Interview with Jez Groom



Behavioural Science is a rapidly expanding field and everyday new research is being developed in academia, tested and implemented by practitioners in financial organisation, development agencies, government ‘nudge’ units and more. This interview is part of a series interviewing prominent people in the field. And in today's interview the answers are provided by Jez Groom.

Jez is the Chief Choice Architect at Cowry Consulting and one of its founders. Prior to starting Cowry, Jez was the co-founder of Ogilvy Change and Engine Decisions. He has been practising behavioural economics for over 10 years working with some of the biggest organisations and business across the world. His passion and energy are focussed on the practical application of behavioural economics in business and helping companies build capability within their organisations. He regularly speaks at industry events such as the Behavioural Economics Summit 2.0 and has also presented for the Warwick Behavioural Insights Team! Let's hear it from Jez:


Who or what got you into Behavioural Science?

I think I've always been working in Behavioural Science, I just didn't know it!

My first career was in advertising, persuasion and influence and even though it was 30 years ago we were taught to think about and define the 'emotional and rational benefits' of products and brands. Which I guess was referring to System I and System II - it just wasn't codified that way.

What is the accomplishment you are proudest of as a Behavioural scientist? I love creating jobs and building businesses for young and passionate behavioural scientists to thrive in. I think in my two practices so far - #ogilvychange and Cowry Consulting, I've kickstarted the careers of over 25 and I'd like to help a lot more !

If you weren’t a behavioural scientist, what would you be doing? I love the psychology of sport and I'm very fortunate to have three boys that play US football, tennis and football at a high to very high level - to keep me busy at weekends. If I had my time again, I think I'd be helping people to live their dreams in sport and become the best in the UK and maybe the World.

How do you apply behavioural economics/science in your personal life? Brilliantly and ever so Badly. I regularly make Commitments out loud, to my wife, my team and my clients - this ensures I deliver (most of the time!). Unfortunately, my inner Homer often demands that I should eat more of the wrong things (chocolate and snacks) and Mr Spock is far too occupied or tired to override!

With all your experience, what skills would you say are needed to be a behavioural scientist? Are there any recommendations you would make? I think the current Behavioural Science is sadly lacking the design skills and creativity it needs to break through on a massive scale. A lot of psychologists and economists I meet are great scientists but don't have the skills to bring their ideas to life. At Cowry, we place a lot of emphasis on Behavioural Design and nurture this within all of our people.

A recommendation would be for Behavioural Scientists to often take stock of their scientifically robust ideas and reflect on how dull they are to people in the wider world and prompt themselves to make contact and work with a craftsperson skilled in Design.

How do you think behavioural science will develop (in the next 10 years)? We're driving an agenda to make Behavioural Science more mainstream in business and building up capability in some of the biggest organisations in the world. In time, a lot of the smaller problems will be solved by people in these organisations and not specialist behavioural scientists.

This will leave a far more gnarly challenge for practitioners I think, which is to help shape the GUT - the Grand Universal Theory of behaviour and how these shortcuts and biases interrelate. Interestingly, I think it will be businesses such as Amazon and Google and not academia that accelerates this process - as they have access to the data across their platforms.

Which other behavioural scientists/economists would you love to read an interview by? Alan Jasanoff - Author of The Biological Mind : How Brain, Body and Environment Collaborate to Make Us Who We Are.


Thank you so much for these amazing answers Jez! As I said before, this interview is part of a larger series which can also be found here on the blog. Make sure you don't miss any of those, nor any of the upcoming interviews! Keep your eye on Money on the Mind!

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