Behavioral science has emerged as a strategic advantage in business, especially in the last decade, but arguably its application remains little understood. Seeking to unlock its full potential, BEworks hosted its second-annual Summit for Behavioral Science in Business: a thought-provoking deep dive into how behavioral science can revolutionize business.
Featuring an impressive roster of speakers—including esteemed academics and BEworks co-founders Dan Ariely and Kelly Peters—the Summit gathered nearly 300 attendees with backgrounds in finance, energy, healthcare, and retail at the beautiful Art Gallery of Ontario (AGO). A contingent from the kyu Collective also attended, led by CEO Michael Birkin. Whereas last year’s summit focused specifically on financial services, this year it highlighted even broader implications of behavioral science in various industries, such as healthcare, the auto industry, energy sector, and public policy.
As the morning keynote speaker, Dan Ariely shed light on the paradoxes of human motivation. Too often, he argued, business have a poor model of motivation, failing to truly understand what motivates employees; companies stand to gain more if instead they apply behavioral insights to uncover the true levers of motivation which Ariely showed can also impact the corporate bottom-line.
“There’s so much unlocked potential in human motivation,” said Ariely. “What can we do about it? What’s holding people back?”
Leading researchers, including from BEworks itself, discussed the increasing importance of behavioral science at the frontiers of business and society. Nina Mažar, another BEworks co-founder, discussed how it can play a crucial role in the development and application of Artificial Intelligence (AI), especially in healthcare and the automobile industry. Other speakers shed light on the transformative impact of behavioral science on issues like improving organ donation rates and lowering consumer energy usage and spending.
At the start of the day, BEworks presented all attendees with crisp, white lab coats—underscoring CEO and Co-Founder Kelly Peter’s point that ultimately, everyone can be a scientific thinker. “Experimentation also helps us to democratize and choose the best ideas,” she added.
During one activity, attendees had a chance to put their learnings immediately to work. Through a series of guided questions, together with their tablemates they brainstormed how to bring a behavioral science lens to their business.
“Many times in business, people are not sufficiently curious—which leads to a lot of missed opportunities,” said David Lewis, Chief Client Officer at BEworks. “The most important thing we can do is to ask why.”
After a full day of immersive talks, attendees had a chance to reflect and unwind over drinks and canapés at the kyu-sponsored cocktail reception.
“The BEworks Summit was an inspiring immersion into the behavioral scientist’s perspective, and understanding as a tool to both create and measure change,” said Ann Kim, a Director of Health & Well-Being at IDEO. “I’m curious to see what design and behavioral economics look like together.”
Mariko Watanabe, a Business Development Associate from kyu Tokyo, also reflected: “It was very inspiring to hear about relatable topics such as ‘human motivation’ and ‘ethics’ from a behavioral science/scientific point of view. It opened my eyes and made me realize how biased I was.”
All in all, it was an inspiring summit—one that left many attendees feeling motivated and eager join BEworks’ movement to unlock the power of behavioral science in business.
“We need the rigor of understanding both human beings and markets,” said kyu CEO Michael Birkin. “This industry needs a North Star and BEworks is that.”
Pictured: BEworks CEO and Co-Founder Kelly Peters takes the main stage. Credit: BEworks