Change is always in our lives. Sometimes we have control and sometimes we don't. Whether an organization needs to change to stay competitive, or you need to change something in your personal life to improve, there are a few key aspects to change that can help when it is you that decides that something needs to change.
I have found that change often starts at the behavioral level. Our behaviors determine our thoughts and it can be difficult to change without addressing the underlying behavior systems behind the change. When lawmakers set out to create a law that forces us to wear safety belts in cars, they had to address the behavior of using the seat belt. They did so by passing a law that forces us to wear seat belts whether or not we agree. Over time, most people would create the habit, or system, of buckling up whenever they enter a car to avoid the possibility of getting a ticket. It became an automatic behavior. No matter how many times they would try to explain the importance of using a safety belt, they had to change the behavior to see any real change. In this case this did it by forcing a new behavior on us.
There are several key things to consider when utilizing systems and behavior to insight change.
- You can't just tell someone to change, think change, or wish for change. Too often I see a company try to change their culture with a memo to the staff about what they want to become.
- Change takes time. Expecting major change to happen overnight is absurd. If you understand that change takes time you can work to slowly reach a goal and will increase the chances of success.
- Focus on the underlying systems to change yourself or an organization. At a previous employer, I witnessed a new leadership group who came in and expected to tell the customers that they changed. They wanted to have the image of an organization that provided great customer service and spent millions on marketing that image. The problem was that they didn't do anything to change the customer service systems! The same people were following the same processes and procedures which meant they couldn't deliver on their new promise of better customer service.
Change really is the only constant in life. You can resist and fight to keep things the same or you can use change to improve your life. By focusing on the underlying systems you can modify the behavior and ultimately see the change you envision. Remember that you can't just hope for change, you can't just talk change, you have to focus on the underlying systems behind the change to have success.