AxBC: Reflections on Our Second Cohort
Last week we concluded our second cohort of AxBC.
The first cohort was an MVP. This cohort benefited greatly from all our learnings from the last go-around. Here are my main takeaways:
Behavior change at the product level is often thought of as “stuff that happens in apps,” whereas the reality is that it applies very broadly, including to companies building products involving hardware or materials.
Our cohort had a diverse mix of business models and sectors, and while behavior change concepts are sometimes most readily applied to software, we were happy to find that nearly all our participants were able to find applicable insights and value in the course content.
We just have to start getting really precise about the behavior we want to change.
In the second module, one of the key exercises is a “behavior work-back,” where participants get really in the weeds with the chain of behaviors they are hoping to produce. For example, a budgeting app is not trying to get you to “manage your money,” they’re trying to get you to, enter the app, click on the budget tab, check your “Food” category, decide whether you need to add to the allocated amount, and send a request to your bank if so.
This level of precision is really crucial for all of us, and especially so in the climate space. We can’t just say we want people to “take climate action”—it’s too vague and amorphous. We have to say, “we want climate action and that means using your car 25% less, which means getting your bike out of the garage, pumping up the tires, and riding it to work two days a week.”
There’s a great quote from Daniel Kahneman that we used in the course materials: “Thinking is to humans as swimming is to cats; they can do it but they’d prefer not to.” Precision really helps with this aversion.
This is a universal issue -- developed and developing markets -- but interventions have cultural context and may be quite different in different countries.
We were lucky enough to have participants from four continents in this cohort. A lot of our human behavior is rooted in neurobiology, and thus shared by all of us across the globe.
But social norms and country-specific infrastructure also play a huge role in our behavior, and that’s important to keep in mind when designing behavioral interventions. Returning to that biking example, in some parts of the world, biking can be quite dangerous, while in others there is established infrastructure and culture that supports bicycle use. That means that people might be hesitant to use bicycles for different reasons in these different areas, and so interventions might address different challenges.
We’re very proud of how this cohort turned out and excited for what’s next!
If you’re a product leader or CEO of a planet-focused company and any of this sounds interesting to you, we’d invite you to complete our “pre-application form,” and we’ll reach out with more information when we gear up for the next cohort.