Behavioral Science in Business: Understanding People to Drive Results

Columbia Business School

How long?

  • 3 days
  • in person

Columbia Business School


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Who should attend

The program is designed so all attendees will benefit and find equal value, regardless of their prior knowledge of behavioral science. There are no formal requirements or assignments that need to be undertaken before starting the program. However, we strongly recommend participants think about specific workplace challenges that they'd like to work on during the program and to which they plan to apply their learnings. For participants who wish to conduct some pre-reading around the subject, a recommended reading and preparation activity sheet will be available from the program director four weeks prior to the program start date.

This program will be attractive and relevant to any business or policy professional whose success is primarily measured in terms of their ability to influence, persuade, and produce change. Executives with a minimum three years managerial experience will be suited for this program. Previous attendees have included general managers, marketing and brand managers, sales directors, state and federal government officials, client services directors, business development managers, HR leaders, CSR and loyalty program directors, entrepreneurs, and owner operators.

About the course

The last few years have seen an explosion in both the study and effective application of behavioral science — the science that combines applicable insights from the fields of psychology, behavioral economics, and neuroscience.

Whether you need to improve employee engagement, launch a new brand, encourage changes in behavior, or generate improved commercial returns — the ability to effectively, efficiently, and ethically influence people's behavior allows you to better achieve your business objectives and positively impact the bottom line.

But as organizations come to realize the impact behavioral science can make, two challenges emerge: Which of the myriad of behavioral science tools and insights will be the most useful? And how can they be used in meaningful and applicable ways to deliver measured returns on investment?

This three-day program equips executives with a deep understanding of behavioral science for business and the tools to implement and measure its impact of behavioral science, using a proprietary Full Cycle Approach to Applying Behavioral Science™.

The Full Cycle Approach to Applying Behavioral Science™ is a behavior change model that sets out the specific steps organizations should undertake to benefit from leveraging behavioral science in the workplace in meaningful and sustainable ways. Organizations who adopt the seven key steps outlined in this model, supported by strong leadership and only modest resources, can quickly profit from what is increasingly becoming known as the ‘behavioral revolution’.

The program has been developed in collaboration with world-leading researchers and practitioners in the field. You will be learning from some of the most noted experts, leading scholars, and best-selling authors who are leaders not just in the theory of behavioral science, but also in its practice.


Engaging, fascinating, and challenging yet always relevant and practical, this program equips you with new insights, tools, and skills in the field of behavioral science to inform and optimize your business strategies by better understanding and influencing people's behavior. Specifically, you will walk away knowing:

  • The fundamental aspects of behavioral science all leaders need to understand
  • A proprietary Full Cycle Approach to Applying Behavioral Science™ developed for applying the most important insights from behavioral science
  • Behavioral science insights and tools that are important to your role and your business
  • Ways to build a bridge between the theory of behavioral science and its practice, including quantifiable ways of measuring your success
  • Approaches to leveraging data analytics and precision questioning for your behavioral science strategy
  • An immediately implementable, action-orientated, and measurable plan of action


The program combines interactive lectures, case studies, group exercises, and applied experiential learning activities. You will learn the components of the Full Cycle Approach to Applying Behavioral Science™ and understand how to apply them to your own influence and change-based challenges.

Day 1 focuses on the essentials of behavioral science. You will be introduced to aspects of the science that you ‘need to know’ for your business and learn how to distinguish them from behavioral science aspects that are just ‘nice to know’. You will be introduced to the Full Cycle Approach to Applying Behavioral Science™ as well as the three essential models that represent the most important engines of behavioral change. You will explore how behaviors frequently come about rather than being thought about and examine the merits of changing minds over changing behaviors. You will also explore the importance of defining behaviors in a way that is understandable and makes change more likely.

Day 2 drills down onto the factors that ‘trigger’ behaviors in predictable and measurable ways. You will learn about and become skilled in deploying the most relevant social, environmental and economic levers of change. You will also be immersed in an afternoon of data science and learn how to find value in figures, what questions to ask to interrogate your data, and how to build meaningful insights from them. We will also introduce you to the importance of testing your ideas and hypotheses in fail-fast-succeed-rapidly ways.

Day 3 focuses on your business application. You will be challenged to connect-the-dots from theory to real-world practice, always with your own organization in mind. Through a case study, you will be able to apply your newly acquired skills with the help of a group of world-renowned scientists. Next, you will work in small teams on your own business challenges, including the opportunity to begin building an implementation plan to take back to your organization. The program ends with a unique panel session event with the program faculty and an opportunity to get early feedback on your proposed action plan. We will finish by looking at how to embed what you have learned more broadly across your organization to scale your learnings.


Oded Netzer

Biography Professor Netzer's research centers on one of the major business challenges of the data-rich environment of the 21st century: developing quantitative methods that leverage data to gain a deeper understanding of customer behavior and guide firms' decisions. He focuses primarily on buildi...

Stephan Meier

Biography Stephan Meier is a Professor of Business at Columbia Business School. He holds a PhD in Economics from the University of Zurich, was previously a senior economist at the Center for Behavioral Economics and Decision-Making at the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston and taught courses on strat...

Steve Martin

A Royal Society nominated author in the study and practice of influence and persuasion, Steve Martin is co-author of the million-selling Yes! Secrets from the Science of Persuasion. The book is a New York Times, Wall Street Journal and Business Week bestseller, has been translated into 26 languag...

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Behavioral Science in Business: Understanding People to Drive Results at Columbia Business School

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