In this path, you will identify techniques you can use to empower yourself and your organization to create positive transformation geared for success. With these resources, you will learn how personal and organizational archetypes can be used to understand and shift behavioral potential within your organization. You will recognize the power of strategic narrative and experimental design and develop relevant ideas for supporting innovation.

We recommend reading the module summary prior to watching the video in each section. In addition to the descriptions, a valuable resource to read while going through the Learning Path is Leading Transformation by Kyle Nel, Natan Furr and Thomas Zoega Ramsoy. We have provided a digital copy of Learning Transformation for your enjoyment. 

Learning Objectives

  • Identify insights from behavioral sciences that can be applied to transformation and innovation.
  • Define strategic narrative. This includes how to create a strategic narrative that offers a cohesive vision that can be communicated internally.
  • Recognize how the psychology of archetypes can help to change behavior within your organization, with your colleagues, and in yourself.
  • Describe how experimental design and other emerging measurement tools can be used to navigate the uncertain future.

Before we embark on this expedition of learning, let’s consider a metaphor for our journey:

Have you heard of the hero’s journey? If you are a fan of epic stories like Star Wars or The Lord of the Rings, you most likely are familiar with the concept. The hero’s journey is an archetypal story format also known as “the monomyth”. Many critics have written about the hero's journey, but one of the most famous and oft-quoted critics is Joseph Campbell, author of The Hero with a Thousand Faces. A simplified version of this hero’s journey is:

Phase 1: Departure 

The Call to Adventure

The hero is called upon to embark on a quest. She or he often encounters mentors or other help as she/he crosses the threshold from ordinary life into adventure.

Phase 2: Discovery 

Exploration & Experimentation 

The hero journeys towards the goal meeting challenges and other obstacles along the way. The hero is tested repeatedly. Finally, the hero wins.

Phase 3: Transformation

Interpretation & Sharing

The hero returns to ordinary life, but she/he is changed from the experience. The hero is now fit for leadership, having survived and conquered all the trials and met the ultimate goal.

Understanding Behavioral Transformation

  Module One - Intro to Behavioral Transformation

What Is Behavioral Transformation?

Behavioral Transformation is a new, interdisciplinary field addressing barriers to change in organizations incorporating cognitive science, strategic narrative, archetypes and experimental design in service of innovation. This field examines the cognitive and psychological biases that hinder innovation, in order to create new tools to overcome them. Through research and insight into the process of innovation and how humans react to the unknown, behavioral transformation can support creating impact and change within organizations.

Why Is Behavioral Transformation Important today?

Today’s business climate of constant disruption and rapid change means that leaders and organizations need a new toolkit for navigating uncertainty and becoming better at saying yes to the unknown. Specifically, we need new tools to keep ourselves open to uncertain, yet positive changes and opportunities. But how can we achieve this?

Psychological Factors that Impact Behavioral Transformation

Let’s explore how the human brain works and how this can hinder innovation within organizations:

System 1 Thinking

This is our mode for rapid, automatic, and unconscious thinking that we use for everyday decisions to help us act quickly. 


It is great for making fast and instinctive choices, but this thinking is also prone to error and being swayed by our pre-programmed biases.

System 2 Thinking 

This is much slower and controlled thinking. It is what we use while making complex and strategic decisions. Here we use methodical reasoning to come to more systematic, and often more rational decisions, reducing the likelihood that we will rely on pre-programmed biases.


It’s important to pause and recognize when we are using which system of thinking--and whether it’s the correct time for it.

Cognitive Biases

A cognitive bias is a flaw in thinking based on how an individual perceives and interprets new information, which limits judgment and rational thinking. This is innately human and often involuntary. Some biases are conscious and others are unconscious. Each type of bias influences our decision making at work and how we react to the things we are presented with throughout the day. Perhaps you underestimate how much time it will take to complete a task based on your optimism, even though you know or may have been told by others that similar tasks took longer than expected. This is an example of a known behavior of humans, the planning fallacy (2018, Bordogna, CC by 4.0) which is only one of many known cognitive biases. Psychologists theorize that our brains have a strong preference for pattern recognition over statistical analysis based on the survival needs of our ancestors (2018, Korteling, Brouwer and Toet, CC by 4.0)


Human decision making, opinions, and expectations can defy logic when it comes to cultivating innovation. Even if we have a sound idea, our community might not support it. Understanding these biases can give us an advantage in creating meaningful change.

Incremental Thinking

Incremental thinking can most simply be thought of as a bias towards seeing and acting only on opportunities that are familiar, close by, and easily accessible at present, rather than acting on bolder, more distant possibilities, even when these may ultimately be more beneficial choices. Many individuals and organizations are limited in their tendency towards incremental thinking, and only see what is immediately possible, rather than peering ahead to more distant and valuable long-horizon possibilities.


Often, incremental thinking is the first obstacle to overcome when trying to innovate or guide a team into a new opportunity. In an exponential world, incremental thinking is especially dangerous for organizations, leaders, and innovators alike, because of its ability to blockade us from grabbing hold of (and sticking with) more constructive, long-term opportunities.

Fear of the Unknown

While it’s easy to talk about the importance of getting comfortable with uncertainty, it can be much more challenging to put it into practice. This is problematic because our fear of the unknown can undermine our effectiveness at strategic thinking and decision-making. The unknown can be so unnerving because outcomes are uncertain, which presents a challenge when you have a bottom line to uphold (such as a launch date or a revenue target). The dilemma is, all innovative and transformational efforts require us to enter unknown territory.


