In my opinion, the most interesting economics branch is that of behavioral economics. Behavioral economy tries to explain why participants make systematic “errors”. Why people are not responding to pricing or quality as you would expect from a homo economicus. I briefly touched the subject in this post earlier, and while I’m not going to in detail on this subject right now, I would like to share with you the free magazine Perspective by the NEF, who’s first issue is about “Brains, behavior and better economics”. With companies having an increased interest in customer behavior, the way we’re innovating is shifting as well.
Behavioral economics call for behavioral innovation
It used to be that innovation was about new or better products and services. It used to be that if you create the same product, but give it a better look and feel, make it faster, cheaper, stronger,… you would get more customers. That’s what it used to be. Right now, we’re looking at the very beginning of the design of “behavioral business models”. Models that start with asking why we’re doing what we’re doing.
Right now, companies are discovering business model development in all kinds of ways (business model canvas, focused chaos, emergent strategies,…), but they’re still very reluctant to actually implementing new ways of doing business. We are obsessed with technical innovation, we forget to explore ways to use technology we’ve been using for years now in different ways.
In a sustainable context, we could even take this new approach a step further. Rather than designing a business model that takes customer behavior into account, we could think of developing structures that connect with people in their comfort zone, and slowly transform their behavior towards a more sustainable one. We could go from behavior-based business models towards behavior-design business models.
Behavioral innovation is open innovation
This sort of thinking is of course extremely dangerous. If companies actively start to steer our behavior, who’s to know what might happen next. This is why this type of innovation should always be combined with an open structure.
By letting people know in advance how your product or service works, behavioral steering included, you can actually create a group of dedicated customers. By explaining your product and how it might change the way you’re acting, people will actively and consciously think and rethink their behavior. By tapping in on this paradigm change and the feedback you’ll receive, you can improve your propositions even further. With open innovation, you’re monitoring opportunities that derive from a tense discussion between affected parties.