” Wallaert said while introducing himself and his work.

For example, "Why do we eat M&M's?" he asked the group. Attendees offered answers: Taste, size, brand development, availability. The responses launched Wallaert into a presentation on pressures – both inhibiting pressures, which keep people from taking a particular action, and promoting pressures, which encourage that action.

He noted that these forces are not constant - sometimes inhibiting pressures outweigh promoting pressures, other times, it is the reverse. Thus, considering both sides of the equation is essential when you are designing a product or service. 

Wallaert also highlighted some key considerations throughout the design process :

  • Articulate the behaviors that you are trying to drive first. Create a behavioral statement that will be true because of what you built. Then, map out inhibiting pressures to reduce them.
  • Data collection is extremely important. Data science is an organized way to talk to each other about what has actually happened.
  • Remember that there are two sides of the equation. Don't just focus on promoting pressures when trying to drive someone toward a behavior. For example, reducing inhibiting pressures (payment is a hassle, an event is too far away, a service is too expensive) can also shift the equation in favor of the behavior you are trying to promote.  Likewise, don't consider only inhibiting pressures when trying to stop a behavior.
  • Humans hate ambiguity. “Perception is reality when it comes to behavior change,” Wallaert said. As an example, he shared how people believed they waited a shorter period of time in line when they could see waiting times laid out.


This event was part of our new Booked series, which brings you the chance to meet national experts as they share new insights on business and professional development and take your questions about applying ideas from their books to your work. Each event includes a copy of the author's book.