Elspeth Kirkman: Best Models for Identifying a Problem

Elspeth Kirkman is responsible for BIT’s work on health, education, and local government. Prior to this role, she oversaw the establishment and growth of BIT’s North American office from New York. She has taught behavioral science at Harvard, acts as an expert advisor to a number of global institutions, and serves as a Senior Fellow for Casey Family Programs, advising on the applications of behavioral and decision science to child welfare systems.

Prior to joining BIT in 2013, Elspeth was a management consultant working with government clients around the world.

Due to some technical challenges, we weren’t able to record a full hour of conversation. However, in the time we had available we discussed how important models can be in helping us solve problems, especially the COM-B model. (COM-B focuses on three aspects of behavior change and they are Capability, Opportunity and Motivation.)

We also discussed the central pillars for good application of behavioral science. Elspeth used words like, “context” and “pragmatism” and “actual impact” and it made us happy to hear those words.

Finally, we talked about the future of behavioral science and Elspeth laid out a couple of important themes. On one hand, she suggested we study behavioral sciences in order to integrate the findings into the mainstream of business and government policy. On the other hand, she imagines a future with more crossover of behavioral science with fields like AI and how Quantitative and Qualitative tools might work better together.

We hope you enjoy our conversation with Elspeth as much as we did!

© 2020 Behavioral Grooves