Biopsychosocial is a term introduced in 1979 and now most often used to describe today's broader scope of effective medical practice. Using this term calls attention to the complete nature of people, and asserts the validated premise that greater effectiveness with people is possible by attending to more than just their physical nature. As the word biopsychosocial implies, this consideration includes at a minimum the three major dimensions of human nature researched by the human sciences: biological (e.g., temperament, traits, energy, diversity), psychological (e.g., attitudes, emotions, motivation, learning), and social (e.g., development, relationships, culture, change).
As with medical care and improving human health, the biopsychosocial dimensions of work (or jobs) are key to reaching higher levels of human functioning at work. By more fully considering and aligning the biopsychosocial nature of workers and their work, operations managers can achieve step-increases in performance and productivity, resolve longstanding people problems, and simplify day-to-day managing so as to free up their time for more strategic concerns.
This new potential for higher levels of performance and productivity remains undeveloped in most operations. One example known to many can serve to illustrate the potential effect. Consider the initially surprising effectiveness of cellular production (i.e., semi-autonomous multi-skilled work groups), kaizen (i.e., continuous improvement initiatives), and agile project management (i.e., rapid flexible deliverables). Each of these frontline-developed methods is substantially more effective (i.e., 30%+) than prior methods precisely because in various ways each more fully engages and supports the people doing the work, thus unharnessing their greater potential.
Executives and managers should make it a top priority to put human nature to work in their operations. DesignedWORK has demonstrated in most industries and functions, that by (re)designing high-population and high-leverage process-based work roles (or jobs) to better align with and capitalize on human nature, similar breakthrough performance gains are possible for most kinds of work. Read our blog — Putting human nature to work — to learn more about utilizing the biopsychosocial dimensions of human nature to improve your operations.
DesignedWORK has since its founding utilized a proprietary biopsychosocial method for work design that was created in the mid 1980s and refined continually since then. This method essentially translates and integrates the up-to-date expertise of 26 science disciplines (plus select findings from another 50+ disciplines) into a whole-system framework and methods for application at the process role (or job) level of work. Because of its complexity, this method is limited to professional application and requires many years of education, training and experience to fully understand and effectively apply.
Humaneering technology, being developed by the nonprofit Humaneering Institute and now in open-beta release, essentially synthesizes the same knowledge into a more refined method for designing work that can be learned and applied by operations managers, engineers and improvement pros and achieve equivalent results. The similarity between these two methods readily enabled DesignedWORK to support the Humaneering Institute's alpha-release field-trial clients beginning in 2005 and private-beta-release clients between 2009 and 2012, and to provide all of the Humaneering Institute's technology transfer services beginning in 2013.
NEXT: Humaneering Technology
Utilize NEW methods for increasing the productivity of work dependent on people -- sales, services, creative, technical, professional, and other forms of knowledge work. Apply to high-population frontline roles for widespread gains in economic value and increased efficiency. Email us to arrange a demonstration.
This 2002 article by our managing partner is credited as the "tipping point" in securing financial support for institutional development of humaneering technology.