By Todd A. Ward, PhD, BCBA-D
Founding Editor, bSci21.org
Manny Rodriguez is a man of many hats — international consultant, OBM Network President, Director of Continuing Education and Product Development, and of course Behavior Analyst, just to name a few. I recently had a chance to sit down with Manny to discuss his current work with ABA Technologies, his thoughts on the state and future of Continuing Education and Organizational Behavior Management, and his upcoming participation in the innovative Business B conference. Our interview is below.
Tell us about ABA Technologies and your role in the group.
At ABA Technologies our mission is to provide worldwide dissemination of the science and technology of Behavior Analysis through education, training, consultation, and products. Really, our organizational motto drives everything we do – we want to improve lives through the science of behavior. Our founder, Dr. Jose Martinez-Diaz, does a fantastic job of driving this mission every day and focuses all of us on bringing ABA to the world.
My formal title is Director of Continuing Education and Product Development. I lead a team of professionals dedicated to two of our strategic efforts – our continuing education products and new product and service development.
I am focused on growing our continuing education products by developing new ways to deliver high quality learning experiences to the certified behavior analysts of the world. We also now deliver continuing education to other professional disciplines outside of behavior analysis, which has been pretty fun.
As for new products, well BSCI21 readers may have noticed some past posts about some new services we are rolling out. We are now hosting learning events (seminars/workshops), and providing expert coaching and consultation in ABA, Organizational Behavior Management (OBM) and Instructional Design. The future vision is to have a team of professionals providing these services to local markets – I describe my vision as “local talent to meet local needs.” This is where I see the future of consulting going, with the availability of technology that allows a company to run remotely, companies’ tastes moving away from paying the high costs of travelling consultants, and this new generation’s demand for a better work-life balance; it just makes sense to move to this model.
Is it “ABA Technologies” or “Florida Institute of Technology”?
This is a good question, and one we get often.
At ABA Technologies we provide expertise in behavior analysis through instructional design, instructional delivery, and consultation to our customers. Florida Institute of Technology (FIT) has been and continues to be our business partner and our customer, where we provide our services to support the FIT Online ABA program. Until recently, ABA Technologies’ public face was FIT because there was no real need for us to have a presence. Now that we are branching out in the services and products we offer, we are establishing an identity that is separate, but still very closely linked to Florida Tech.
We are honored by the business relationship we have with FIT, and truly we work collaboratively to bring ABA to the world through the online program. So, is it ABA Technologies or Florida Institute of Technology? We do not look at what we do as “or” but rather “and.” It is ABA Technologies “AND” Florida Institute of Technology who are working to bring ABA to the world.
Tell us about your journey in behavior analysis, and how you got to ABA Technologies.
For me, my journey started at Florida State University. I had the great experience of working with Dr. Jon S. Bailey and many of his PhD students at the time. It was Dr. Bailey who introduced me to the world of ABA, and particularly OBM, as I was always interested in working in business. Within a short time between my junior and senior year at Florida State, I met Dr. Aubrey Daniels, Dr. William B. Abernathy, and many of the now “gurus” of the field of ABA and OBM.
After graduating from Florida State, I went to Florida Institute of Technology to pursue my Masters degree in the field (it’s no small coincidence that I wound up where I am today; more on that in a minute). At the time, the program was solely focused on clinical ABA. However, the program chair, Dr. Jose Martinez-Diaz, convinced me he was a person who made things happen, and that he could support me and my then colleague from Florida State (now happily married for 10 years) in creating an OBM program. One year into the program, we launched the OBM track at FIT. During that time we had the opportunity to work as practicum students with Aubrey Daniels International (the first OBM practicum for the program), and prior to graduating, completed the first OBM theses in the program thanks to the then newly hired OBM faculty member, Dr. David Wilder. Today I am so proud to see that the OBM program is celebrating 11 years of training students in OBM. It is very cool seeing alumni of the program making a difference in the workplace year after year.
