By Carolyn Brayko
Editor, Organizational Behavior Management Newsletter
The most recent Network News issue from the Organizational Behavior Management (OBM) Network includes a thoughtful call to action by Dr. Joe Dagen entitled “Three sides of the same coin: Occam’s razor, dissemination, and business impact.” Dagen earned his Ph.D. in the behavior analysis program at the University of Nevada, Reno, and in the article he reflects on his bygone graduate days when he wanted to disseminate behavior analysis research for a business audience. He quickly discovered a problem, familiar to every graduate student with similar ambitions; how does a student lacking ‘real world’ experience, know what a business audience needs?
Now a seasoned professional, Dagen’s experience has given him perspective to answer the question. If you want to start writing articles immediately, I’ve summarized the highlights below, but I would strongly encourage readers to read the full article to get the full story on Dagen’s process for targeting topics that would be beneficial for the corporate world.
- The business world needs behavior science. Behavior analysis has the tools to meet the needs of the business world. There is no shortage of organizational issues both at the individual and systemic levels.
- Following a simple three-step process will help you discuss topics relevant to mainstream business discussions in a scientifically valid way.
- Familiarize yourself with an organizational challenge commonly discussed in mainstream publications, like the Harvard Business Review.
- Look at the challenge using a behavioral lens to determine whether such a perspective allows for a more pragmatic (i.e., effective) solution.
- Write an article for a mainstream publication, discussing the possible behavior analytic solutions and why they are more functional than less empirically valid trends.
- Occam’s razor is a behavior analyst’s best friend. Occam’s razor, a metaphor that promotes a simpler solution over a more complex one, fits well within behavior analytic theory. Circumnavigating mentalistic constructs may lose out in narrative appeal, but wins in the long run by targeting the prediction and control of behavior in a meaningful way.
Working with Dagen to write and publish this piece helped me realize the inherent difficulty corporate professionals face in publishing scientific work. Students are required to research and publish, but many lack the acumen to generate highly salient and effective pieces. Professionals have an intimate understanding of the needs within their line of work, but often lack contingencies to research and publish scholastic work. Dagen’s process is a valuable start for junior researchers to consider if their goal is to develop a body of work that could contribute to improving business practices.
Researching and translating mainstream business issues into “behaviorese” may be necessary for developing effective interventions, but it is insufficient for sharing them. Dagen provides a method for identifying appealing topics for a lay population. It is likewise important to use proper channels to start the conversation. Sitting at the right table for discussion is just as important as showing up with an effective solution. And please, keep Occam’s razor handy and leave the jargon at home.
Carolyn Brayko, M.A. currently studies at the University of Nevada, Reno. As a senior doctoral student, she dedicates her academic and professional time to Organizational Behavior Management and Behavioral Systems Analysis, particularly as it pertains to prosocial behavior, medical education, and healthcare systems. Carolyn serves as the editor of the OBM Network newsletter “Network News” of which Dr. Dagen’s article was a part. For those interested in learning more about the OBM Network or becoming a member, check out the official website: www.obmnetwork.com. For more information about “Network News,” send an email to: firstname.lastname@example.org.