What is a BEAN?
If you want to encourage innovative behaviors, you have to overcome some of the blockers that stand in the way of success. One of the critical tools to do this is what we call a BEAN: Behavior enabler, artifact and nudge. The behavior enabler is a direct way to encourage a new behavior. This is something like a checklist or having a routine or ritual to make it easier to do new things. The nudge is an indirect way to encourage the new behavior. So this is using principles of gamification or having new office designs that encourage you to do something without you even thinking about it. The artifact is the connective tissue between the two. That’s the digital or physical reinforcement to remind you of the new behavior that you’re trying to follow. You put these ingredients together – behavior enabler, artifact and nudge – you can overcome the blockers, and you can encourage the new innovative behaviors.
The Social Science behind BEANS
Why is it that BEANS work. Well, they rip a page right out of the behavioral psychology literature. There’s been a lot of work over the last few decades focused on individuals and how they can break addictions, how they can form new habits. There are very well known historical programs, things like Alcoholics Anonymous, things like Weight Watchers. You can study what’s happened in the gaming industry as people have developed new ways to get people hooked and develop new habits. There’s a bunch of great books that are out there, books like Switch, books like Thinking Fast and Slow, books like Nudge, that show again how individuals change.What we tried to do with BEANS is say “lets take something that was designed for individuals and lets bring it to organizations, lets take principles that show how individuals can change habits and bring it to institutions.” If you do this with rigor and discipline, you can have the same result inside your team, group or department, getting them to break the bad habits and create the good ones.