All change efforts boil down to the same mission: Can you get people to start beating on a new way?
Self-control is an exhaustible resource.
When people try to change things, they’re usually tinkering with behaviors that have become automatic, and changing those behaviors requires careful supervision by the rider. The bigger the change you’re suggesting, the more it will sap people’s self-control.
Change is hard because people wear themselves out. What looks like laziness is often exhaustion.
Remember that if your reach your colleagues’ Riders but not their Elephants, they will have direction without motivation. Maybe their Riders will drag their Elephants down the road for a while, but that effort can’t last long.
What looks like resistance is often a lack of clarity.
If you want people to change, you must provide crystal clear direction.
In tough times, the Rider sees problems everywhere, and “analysis paralysis” often kicks in. The Rider will spin his wheels indefinitely unless he’s given clear direction. That’s why to make progress on a change, you need ways to direct the Rider. Show him where to go, how to act, and what destination to pursue. And that’s why bright spots are so essential because they are your best hope for directing the Rider when you’re trying to bring about change.
“What’s working now and how can we do more of it?”
What is the ratio of time I spend solving problems to the time I spend scaling success?
Ambiguity is the enemy. Any successful change requires a translation of ambiguous goals into concrete behaviors. To make a switch, you need to script the critical moves.
Everything is hard before it is easy.
Habits are behavioral autopilot, and that’s why they’re such a critical tool for leaders. Leaders who can instill habits that reinforce their teams’ goals are essentially making progress for free. They’ve changed behavior in a way that doesn’t draw down the Rider’s reserves of self-control.
Can you create a habit that supports the change you’re trying to make?
1: The habit needs to advance to the mission.
2: The habit needs to be relatively easy to embrace.
We need to be looking for bright spots, however tiny, and rewarding them.
Our Riders by nature focus on the negative. Problems are easy to spot; progress, is much harder. The progress is precious.
Reinforcement does require you to have a clear view of the destination, and it requires you to be savvy enough to reinforce the bright spots behaviors when they happen.
The mere exposure principle assured us that a change effort that initially feels unwelcome and foreign will gradually be perceived more favorably as people become accustomed to it.
Cognitive dissonance works in your favor. People don’t like to act in one way and think in another. As people begin to act differently, they’ll start to think of themselves differently.
The Fundamental Attribution Error is a bias where we tend to attribute a person’s behavior as an attribute of their character or personality instead of as a reaction to their circumstances or environment.
The people who change have clear direction, ample motivation, and a supportive environment. When change works, it’s because the Rider, the Elephant, and the Path are all aligned in support of the switch.
Direct the Rider:
Follow the bright spots. Investigate what’s working and clone it.
Script the critical moves. Don’t think big picture, think in terms of specific behavior.
Point to the destination. Change is easier when you know where you’re going and why it’s worth it.
Motivate the Elephant.
Find the feeling. Knowing something isn’t enough to cause change. Make people feel something.
Shrink the change. Break down the change until it no longer spooks the Elephant.
Grow your people. Cultivate a sense of identity and instill a growth mindset.
Shape the path.
Tweak the environment. When the situation changes, the behavior changes. So change the situation.
Build habits. When behavior is habitual, it’s free- it doesn’t tax the rider. Look for ways to encourage habits.
Rally the herd. Behavior is contagious. Help it spread.
Problem: people were excited at first, but then we hit some rough patches and lost momentum.
- Focus on building habits. When you create habits you get new behavior for free and you’re less likely to back-slide.
- Motivate the Elephant by reminding people how much they’ve already accomplished.
- Teach the growth mindset. Every success is going to involve rough patches.