Why changing 1.0 behaviors is harder than we might think

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Keywords: change management

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In "Switch - How to Change Things When Change Is Hard" by Dan Heath and Chip Heath, the authors argue that self-control is an exhaustible resource. With "self-control", they talk about a broader kind of self-supervision than just having the willpower needed to fight one's unwanted habits. Much of our daily behavior is more automatic than supervised - such as making coffee or brushing our teeth before we go to work in the morning - and doesn't occupy our minds as when we are supervising our own behaviors, such as when we're solving problems or figuring out how to assemble IKEA flat pack furniture.

 
Tooth brushing and furniture assembly
 
The point which is made by Dan and Chip is that when you try to change a specific behavior, you're trying to change things which have become automatic - or routine if you like. Making such a change requires careful self-supervision, which is draining. The bigger the change, the more it will exhaust your self-control resource and make you less creative, less focused, less patient and less inclined to fight your impulses.
 
Many of the 1.0 behaviors which are being questioned today - such as sending different versions of a documents back and forth as email attachments when co-producing information - are embedded in our daily activities. The behaviors we want to change are often not limited to one or a few specific tasks or processes, but rather integral parts of almost everything we do. This means that the effort required to change this behavior is enormous and that - given that self-control is an exhaustible resource - it's practically impossible to make this change happen at once.
 
As Enterprise 2.0 practitioners, we need to acknowledge this “fact”. We need to find and start with a specific situation where a certain behavior can be changed rather than trying to change that behavior in all the situations where it might occur. Hence we need step-by-step approaches when helping people and organizations adopt Enterprise 2.0 practices. Exploring and piloting new practices for carefully chosen situations makes perfect sense in this context, as does providing clear step-by-step guidance and concrete instructions and allowing people to connect and share their experiences with each other, and so on.
 
Those who think implementing Enterprise 2.0 will require less of change management than what is typically needed when implementing a new ERP system will only fool themselves.  It will require more. But it also requires a different kind of change management, one that makes people really feel a need to change their behaviors. It must matter to them. This can only be done by putting the individual and her needs and situation in focus.
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Comments

Paula Thornton

The words are the same but the 'key' is different. It's like playing the same song in a minor register. The change that has to happen is in the design, not in the people. [This all starts to smack of systems developers blaming user errors on users.]

The problem with most 2.0 initiatives is that they're really not 2.0 at all. They're 1.0 in 2.0 trappings. If it's truly 2.0 it will shorten the normal distance of work for people in ways that they'd surely recognize the silliness of what they're doing (or not, in which case there is still some 'silliness' in the design that hasn't been worked out). And where they find colleagues still operating in non-meaningful ways, they'll 'shame' them into change. Peer pressure is a wonderful natural 'force' to be tapped.

If none of these factors are at play, then the design is still short of efficient and effective. It has missed the design sweet spot.
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