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Organizational Change Is Just Large-Scale Behavior Modification

So use the approaches behaviorists have proven to work.
Management advice for achieving organizational change through small adjustments
illustration by Todd Detwiler

Morten T. Hansen, coauthor with Jim Collins of the book Great by Choice, talked about these approaches in a blog post for Harvard Business Review, which lists 10 “levers” for implementing change. Three in particular appeal to us:

“When celebrity chef Jamie Oliver wanted to change the eating habits of kids at a U.S. school, he got their attention with a single, disgusting image: a truckload of pure animal fat… Use stories, metaphors, pictures, and physical objects to paint an ugly image of ‘where we are now’ and a better vision of a glorious new state.”

“How do you get employees to eat healthier food in the company cafeteria? You could educate them about healthy food. Or you could alter the physical flow. Google did just that. Using the cue that people tend to grab what they see first, they stationed the salad bar in front of the room.”

“In The Power of Habit, Charles Duhigg tells a great story about a U.S. Army major stationed in a small town in Iraq. Every so often, crowds would gather in the plaza, and by the evening rioting would ensue. What to do? Add more troops when the crowd swells? No. Next time, the major had the food stalls removed… Managers are so obsessed with what new things to add that they forget the obvious: subtracting.”



Another change to a Google cafeteria, as reported in Fast Company: “No longer are M&Ms in clear, hanging dispensers.

"If you’re in Google’s New York office, you now have to reach into opaque bins.”

By reducing the enticement factor and increasing the effort needed to grab the M&Ms, caloric intake—from hard candy, at least—dropped by 9 percent in a week.

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