Once I graduated from FIT, I worked as a clinical behavior analyst for another year, lead my own private consulting business bringing OBM into small businesses, and worked for a brief period with Aubrey Daniels International. One year later, I was welcomed into the world of OBM consulting by the Continuous Learning Group (CLG). This magnificent organization lead by Dr. Leslie Braksick, Dr. Julie Smith, and other leading OBM practitioners and business professionals supported my professional career for 7 years. I worked in various countries and industries, implementing large OBM projects I could only have dreamt of before. I worked with many great colleagues and clients, working my way up the consulting ladder, and loved every minute of it.
I left CLG to pursue a new dream – what I call “OBM Inside.” I found the work of external consulting to be very exciting, but I wanted to experience what it was like to be inside a company, making a difference, and living the day-to-day life. I landed a position with FMC Corporation, specifically the Corporate Safety Team. My job title was “Behavior Analyst,” which in my experience was a very novel position title to have within an organization. Interestingly enough, later I found out the position was created largely due to the positive influence of Aubrey Daniels International, who at the time was consulting for the organization on safety. I was immersed in FMC for 4 wonderful years, moving from being the Behavior Analyst for the Corporate Safety Team to being promoted to the Global Environmental Health and Safety Operations Leader for the Lithium Division. I went to China, India, Europe, Argentina, Chile, Canada, and various parts of the US. My job was to make a positive difference to the organization’s safety performance. How did I do that? Well, I used what I know, and focused my whole leadership and internal consultation on using OBM methodologies.
I left FMC this year, and I must say I would do it all again, as the experience was incredible, but I found myself wanting a new challenge. 15 years in the field of ABA/OBM, I was ready for something new. One December evening, I contacted Dr. Jose Martinez-Diaz to inquire if he knew of any opportunities in the South East USA (at this point I lived in Charlotte, North Carolina and had two little babies and no interest in a major shift in life). Within two months, Jose offered me my current position with ABA Technologies. The offer was made very simply during a dinner – Jose wanted me to lead a team to bring ABA/OBM to the world through various products and services. I accepted the challenge, and am enjoying the team of professionals I am now working with. Many months in, I believe even more that the future is bright.
As the person in charge for Continuing Education at ABA Technologies, do you see a difference between how we have done Continuing Education and how it could be done in the future?
The world of Continuing Education today for behavior analysts and most other professionals seems to consist of three main “buckets” and I am sure I miss some – 1) online tutorials or videos people can access on demand or in some cases “live,” 2) at conferences such as ABAI, and APBA, and 3) read an article, take a test, and get a credit. The first two options to me provide a great deal of value, providing information to individuals who “tune in” because they are already interested in the topic (presumably at least), and the educators of the CE are established professionals sharing information they are highly educated and experienced on.
The question of how Continuing Education could, and for me will be done in the future, rests on the use of technology and 21st century learning approaches. The use of technology, be it online streaming, pre-recorded videos available on-demand, or even the conference style forum will continuously evolve as technology evolves. The same is true for learning approaches. Behavior Analysts are familiar with fluency-based training, programmed instruction, and individualized learning. However, with advancements in technology and the amount and immediacy of the information people want, our efforts in Continuing Education will surely evolve. In addition to these two elements, I believe we need to evolve our means of providing quality instruction and education that reaches a global audience.
The traditional conference and on-demand online courses are good. However, I believe we need to bring the instruction and education of ABA to the world, facilitated by an online medium. For example, ABA Technologies in partnership with Florida Institute of Technology recently announced our new OBM Certificate Program. Without sounding too much like a “salesman” I will simply say that the core course is based on an interactive instructor-led online format, rather than simply pre-recorded, or lecture style teaching. This is not new technology, but in the continuing education arena, I believe this is needed much more than what we do today.
Aside from ABA Technologies, you are also the President of the Organizational Behavior Management Network and have years of experience consulting to the Fortune 1000. Why run for President?
