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From the Editor

The Art of Change, Spring 2019

Karen ChristensenAT ITS CORE, EVERY ORGANIZATION is in the same business: behaviour change. Whether it’s a bank encouraging consumers to switch to their product, a government agency trying to get citizens to pay taxes on time or a health agency interested in improving medication compliance, behaviour-change challenges abound. As a result, leadership itself is also about change.

In addition to facing external behaviour-change challenges, today’s leaders are also tasked with ensuring that change is embraced internally. For example, if human capital is to be optimized, biases must be tackled proactively. The problem is, most people resist change. What is a leader to do?

As indicated in this issue, wherever human behaviour is involved, there are opportunities for behavioural insights to influence outcomes. In this issue we look at some of the key areas that demand behaviour change and present some of the tools and mindsets required to achieve it.

Some of the smartest organizations are moving behavioural insights up the value chain and embedding them deeply into their design and delivery processes, as Rotman Professor Dilip Soman and his co-authors show in Harnessing Behavioural Insights: A Playbook on page 6.

Last fall, two of the Rotman School’s research institutes — the Institute for Gender and the Economy (GATE) and Behavioural Economics in Action at Rotman (BEAR) — convened some of the world’s leading thinkers to present the Behavioural Approaches to Diversity Conference. The goal was to develop sustainable solutions for increasing diversity and inclusion by applying insights from behavioural science. Highlights from the day appear on page 26.

Elsewhere in this issue, we feature GATE’s founder Sarah Kaplan in our Thought Leader Interview on page 14; UC Berkeley Professor Charlan Nemeth describes the power of dissent on page 20; and Michael Hallsworth and his colleagues from the UK-based Behavioural Insights Team show how to mitigate common decision making biases on page 50.

In our Idea Exchange, Dunkin’ Brands Chairman Nigel Travis argues that the best organizations run on pushback; Rotman Vice Dean Brian Golden talks about the art of persuasion on page 92; Laura Methot describes how to deal with Citizens Against Virtually Everything (i.e. ‘CAVE people’) on page 96; tech entrepreneur Maayan Ziv shows that we have a ways to go in making the world inclusive on page 111; and George E. Connell Chair in Organizations and Society Anita M. McGahan shows how to become part of the solution on page 123.

As indicated in this issue, shaping an organization — and the world itself — for the better is a never-ending journey that is filled with hard work. For each of us, there will always be a choice between the comfort of the old and the uncertainty of the new. But in an age of emergent change, we must all make embracing change — and enabling it — part of both our personal and organizational DNA.. 

Karen Christensen



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