CABS

Learning to Use the CABS Problem-Solving Approach

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Behavioral Science Workshops

Learning to Use the CABS Problem-Solving Approach

No organization ever feels satisfied with the effect it has. There is typically room to recruit more participants, engage them more effectively, increase program retention and completion, and achieve better outcomes.

Getting Started With Behavioral Science

As word spreads about how behavioral science can bolster program effectiveness, many organizations want and need expert guidance to get started. 


23
Workforce Development Agencies

With the generous support of the Richard King Mellon Foundation and the critical assistance of Partner4Work, CABS engaged with 23 youth-serving workforce development agencies in greater Pittsburgh. 


3
In-Person Workshops

Across three in-person workshops, CABS facilitated lessons and activities for participants to learn behavioral science concepts and the CABS framework.


53
Total Participants

Attendees practiced solving pressing organizational problems using behavioral science, developed ways to integrate the CABS framework in their organizations’ practices, and created prototypes of effective solutions informed by behavioral science.


13
Solutions Informed by Behavioral Science

By the final session, the agencies developed 13 prototype solutions.

Agencies challenged themselves to improve:

  • program engagement, retention, or completion
  • program outreach or enrollment
  • program outcomes
  • staff training and development

The Workshop Series

Workshop Series icon

The series comprises three workshops that use the CABS Problem-Solving Approach to building organizations’ capabilities.


Session 1

THINKING Like a Behavioral Scientist

Lessons and Insights icon

Insights

Workshop participants began the behavioral design process by learning to be thoughtful about the goals and perspectives of participants, and by identifying where their programs were not fully achieving their goals.

Applying the Lesson icon

Applying the Lesson

Participants identified their programs’ goals and developed measurable, specific, and neutral problem statements related to challenges they had in achieving their goals.

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Participant Takeaways

From the participants: I learned...

  • “...how to apply behavioral science to better our program.”
  • “...there is no such thing as neutral design.”
  • “...how to assess, evaluate, and create goals to solve problems.”
Session 2

TALKING Like a Behavioral Scientist

Lessons and Insights icon

Insights

Workshop participants learned effective communication strategies built on listening and engaging with their clients. They also learned how these insights can be used to identify potential barriers that their clients face.

Applying the Lesson icon

Applying the Lesson

Program clients joined staff members to map their programs’ processes from both staff and client perspectives. They also identified where clients face barriers that can be addressed using behavioral solutions.

Takeaways icon

Participant Takeaways

From the participants: I learned...

  • “...how to make things simpler for youth and workers.”
  • “...how to clarify and diagnose problems.”
  • “...how to map our process and identify barriers.”
Session 3

SPRINTING Like a Behavioral Scientist

Lessons and Insights icon

Insights

To address barriers they identified, workshop participants learned a brainstorming technique to generate ideas for solutions informed by behavioral science and a guided approach for ranking ideas based on their anticipated impact and ease of implementation.

Applying the Lesson icon

Applying the Lesson

Participants brainstormed ideas to address identified barriers. They developed rough drafts of their favorite ideas and refined them based on comments from CABS and their peers.

Takeaways icon

Participant Takeaways

From the participants: I learned...

  • “...how to develop and implement prototypes to address our barriers.”
  • “...the importance of feedback from your target population.”
  • “...I can be creative and think outside the box to improve how we do our work.”

Participant Spotlight

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The Jewish Family and Community Services Career Development Center (JFCS CDC) works with thousands of job seekers, providing the guidance, support, and encouragement they need to reach their career goals. JFCS CDC staff members stayed actively involved throughout the workshop series, and the organization applied and was selected to partner with CABS to implement a new solution. The organization’s work to adopt practices informed by behavioral science is highlighted as a case study below.

Using what they learned in session one, JFCS CDC staff members developed a problem statement related to their program’s goal of helping all clients find employment:

  • Too many CDC participants do not attend even one job skills workshop.

Using what they learned in session two, JFCS CDC staff members mapped the workshop registration process from the staff and client perspective and identified two possible barriers related to the organization’s problem:

  • Registration for workshops is confusing.
  • Clients don’t see the value of workshops.

Using what they learned in session three, JFCS CDC staff members drafted a proposed solution:

  • Update the outreach process to use emails and text messages to target workshop registration and attendance, with direct links included to the relevant web pages. After gathering additional information, JFCS CDC staff members generated three additional prototypes of promising ideas.

After the Workshops

SUSTAINING Like a Behavioral Scientist

After the workshops, JFCS CDC worked with CABS to address its identified problem. Together, CABS and JFCS CDC improved on the organization’s initial prototypes and implemented two solutions:

Solution
1

A staff script for providing personalized recommendations to clients about workshop attendance, registration for workshops during in-person meetings, and a reminder email to clients who registered.

Solution
2

In addition to interventions in Solution 1, Solution 2 added a wallet-sized punch card for clients to track their workshop attendance and progress toward finding jobs.


Conclusion

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  • Final outputs: 13 prototypes for 11 organizations 
  • 2 solutions resulting in 24 clients attending 3 JFCS CDC workshops
  • Organizational capability to use behavioral science to address other challenges

For more information about the CABS Behavioral Science Workshop Series, email cabs@mdrc.org.