How to Change Bad Habits

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Want to change a bad habit that you have — or that your organization has developed?

In their new book Change Anything, authors Kerry Patterson, Joseph Grenny, David Maxfield, Ron McMillan and Al Switzler, all affiliated with the consulting firm VitalSmarts, present research and insights about how to change bad personal habits.

One interesting point the authors make: Multiple “sources of influence” affect behavior. In turn, if you employ multiple “sources of influence” when attempting to change behavior, you are more likely to be successful.

Readers of MIT Sloan Management Review may recognize this finding from an article called  “How to Have Influence,” which was written by Grenny and Maxfield, along with Andrew Shimberg, and published in the Fall 2008 issue of MIT Sloan Managment Review.

In that article, which won MIT SMR’s Richard Beckhard Memorial Prize, Grenny, Maxfield and Shimberg reported that executives who used a combination of four or more different influence strategies to try to change a “nagging organizational problem” were “10 times more likely to succeed than those who relied on a single source of influence” in their change attempts.

Here are the six sources of organizational influence that the authors identified in that article — in case you’re seeking to bring about change within your organization:
1. Linking to mission and values
2. Overinvesting in skill building
3. Harnessing peer pressure
4. Creating social support
5. Aligning rewards and ensuring accountability
6. Changing the environment.

To learn more about these six sources of influence within organizations, read “How to Have Influence.”     To learn more tips about changing personal bad habits, here’s more information about the book Change Anything.


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Comments (2)
How to Change Bad Habits – Improvisations – MIT Sloan Management Review « Genevieve Taylor’s Blog
[...] How to Change Bad Habits – Improvisations – MIT Sloan Management Review. [...]
David Maxfield
Great question! Training needs to do more than build bare-minimum skills. It needs to prepare people for the scariest, most challenging situations they envision. People need the confidence (efficacy expectations) that they can handle every twist if the situation begins to spin out of control. Otherwise, they won't even try. This is what we mean by "over invest."