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Tech who was using these ideas to develop programs to impact large groups of people rather than just individuals. He was just starting to work with business and industry so I came along at the right time. At UNR, I replicated the set-up I was working in at Virginia Tech. The rest, as they say, is history.

MQ: How long were you a professor at the University of Nevada, Reno? Boyce: I was a full-time professor for 5 years, and, during this time I was very successful, publishing, bringing in grant money, and teaching classes that were always well-enrolled and evaluated very highly. One year I was the finalist for a state-wide teaching award. Someone who had been a professor for 30-plus years and near retirement ended-up winning. I was told by a member of the committee that I was the youngest ever finalist and that politics often play a role in these decisions. Here’s an interesting aside, I developed and published about an innovative teaching strategy that helped get me enough attention for this award. Also, I later helped one of my Ph.D. students to start a learning center in Reno that has now been replicated in three states. All of this was done using the very same research, theory, and application we used to improve human performance in industry. MQ: Why did you leave academia? Boyce: Technically, I never left academia. I still have an adjunct faculty appointment at UNR. But, to your question, the realization of how political academia is together with a university in turmoil after the departure

“Whenever people are behaving in complex systems to produce a unified result, behavioral strategy is relevant. ... When you don’t truly understand why people do what they do, you can make decisions expecting one thing and you get another.� of President Joe Crowley caused me to re-think my career path. I had already been successfully consulting so the change seemed logical. Moreover, since leaving my full-time job I’ve taught courses at UNR through the College of Business Administration, the Department of Psychology, and also through the Department of Continuing Education. So, I don’t perceive that I’ve left academia, I’ve merely changed my relationship with it to be more in control. MQ readers might be interested in knowing that I’ve most recently been in discussions with the Mackay School of Earth Sciences and Engineering about developing and teaching a safety leadership course that I hope will be offered as part of their regular curriculum for the future mine operators of the world, and that could also be attended by those currently working at the Nevada mines. The goal of the course would be to improve understanding of human behavior and to provide knowledge of how to better apply that knowledge to improve mining safety. Stay tuned.

safety in the mining industry? Boyce: Whenever people are behaving in complex systems to produce a unified result, behavioral strategy is relevant. People bring with them a history that will impact how they respond to certain aspects of that system, including rules, regulations, procedures, a leader’s style, pressure both real and perceived. Thus, it’s hard to get everyone to be always working in concert. Moreover, when you don’t truly understand why people do what they do, you can make decisions expecting one thing and you get another. For example, as I believe I stated in a previous column, when we reward the absence of injuries, we are just as likely to get the non-reporting of those injuries — when certain factors are also present — as we are to get safer behavior. I can help a company to better understand this and test their system to see if they are vulnerable to such unwanted outcomes or side-effects of wellintended processes. Put a different way, as a behavioral strategist, I help the companies that I work with to get the best effect from the things they do to influence behavior and at the lowest cost. Mining companies are amongst the most complex systems in which a person can work, given its history, how it’s regulated, and the complexity of the processes to get the ore to an end-product that has value to the consumer. So, mining is the perfect candidate for what I do. MQ: How has safety in the mining industry changed over the years? See BOYCE, 90

MQ: What does behavioral strategy have to do with



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Mining Quarterly Fall 2013 edition  

The Mining Quarterly covers the hardrock mining industry and related businesses in the Western U.S., especially Nevada.

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