An OBM Perspective on the Task List

By Contributing Writer Manuel “Manny” Rodriguez and Guest Writer Shannon Biagi

Do you want to be an Organizational Behavior Management professional (OBMer for short)?

Are you pursuing your Board Certified Assistant Behavior Analyst (BCaBA) or Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA) certification and are interested in your field supervision hours to include OBM activitie

Are you already a BCBA and want to be an OBMer?

Read on, as this article provides a look behind a curtain of an OBM perspective as it relates to being the BACB® Fifth Edition Task List, at least from our perspective anyway.  This is in no way sanctioned by the BACB, or our professional affiliations such as the OBM Network, rather these are the musings of two OBMers who are interested and supporting the growth of OBM, one behavior change agent at a time.

For many years, professionals in the field of behavior analysis have been interested in OBM, but have often lacked the opportunity to be formally educated or trained due to few programs providing coursework in the area. However, many behavior analysts have caught wind of its scientific underpinnings in Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA), and now want to know how to “get in” the field.   For most behavior analysts, many eventually find themselves in a managerial role, director chair, or possibly even the CEO of their own organization.  Thinking ahead is important, because managing people and processes can look and feel differently depending on your learning history in the workplace, and is way different than providing direct behavior analytic clinical services (for which many behavior analysts are well trained to do).

When looking at the BACB fifth edition task list, what would be different in training a clinical ABA professional versus an OBMer?  In short, the main difference is the subject matter of leadership and management of other professionals, plus a dose of specialized experience in looking at systems, processes, and macro contingencies.  The field of OBM has supported many forms of management and leadership development, all grounded in behavior analysis.   Several noteworthy pieces of literature support the OBMer, such as Daniels and Daniels Measure of A Leader, or Braksick and Hillgren’s Preparing CEOS for Success: What I Wish I Knew.  More in depth analysis of leadership and management are well documented in the Journal of Organizational Behavior Management, such as the works of Drs. Thomas Mawhinney, Judith Komaki, and Ramona Houmanfar to name a few.

OBM also offers a number of specializations within the field.  The methodology of Behavioral Systems Analysis, for example, has been a focus of OBM since the 1960’s and 70’s, providing the OBMer with a process of analyzing (and altering when necessary) the elements that make up an organizational system (see anything from Dale Brethower and Heather McGee for example).  In addition, the OBM literature provides future supervisors and managers in clinical ABA practice with an abundance of research and methods on topics such as coaching, feedback, and even the area of ethics.  Ok, onward to an OBM perspective on the fifth edition task list in an effort to illustrate our thinking around preparing future OBMers.

The Fifth Edition Task List for BCBAs and BCaBAs is divided into two sections.  Section 1, Foundations, which focuses on the basic underlying principles and knowledge of behavior analysis; and Section 2, Applications, which is the area that emphasizes practice-oriented skills.  Because OBM is grounded in the same foundation and broad applications, applied to the context of the workplace and the world of business, we believe the BACB Task List can be applied for future BCaBAs and BCBAs of the world to become future OBMers.  We’ve decided to provide our thoughts, a sample of musings if you will, in the form of a table listing each section with its corresponding sub-sections, and our thoughts on what could be covered to meet those requirements from an OBM perspective.


Section 1: Foundations Some musings of the “Could” OBM Task List (again, not sanctioned by the BACB)
A. Philosophical Underpinnings The philosophical underpinnings still remain true in OBM (e.g., selectionism, determinism, empiricism) and of course Skinner’s radical behaviorism.

For the OBM practitioner, we would include the historical roots of OBM (Dickinson, 2001) to provide a perpective on how OBM is also rooted in industrial engineering and systems thinking.  Because many professionals in our field work in Health and Human Services, a specific focus on the history of OBM in this industry would also be prudent for those practitioners (see Sturmey, 1998).

