As product builders, we use data science and behavioral science to help us design software solutions that line up with our users’ initial intent. Data science helps us understand who’s likely to take some action. Behavioral science looks at the factors that drive us to take action in the first place. With so many inputs influencing our decision-making process, it’s hard to know where to start.
In this episode of the Product Momentum Podcast, Sean and Paul welcome Nate Andorsky, CEO of Creative Science and author of Decoding The Why. His many contributions to our space appear at the intersection of human behavior and the ways in which it can improve human outcomes.
Nate recommends taking a behavior-first approach to solving product design challenges. “Zero in on the behavior you’re trying to change and work backward from there,” he says. “Oftentimes when we build products, we get into this habit of thinking solution first.”
We collect all sorts of information about users from focus groups, surveys, and in-person interviews. Much of it lands in two big buckets: what people say and what people do. All that is great. But too often the say and the do don’t line up. So as product leaders we need to continue our discovery process to better understand the “Why?”
Tune in to the pod as Nate shares insights around his concept of “say data, do data, and why data.” The why data explains the subconscious factors that are actually driving user behavior, the types of things your users aren’t even aware of themselves.
Once you understand that, Nate adds, you have a foundation and a decision-making framework to create amazing products that make a positive impact in the lives of others.
[02:28] Behavioral science vs. Data science. Behavioral science looks at what factors drive us to take action? Data science looks at who’s likely to do what.
[03:06] The $64,000 Question. How do product builders get people to do that thing. That’s where behavioral science layers back in.
[03:47] How to institute change in a product ecosystem. Zero in on the behavior that you’re trying to change and then work backward from there.
[05:09] Say data. Do data. Why data. Decode the WHY to understand the subconscious behaviors that drive user behavior.
[06:36] The 15-year delay. Academic research precedes implementation by about 15 years.
[07:17] The need for sophisticated individuals. It takes a sophisticated individual to understand how to convert academic theory into product solutions.
[09:16] Hyperbolic discounting and present bias. How we think about our products doesn’t always align with how our users feel in the moment.
[13:39] The ethics of product design. Use your powers for good; that is, design product solutions in ways that line up with users’ initial intent.
[16:06] How do product managers discover the delta between say-do data and extrapolate the why?
[18:25] Top 2 behavioral economics heuristics. The identifiable victim/beneficiary effect and the power of storytelling.
[20:24] Personalities and behaviors. Behavior might not be driven by one’s personality, but even more so by one’s environment.
[21:34] Digital experiences as motivators and organizers of behavior. Hopefully, behaviors we want to see in the world.
[22:35] The value of personas. They’re definitely informative. But they’re neither industry specific nor individual specific. They’re human specific.
[25:22] Advice to generate new ideas. It comes with experience and getting your hands dirty.
[25:56] The biggest breakthroughs come with a new intervention or a new design that is pieced together from four or five different things that we’ve seen work.
[26:51] Add fuel, remove friction. Avoid swimming against the current. Share a path with your users that matches the narrative they want for themselves.
[27:59] Innovation. It’s the cross-discipline of different studies and ideas. Innovation is when you start to break down the silos that separate these disciplines and understand how they all fit together.
Nate’s Recommended Reading
Nudge: Improving Decisions About Health, Wealth, and Happiness, by Richard H. Thaler and Cass R. Sunstein.
Thinking, Fast and Slow, by Daniel Kahneman.
The Elephant in the Brain: Hidden Motives in Everyday Life, by Kevin Simler and Robin Hanson.
Nate Andorsky is an entrepreneur who uses behavioral science to build digital strategies and technology for today’s most innovative companies and nonprofits. He believes the key to unlocking the potential of technology lies within our understanding of the psychological factors that drive human decision-making. By combining scientific findings with outside-of-the-box thinking, he helps turn human understanding into business advantages.
As the CEO of Creative Science, he leads a team focused on this mission. He is a frequent international speaker, has been featured in Forbes, INC Magazine, and Huffington Post and his team’s work has earned accolades from Fast Company and TopNonProfits.com. Prior to Creative Science, he was a team member at the Startup America Partnership, a nonprofit led by Steve Case to help build entrepreneurial communities throughout the US. He geeks out about the intersection of human behavior and the ways in which it can improve human outcomes.