Supporting materials

A range of materials are available to support ISM use:

  • Video of Andrew Darnton, lead author of ISM, speaking at the SSN 2016 Annual Conference on “Making Change Happen – the Critical Role of Behaviours.
  • Slides used by Andrew Darnton during his talk;
  • A series of templates for mapping ISM workshop discussions and write-ups;

Generic workshop examples:

  • Example 1 - cycling as a preferred commuting choice
  • Example 2 - energy efficiency behaviours in the workplace


Andrew Darnton, lead author of ISM, spoke at the SSN 2016 Annual Conference on “Making Change Happen – the Critical Role of Behaviours. He presented an overview of the ISM (Individual, Social, Material) approach to understanding and influencing behaviours, and explored a range of case studies in which ISM was integral to the project’s success.


Slides used by Andrew Darnton


These are ISM mapping templates which you can use for capturing workshop discussions or for a desktop study on e.g. project scoping, evaluation, gap analysis, survey development etc.

  • ISM Lite – 3 contexts only, if you don’t need to delve into factors at this stage
  • ISM factors – full framework including all of the factors
  • ISM slide for producing write-up of a workshop or for using in a presentation with re-sizeable text boxes to capture barriers and enablers



Examples from workshops

Running an ISM workshop helps tackle barriers specific to an organisation or location. However, certain barriers are commonly identified during workshops irrespective of the context. Some of the ideas suggested by workshop participants to address common barriers form what is effectively a generic suite of actions which can be adopted by other public sector organisations.

The examples provided here are from workshops held on cycling and energy efficiency in South Lanarkshire. Each action that was identified in the workshop is shown with the ISM factors that it relates to.

Example One - cycling as a preferred commuting choice

Promote as part of employer initiatives for example, cycle to work/agile working/healthy workplace schemes.

Enlist Human Resources support to arrange worktime cycle training sessions, develop incentives for active travel and use of public transport.

Costs and Benefits, Meanings, Institutions, Rules and Regulations, Time and Schedules

Capture cycle commuting stories for newsletters, staff magazines, social media etc.

Develop a Bike Buddy scheme to improve confidence, learn safe cycle routes.

Values, Beliefs and Attitudes, Habit, Norms, Emotions, Agency, Skills, Networks and Relationships, Roles and Identities

Develop website for workplace/ cycling partnership to signpost resources, for example videos on bike repair and maintenance, safe routes, clubs, cycling events, bike shops and supplies etc.

Skills, Networks and Relationships, Norms, Tastes, Objects, Technology

Invite key bodies and partners to meetings, for example Cycling Scotland to talk about funding, support and resources, Abellio to influence plans for commuter hubs, the head of planning to discuss challenges with cycling infrastructure provision, new development priorities and constraints.

Networks and Relationships, Opinion Leaders

Collaborate with local health and leisure partners to highlight and optimise mutual benefits, for example cycling as a route to physical and mental wellbeing.

Costs and Benefits, Institutions, Meanings, Tastes, Networks and Relationships

Clarify funding options and criteria, for example from Paths for All to support behaviour change projects and synergies with projects to improve local air quality

Networks and Relationships, Infrastructure, Habit, Meanings, Time and Schedules, Rules and Regulations


Example two - energy efficiency behaviours in the workplace

Ensure more overt recruitment and recognition of role and efforts of energy champions, floor or building reps. Senior management express appreciation and value of role more visibly across the organisation and recognition of staff efforts and impacts.

Values, Beliefs and Attitudes, Roles and Identity, Opinion Leaders, Institutions

Provide guides stating minimum standards, for example printing policy, default printer settings, heating, cooling and lighting controls for the floor/building. Clarify extent of ability to self regulate versus central control.

Skills, Agency, Technologies, Objects, Rules and Regulations

Clarify and confirm organisational responsibilities, for example procedures for reporting a fault and turnaround times for response or resolution.

Agency, Institutions, Networks and Relationships, Time and Schedules

Include energy efficiency in staff induction, training, periodic reviews, team meetings, for example akin to importance of health and safety at work.

Values, Beliefs and Attitudes, Skills, Habit, Institutions, Meanings, Rules and Regulations

Ensure staff know and understand organisational expectations regarding energy efficient behaviours.

Provide examples of acceptable/unacceptable behaviours.

Skills, Institutions, Values, Beliefs and Attitudes, Norms

Spotlight energy champion/reps personal stories in staff communications, magazines etc. - how they came to take on the role, what it means, what they do, what they find challenging and rewarding.

Emotions, Values, Beliefs and Attitudes, Costs and Benefits, Norms, Roles and Identity

Encourage rotation of energy champion role amongst staff – help normalise and encourage shared responsibility to ensure not seen as specific to certain individuals.

Agency, Norms, Roles and Identity, Time and Schedules

Place meters in visible areas, kitchens, staff rooms etc. Produce visuals/infographics to illustrate consumption trends and translate actual and potential energy savings into meaningful and relevant parameters, for example jobs, services, assets or infrastructure.

Skills, Costs and Benefits, Meanings, Tastes, Objects

Centralise out-of-hours community lets and meetings especially where location is not critical. Identify specific floor area or hot desks for after-hours work.

Networks and Relationships, Infrastructure, Time and Schedules

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