Behavioral product strategist and gamification designer. This is my public hypertext notebook, sharing my thinking in motion at various stages of development.


Lenses of behavioral science and game design principles

I like to Learn by going up and down the ladder of abstractionLearn by going up and down the ladder of abstraction
Whenever I'm working on something concrete or specific, I attempt to turn it into more abstract claims and questions that I can generalize. When I've developed a more abstract claim, I search for more situations in which to apply it. I then adjust the mental model situationally, and ask if that requires my understanding of the abstract model to be adjusted as well. Repeat. This is a core process that I follow to apply learnings from behavioral science, game design, and past projects to presen...
. One of the main ways that I do this is through developing and testing lenses.

Whenever I find (or come up with my own) frameworks or principles of behavioral influence in a paper, game, or my own practice that I feel may be "generalizable" in some sense, I turn them into a series of abstract questions that I can ask myself across situations. This allows me to solve future problems with my present work and encode knowledge. As I discuss in How we can work togetherHow we can work together
I'm flexible in the ways I work with clients. Below is not an exhaustive list of possibilities, though there are a few patterns that my engagements tend to follow. I generally work to improve adoption or retention through improving User Involvement. See: Designing for user involvement has positive effects on adoption, retention, and virality

People who get to this point often like to see Testimonials. Here's one from Adam Taylor, CEO of Fabriq:

"These days, it's all too easy to think you’re...
, I'll often find it best to run through these lenses in workshops with clients to leverage their domain knowledge.

Whenever I work on a project and I feel "stuck," I pull out my lenses and narrow it down to the ones that are relevant to the problems at hand. I adjust the questions as necessary and go about answering them. Applying lenses in multiple contexts allows me to refine my mental models and learn their boundary conditions so I improve my intuition of when each will be fruitful for a given problem.

This is one of my processes to systematically generate insight and identify blind spots. Have you ever tried just sitting in front of a blank screen on a computer and telling yourself, "Okay, it's time to be creative now?" I find that, for myself at least, just giving myself the right prompts is usually enough to get me going.

It's not uncommon to encounter consultants who have one lens through which they interpret everything. These people are not living in reality. When it comes to Behavioral Product StrategyBehavioral Product Strategy
The way a product is designed shapes the way that people use it. Every app is designed for behavior change, intentionally or unintentionally, so the questions that drive behavioral product strategy must be addressed. User Involvement is a set of metrics whose success is defined by the combination of user behaviors that contribute towards creating a desirable outcome. Behavioral product strategy is making product decisions to influence user behavior and improve user involvement.

It doesn't ma...
or GamificationGamification
I loosely define gamification as taking inspiration from game design and behavioral science to influence voluntary user behavior. Game designers and behavioral scientists are asking many of the same questions, it's just that the game designers may not use the same vocabulary or methods for validating ideas. As such, I look to game design as an alternate set of lenses for studying and drawing inspiration for Behavioral Product Strategy.

Other definitions focus too much on mechanics or element...
, this flat out does not work. People and their environments are dynamic and complex and so there will never be one principle that explains why people do what they do and how to change it. There is no curriculum that encompasses everything you should knowThere is no curriculum that encompasses everything you should know
People often ask me what they need to read in order to work in Behavioral Product Strategy. My answer? There is no curriculum of everything you should know.

I’ve found the following useful:

Behavioral economics helps me to understand how people make decisions and judgments around concepts of value
The study of individual differences and personality helps me to understand users better, how to interpret that information better, and how to translate that into behavior change
The study of...
, so the best we can do is keep adding tools to our belt and learning when and how they are relevant.