“This Is How We Always Do It”

Habits Direct Our Behaviour

6:00PM: I was tired. It had been a long day of presenting facts, trends and linking all of those up to present a strong business case. Throughout the day I had walked my client team through the business opportunity, the strategy recommendation, and the possible scenarios over 6, 10, 16 months, investment cost and risk factors.

During the breaks, the CEO and CFO had taken me aside and used the 10-15 minutes to cut through the presentation to ask a simple question:

“What do you think we need to be successful in this opportunity?”

Now, as I wrapped up, I looked around the room at the senior managers. Each was lost in their own thoughts. Some doodling, some checking their mail on their phones, some fiddling with their file folders as if they were searching for an elusive magic paper which had all the answers. The body language of all was shrieking out– “What’s the big deal in all this?

The CEO was looking at me and asked “How do can we be successful in this opportunity?”

In that moment I knew what I had to say. It was a moment of truth. For me (as the strategy consultant) the contract was an important one. Both financially and reputation wise. But more importantly I knew that the team that’s going to deliver the objectives needed to know and understand, by themselves, that a change in behaviour was required. That work habits, formed by years of doing the same process over and over again, would only deliver the same results and not provide the edge the organisation needed.

But that’s easier said than done! Changing behaviors’ and, therefore, approaching processes differently simply don’t happen by articulating it or putting it on a piece of paper and hanging it on the wall (or on top of your file cabinet, for that matter!)

Changing organisational culture is one of the hardest things to do. Work attitudes are deeply entrenched leading to a particular way of doing things. Directly pushing against it brings about an immediate resistance to change.

So is there a way to overcome this attitudes that result in habituated behaviour at work?

Yes there is. In a fantastic article in Strategy+Business, Jeffrey Schwartz, Pablo Gaito, and Doug Lennick detail the way forward and the process.

The way to approach this is to reframe the attitudes. Using a conversational process that leads to creating attitudinal change in people throughout an organisation whilst the organisation goes about its ‘business-as-usual.

“That’s the Way We (Used to) Do Things Around Here”. Is a fantastic article that provides neuroscientific rational into how attitudes can be reframed in order to effect behaviour and thus bring about effective organisational change.

It helped me give me clear pointers to share with my client and whilst I wait to hear back from my client, to know if he is going to “walk the talk” and go in for such change, click the link and have a read of the article and provide me your thoughts, opinion and comments (for surely that will add value to my learning and helping my client).


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Published by

Joy Abdullah

I create brand, financial and people value for an organization by linking its leadership, strategy, engagement and communications into one cohesive story.