Behavioral research – the science of changing behavior AKA how we shape our behavior to achieve goals – gives us so much to draw upon to help drive change in our organizations. Watch this 90 second video and think about how you can focus on changing behavior in your company.
You may have heard of The Nudge Unit in the UK – originally a government sponsored organization studying how we can get policies implemented more easily by changing peoples’ behavior. A great example is a tax letter they sent to delinquent payers. Instead of sending a sternly worded letter, they let people know that 9 in 10 people pay their taxes on time, but you, my friend, are in the 10% that do not. The positive peer pressure worked. Just by sending that one letter – almost at no cost – the response rate was amazing. A great example of changing behavior.
In their new book, two researchers (Owain Service & Rory Gallagher) are applying their learnings to every day life. At the heart of the book is a framework, focused around seven simple steps:
- Set: choose the right goal for you, set a specific target, and break your long-term objective down into manageable steps.
- Plan: create simple rules and an actionable plan which links to your daily routine.
- Commit: make a commitment, write it down, make it public and appoint a commitment referee.
- Reward: put something meaningful at stake and use small rewards to stoke motivation, but beware of backfire effects.
- Share: draw on the help of others, tap into your social networks or form a group with a shared goal.
- Feedback: know how you’re tracking against your goal and seek out specific, actionable feedback
- Stick: practice with focus, test different approaches and celebrate success.
They share two great examples – one on motivating yourself to get to the gym and one on perhaps cutting back on that extra glass of wine. Applying these in your organization might include motivating employees to double check customer orders, submit ideas at your innovation lab, or spend more time understanding the competition.
I’m working with a leader to implement a change in strategy – how to increase their business by 5.5M.M in 2017 – and right now we’re on the Commit and Reward stages. He’s working with each individual leader to help him or her decide on what they’re willing to commit to, and what’s at stake for a reward. Some leaders have been motivated by the dollars they’ll see, and some of have been motivated by the dollars they’ll lose in opportunity costs. All involve changing behavior. Next step, we’ll work on the Share and Feedback steps spreading the news to other key leaders and tracking/communicating the monthly results to reaching the 5.5MM.