The Chief Behavioral Officer in Fortune 500 Companies


By Todd A. Ward, PhD, BCBA-D

Founding Editor,

Does your company have a Chief Behavioral Officer?  John Balz, CBO of Opower, makes a case for one.  According to his article, the position is on the rise in Fortune 500 companies.  But what exactly does a CBO do?

The ultimate goal of the CBO, like that of the larger company, is to enhance the customer experience.  The CBO is someone who is fluent in behavioral science research and can translate that knowledge into a better customer experience.  For example, John cites Merril Lynch’s Face Retirement tool that “helps customers save for retirement by bringing them face to face with a digitally aged picture of themselves as a way to help establish a stronger connection between the present and the future.”

Most relevant to behavior analysis specifically, is Hulu’s advertising model which resembles a basic delay discounting scenario.  Hulu customers can decide between one of two advertising options.  In the first option, customers can sit through a long ad at the beginning of their show, followed by an ad free experience for the rest of the show.  Alternatively, customers can watch the show immediately, and forego that extra long ad at the beginning, but their show will be intermittently interrupted with short commercials.  Customers like choice.  When you give it to them, it enhances their experience of your product and they are more likely to return to your company in the future.

To read more about the Chief Behavioral Officer, click on the hyperlink at the beginning of the article.  

Let us know what you think about a CBO in the comments below, and be sure to subscribe to bSci21 via email to receive new articles directly to your inbox!


Todd A. Ward, PhD, BCBA-D is President of bSci21 Media, LLC, which owns and  Todd serves as an Associate Editor of the Journal of Organizational Behavior Management and as an editorial board member for Behavior and Social Issues.  He has worked as a behavior analyst in day centers, residential providers, homes, and schools, and served as the director of Behavior Analysis Online at the University of North Texas.  Todd’s areas of expertise include writing, entrepreneurship, Acceptance & Commitment Therapy, Instructional Design, Organizational Behavior Management, and ABA therapy. Todd can be reached at [email protected].

4 Comments on "The Chief Behavioral Officer in Fortune 500 Companies"

  1. I have some concerns with behavioral science being used within the business world, how should I say it, less ethically than perhaps a registered behavior analyst might use it.

  2. Danielle Virnelson | April 5, 2016 at 5:30 am | Reply

    This article is very interesting. I’ve been eyeing the world of OBM and am starting to wonder how I can venture into other fields using behavior analysis.

    I recently obtained my BCBA, and my masters degree is in behavior analysis. However, my only experience is with children with developmental disabilities and Autism.

    How do I segway out of this population and get my feet wet with OBM? I’ve been looking into doctoral programs that may be relevant, but I’m not sure where to start as far as gaining experience. I’m also concerned about what jobs would be out there for me in the future, or if would I end up primarily doing research.

    Any advice?

    • Hi Danielle, The easiest way to get involved in OBM is with your ABA service provider. Anyone who manages staff needs OBM. For doctoral programs, check out the University of Nevada, Reno, Western Michigan University, and Florida Institute of Technology. Good luck!

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