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Currently viewing the tag: "Behavioral Psychology"

Behavior2Product managers, marketers, and designers are often confused as to what they should do to increase the chances of customers’ engagement and uptake of their offering.  Changing individuals’ behavior to enhance engagement, productivity, innovation, and happiness isn’t straightforward.

It takes a lot of effort, time, and resources to execute initiatives aimed at transforming behaviors and Organizational Culture.  However, most people aren’t interested in changing and like the status quo to prevail.  This is where Behavioral Economics can help to know how customers behave, interpret their decision-making methods, and create solutions targeting those behaviors.

Product designers and marketers aspiring to drive acceptance of their products can make use of the 3 Bs of Behavioral Change to change understand consumer behavior. The 3 Bs of Behavioral Change classify the 3 elements essential to change behaviors, i.e.:

  1. Behavior
  2. Barriers
  3. Benefits

Understanding and employing these 3 Bs helps the designers and product managers instill change, inspire design and strategy-related decisions, increase the acceptance of new products / features and product engagement levels, and build new behaviors in people.

Let’s discuss the first 2 elements in detail.

Behavior

People have an inherent tendency to maintain the status quo.  Behavioral change necessitates:

  • Identifying individuals’ existing attitudes.
  • Assessing and tackling psychological biases affecting individuals’ decisions.
  • Carefully tracking behaviors that need to be changed.
  • Ascertaining the most important desired behavior and exact action that is imperative to drive results.
  • Getting the buy-in from all stakeholders on the key behavior.
  • Deciding if the behavior should be permanent or transient.

Examples of key actions to change behaviors include spending 30 minutes thrice weekly doing cardio exercises and consuming salad at lunch daily to stay healthy.

Barriers

Understanding the barriers in behavior adoption assists in creating effective solutions to improve uptake of key behavior.  The second step to induce behavioral change is to reduce barriers in its adoption.

  • Every decision that a product user has to make, no matter how negligible, increases resistance in the likelihood of completing a specific behavior.
  • These actions and decisions an individual has to take in order to achieve the desired behavior create points of friction in embracing key behaviors.  For instance, people often find it difficult to decide when presented with complex choices. They tend to procrastinate or become a victim of decision paralysis.
  • Removing the points of friction and resistance from any key behavior necessitates documenting and streamlining all decisions. The path of least resistance leads to desired key behaviors.

Examples of barriers include the thought process involved in the decision to select where to have dinner.  This thought process is, in fact, a psychological barrier in actually going out and having dinner.  Likewise, the decision to walk or drive to a restaurant is a logistical barrier and a point of friction that warrants making a decision.

To eliminate these barriers, we can either remove barriers entirely or just simplify the decision.  For instance, elimination of a non-critical, open text field from a sign-up form—that probed the users about their business, which requires significant time to think and answer—can increase page-over-page conversion.  In case choices are helpful for the users and cannot be eliminated, then it is best to simplify the decision process by giving fewer options instead of many, or by suggesting “recommended option” to the users.

Interested in learning more about the details of the 3 Bs of Behavioral Change?  You can download an editable PowerPoint presentation on 3 Bs of Behavioral Change here on the Flevy documents marketplace.

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Obstacles 1Mediocre people occupying senior Leadership positions is one of the chief reasons for the fiasco and humiliation that organizations like Enron and WorldCom faced.  The practice of recruiting average people at the top is omnipresent and often goes unnoticed until the results begin to surface, which is typically too late for any intervention.

Smart people decisions matter a lot in achieving profitability.  Research indicates that a return on average human asset of 5% is typical in many industries.  However, a senior executive selection of 2 standard deviations below the average yields -15% return on asset.  An executive selection with 2 standard deviations above average causes 25+% return, which is 5 times the average.  Increased investment in finding and hiring the best senior executives fetches returns to the magnitude of 1000%.

Attracting and selecting the best people for senior leadership positions isn’t a small feat.  The future of organizations depend on it.  However, not too many organizations succeed in getting the right people at the top.  The reason for this failure is attributed predominantly to 3 critical obstacles that hinder in making the right recruitment decisions at such a crucial level.  Wrong Executive Selection decisions due to these 3 obstacles bring about losses and negative returns:

  1. Obstacle of Rarity
  2. Obstacle of the Unknown
  3. Obstacle of Psychological Traps

Let’s talk about these obstacles in a bit of detail.

Obstacle of Rarity

The first barrier to finding outstanding executives for senior positions is their scarcity, as excellent executives are a rare breed.  Sophisticated skills that make an executive standout aren’t common.  They are distributed in a given sample.

Outstanding people perform at a much higher level than that of their peers, particularly at the top positions.  A blue-collar executive with 1 standard deviation above the mean translates to 20% more productive individual than an average executive.  With increasing complexity of job, the difference between the top performer and an average performer increases considerably.

Appointments at the senior positions do not go without assessment errors, which can prove to be extremely costly.  Even an accuracy level of 90% in executive assessment isn’t satisfactory.  This results in a number of mistakenly categorized top performers and rejection of outstanding candidates.

Obstacle of the Unknown

Another barrier to the Executive Selection process is the predictive assessment of candidates on the skills and attributes required and the actual delivery capabilities of the individuals.  It is difficult to assess the unknown.

Competencies at the junior levels are easier to define, but it gets difficult to pinpoint the skills required at the top level.  The skills required at the top keeps on changing due to the evolving political, technological and economic landscape.  The skills required today get obsolete over time.  In case the exact requirements for a position are fully known, it isn’t certain whether a candidate meets the requirements in their entirety.

Accurate assessment of the candidates’ behavior and competencies is difficult but worth investing efforts and resources.  “Soft” skills—e.g., leading people, coaching and developing teams, teamwork, and managing Business Transformation—are what differentiate the senior leaders, but gauging these skills necessitates thorough evaluation and considerable time, which is difficult at senior levels.

Obstacle of Psychological Traps

A number of psychological traps are associated with cognitive biases in humans that hinder the decision making abilities in people and incapacitate the hiring process.  8 types of psychological traps are most common in individuals:

  • Procrastination
  • Assuming incorrectly
  • Impulsive judgment based on first impressions
  • Discounting the warning signs
  • Covering mistakes
  • Bonding with familiarity
  • Emotional anchoring
  • Tendency to follow the majority
For more information on selection and hiring “the best of the best,” take a look at the Fiaccabrino Selection Process (FSP).  Download a free primer on FSP here.

Interested in learning more about the 3 critical obstacles that hinder right Executive Selection?  You can download an editable PowerPoint presentation on Executive Selection here on the Flevy documents marketplace.

Are you a Management Consultant?

You can download this and hundreds of other consulting frameworks and consulting training guides from the FlevyPro library.