B. Concepts and Principles From motivating operations to schedules of reinforcement, the Journal of Organizational Behavior Management has well-documented the applications of these concepts and principles, as have seminal books in the field such as Aubrey Daniels’ Performance Management book, now in its fifth edition (Daniels and Bailey, 2014), and The Handbook of Organizational Performance, co-edited by Johnson, Mawhinney and Redmon (2001).
C. Measurement, Data Display, and Interpretation The foundation of measurement is absolutely essential for the OBM professional and has been well documented since the early days of the field (For example Johnson, et al. 1978).  For the OBMer, it is critical to focus on both behaviors and the link to business results, such as customer service related behaviors linked to sales, or quality service delivery linked to client outcomes (see Hyten, 2009).
D. Experimental Design The use of single-subject design is still prominent in OBM; however, given the nature of implementing change solutions for teams and large-scale change, group designs are critical for OBM practitioners to learn as well.
Section 2: Applications Some musings of the “Could” OBM Task List (again, not sanctioned by the BACB)
E. Ethics (Professional and Ethical Compliance Code for Behavior Analysts) Ethics is a key component to the practice of behavior analysis, and for OBM there is no exception.  Ethics has been covered by OBMers in the context of business ethics (Lattal and Clark, 2007), in the Journal itself by pioneers such as Mawhinney (1984) and The Handbook of Organizational Performance, co-edited by Johnson, Mawhinney and Redmon (2001).
F. Behavior Assessment Assessment methods in the field of OBM take on different forms than those used in clinical ABA.  The goal remains the same as far as identifying the function of behavior, prioritizing for socially significant behavior change, and use of preference assessments when needed.  However, given the need for focus on macro contingencies, teams versus individuals, and in most cases, large scale change, assessment procedures such as process mapping, behavioral systems analysis, and a comprehensive set of assessments due to the complexities of organizational dynamics are necessary for the OBMer to apply (see Cash is King by Rodriguez, 2011).
G. Behavior-Change Procedures Behavior-Change procedures in OBM take many forms, well documented in research and application.  A particular focus area for the OBMer as it related to this content area is generalization and maintenance.   In organizational settings, the field of change management speaks of “sustainability” meaning designing systems to ensure the change sustains over time.  In addition, the OBMer keeps their eye on enhancing Antecendents and Consequences, both at a micro and macro level to ensure things are in place for behavior change to occur.  The OBMer could learn change management techniques in addition to ABA’s application of generalization and maintenance to ensure long lasting behavior and results change (see Rodriguez, Sundberg and Biagi, 2016).
H. Selecting and Implementing Interventions There are many parallels in content area H for the OBMer, such as goal setting to recommending interventions, and monitoring progress and treatment integrity.   For the OBMer, to integrate into the business world, a focus on defining a business case for change (O’Hara, 2014) towards identifying potential interventions based on assessment results and the best available scientific evidence (content area H-2) would be prudent to learn as a skill.  In addition, because of the focus on collaborating with others who support and/or provide services to clients (content area H-9), the OBMer should learn about the professional area of I/O Psychology, Organizational Development, Organizational Behavior, Human Resources, and Change Management just to name a few (e.g., Bucklin, et. al., 2000).
I. Personnel Supervision and Management This new content area compared to previous task list editions is definitely related to OBM.  The focus on the role and practice of a supervisor, training personnel to competency, and the use of performance monitoring, feedback and reinforcement systems is all well documented in OBM literature.


In Closing

The BACB task list from an OBM perspective can be applied to the workplace. The foundations are the same, the principles of behavior of course apply, and with some added specialization related to some other influences to the OBM field (e.g., industrial engineering, systems thinking) all pertaining to the context of organizations, we believe OBMers can be developed within the context of the BACB task list.  We are proud to be BCBA’s, applying our science in the workplace for many years now.  Today we are especially excited to be preparing and supervising future OBMers to make a positive difference in the workplace.


Behavior Analyst Certification Board. (2017). BCBA/BCaBA task list (5th ed.). Littleton, CO: Author.

Braksick, L.W. and Hillgren, J. S. (2010). Preparing CEOS for Success: What I Wish I Knew.

Brethower, D. M. (1982). The total performance system. In R. M. O’Brien, A. M. Dickinson, & M. P. Rosow (Eds.), Industrial behavior modification: A manage- ment handbook (pp. 350–369). New York: Pergamon.

Brethower, D. M. (1999). General systems theory and behavioral psychology. In H. D. Stolovitch & E. J. Keeps (Eds.), Handbook of human performance technology (pp. 67–81). San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass Pfeiffer.

Brethower, D. M. (2000). A systematic view of enterprise: Adding value to perfor- mance. Journal of Organizational Behavior Management, 20, 165–190.

