Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Change requires building new habits

Lots of research indicates that most (more than 70%) of the change initiatives do not reach their intended outcomes.
And because they do not produce the required results, we will launch new initiatives! This becomes an ongoing process, in which a lot of time and resources is wasted.

What can de done?
A starting point is to look at the inner perspectives of change. How does change work inside of us?  And what prevents change from happening?

Here is a simple formula:

Thinking ------>   Feelings   ------->   Actions ------>  Results

This means that if I want different results, that I then have to change my thinking. Different thinking leads to different results. Sounds simple, right?

Well, it isn’t that simple, because we are creatures of habits and these habits influence our thinking. Habits are thoughts which we have nurtured over time and which have become kind of embedded in our thinking. They are like the grooves in records. You really have to put in some effort and lift the needle out of the groove and put it in a new spot. This means that we have to create new habits, which will change our thinking and thus produces different results.

Creating new habits requires a consistent effort over a long period of time. They say it should be minimal 21 days. That is why there are many programs like the 21 days to loose weight etc. Let me give a simple example. I am driving 5x per week to another city and I do this on the autopilot, as I am doing this for many years now. This is clearly a habit. Some traffic works did require me to pick another route for a week. And guess what? 2x times I did show up in the normal place where the  - now blocked- entry is to the motorway, even though I did put a note at my front door, telling me to pick a different route. Clearly the old habit was stronger.  It definitely would take 21 days or more to create this new habit.

This simple example shows us that in any change initiative we need to pay a lot of attention to creating these new habits, these new ways of thinking. I can still remember years ago, when I did work for a large airline and we were running a change program. I did ask an employee from the telecommunications department, whether he was ready to implement the new changes. He did tell me that he did change the name of his activities and that for the rest he was doing exactly the same thing for the last 20 years. Needless to say that the required change, would not have had any impact. This happens a lot.

Therefor, it is really important to pay a lot of attention to the inner aspects of change.
So, how do you facilitate the change in habits of your employees AND yourself?

Enthusiasm drives Excellence!

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