Things a Consultant Can Do to Increase the Chances of Their Recommendations Being Implemented Successfully by a Client

This post is based on a question that was posed to me on Quora.

Here are a few things to consider for this type of situation:

  • See if you can get a resource assigned within the company to take the lead on program managing changes into the organization. Also to help increase the probability of success, see if the incentives of the assigned resources and sponsor can be aligned with the initiative outcomes.
  • If you have the skillset and desire, propose extending your contract to potentially help with piloting and incubating the new changes. You could structure your contract to include performance outcomes if you haven’t already done that for the prior phase.
  • Potentially partner with another consultant that has experience with implementing changes within an organization. This could become part of a longer-run business model for you.

A Call for the Heterogeneity Revolution in Behavioral Science

This article should be on every modern behavioral science researcher’s reading list for a cohesive view of the future. It will take awhile for the community (both research and applied) to wrap our heads around elevating heterogeneity and context relative to main effects.

Bryan, C.J., Tipton, E. and Yeager, D.S., 2021. Behavioural science is unlikely to change the world without a heterogeneity revolution. Nature Human Behaviour, pp.1-10.

https://t.co/i2o04QfbVQ?amp=1

I Am a Cat That Knows Behavioral Economics

Information Reframing: Which is more appealing? A black cat with a white belly or…
…a white belly with a black cat?
Active Choice: Would you rather prepare for your PhD viva or pet me?
Choice Overload: Do you find it difficult to choose given all of these books?
Behavior and Technology: Daniel Kahneman intimates that technology may eventually be better than humans at decision making, so I am going to be wary of this robot for cat welfare worldwide.

What Can User Experience (UX) Designers Learn from the Field of Behavioral Economics?

This post is based on a question that I answered previously on Quora.

Although it’s not exclusively from the realm of behavioral economics, the notion of A/B testing is something that I often try to work with companies to include. On the one hand this includes the capabilities of companies to integrate specific aspects of their product management, software development, UX, data science, and marketing processes. But it also means developing a research mindset that comes from the experimental side of behavioral economics. For example, if one really wants to nail down which aspects of a UX or customer experience affect behavior and outcomes, the gold standard is using randomized assignment, A/B testing, and discipline that between testing conditions only one item is changed. In setting up the A and B test conditions for a behavioral insights based UX isolation test, one can add, subtract, or substitute a single element between two test conditions. If you change more than one element, then your findings will be confounded between the multiple elements changed, and you won’t be able to tell what change worked or didn’t. UX teams should become used to working in worlds that include testing harnesses like Visual Website Optimizer, Optimizely, and the like.

For a little more on A/B testing, see this WSJ article by one of my colleagues. It describes a simple, but extremely powerful A/B test we worked on with a FinTech company’s UX. It’s Time to A/B Test Your Financial Life

If you are interested in other aspects related to the digital UX world and behavioral economics, you might also want to check out a book that was written by two of my colleagues: The Smarter Screen: Surprising Ways to Influence and Improve Online Behavior.

What Does a Chief Behavioral Officer Do?

This post is based on a previous question posed to me on Quora.

The role of a Chief Behavioral Officer (CBOs) varies, but a common theme I’ve seen is that they analyze, plan, innovate, and implement aspects of the business using insights and methods from the behavioral sciences (e.g., behavioral economics, psychology). Some of the companies with CBOs do mostly marketing communications or thought leadership (e.g., research) while others may get involved with bringing insights and designs to product development (e.g., applied research). Some CBOs may directly manage people, such as a team of PhDs, analysts, etc. as well as partnerships (e.g., with academic researchers). The approach of CBOs may also vary in terms of the science. For example, some may leverage pre-existing research. Others may work with big data (e.g., proprietary) and correlational or instrumental variable type analysis. Yet others may take an experimental approach (e.g., A/B testing) and work with product and service teams to directly measure how designs affect behavior and outcomes.

A key aspect of determining the activities of the CBO really come down to setting goals for the larger organization, assessing gaps and resources, and developing a tactical plan to meet the goals over time. As an example, for the past few CBOs I have helped, we often worked to develop 30–60–90 day plans to initially get the organization rolling with longer-term planning and thinking happening in parallel.

Behavioral Science Casebook Project

In my free time I have been developing a course, tentatively called Applied Behavioral Science in the Digital Age to be taught to business school students at either the undergraduate or graduate level. In the course, students will study how the pervasive reach of digital technology into our lives affects our heuristics, biases and other behavioral patterns. In addition to learning about behavioral science theories in the digital age, students will then learn how to apply those key theoretical concepts through discussing actual, corporate case studies and participating in hands-on exercises related to nudging and experimental design. The class will discuss key elements to starting and implementing behavioral science initiatives within a company. The course will be especially geared toward those interested in professional careers within consulting, product development, marketing, services, and technology app (e.g., FinTech) settings.

As related to that course, I have started to develop a short book that will cover specimens and cases based on the real world, such as sample websites, app designs, email campaigns, and customer journeys with ideas about how to evaluate such designs though the lens of behavioral science. If you have interesting examples and specimens for me to consider including (can be disguised or made anonymous as needed), please feel free to correspond with me at sds77@cornell.edu. If the specimen is from your company and you are interested, I can potentially perform a behavioral audit on the materials provided.