Bucklin, R., Alvero, M., Dickinson, M., Austin, J., & Jackson, K. (2000). Industrial-Organizational Psychology and Organizational Behavior Management. Journal of Organizational Behavior Management, 20(2), 27–75.

Daniels, and Bailey (2014). Performance management: Improving quality productivity through positive reinforcement (5th ed.). Tucker, GA: Performance Management Publications.

Daniels and Daniels (2005). Measures of a Leader. Tucker, GA: Performance Management Publications.

Dickinson (2001). The Historical Roots of Organizational Behavior Management in the Private Sector. Journal of Organizational Behavior Management, 20(3-4), 9–58.

Hyten, C. (2009). Strengthening the Focus on Business Results: The Need for Systems Approaches in Organizational Behavior Management. Journal of Organizational Behavior Management, 29:2, 87-107, DOI: 10.1080/01608060902874526

Johnson, C.M., Redmon, W.K., & Mawhinney, T.C. (2001). Handbook of organizational performance: Behavior analysis and management. Binghamton, NY: Haworth Press.

Johnston, M., Duncan, K., Monroe, C., Stephenson, H., & Stoerzinger, A. (1978). TACTICS AND BENEFITS OF BEHAVIORAL MEASUREMENT IN BUSINESS. Journal of Organizational Behavior Management, 1(3), 165–178.

Lattal, A. D., & Clark, R. W. (2007). A good day’s work: Sustaining ethical behavior and business success. New York: McGraw-Hill.

Mawhinney (1984) Philosophical and Ethical Aspects of Organizational Behavior Management.  Journal of Organizational Behavior Management, 6(1), 5–31.

O’Hara, C. (2014). The Right Way to Present Your Business Case. Harvard Business Review.

Rodriguez, M., Sundberg, D., and Biagi, S. (2016). OBM Applied! A Practical Guide to Implementing Organizational Behavior Management. Volumes 1-4. ABA Technologies, Inc., Melbourne, FL.

Rodriguez, M. (2011). Cash Is King—How OBM Helped a North American Telecommunications Organization Obtain $76 Million in Receivables. Journal of Organizational Behavior Management, 31:3, 163-178, DOI: 10.1080/01608061.2011.589733

Sturmey (1998). History and Contribution of Organizational Behavior Management to Services for Persons with Developmental Disabilities.  Journal of Organizational Behavior Management, 18(2-3), 7–32.

Manny Rodriguez, MS, BCBA has worked with many organizations across the globe.  He is an accomplished practitioner in the field of Behavior Analysis, highly regarded by his customers, and colleagues alike.  Manny has held positions both as an external consultant at the largest behavior based consultancies, Aubrey Daniels International and the Continuous Learning Group, as a Global Environmental Health and Safety leader within FMC Corporation, and as Vice President of ABA Technologies, Inc, the largest provider of online education in the field of behavior analysis.  From working with Fortune 100 organizations, to start-ups across several industries, Manny has provided expert consulting along with seasoned experience across the world.  Today, Manny stretches his entrepreneurial arms as Vice President of Organizational Behavior Management at ACES, and as the Executive director of The OBM Network.

Manny co-authored the four volume series OBM Applied! a practical guide to implementing organizational behavior management, and co-authored with Dr. Paul Gavoni the book Quick Wins! Accelerating School Transformation through Science, Engagement, and Leadership.  He continues to write and look for more opportunities to disseminate OBM and behavior analysis across the globe through seminars, workshops, webinars, and in writing.

Shannon Biagi, MS, BCBA is an entrepreneur, CEO and Co-Founder of Chief Motivating Officers, LLC, designed to help spread the science of human behavior within and beyond human service organizations through the quality supervision of upcoming behavior analysts in OBM. She is a Board Certified Behavior Analyst, organizational behavior management (OBM) consultant and supervisor, as well as on the Board of Directors of the OBM Network. With a dual master’s degree Shannon is currently finishing up her PhD in behavior analysis with an emphasis on OBM. Her professional experiences span across areas such as instructional design, training and development, performance management, large-scale pay-for-performance systems, behavioral systems analyses, coaching and mentoring leaders. She is a co-author on the four-volume series, OBM Applied! A Practical Guide to Implementing Organizational Behavior Management. Her clients and colleagues enjoy working with her, and have seen amazing results stemmed from her consulting. 



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