Monday, February 1, 2010

How to change behavior.

Post 419 - What if a well-informed, trusted authority figure said you had to make difficult and enduring changes in the way you think and act? If you didn't, your time would end soon - a lot sooner than it had to. Could you change when change really mattered? When it mattered most? Yes, you say? You're probably fooling yourself. The scientifically studied odds: nine to one against you.

As an example, the root cause of the health care crisis hasn't changed for decades, yet the government and the medical establishment still can't figure out what to do about it. Even though 80% of the health-care budget is consumed by five behavioral issues: too much smoking, drinking, eating, and stress, and not enough exercise.

Changing people’s behavior isn't just the biggest challenge in health care. It's also the most important challenge for businesses trying to compete in a today’s turbulent world. So, I’ve listed below some of the things we know about changing behavior:

Change is constant, normal and inevitable. However, growth is optional.

The only one who really enjoys change is a wet baby.

The more things change, the more they stay the same. History does repeat itself.

None of us can change our yesterdays, but all of us can change our tomorrows.

If you want to change the world, the place to begin is with yourself.

We can only change ourselves – no one else.

We can't change the cards we're dealt, just how we play the hand.

Yet, if you’re not the lead dog, the view never changes.

There are 293 ways to make change for a dollar, but most people prefer to change a little bit at a time.

Paradoxically, big fast changes are often easier than small ones.

People don’t resist change as much as they resist changing.

Disgust and determination are two key contributors to change. It helps when people are uncomfortable with the status quo.

The two most commonly used strategies, coercion and rationality, are largely ineffective in changing behavior.

Bad news by itself doesn’t energize people to change.

The cumulative weight of specialization and experience make it difficult for people to change.

To be persuasive, the reasons for changing must be simple to understand, easy to identify with, emotionally resonant, and evocative of positive experiences.

It's always important to identify, achieve, and celebrate some quick, positive result for the vital emotional lift that it provides.

Quantifiable feedback is the key to radical and lasting behavior change.

It’s best to start small. It’s always easier to plant a large garden than it is to look after it.

Woody Allen had a comedy routine about the first landing of UFOs on Earth and our first contact with an advanced civilization. Allen wrote that most worries about planetary takeovers involve aliens that are light years away and centuries ahead of us in technology, bringing devices we can't understand or communicate with, which enables them to control everything. Not to worry, Allen said. If we can't understand or communicate with their systems, we'll just ignore them, doing our work the way we always do until they leave in frustration. Instead, he argued, the advanced civilization that we should really worry about is one that is just 15-minutes ahead. That way, they'd always be first in line for the movies, they'd never miss a meeting with the boss... and they'd always be first in every race.

Rosabeth Moss Kanter calls this the "15-minute competitive advantage" - changing in short fast bursts rather than waiting for the breakthrough that transforms everything. If every 15-minutes, you learn something and incorporate it into the next speedy step, you'll continue to be ahead. And a few time periods later, transformation will be underway.

No comments: