I thought I’d share some emerging strategies that we’ve been seeing across the work we’ve been doing lately, that all seem to cross the boundary of behaviour change and organisational change. I’d love to hear any thoughts or if you have your own pet ‘heuristics’:

  1. Don’t rush. Change takes time, so make sure you know the end goal, but take baby steps towards it, and keep checking in to see if where you’re going is still the right place.
  2. Be optimistic. Forget the burning platform, project a vision that is compelling and build hope for the bright future ahead, it’s likely to be longer lasting, though harder at first.
  3. Look for small successes. These small incremental improvements should be celebrated, as well as the people who are behind them. Try and understand why they are working too and think how to replicate the situation.
  4. Prototype. Start small, and make it ok to mess up the first time, that’s the secret of prototyping change. Create an environment where people can try new things in a safe way and learn how to improve. Iterate and repeat.
  5. Cut back. Often the best thing we can do is just stop doing the negative things we are doing that are preventing us from succeeding or acheiving our goals (e.g. to be a better leader, we may have to stop publicly criticising other people’s traits in order to to be able to see their good ones. Or on a broader context, not listening, not sharing ideas).
  6. Remember Natural Law. People will always apply natural law “what’s in it for me?” (this is also not helped by metrics like being responsible for a department’s P&L) Design can help by leveraging this behaviour and designing rewards and incentives that align with a new goal.
  7. You can’t tell people to change. You have to discover the behavious that are emergent and encourage them.
  8. Translate. Tailor your message to every audience that needs to hear it, avoiding jargon wherever possible.
  9. Get an external perspective. Misdirected people or organisations often misrecognise what has led to their current situation today and self-congratulate, reward, and encourage the wrong behaviour. This is when you need someone else to hold up the mirror.