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Organisational Change - Forming New Habits and How to Keep them

Wednesday 9th January, a few days ahead of ‘Quitters’ day – the day an overwhelming number of people globally give up on their new year’s resolutions – the Change Management Institute, in partnership with Ignite Consulting hosted Ian Price author of Head Start: How to build a resilient mindset to talk Neuroscience, Behavioural Psychology and the tools to wrangle the proverbial ‘sofa-man’ away from the remote so the ’lodger’ can make the choices – to understand any of that last sentence read Ian’s book, available at all good stockists HeadStart

To whet your appetite and consider how you can avoid being a ‘quitter’ I jotted down a few key takeaways. Feel free to comment and share your own thoughts.

Make it social

If social media tells us anything about human behaviour is that we crave social interaction. We need people around us and we are ourselves built from those interactions in how we share our ideas, hopes and idealisms. When thinking about personal change it is critical that we share our intentions with those closest to us. By doing so we create a moral responsibility to hold up what we have publicly committed to doing. Ian says this alone gives you a much greater chance of success as by telling those close to you, they implicitly trust you to be good to your word and so breaking the goal is breaking the trust. If you want to super charge making it social – then find someone to do it with. Those that partner with someone who shares your goal, means you share ups and downs and can empathise with the challenges. See it as competition or comradery ...... that is between you and your goal partner.

Hooks and barriers

The actions you take to control your environment to help you start or stop doing something are more likely to drive your success than simply focusing on the end goal or trying to increase motivation for the goal. Two great tools to control your environment worth noting:

Hooking on to new habits.

Hooks are what they might imply, a physical thing that you attach the new behaviour too. As an example Ian talked about B J Fogg’s attempt to get good at press-ups. To do so, he "hooked" the activity to using the toilet. Every time he used the loo, he would squeeze out....... a single press up ;-). In doing so he found he was soon doing a few every day and a few quickly became tens and after several weeks the objective well on the road toward success.

As side not to the hooks is that breaking the objective into smaller, bite size, pieces to tackle is a good way of making it achievable. Aim for 100 press ups a day is a good goal. The path to take to get their can be small and frequent changes. Slowly slowly tamey monkey!

B J Fogg has a whole behaviour model that is worth a read.

Building barriers around existing habits

We often think to stop doing something, it comes down to a natural level of willpower. Although we didn't delve deeply into this behavioural trait of humans, Ian did articulate trying to build willpower isn’t as successful as simply controlling your environment to remove the thing you want to stop. Chocolate addicts like me should remove sources of chocolate in my home, put them behind bars, lock them away - anything just don't have them around in a cupboard with the tea bags and near the kettle. It makes sense put barriers between you and the thing you want to stop. If it isn’t there or you don’t put yourself in the environment where willpower will be tested – you won’t need much willpower in the first place or feel a need to build it.

In terms of organisational change, interventions for starting or stopping habits or socialising your goals are maybe less obvious but none the less equally powerful. The challenge to address is to recognise that a habit you personally choose to change is easier to stick to than one that you are getting others to change - if you use hooks or barriers, let people choose them, socialise them but be ready to deal with any emotional and operational fall out.

Resistance ≈ self doubt.

Speaking of fallout, we all hear talk of resistance and the natural reaction is to just double down on the key messages of a programme and hope people will just quiet down. Of course we all know that doesn't work as the social nature of humans and our predisposition to loss aversion means we have those who are resistant spreading their resistance to all that will listen. One of Ian’s pillars of resilience is managing doubt of yourself and the ability to achieve a goal. It occurred to me that as change managers the doubt we see in others is manifested in a show.of opposition or resistance to the change. Our jobs as change agents is to coach that doubt, emerge those fears and help individuals realise their sofa man doesn't own the remote on this one. To do so, Ian also suggest that data can help if the doubt is unjustified ...... but it might show it is justified and so use information cautiously and focus on listening to that doubt in a non-judgemental way, helping the individual see how they can take baby steps to overcome them – again importance of breaking down the problems is crucial.

A seriously entertaining evening with an inspiring story teller and well-practiced change agent.

A huge thank you to Ian Price and the team at Ignite Consulting, specifically Abi Sohal, Katie Stone, Charlotte Eastwood and CEO Mark Long for hosting in such a wonderfully creative space.

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