In business, as in life, changing things can be real challenge. For starters, for change to happen people need to be motivated to act– you, a team member, a client will need to start acting differently.
In their book Switch, Chip and Dan Heath outline the common pattern shared by successful changes.
According to the Heaths, a leader of change needs to do three things: inspire a change behavior, offer crystal clear direction, and shape the path towards change.
Many times we are puzzled by our lack of success at changing a behavior. We have an honest intention to, for example, turn our expense reports on time, but we fail to understand why we don’t. The motivation is there, our goal is clear, but maybe our environment is making it hard for us to succeed.
Taking a minute to study what works (e.g. talking to people who turn in expense reports on time) may help us shape the path or outline steps to success. We may learn that what is keeping us from doing the report on time could be that receipts and forms are not easily accessible. So, rather than spending significant amounts of mental energy keeping ourselves motivated (e.g. “today I will submit the expense report, today I will submit the expense report”) you can focus that energy on tweaking the environment to help yourself accomplish your goal. In other words, you may implement little changes (e.g. add a shortcut to the expense form on your desktop, put receipts in a visible basket on top of your desk) that can facilitate the process of completing the forms before they are due.
Changing your expense report submission habits may seem simple in light of more pressing business and personal challenges. Independently of how big or small the challenge, paramount to any change will be to inspire yourself and others to act, tweak the environment (so that it is easy to implement the change) and script the critical moves that will lead you to success.