Todd A. Ward, PhD, BCBA-D
Brett DiNovi, MA, BCBA
Brett DiNovi & Associates
Behavior analysis needs entrepreneurs for its survival. Like every other field, ours is comprised of regular people who need to pay their mortgage and feed their kids. As behavior analysts, we would like to do these things by leveraging our specialized training in – you guessed it – behavior analysis.
In other words, we have to make money. If we can’t make money doing behavior analysis, the field has no future. This applies across the board, to private and public sectors, for-profit and non-profit organizations. Collectively, everyone has a role to play in ensuring they offer something of value to the field, be they academics and researchers, clinicians, business consultants, and others.
Luckily, behavior analysis is based on pragmatic scientific philosophies that emphasize successful working – leveraging the principles of behavior for the betterment of society. B.F. Skinner called this a technology of behavior. As we have mentioned elsewhere, the full realization of our scientific goals requires a long-term vision centered around the integration of behavior analysts across global markets and economic sectors. The forms this might take are infinite, but the basis on behavioral principles is the same.
As we move towards our grand vision, and entrepreneurship gains traction in the field, we can look to those who are already established to offer advice from their own business experience. In a recent video by Brett DiNovi and Associates, Brett provided a number of tips from his personal experience building the largest Applied Behavior Analysis company on the East Coast. We will focus on his first tip, as we believe it is the bedrock upon which everything else rests – solve a big problem
One could say that behavior analysis exists because it solves problems. Unlike other psychological approaches that might focus on “understanding” as something separate from behavior change, we marry the two together – we understand what people do if we can reliably predict and influence future behavior. Similarly, in the business world, businesses exist because they solve problems. They are able to reliably predict a behavior – purchasing a product or service – by providing something of value to the customer. The greater the value, the higher the revenue, and the greater impact on the behavior of consumers who use the product or service.
Problems can be as grandiose as SpaceX’s achievement of renewable rockets to make space flight more accessible to the public, Amazon’s fast and convenient shipping solutions, or the convenience of a McDonald’s drive through when you have a busy schedule. Regardless of the particular problem, solving it successfully means there is demand for what you offer.
Behaviorally, we can think of demand as a motivating operation. The greater demand for your product, the more likely people will pay money for it, because in the end it solves a problem for them. For behavior analysts, this would entail behavioral services of some sort, (e.g., through trainings, consultations, or clinical services), or products informed by behavioral science (e.g., product design, usability, data analytics).
The great news is that every business, product, and service involves behavior in some way. Seen in this way, the applicability of behavioral science to the world is limitless. It is up to you to find those big problems – to seek out the demand, or those motivating operations – and create something of value.
To hear 10 other tips, plus a bonus tip from Brett, be sure to check out the full video and to subscribe to his YouTube page. Also be sure to subscribe to bSci21 via email to receive the latest articles directly to your inbox!
Todd A. Ward, PhD, BCBA-D is a science writer, social philosopher, behavioral systems analyst, and the President and Founder of bSci21Media, LLC, which aims to connect behavioral science to the world in an engaging, non-academic way. Dr. Ward received his PhD in behavior analysis from the University of Nevada, Reno under Dr. Ramona Houmanfar. He has served as a Guest Associate Editor of the Journal of Organizational Behavior Management, and as an Editorial Board member of Behavior and Social Issues. His publications follow a theme of behavioral systems analysis, organizational performance, theory & philosophy, and language & cognition. He has also provided ABA services to children and adults with various developmental disabilities in day centers, in-home, residential, and school settings, and previously served as Faculty Director of Behavior Analysis Online at the University of North Texas. Dr. Ward can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
Brett DiNovi, M.A., BCBA has the unique and distinguished experience of studying the principles of applied behavior analysis under the rigorous scrutiny of both Dr. Julie S. Vargas (formerly Skinner) and Dr. E.A. Vargas at West Virginia University’s internationally recognized program. For the past 26 years, Brett has used behavior analytic principles to create large scale change across school districts, Fortune 500 companies using principles of Organizational Behavior Management (OBM), and across individual learners. Brett has been a OBM consultant in Morgantown WV, an instructor at West Virginia University, a guest lecturer at numerous universities, a speaker on multiple Comcast Newsmakers TV programs, an expert witness in due process hearings, has publications in the Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis, and has been in in executive leadership positions across schools and residential programs nationwide. In addition to an award from South Jersey Biz Magazine for “Best Places to Work,” an award for “Best of Families” in Suburban Magazine, and the distinguished “Top Ranked U.S. Executives” award, Brett’s proudest accomplishment is being a role model and father for his daughter and two stepchildren (one of which has autism). Brett can be reached at email@example.com
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