Wednesday, September 14, 2011

habits, habits, habits...

Try this experiment: put your watch on the other wrist. Or if you don't wear a watch, put your phone in another pocket, on the other hip...take it out of the purse and put it on the hip. Put your wallet in the other pocket or in the front or in the back, whichever is opposite of your normal practice.

This change doesn't make you any less efficient, nor is it wrong. But it feels weird and we almost immediately want to change it back.

That's how most change programs feel in our companies. They don't create inefficiencies nor are they wrong. But they feel weird because we have to create new habits. We have to reach on the other side of our bodies to grab the phone. We have to flip the other wrist to tell time. We have to reach into a different pocket to pay for things.

Changing back is easy for these examples. It's also easy in our companies. We'll revert to past practices unless there's no way to revert back. Unless you've had an unfortunate accident, like Bethany Hamilton in Soul Surfer, you can put your watch, phone and wallet back where you're used to having them. Unless you change the organizational structures, change meeting agendas and invitees, change policies and procedures, your staff will continue to operate like they have since they started at the company. And so will you. You'll continue the habit of perception that everything's hunky-dory and change is too much bother for no benefit. It's just too uncomfortable to see things and feel things differently.

Change program will fail and you'll continue to get the same results. You'll hope for different results but you won't change. And that's insane, as defined by Einstein. There's probably a pill for that so you won't notice or care that your company is just plodding along not getting any more success. Until you change.

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