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Ascend Adventures: Failing Faster with Behavior Design

How Ascend Adventures crafted it business and ultimately decided to shut down by using the principles of behavior design.

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Empowering teams with a fresh perspective.
About Ascend
 We deliver high-end team building and leadership development exercises
through challenging and fun outdoor adventures
 We’re different from other team building companies because we go beyond
the usual ‘feel-good’ trust fall or team challenge
 We push our customers to have meaningful conversations about how they work
together and where they’re headed as a company
 We also get them way out of their usual environment and into nature, which is
proven to increase memory and creativity while reducing stress
 Our customers not only leave feeling closer to each other and re-energized
about their work – they also take away actionable insights to improve their
business
Our Mission
 Connect people with people
 Why?
 Develop strong personal and
professional relationships
 Great leaders have high emotional
intelligence (EQ)
 Happiness!
 Connect people with nature
 Why?
 Boost memory + creativity
 Reduce stress
 Fun!
Our Team
Brooks Barron – CEO
• Leadership Coach
• Management Consultant
• Princeton University (BA)
• Stanford GSB (MBA)
Mike McClure – President
• Professional Cyclist
• Private Equity Investor
• University of Colorado (BA)
• Stanford GSB (MBA)
Colin Galle – COO
• US Navy Officer
• NOLS Instructor (Admit)
• US Naval Academy (BS)
• Stanford GSB (MBA)
Designing Ascend with Behavior Design
 We modified our business using principles of behavior design and
through several methods developed by BJ Fogg
 Three key concepts used:
 Help people do what they already want to do
 B = M A T
BJ Fogg’s Behavior Design Process
1
2
3
Help people do what they already want to do
 Our company goal was to connect people with nature and people
 Managers want to connect with their teams
 Additionally managers want to increase creativity and create new
perspectives; these objectives can be achieved through a change in
environment by leaving the office and going into nature
 We divided our target customers, business managers, into two
segments
 One segment would need educating on the benefits of both
interpersonal dynamics exercises and the effects of nature
 The other segment already understood the benefits and craved these
experiences
By focusing on those who already wanted our product we were able to
be the most effective with our time, effort and money
1

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Ascend Adventures: Failing Faster with Behavior Design

  • 1. Empowering teams with a fresh perspective.
  • 2. About Ascend  We deliver high-end team building and leadership development exercises through challenging and fun outdoor adventures  We’re different from other team building companies because we go beyond the usual ‘feel-good’ trust fall or team challenge  We push our customers to have meaningful conversations about how they work together and where they’re headed as a company  We also get them way out of their usual environment and into nature, which is proven to increase memory and creativity while reducing stress  Our customers not only leave feeling closer to each other and re-energized about their work – they also take away actionable insights to improve their business
  • 3. Our Mission  Connect people with people  Why?  Develop strong personal and professional relationships  Great leaders have high emotional intelligence (EQ)  Happiness!  Connect people with nature  Why?  Boost memory + creativity  Reduce stress  Fun!
  • 4. Our Team Brooks Barron – CEO • Leadership Coach • Management Consultant • Princeton University (BA) • Stanford GSB (MBA) Mike McClure – President • Professional Cyclist • Private Equity Investor • University of Colorado (BA) • Stanford GSB (MBA) Colin Galle – COO • US Navy Officer • NOLS Instructor (Admit) • US Naval Academy (BS) • Stanford GSB (MBA)
  • 5. Designing Ascend with Behavior Design  We modified our business using principles of behavior design and through several methods developed by BJ Fogg  Three key concepts used:  Help people do what they already want to do  B = M A T BJ Fogg’s Behavior Design Process 1 2 3
  • 6. Help people do what they already want to do  Our company goal was to connect people with nature and people  Managers want to connect with their teams  Additionally managers want to increase creativity and create new perspectives; these objectives can be achieved through a change in environment by leaving the office and going into nature  We divided our target customers, business managers, into two segments  One segment would need educating on the benefits of both interpersonal dynamics exercises and the effects of nature  The other segment already understood the benefits and craved these experiences By focusing on those who already wanted our product we were able to be the most effective with our time, effort and money 1
  • 7. B = M A T  Behavior happens when the combination motivation and ability are sufficient and a trigger (prompt) is presented  Motivation is difficult to manipulate (different for different people, changes over time and is in competition with other motivators)  Ability is more controllable and is determined by time, money, physical effort, mental effort and matching an existing routine  We used these factors to increase our potential client’s ability to purchase an Ascend Adventure  Time – understanding the demands on a manager’s time led us to decrease our offering from a 2 day trip with overnight to something that fit within one work day  Money – knowing managers’ budgets caused us to experiment with discounts and promotions  Effort – mangers wanted everything about the experience handled for them, so we picked up from the office, took care of all meals and dropped off at the office  Matching with existing routine – during sales calls we asked about their next offsite or group training session so as to sync our product with their routine 2
  • 8. Increased ability to achieve desired behavior High Motivation Low Motivation Hard to Do Easy to DoAbility Motivation B B 2 No Behavior Yes Behavior Inc Time $$$ Inc Effort Unaligned w/ routine Dec Time $ Dec Effort Aligned w/ Routine
  • 9. Behavior Design Process  We used the Fogg Behavior Design Process to help grow our business. For example, we used the process to help us meet our objective of increasing inbound sales leads  Step 1 – Define abstract behavior  Increase inbound sales leads  Step 2 – Magic Wanding  Answered “If you could wave a magic wand and get anyone to do anything that would lead to increased inbound sales, what would you have them do” and generated 20-30 potential target behaviors  Wrote these target behaviors on sticky notes  Step 3 – Crispification  Added detail to the target behaviors by defining who, when, where and how  Objective = everyone interprets the target behavior the same way  Step 4 – Focus Mapping  Used focus map to determine which target behaviors to pursue based on combination impact and ease of execution 3
  • 10. Behavior Design Process (cont’d)  Outcome  The behavior design process led us to pursue two work streams  Get a celebrity to tweet about our business  Lift our website in Google’s search ranking from non-existent to top 5  Results  Celebrity tweet  Reached 35k followers  31 favorites and 4 retweets  Google search ranking  Now #3 3
  • 11. We led 3 incredible trips, but then our business stalled…  After pushing hard on our business for six months, we learned that the market did not have as strong of demand for our service as we had hoped  Many managers and teams expressed strong interest, but very few purchased  There is a high ability barrier to getting teams to leave the office for a day  Time > Money: No matter the price discount, managers still valued their team spending time in the office above going on an Ascend Adventure  Our service lacked simplicity – it was difficult to describe and measure impact  Without giving managers a clear ROI and simple message to use in order to defend a decision to go on Ascend Adventure we were unable to close sales
  • 12. Why the stall?  Despite our efforts to increase ability we were still not able to sell Ascend Adventures  Time > Money  The time spent commuting to and participating in an Ascend Adventure proved to be more of their team’s time than managers were willing to spend, regardless of price  Competition among behaviors people already want to do  Managers feel they need to accomplish their required work tasks and when that need conflicts with their want to do an Ascend Adventure, the need prevails
  • 13. Conclusion: Fail Faster with Behavior Design  Behavior Design helped us make the decision that it was time to pivot away from Ascend Adventures and focus on other endeavors  We are happy to have come to this conclusion quickly, so we can focus our future efforts on more rewarding pursuits (thank you snaptesting!)  We realized that moving on would save us from investing a significant amount of time, stress, and money in something that wasn’t going to fulfill our vision