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You can’t read your way out of a complex policy problem

The Behavioural Insights Team have spent the last 10 years developing solutions that are informed by behavioural science. These insights do not emerge overnight. Instead, they are grounded in a firm understanding of the systems in which we operate.

Reading academic (or policy) papers is an important step to developing evidence based interventions, but it will only get you so far if you want to understand the context in which you want to implement an intervention. Instead, we argue that you need to leave the office and try to experience the context as closely as you can, either by directly experiencing it, or by directly speaking to the people that do.

To try to convince you that you should step away from your desk, we’ve created a podcast which we think will give you a much better sense of why you can’t read your way out of a complex policy problem.

In this podcast, Alex Gyani and Rory Gallagher from BIT’s Sydney office speak to Zoe Powell, Saul Wodak, Allison Wong, Edwina Crawford and Sophie Munro about their experiences of going out into the field and some of the insights they took from that process.

We describe projects that have tackled domestic violence, unemployment and the health and safety of gig economy workers. If you want to know more about those specific projects, just follow the links posted in this description.

We cover lots of projects in this podcast. This work has been designed with and funded by a wide range of organisations.

In particular, we would like to acknowledge and thank:

  • The NSW Behavioural Insights Unit, the NSW Aboriginal Services Unit within the NSW Department of Justice (for the work on reducing domestic work in NSW)
  • The NSW Government’s Centre for Work Health and Safety (for the work on Food Delivery Workers in NSW)
  • The JobCentre Plus teams in Essex, UK (for the work on employment in the UK)
  • And the Customer Experience and Design, and Trial Design Evaluation teams in the NZ Ministry for Social Development (for our ongoing partnership)

We apologise to anyone we have omitted and thank all our partners who have helped inform and evolve our Explore work.

Note: that this podcast describes the court processes involved in domestic violence cases. While no acts of violence are described in the podcast, if you are affected by domestic violence or abuse, there are a number of services you can reach out to.

Australia:  Call 000 if you are in immediate danger. To access 24/7 counselling and support call 1800RESPECT on 1800 737 732.
New Zealand: Call 111 if you are in immediate danger. Call 0800 456 450 free from any phone, 9am to 11pm every day.
UK: Call 000 if you are in immediate danger. For free and confidential advice, anytime call 0808 2000 247.
US: Call 911 if you are in immediate danger. For free and confidential advice, anytime call 1800 799 7233.


Editing by Evan Sycamnias at Pixelife Studio
Production by Alex Gyani

Musical credits

Intro: Next to you by Jessie Villa
Outro: Cassette Deck by Basketcase
Additional music by Enrize Studio