Ripple is an innovative product designed to develop a high-performance culture within the Australian Public Service (APS): a smartphone app that explores what drives performance within the workplace.
Our client at the Australian Public Service Commission approached us with the challenge of developing an innovative digital solution that could support building a high performance culture. This solution would need to harness elements of behavioural psychology to assist with changing culture and work practice for 160,000 staff, while being engaging enough to spark regular usage and conversations in the workplace. Collaborating with the APSC, we decided that, instead of trying to push a solution, we would create a space where people can explore the problem themselves.
Ripple is a mobile app. Each day, users receive a simple question related to an aspect of high performance culture. They can answer the question within seconds and see live figures for how that question was answered within their department, and other APS departments. The interface design played a large part. We used a dark palette, with subtle depth to create the sense of an intimate, private space. Less corporate, less government, more personal, more inviting. We kept data visualisation simple, focusing on colour, density and layout to communicate the essential meaning in way that was compelling for the users.
APSC ran the app as a pilot from August - December 2016. The pilot group had 1,500 participants across 31 government agencies, and over 1,100 of these answered questions nearly every day, representing around 70% daily engagement. 100% of participants who answered the questions said they would recommend it to others. 90% of those users found the intra and interdepartmental data visualisation valuable for reflection and communication. Finally, 51% of engaged participants gave Ripple credit for helping them make adjustments at work.
We know that sustained cultural change takes time. It needs daily shaping, and it needs to be social. So the idea with Ripple is that each day you see a question like, “Has your manager given you feedback on your work in the last two weeks?” and not only do you answer the question and then see what everyone else is saying, it nudges you to think, “I actually should ask for feedback on work,” and then you behave differently in your day, or talk with your colleagues and influence their behaviour. Along the way, you begin to pick up themes and principles that unify the questions. Ripple required careful design on two fronts. The first was the selection, grouping, writing and sequencing of the questions that would drive the behaviour and learning, undertaken by the APSC. The second design issue was digital. We deviated from traditional Australian government designs to create something that felt private and intimate for the users. A complex body of knowledge was turned into a long series of micro interactions and released at scale, which let us combine the benefits of time, repetition and social feedback and interaction, amplifying the impact.