The irony of change is that the more control users think they have, the more they rely on personal willpower and the less likely they are to succeed. They are blind to and outnumbered by the ways in which the world is organised to drive their own and other’s current behaviour.
It is crucial to engage in the science of change methodology by consciously avoiding the willpower trap and crafting meaningful change strategies.
This is according to Helene Vermaak, co-founder of The Human Edge, a corporate training and organisational performance company.
“We have got to make change more effective by taking control of the six sources of influence that control us and the behaviour of others.
“The science of change methodology, as developed by New York Times Bestselling authors Patterson, Grenny, Maxfield, McMillan and Switzler and published in their book, Change Anything: The New Science of Personal Success, provides a means to be more influential at work in order to enable or instil change for good,” says Vermaak.
When people can’t change, it is rarely because they lack the will or have a bad or negative attitude. It is usually because they are “blind” and outnumbered.
“It is easy to be blind to all but one or two of the six sources of influence that makes a person do what they do. There are however far more invisible sources of influence working against an individual than there are visible sources acting in their favour.
“The research conducted by the authors show that people who learn to see and use all six sources of influence are 10 times more likely to create profound, rapid and lasting change in their lives and the lives of others,” explains Vermaak.
The six sources of influence are:
Source one – love what you hate (personal motivation)
“If you are ever to succeed at changing and making it a lasting effect, you will have to learn to disarm your impulses and make the right choices pleasurable. The only way you can sustain change is to change what brings pleasure. You are able to overcome reluctance and resistance to change by connecting with values that are important to you, personally, which will make them worth achieving,” says Vermaak.
Source two – do what you can’t (personal ability)
If change is taking too much will, it is probably because you and other people lack skill. “When change seems hard, we often blame it on character, but character is usually not to blame. We are ‘blind’ to the crucial role that skills play in the creation of sustainable change.
“New behaviour requires new skills, which is why it is crucial to over-invest in learning how to master skills and emotions. If you don’t possess the skills to do what is required of you, take the time to invest in yourself and spend the necessary resources and energy to acquire the skills you need, you may just find it to be rewarding,” says Vermaak.
Source three and four – turn accomplices into friends (harness peer pressure)
Bad (and good) habits are a team sport; they require a number of accomplices to start and sustain, states Vermaak. “Few people are aware of the fact that it requires the involvement of many to undermine efforts to change by encouraging and enabling bad choices or behaviour. If you want to change your behaviour, you will have to turn a few accomplices into friends.
“More often than not, the transformation can happen with a single crucial conversation. Enlist the help of like-thinking others to form a partnership or success coalition to keep you on track. Always remember that accomplices encourage bad behaviour whereas friends hold us accountable to our goals.”
Source five – invert the economy (design rewards and demand accountability)
Do users find themselves in a situation where the cost of bad habits and behaviours and the rewards for good habits and behaviours are so far in the future that they don’t motivate them to change today?
“The answer lies in bringing the cost of bad habits and the rewards for good habits closer in order to facilitate lasting change. It will be worth your while to modestly and intelligently reward early success and to reward small wins, and practice loss aversion by putting something at risk that will influence behaviour in a positive way,” explains Vermaak.
Source six – control your space or change the environment
People are often oblivious to the hundreds of ways that their environment controls them.
“Our surroundings powerfully control what we think, how we feel and how we act. If we want to take control of our lives, we have to take control of our surroundings. Learn to use distances, cues and tools in your and the team’s favour. This means that you will need to distance yourself from accomplices and get closer to friends. Use creative reminders or lists to keep you on track with your endeavours,” suggests Vermaak.
Once users are able to identify the six sources of influence, it becomes important to be both the scientist and the subject. Change happens when people stop looking for off-the-shelf answers to their one-of-a-kind challenges, says Vermaak.
“You are unique and your organisation is unique. The change plan that will work for you or your team therefore needs to be unique. In order to find it, you will have to be both the scientist and the subject of your unique experiment.
“When you take on this mind-set, even bad days can be converted into good data. You become progressively smarter at influencing yourself and others until you evolve a plan that works perfectly for your subject: you and your people.
“In order to influence the outcomes you desire, you will need to identify both crucial moments and vital behaviours. Vital behaviours are those crucial high-leverage actions that precipitate change.
“Crucial moments are moments of disproportionate outcome – moments, when the right behaviour if routinely enacted will affect a host of other choices as well as help you to prevent problems, master tempting moments or quickly recover from mistakes,” concludes Vermaak.