Changing Behavior En Masse

behavior Change

A little-known fact about me is that in addition to my “day job” as a communications professional, I’m also a certified personal trainer.  I don’t actually train anyone (I did it more out of curiosity than anything else), but in addition to basic fitness knowledge, I also learned a lot about the stages of behavior change people go through before they take on new habits.

These stages can be applied to any activity (not just fitness) and they range from “I don’t even know I have a problem yet” all the way to “omg, I’ve solved my problem”.  I find this process incredibly relevant to the work my team is tackling right now with the deployment of our new company-wide collaborative platform.

behavior change

The problem we faced (that we didn’t even know we had)

For decades my company has grown via acquisition.  We’re a Hodge Podge of smaller organizations, brought together because of compelling technology and brainpower (I came into the organization as an acquisition as well).

While this growth model has its benefits – broader technology base and customer reach, etc., it also creates siloed organizations that have a hard time adopting parent company culture and workflow processes.  So we needed to improve transparent work habits in our organization, and we looked to jive to provide the solution we needed.

Now Jive as a platform is great, but getting people to “see the light” so to speak has been a task of epic proportion.

First, we had the pre-contemplation issue – we didn’t realize we weren’t working as effectively as we could because to date, email was about as collaborative as we knew how to be.  Fortunately, we had a few brilliant minds that had the foresight to know what true collaboration could do for us as an organization, and they advocated for the technology.

I’ll admit I took on the deployment of jive half-heartedly.  I was not a believer until recently (about 4 months post-deployment).  It took me that long to figure out the true benefit of the platform that came to me as an epiphany one afternoon while tinkering with a landing page.  It occurred to me how effective a curated area of relevant and contextual content can be to getting my job done and having everything I need in one tidy little space.  Let’s just say, if you’re a fan of to-do lists and date calendars, this is your techno-dream-come-true.

But bringing the rest of the organization on board with this vision has been a struggle.  I guess I had to “see the light” first, before I could convince others to, as well.

The Solution (How we’re raising awareness and changing behavior)

So how do you bring an entire global organization from the pre-contemplative “do we have a problem?” stage to being power-users of a technology platform that can improve workforce productivity by a landslide? My thought is to use small “micro-behavioral asks” with a lot of visual storytelling along the way.   Basically, you’ve got to be extremely specific about what you’re asking folks to do and be even more explicit about why you’re asking for the behavior change.

We’ve been doing this through a broad-messaged storytelling strategy, complemented by “boots on the ground” tactical reinforcements.  So as we’re sharing “commercial” videos that tell the story at a high level, we’re also doing live drop-in training groups.  While we send out company-wide emails and blogs about the vision we’re working toward, we also sit in on team staff meetings to explain the benefits and possibilities with group leaders and recruit early adopters and influencers aggressively.

The hope is that by communicating the big vision broadly, while tactically demonstrating the value in a more personalized and relevant interaction, that we’re going to get the message across and the necessary behaviors changed.

Big Vision + Tactical Demonstration = Strategic Behavior Change.

That’s the goal.

I’ll write more on our progress as we move along.

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