Who welcomes change? Basically, nobody – except maybe a baby with a dirty diaper! Behavioral science is an umbrella term that covers the realms of social psychology, behavioral economics, and sociology among other fields. As applied in business or government, behavioral science is often a matter of creating small “nudges” in designing changes to human behavior in hopes of achieving buy-in rather than resistance from those who are wedded to the status quo. Khan and Newman, who co-edited and contributed to this book, are candid about the challenges involved in enacting real change in organizations. Without executive buy-in, and a few quick wins to placate the doubters, the odds of enacting change get pretty long. For more tips, listen in as In this episode focuses on a pair of behavioral science applications relevant to business: running human resources (HR), and promoting innovation.
Released today: episode #102 of my podcast series “Dan Hill’s EQ Spotlight,” featuring Zarak Khan and Laurel Newman, discussing Building Behavioral Science in an Organization. Click this link to get to the new episode.
Zarak Khan is a Senior Behavioral Researcher at Duke University’s Center for Advanced Hindsight, as well as a Behavioral Science Fellow at the University of Pennsylvania and a board member of Action Design Network. Lauren Newman is a behavioral scientist at Edward Jones, and a former psychology professor at Fontbonne University.
Like a three-car pile-up on a freeway, consider these statistics: two-thirds of all business mergers fail; under 30% of executives think their company manages its culture well; and only 10% of HR leaders would go that far. Walking the talk doesn’t work. Who needs to hear more about a company’s “values” or “mission statement”? Trying to instill behaviors based on high-minded rhetoric isn’t nearly enough. Instead, a company’s basic operating system requires change if progress is to be made. That move means changing the habits and routines—the practices—that both drive and reflect the company’s true culture. What is also needed? Executives must ditch overconfidence in favor of psychological flexibility, the competency Israeli thought leader Yuval Harari has called the single most important passport to success in the 21stcentury.
David G. White, Jr. is cognitive anthropologist working with organizations on culture, change, and leadership issues. He’s the co-founder of Ontos Global, a boutique consulting firm. David previously held leadership roles at Microsoft, Mercer, and IBM; and is also a professional jazz musician with 7 CDs.