Scientific method

OBM: the science of success

Our Behavioral Strategy approach for optimizing leadership, organizational performance, and driving change is derived from OBM, an acronym for Organizational Behavior Management. OBM is a scientifically proven method for optimizing organizational performance by combining a 7-step protocol with hard data and a focus on the positive change of performers’ behaviors.

Used successfully worldwide for over 45 years, OBM has a proven track record of improving organizational performance in every field of business, in hundreds of reported cases. Based on the behavioral science called Applied Behavior Analysis, OBM is the application of this science in organizational settings. Using a 7-step protocol, OBM is targeted to measurably improve performance by focusing on behavior instead of results only. By this, it takes a positive stance towards the design and implementation of organizational change. It also helps leaders recognize and avoid the three common pitfalls of behavioral influence, making current leadership only effective in a mere 0.8% of their efforts of changing behavior. A fact that leaves much room for improvement!

Source: Parts of this text originated from the ADRIBA-VU website, our scientific partner institute for Behavior Analysis, part of VU University Amsterdam.

Behavioral Science: the key to organizational change!

The facts are both confrontational and undeniable. For decades repeated research by e.g. McKinsey has shown that a staggering 70% of organizational change programs fail to meet all their objectives.

‘Behavior’ is always in the top-3 reasons for failure. That is a failure to get people to actually DO the things that the program aimed for.

Three major frustrations in boardrooms concerning behavioral change in organizations are:

  1. 1. Why don’t they do what we agreed upon?
    2. Why do our behavioral interventions fail to work out in a sustainable way?
    3. How do we get them to do it anyway?

The solution from modern business administration with all the answers:

Organizational Behavior Management (OBM)

OBM in a nutshell

  • OBM is both a practical and scientific approach to organizational behavior change;
  • It is an evidence-based, fact-driven method;
  • OBM has its roots in the U.S. and has been taught for decades at universities worldwide, including Harvard University, Florida Tech University, and VU University in Amsterdam;
  • It is based on scientific principles that have been proven to work over and over again: Since 1973, over 60,000 studies have been performed, both in laboratories and in organizations;
  • It is increasingly being called “The Science of Success” because of the fact that OBM has proven to measurably optimize business performances hundreds of times, in very diverse situations;
  • OBM can be seamlessly integrated with other methods and frameworks like Lean, Six Sigma, ITIL®, Agile, Scrum, DevOps, etc. and it increases their effects;
  • With OBM one can measurably and noticeably increase performances and, when properly applied, can bring out the best in people with a sustained effect;
  • Since the seventies of the 20th century OBM has bridged the gap between behavioral sciences and business administration through the use of a performance improvement protocol. Every step of that protocol is an important ingredient of the medicine;
  • Even in a small country like The Netherlands OBM has found its use in hundreds of instances in many lines of business and public administration, with over 200 recorded cases at the ADRIBA institute of VU University;
  • Where many other methods stop at the definition of goals, KPIs, and individual targets, OBM takes it one essential step further: In OBM behavior is made measurable. In the end, it is all about what people really DO to make an actual contribution to a target or not. As Aubrey C. Daniels – one of the founding fathers of OBM – puts it: “Business is Behavior”;
  • At its foundation lies a positive approach in which desired organizational behaviors are reinforced as much as possible by applying positive consequences;
  • The focus is on catching people doing the right things, instead of only criticizing non-compliance or underachievement. Reinforcing behavior through recognition increases the probability that the behavior will occur again because of a biochemical process in the brain.

As behavioral scientists like to say: “People love change! As long as they benefit from it themselves.” A fact often forgotten to take into account when designing and implementing organizational change, since in most cases only the organizational benefits are defined. Where many frameworks provide business leaders with structures pertaining to the WHY and WHAT, OBM is mostly concerned with the HOW of organizational change.

OBM consists of a scientifically proven 7-step protocol:

  1. 1. Specify Performance in terms of both desired results and underlying behaviors;
    2. Design, implement and use a Performance Measurement system to establish (changes in) levels of performance and the gap between end goal and current performance;
    3. Analyze both current unwanted behaviors and desired behaviors using the ABC analysis;
    4. Organize effective Performance Feedback in both a graphically and verbally appealing way;
    5. Set Sub goals to divide the gap between the end goal and current performance in acceptable and attainable steps;
    6. Give Rewards for attaining goals and – most of all - Recognition for displaying the desired behaviors leading to the results connected to those goals;
    7. Evaluate, adjust & conclude. The protocol is the foundation for a living document, in which progress is made iteratively. Evaluations and adjustments are made frequently in the process, not only afterward.

Of course, each step contains several theoretical concepts, practical examples, and checklists for the proper application of the step. If applied correctly, OBM can lead to recorded performance improvements of 400% or higher.

More information

For more information about our method for Behavioral Strategy please contact us or discover our expertise by booking a free online Awareness Session.

Free online Awareness Session

Interested in finding out how our scientific approach will drive your organization’s effectiveness? Book a free (online) awareness session for your team or organization. This session lasts 2 hours and is taught by an experienced and university-certified OBM and Behavioral Strategy trainer.

In this interactive online awareness session, we analyze a real performance issue or organizational goal (from participants) to discover 3 major pitfalls leaders often fall into when trying to influence employee behavior. Participants will find out how to turn these pitfalls into an effective approach for positive behavior change.

We will explain different influencing strategies, and participants are introduced to the scientific protocol of OBM, the step-by-step plan for changing culture and behavior on the work floor!

You will learn:

  • How to avoid 3 major pitfalls of influencing behavior and how to turn them into an effective approach to behavior change

  • Why do people do what they do? Or don't do what they should do?

  • What influencing strategies are often used and their effect on behavior and performance

  • How the OBM's practical step-by-step plan leads to lasting behavior change!

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