5 Do’s and 3 Don’ts to Achieve a Successful OBM Performance Improvement Project

You may or may not know, ABA Technologies has partnered with Florida Tech ABA Online program to bring Organizational Behavior Management to the world through an online Certificate program – the OBM Certificate.

The OBM certificate program provides participants with a unique learning experience – combining two on-demand online courses, which provide an introduction to the science of behavior applied at work (OBM) and a comprehensive overview of learning in the workplace, and concluding with a third we call OBM Applied! OBM Applied! is an instructor-led project-based course. Participants can work in a group, implementing one project together, or as an individual, working on their own project.

Now over 100 participants have completed our certificate program in less than a year, implementing various projects and learning on how best to achieve results. Participants worked within various industries such as engineering, health care, human services, equipment sales, and education. Each participant was supported by their organization to tackle a performance improvement opportunity such as employee satisfaction and retention, sales, quality of service delivery (treatment fidelity), customer satisfaction, and training and development. Our instructors whose experience in OBM range from 5-20 years provide coaching and feedback to our participants throughout their project, truly making this a unique experience. Along with our participants, our instructors have learned a great deal on supporting OBM performance improvement projects from individuals learning how to do so for the first time.

This article is dedicated to providing 5 Do’s and 3 Don’ts to achieve a successful OBM performance improvement project, hoping it supports your pursuit in implementing OBM to any needs you may have. Note: this is my opinion only, not the field of OBM at large or the ABA Online program at Florida Institute of Technology.

Five Do’s and Three Don’ts to achieve a successful OBM performance improvement project


Most OBM projects achieve success when a team is formed to make it happen. If you find yourself operating alone to make change happen, you will more than likely get frustrated and/or demotivated by a lack of progress. Form a team, ensure the team represents the organization well and is committed to making the positive change happen. DO HAVE A SPONSOR.

In growing high performing and long lasting organizations, the area of leadership often comes up. To achieve a successful OBM project, one main DO is to ensure you have a Sponsor, a leader within the organization that supports you every step of the way. Sponsors of OBM projects provide direction, guidance, feedback, resources, and reinforcement for making the OBM project happen.


With any OBM project, there is a business result of interest. From critical business needs such as improving customer satisfaction, employee morale, sales and revenue, safety, quality, and process improvement, OBM projects have been proven to support all sorts of changes. One thing binds them together - a business case for change. There is ultimately a reason why we pursue such effort. Low employee morale or even high turnover, customers complaining, revenue down, sales not hitting targets, injuries and worst fatalities. Whatever the case may be, one thing is clear – the business case needs to be front and center, so don’t forget it.


There is an old adage – what gets measured gets done. Well, in the field of OBM, I would argue what gets clearly defined, gets accomplished. By defining specifically what behaviors you are looking for people to do consistently, with quality, and without hesitation you are able to successful communicate and reinforce such an expectation. In addition, we are talking about the world of work, thus any behavior improvement we are looking to achieve must have a business result (e.g., sales, safety, quality, customer satisfaction) to in turn achieve. In short, behavior + results = performance. Focusing on one without the other is a recipe for disaster.


OBM is a science-based approach, thus any good science requires solid analysis of the current state. In short, identify what is happening before you make any changes, and evaluate why it is happening in order to ensure your solution to improve performance is the right one.


In many cases, training is determined as a need or as “the solution” to make positive changes. Indeed, training may be a solution, but I want to challenge the thinking of training being “the” solution. OBM is a science, thus solutions should be based on the assessment. Training may be part of a bigger solution ‘package.’ Job aides, clarifying expectations, new procedures, and a feedback system may be part of the ‘package’ along with the training. So, in short, don’t rely on training as ‘the’ solution, ensure every solution is based on an assessment.


For many of us, we go to work and see opportunities around every corner. When designing an OBM project, one thing seems to be true - to achieve maximum success, the narrower the scope the better. We tend as managers and leaders in organizations to want to tackle more than one project at a time. This not only overwhelms people across the organization, this can also overwhelm you. Focus on a key priority, a change that will bring visible positive impact, and one that can be implemented without managing so many others projects.


Some OBM projects can be achieved in a matter of weeks or months such as clarifying a task and providing feedback, installing an upgrade to a software program, or providing refresher training on a skill already demonstrated by staff. Other OBM projects may take several months to over a year. Mergers and acquisitions, improving staff retention, integrating systems and processes and new leadership development programs all require time, effort and a bit of patience. Regardless of how long an OBM project takes to achieve, one thing that should be part of any OBM project is the activities of measuring the behavior and results, monitoring progress by looking at the data, and reinforcing progress along the way towards achieving the goal.  

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