Behaviour change, revisited

Johnnie Moore

Johnnie Moore

I’m Johnnie Moore, and I help people work better together

Please don’t take this too literally, I just need to get this off my chest.

A while back, Mark posted some good provocative challenges to notions about behaviour change. Geoff has just weighed in with some good thoughts of his own.

The gist of it is (for me) that huge amounts of hand-wringing conversations go on in organisations about how to make people behave differently. These overlook the statistical evidence and common sense experience, that most of these efforts fail and/or have unintended consequences. Yet we continue to while away the time devising the next experiment in alchemy.

Our organisations seem to have a surplus of very intelligent people who are, unconsciously, sweating blood trying to sort out the perceived issues of lots of other very intelligent people, in a series of recursive loops of dizzying complexity.

Meanwhile, we’re so busy dreaming up desirable futures for each other, that we don’t notice all the subtle changes that are going on around us anyway. And while we craft our master strategies, we don’t even think about the little experiments we could make to nudge the system and see what happens.

You know, stuff we could do right now, or at least in the next day or so.

I’m starting to notice that the more discussions revolve around the importance of strategy, purpose and other such abstractions, the more likely I am to start daydreaming about what to have for tea or going for a nice walk somewhere.

Yes, I’m being a little facetious but I guess I’m saying it might be more productive to focus our energies on stuff in the here and now, to do with our immediate personal impact and well-being and possibly that of people we actually care about.

Heaven knows, the world faces some awesome problems but grandiosity is definitely not the answer.

/rant

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