Nothing excites the MetriVerse team more than seeing the recent - and long overdue - industry discussions about behavioral engineering. Understanding how behaviors change is critical to accurately and effectively measure, define, and optimize the work we do in L&D.
This week, the eLearning Guild released a video report in which Jane Bozarth and Julie Dirksen explain the Behavior Change Wheel of Susan Michie's recently-published COM-B system. The COM-B system is one of the newer behavioral engineering models that consider how ability (or capability, as it is defined in the COM-B system) is just one component of behavior and works to identify and optimize all of the components. The COM-B system, like most behavioral engineering models, identifies ability, motivation, and opportunity as the primary components of behavioral change.
For L&D professionals who have been caught in the cycle where training is the only solution to poor performance, this research should be revelatory. We need to understand both the potential and the limits of ability to change behaviors before we can define our role in changing the organization.
Early models of learning measurement either completely ignored these limits or attempted to reverse-engineer their effects into a single calculation. But in reality, our purpose in an organization is to provide people with the ability to do their job. And we can very clearly measure that with valid, reliable, and defensible statistics. We can then use that evidence to help drive change in the organization. If we know people have the ability to perform their job tasks properly, then we can help the organization identify the barriers to opportunity or motivation which derail that proven ability.
As we often say to clients, when we can show that people have the knowledge, skills, and ability to do their job, then we can help clear the barriers and ensure the jobs are performed properly. By understanding what we can (and should) measure, we can stop fighting for "a seat at the table" and move to the head of that table.
Because this topic is so critical to transforming L&D into a leadership role, we've gathered some more information to read about COM-B and other behavioral engineering models we like. You'll notice a lot of similarities between the models, as well as some differences that can be applied in different situations.
The COM-B Model
The Behavior Engineering Model
Fogg Behavior Model
A.D. Detrick is a strategy and measurement consultant, human capital analytics expert, project manager, instructional designer, and trainer. He's also a self-confessed comic book geek and a believer in using humor and humanity to teach complex concepts.
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