We need tools that support our leaders and teams in overcoming fear, rather than allowing it to paralyze us.

  Module Two - Strategic Narrative

In this module, you will explore a powerful tool called strategic narratives, as well as the way to use them in business contexts to convey grand visions and unite others around a shared purpose.

One key element of the hero’s journey is that the hero is always accompanied, or guided, by mentors, higher powers, or friends. These mentors or guides help the hero learn to overcome obstacles and succeed in his or her goals. As you continue your journey, we’ll focus on building your narrative communication skill sets, strategic narrative, and creative story building. You might face challenges along the path to innovation, but these activities develop the strategies to effectively lead your organization through change.

Science Fiction and Silicon Valley

Science fiction has played a tremendous role in inspiring technologists to create many of our most-used technologies today. The first Motorola cell phone, for example, was inspired by Star Trek’s Communicator and Apple’s Siri was inspired by Hal in 2001: A Space Odyssey.

If you’re having doubts, here are a few more examples of a technology today, which were first depicted in a science fiction story.

  • Jules Verne’s masterpiece Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea inspired the first submarine.
  • Ray Bradbury’s book Fahrenheit 451 inspired the creation of earbuds.
  • Elon Musk attributes Isaac Asimov’s Foundation series in galvanizing him to take on commercial space travel.

The secret sauce of science fiction is that it helps us take off our blinders and envision new potential futures, which we learned earlier is important because of our bias towards incremental thinking.

Great science fiction stories can achieve powerful outcomes by:

  • Encouraging us to imagine new futures.
  • Considering the human elements of technology and how it might impact society and humanity.
  • Revealing human problems that technology will either further explore, exacerbate, or solve.

  Module Three - Mapping Archetypes

Organizational Nomenclature: What kind of organization are you?

Beyond individual archetypes is what we call organizational nomenclature, or the language about how the values of the organization are discussed. Studying the language of the organization you work in helps to define what your organization values--and these values often determine how decisions are made. Another relevant question to consider while uncovering your organization’s nomenclature is, “When making decisions, which arguments are valued?” Understanding your organizational nomenclature helps you translate your ideas into the language that your organization speaks and values. Given the organizational paradigms below, which are most evident in your organization’s nomenclature? Consider how you can propose your suggestions to fit this nomenclature.







Getting To A ‘Yes’ With Decision-Tree Mapping

After understanding your organization’s language and values, you can create a decision-tree map to plot the formal and informal decision structures inside of your company. This gives you a map for contextualizing who the key decision-makers are and also the decision-making hierarchy that you are operating within, which is much different than an org chart. Mapping out how decisions are made empowers you to zero in on who needs to be influenced the most, and therefore how to channel your efforts correctly. In the below image, the traditional organizational chart is shown on the left. On the right, however, links are shown between members of the organization who make decisions together.

Adding Archetypes To Decision Maps

Once you know which decision makers are the gatekeepers to your project or vision, you can consider the dominant archetypes you may need to appeal to when pitching your ideas. Doing this empowers you to orient your pitches and ideas in a language that will align with their individual drivers and motivations. It’s important to note that this is not about acting manipulative. Your intention is not to deceive or fool but rather to help them to understand options that are in their best interests. By understanding decision-making structures and individual communication styles and emotional motivations in order to reorient your language and communication accordingly.

  Module Four - Experimental Design

Experimental Design Basics

When an organization is building something new, it is difficult to know what’s working or not working. Experimental design is a powerful tool for overcoming our fear of the unknown by converting the strategic narrative into a series of achievable steps needed to make it real. Applying the scientific method to a business design provides the metrics that matter for guiding project decisions based on the current development stage. The data generated helps innovators build confidence in the organization’s direction.

Using experimental design in business innovation practice fosters an agile and strategic outcome with new product development. The following three steps will help you design a business experiment quickly and effectively.

1. Identify Your Killer Assumption

What are the killer assumptions in your strategic narrative? These are the assumptions that, if proven wrong, may end an initiative. Your experiment will be designed to test that assumption. Here’s a simple example of a killer assumption:

“Playing music to a plant will help it grow.”

This assumption may seem absurd (as many vision statements may seem) but can be tested by designing a simple experiment.

2. Define Your Questions

Now that you have your assumption defined, you need to explore the details of how to test it. A hypothesis is an educated prediction that you believe to be true about your killer assumption. Make sure to quantify your predictions. In the plant example, a possible hypothesis to test your assumption is:

“Playing classical music to a plant, twice a day, will allow it to grow 20% larger than without any music.”

This is a great hypothesis because you are asking a simple question which can be answered by designing an experiment for measurable outcomes.

3. Rank Your Variables

When designing an experiment, carefully consider how variables will affect your outcomes. In the plant example, what variables will affect the plant’s rate of growth?

  • How you care for the plant (water, food, sunlight)
  • Exposure to music (none at all, periodic music, music all the time)

When testing your strategic narrative, you may have a number of variables (technical, behavioral, emotional or fiscal) competing for your attention. Ranking these variables will focus your experiments to generate the insights you need to move forward.

Setting up an Experimental Design - Example 

Killer Assumption: Playing music to a plant will help it grow 

Hypothesis: Playing classical music to a plant, twice a day, will allow it to grow 20% 


  • Two sets of plants in separate by identical rooms. Water the plants 2 times per week: keep in full sunlight; add plant food once per week 
  • One row of plants will have Mozart piped into its room for one month. 

Measurement: Record and compare the two sets of plants’ grown rates.