The Knowledge Gap Problem

Why Behavioural Science doesn't scale, and what to do about it…

If you'd asked me what the most impactful outcome has been from creating Coglode and its behavioural products so far, the answer might surprise you.

Let me share a story I experienced of a PhD researcher, aka 'an expert' to her colleagues, working in a commercial team we'd trained up.

Introducing the Behavioural Expert

The team had initially been through our Foundational Training, learning and applying our Nuggets to solve sand-boxed problems.

And now, they had just finished our Applied Training, where these Nuggets were being applied to a real-world challenge the team was working on.

The PhD researcher came up to me at the end and wanted to "have a word".

Oh dear.

I'd always been concerned that creating accessible behavioural tools might offend some purists in the academic space.

I was worried...

The Knowledge Gap problem

She opened by saying the following:

"when I used to mention a behavioural concept, the team’s eyes would glaze over. It was so hard to communicate..."

This problem is something I'd heard before when speaking with the course convenor of the UK's most prestigious Executive Master's Programme in Behavioural Science. She told me the biggest challenge they have for alumni is this:

Their new expertise in Behavioural Science is now so much greater than the rest of their team that they struggle to adequately communicate their value in terms the rest of the team can relate to and work with.

They then become frustrated at the lack of implementation, feel increasingly ineffective and eventually leave the company.

What a waste.

Closing the gap

I remember the rest of the PhD Researcher’s words as if they were said this morning:

"I just wanted to say thank you. You've made my life so much easier.

By creating a behavioural language that we’re now all speaking, people now better understand what I do.

The knowledge gap between me, ‘The Expert’ and the rest of the team has been closed. And now, we're coming up with all sorts of ideas across departments to improve our products.”

Since that day, we've heard other teams in tech and finance share similar feedback.

"A rising tide lifts all boats"

The beauty of creating a common language that everyone can speak and use is that it helps not just ‘The Experts’, be they internal PhD Researchers or external Behavioural Consultants but everyone on the team.

From the time-poor C-suite to the busy Head of Marketing, right down to front-line staff, everyone who makes decisions benefits from understanding foundational human behaviour, regardless of their background.

But we can only achieve meaningful impact if other people 'get' what we do enough to care about rolling it out across the organisation.

We can't do this alone.

If you start losing them when you talk of the dynamics of Prospect Theory or the intricacies of Unbounded Rationality, good luck getting them to go any further.

Start with a common language

To get traction in organisations, Behavioural science has to be three things:

1 • Understandable - Do they get the concept?

2 • Practical - Do they understand how it could be impactful?

3 • Exciting - Does its use spark creative energy?

And luckily, we now have the language to do all three.

Honestly, I had no idea that enabling a common understanding would be so critical in order to create meaningful change at scale.

If we can continue to provide a common language to enable this, then we are elevating everyone's decision-making in the process, and that's a destination we should be all working towards.


Coglode Founder

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