Unraveling the Human Element: My Odyssey Through the Maze of Human Behavior and Organizational Success


Nwankama Nwankama

The spark of curiosity in the chaos of design

My journey into the heart of systems, businesses, and their successes or failures began not with a eureka moment but through a series of accidental discoveries that stretched over decades in the fields of architecture and engineering.

It was the 1990s when my curiosity first led me to explore the way people interacted with designed outdoor spaces. Contrary to the architects' and planners’ visions, these spaces were alive with activity that defied expectations.

What was intended to be a straightforward research project opened my eyes to a profound truth: at the core of every monumental engineering feat or cutting-edge technology, human behavior dictated success or failure. This accidental revelation was my first step into understanding that beyond the concrete and code, it was human interaction that shaped outcomes.

The digital Pandora's Box: a security saga

As the digital age dawned in the mid-2000s, my focus shifted to the virtual world—specifically, to the realm of information security. Here, despite the fortress of technology and the armies of experts deployed, the Achilles' heel was strikingly human. Espionage, mainly aimed at American high-tech firms, revealed a chilling reality: the most significant threats were not external hackers but insiders. Trusted technologists and administrators, integral to operations, were often the perpetrators of these betrayals. This stark realization underscored that understanding the human element was critical, not just in physical spaces but also in the digital world.

However, while it was, and still is, difficult or impossible to accurately predict who would eventually engage in espionage (despite rigorous screening and monitoring), some of the characteristics of the assailants and their modes of operation have emerged over the decades. My research found many common denominators and alarm bells and how organizations could better protect themselves from information or security breaches.

Bridging worlds: the confluence of disciplines

Over time, I learned that unlocking the secrets of human behavior required not just some crash courses in cognitive and behavioral neuroscience but a blend of mathematical, statistical, and psychological insights to predict human behavior in a given space or situation (including business situations) by modeling dynamic systems and their evolving states over time.

I merged techniques like those found in:

  • Calculus: applying the principles of rate of change and infinitesimal analysis to model and predict continuous changes in human behavior over time.

  • Predictive modeling: using statistical and machine learning algorithms to analyze historical data and identify patterns for future behavior prediction.

  • Bayesian statistics: incorporating prior knowledge and evidence through probability to continually update predictions of human behavior as new data becomes available.

  • Time series analysis: analyzing time-ordered data to forecast human behavior by identifying trends, cycles, and seasonal variations.

  • Behavioral economics: applying insights from psychology and economics to predict how various cognitive biases influence human decision-making in economic contexts.

  • Environmental psychology: utilizing principles of how physical space and environment influence human feelings, thoughts, and behaviors to predict actions in specific settings.

  • Motivation theory: employing theories of motivation to understand and predict human behavior based on underlying needs, desires, and incentives.

Applying concepts from those areas provided me with a powerful lens through which to view, understand, and predict human actions.

My multidisciplinary approach has enabled me to decrypt unexpected behaviors and predict future actions with remarkable accuracy, transforming not only spaces but the very essence of business and organizational performance.

The AI revolution: a new frontier in behavioral prediction

With the advent of artificial intelligence and machine learning, the possibilities for understanding, predicting, and influencing human behavior have expanded exponentially. These technological advancements have amplified my ability to decode the human aspect of systems, offering new ways to enhance performance and success in an ever-changing landscape.

Embracing diversity: the key to future growth

In recent years, I've delved into the impact of diversity on business and organizational performance. Understanding how insiders' perceptions and attitudes toward minority groups affect business growth has become a crucial part of my research. This exploration into the dynamics of diversity has not only enriched my understanding but has also highlighted the importance of inclusivity in driving success.

From the tangible to the digital, my journey has been one of discovery, learning, and application. The human element, with all its unpredictability and complexity, remains the most fascinating and crucial factor in the equation of success. As I continue to explore this intricate web of interactions, my mission remains clear: to decode the human aspect of systems and harness this knowledge for a better, more understanding world.

In a twist of fate that felt like stumbling upon a hidden treasure, my intellectual and professional journeys meandered through the intricate worlds of architecture, engineering, business management, decision sciences, computer programming, IT strategies, and the meticulous realms of statistical and mathematical operations. It was an odyssey that ventured deep into the social science principles, all converging on a singular, electrifying discovery: the key to driving growth in today's businesses and organizations lies in mastering and leveraging the profound and complex science of the human mind!

This wasn't just a path of academic pursuit; it was an adventure that unveiled the incredible power of human insights. It's as if every turn, every discipline explored, was a piece of an elaborate puzzle, revealing how the nuances of human behavior, decision-making, and interaction could be harnessed to catapult organizations toward unprecedented success. This revelation wasn't merely academic—it was the kind of epiphany that transforms industries and reshapes the future of businesses.

Come with me; let's see how it happened.

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