By Manny Rodriguez, M.S.
bSci21 Contributing Writer
I have had the pleasure to learn from, work with and even mentor students, professors and practitioners in the field of OBM for more than a decade, and I have come to the conclusion the OBM professional provides a unique value proposition like no other. How we do what we do is different than the common “consultant” type popularized in the media (see Office Space, The Air Up There) or if you have had the experience to meet someone in the big consultancies like McKinsey, Accenture, or Deloitte, you know they are cut from various cloths, and in some cases even the OBM cloth. And yet, over the years, those who represent OBM proudly can be identified as, well, different than those other consultant types. So, after careful thought, I have come up with the top 10 ways OBMers* do it! *OBMers is a nick name for the OBM practitioner, one I am not overly fond with but have come to accept it over the years and will use throughout the article.
OBMers do it through behaviors and results! It should come as no surprise to bSci21 readers that the number 1 way OBMers do what we do is by having a focus on behaviors. OBM professionals offer a unique value proposition to organizations, namely the science of human behavior, and how it can be used to make a positive change and achieve bottom-line business results.
OBMers do it with leaders! The OBM professional knows all too well the importance of the leader within the context of organizational change and improvement. The leaders provide the mission, vision, values, and supporting environmental factors that make or break performance. Thus, the OBM professional spends a lot of time coaching and consulting to leaders, because without them, organizational change could come to a screeching halt.
OBMers do it with evidence-based approaches! Unlike other consultancies, using whatever flavor of the month or fad is hot right now, OBM practitioners are committed to utilizing evidence-based approaches in their work. This too should come as no surprise to bSci21 readers.
OBMers do it with data! Another fundamental way the OBM practitioner makes a difference in the world of business is through the use of data. Since our focus is on behaviors and results, it should make sense the data we look to monitor and manage is both behaviors and results. There are means to determine when to measure behavior or results or both. Too much to cover in this article on this topic, but it is clear the OBM practitioner’s focus on data is a differentiator from other consultant types.
OBMers do it with many influencers! OBM is grounded in Applied Behavior Analysis, and is clearly understood to be a sub-discipline of ABA. However, OBM is heavily influenced by other disciplines which lead the OBM practitioner to have a multi-faceted approach to meeting the needs of organizations around the globe. Disciplines such as Instructional Design, Industrial and Organizational Psychology, Organizational Behavior, Organizational Development, Systems Analysis and of course Behavior Analysis have all played a role in the evolution of OBM as a science, field of practice, and body of literature for the OBM practitioner.
OBMers do it with a plan! Any OBM project, small to large, needs a solid plan. The OBM professional makes a point to ensure a plan is in place to design, implement and evaluate the work. The plan can take many shapes and forms. However one thing is clear — there must be a plan. Without a plan, you are destined for failure.
OBMers do it through shaping! Shaping is a common protocol used in Applied Behavior Analysis, and the OBM professional is served well to apply shaping in their behavior change efforts. A different way of looking how shaping is applied by the OBM practitioner is from a common saying used by OBM professionals – “start where the client is.” Clients of OBM have various starting points. They may be well versed in human behavior or naive, they may have implemented projects in the past with great success, or newly minted to the project world, and they may be a seasoned leader or transitioning into a leadership role for the first time in their career. By starting where the client is, the OBM practitioner can provide the right level of coaching and consultation to support their efforts in making a positive difference.
OBMers do it to make a difference! In the field of Applied Behavior Analysis, we focus on making socially significant behavior change. In OBM, the professional seeks to work on organizational needs significant for both the individuals within the organization, and individuals impacted by the organization. From the front line employee, the CEO, the consumers of the organization, and the shareholders investing in the company, the OBM practitioner must understand and apply a fundamental principle to their work – we do what we do to make a difference in people’s lives. Whether the OBM professional is providing training and development, coaching the CEO, or driving a specific performance improvement project to impact revenue, costs, productivity, quality, safety, or customer retention, the impact is what makes or breaks our work.
OBMers do it, and write about it! One of the most enjoyable aspects of being an OBM professional is learning from other OBM professionals. The Journal of Organizational Behavior Management has been a major source of inspiration, learning, and fundamentally a platform to build careers in the field. Since 1977, practitioners, researchers and students in the field have written about their work, solidifying the previous points I mentioned above, and other points I am sure I missed. Furthermore, the journal has evolved over the years, adding credibility to how we pursue our work and research to advance the science in parallel to how organizations work in the modern day world.
OBMers do it with other OBMers! If you weren’t aware, the field of OBM is supported by the OBM Network, an 400+ member special interest group of the Association for Behavior Analysis International (ABAI), and noted as the second largest group within ABAI. Over the years, the network has grown, and continues to strive to grow the vitality and reach of OBM as a science making a positive difference in the workplace. Over the years, many OBM professionals have collaborated, supporting large research and applied projects. This unique aspect of being an OBM professional is a great value proposition both for the professional and consumers of our work who benefit from collaborations within a broader network of professionals.
Do you know of any other ways OBMers do it? Let us know in the comments below, and be sure to subscribe to bSci21 via email to receive the latest articles directly to your inbox!
Manny Rodriguez, M.S. has over ten years of experience working within the Fortune 1000, is the President of the OBM Network, and Vice President of ABA Technologies, Inc. Manny and ABA Technologies, Inc. provide products and services for behavior analysts and the general public. He provides online professional development in ABA, including coaching and mentoring, speaking engagements such as workshops, seminars, and webinars, and expert consulting in ABA, OBM, Instructional Design and Teaching Behavior Analysis. Manny can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.