After years of being a member of the network, I wanted to contribute in a major way. I wanted to take my experience as a practitioner, my ideas, and my passion for OBM and the network, to help do more with OBM as a field. For me, running for president of the network provides the opportunity to support the network broadly as well as strategically. I want to make a difference for the network and bring OBM more into the mainstream. I believe we can, and I am already enjoying working with the brilliant OBMN team members who work tirelessly to drive this mission.
Should all OBMers consult?
Well, in a word, no. Surprised?
OBM is a methodology that can be applied by professionals in various roles. Business owners, leaders, supervisors, behavior analysts, and external or internal consultants all play a vital role for organizations, but they are different roles. But no matter which role you play, OBM can be useful to advancing your efforts, and help you support the organization you work for or with.
To me, being an OBMer means applying OBM concepts and principles, using OBM in your work, and reinforcing and engaging others in their use of OBM. Being an OBMer does not always mean you are a consultant, similar to saying an ABAer is solely working with children and adults diagnosed with Autism. Consulting is a useful way to apply OBM, but it is not at all the only way it should be applied.
In every role I have had professionally (an external consultant, then an internal change agent, a business unit operations leader, and now a leader within an organization) I have implemented and led various strategies to achieve a desired outcome. How I achieved those outcomes was through the use of ABA and OBM methodologies, constantly analyzing the way things worked or didn’t work through the lens of behavior analysis, and adjusting my work to make a difference based on data and sound scientific analysis.
I use ABA and OBM in everything I do, no matter what role I have.
What does the OBM of 2055 look like to you?
A great question, one I had to think about for a long while. First, I believe the OBM of 2055 will be much larger in terms of number of practitioners, number of organizations using the term “OBM,” and the number of universities teaching OBM.
I believe the OBM of 2055 will be more mainstream than it is today. I believe we will see OBM being referred to as the “go-to” choice for organizational change, leadership/management philosophy and methodology, and performance improvement technology. I believe we will see advancements in OBM both in conceptual analysis of behavior in the workplace and the use of advanced technology to promote human behavior.
Lastly, I believe we will see other disciplines pulling in OBM techniques more so than today, similarly to how OBM utilizes techniques from I/O Psychology, Organizational Development, and various management theories.
Lastly, tell us about Business B for those who may be unfamiliar.
Business B is a conference hosted by Miami ABA (MiABA) dedicated to bringing together the most influential people, ideas, and research from diverse backgrounds in Behavior Analysis and Business. The mission of Business B is to create lifelong partnerships and share information, search for solutions to emerging problems, and shape the behavior of business professionals from all fields in an ethical manner.
Among the presenters are Corey Robertson, Dr. Bryon Neff, and myself.
If BSCI21 readers are interested in learning more about the BusinessB Conference, they can visit businessbconference.com. One innovative thing about this conference, a thing that links back to your question about how we do CE’s – this conference will be broadcasted live from the University of Miami Alumni Center on November 21, 2015. Participants can be in the room or watch online.
If you are interested in getting in touch with Manny, his contact information is provided below. Also 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 experience, working with organizations across the globe within the Fortune 1000. He is an accomplished practitioner in the field of Behavior Analysis, highly regarded by his customers and colleagues alike. Manny is especially skilled at facilitating business teams to execute strategic plans and preparing leaders to engage employees to reach their maximum potential. Manny holds the position of Director of Continuing Education and Product Development for ABA Technologies, a pioneer in online professional development of behavior analysts, and is also the President of the Organizational Behavior Management Network. You can contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Manny Rodriguez and ABA Technologies, Inc provides products and services for Behavior Analysts and the general public. Online Professional Development in ABA, Coaching/Mentoring Behavior Analysts, Speaking engagements such as Workshops/Seminars/Webinars, and Expert Consulting in ABA, OBM, Instructional Design and Teaching Behavior Analysis. For more information, contact email@example.com.