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  • 2nd Oct 2023

Learn how to use behavioural science to improve your business leadership & decision-making

As you progress in your career, the technical skills that helped secure your previous promotion might not guarantee your next one. The skills needed to deal with people (often called soft skills) become more important to helping you achieve your goals. You’ve probably heard of emotional intelligence and understand how important good relationships are to keeping teams motivated and achieving strategic objectives. But another often overlooked skill that leaders must hone is the science of making good decisions to drive measurable improvements within your organisation.

The ability to make sound, data driven decisions is a key characteristic of good business leaders. The more senior you rise, the more you are relied on to make decisions with limited information, context and time – making high stakes, pressurised, risk-based decisions becomes your core skill. Unfortunately, leaders rarely get professional development in their decision-making processes. 

We tend to think of decision making as a mysterious art – part experience, part intuition and part judgement. As a result we overlook the power of behavioural science to improve organisational leadership and drive better organisational outcomes.

But by understanding how and why we make the decisions that we do, we can improve how we make decisions as individuals and how large groups of people make decisions at scale. All of our decisions, from small to large, are influenced by heuristics and biases that can sometimes lead us astray. We interpret evidence in line with our existing views; we assume more people share our own opinion than is really the case; and we fall prey to optimism bias.

The good news is that by understanding these behavioural factors we can improve the way we make decisions as individuals and as organisations. The pioneering experts at the Behavioural Insights Team (the world’s first Nudge Unit) are now offering private sector leaders a new Executive Education course, bringing the insights of behavioural science to help executive management teams make better decisions and rethink the way they approach the biggest problems in the business and corporate world. Through applying an evidence-based understanding of human behaviour, behavioural science can teach you how to 1) make better individual decisions and 2) transform your organisation by shaping decisions at scale 

  1. Understand how to make better individual leadership decisions: BIT has an extensive track record of training leadership teams in government to improve their cognitive processes and become better calibrated decision makers. We are excited to share our knowledge of the unseen dangers, challenges and obstacles ever present in the psychology of our decision making processes, and teach the strategies that can mitigate them in the business and commercial world.
  2. Learn how to shape decisions at scale: crafting ‘choice architecture’: Understanding the internal, individual psychology of decision making is only the first step. To achieve change at scale it is important for leaders to also understand how ‘choice architecture’ – the structures and choices that affect decision making – shape their organisations. Learning how to optimise the choice architecture within which employees or customers operate can achieve huge operational and commercial gains. For example, our work with NHS procurement leaders applied behavioural insights to the system through which employees made procurement decisions, reducing the chance of overspend by a staggering 94%, estimated as savings of up to £15 million per £1 billion spend.

BIT has a long track record of applying behavioural insights to develop more inclusive and sustainable organisational cultures – improving talent acquisition and diversity and staff retention and motivation. Our behaviour change interventions increased applicant pools by 50% at John Lewis and in America we decreased rates of burnout and cut resignations by more than half – leading to real and substantial savings from reduced illness, absenteeism and turnover.

The Behavioural Science Executive Education Syllabus

BIT’s Applying behavioural science to business challenges is a one-day Executive Education programme, including follow up coaching session as well as a masterclass for your entire organisation.

There are two opportunities for leaders across all business functions to join this programme, with courses taking place on 2nd and 9th November in central London.

Our Executive Education programmes focus on action and application not just conceptual theories. This means that on completion, course participants will have a new set of practical psychological tools and methods that they can immediately apply to drive measurable improvements within their organisation.

Topics covered will include how to:

  • Gain a deep understanding of the factors that drive the behaviour of employees, partners and customers.
  • Build awareness of systematic cognitive biases and traps that hamper strategic decision making.
  • Apply practical tools and techniques to improve the quality of decision making and to better guide teams’ decisions.
  • Design more effective solutions to business challenges using behavioural insights.
  • Use tried-and-tested BIT methodologies to implement change effectively and run successful projects.

The cost for this unique and new programme is £1200 per attendee, including a follow-up coaching session and one hour ‘Introduction to Behavioural Insights’ masterclass that can be delivered virtually to your team or organisation within 90 days of the course. You can find more information here.