Tuesday, 3 November 2009

A long and winding road to successful change? I think not.

Mahatma Gandhi:

"Your beliefs become your thoughts
Your thoughts become your words
Your words become your actions
Your actions become your habits
Your habits become your values
Your values become your destiny."

Let me begin by saying I am no behavioural expert; I am also considerably better at asking questions than providing answers. This said, based on a quick Google search on the subject, it apparently takes an individual 21- to 30-days to successfully entrench a new habit. It all depends on whether the underlying belief can be successfully changed, as illustrated by the words of Gandhi above. My question is this: how long will it take one Change Champion to successfully influence people, and thereby sustainably entrench change in an organisation?

In theory, if one Champion influences 7/10 connections, and those seven influence 3/5, and those three influence 1/3, then "the total impact is 50 well connected-and-infected people" in a mere 63-days (21+21+21)! And if those 50 have the power to infect 2500 people in 21-days - that's 84-days to successful change for 2500 people! Okay, perhaps a bit of a stretch. However, it is definitely feasible that this many people can successfully change their behaviour in six-months.


Nolan Beudeker said...

Synchronicity! A LinkedIn connection of mine has just posted a link to a recently published research paper: http://www.spring.org.uk/2009/09/how-long-to-form-a-habit.php.
Apparently it takes between 18- and 254-days to entrench a new habit (depending, depending, depending ...). 66-days on average. Nonetheless, 6-months is still doable.

Davide Scotti said...

Unfortuantely I can't read Nolan's ref article...access is denied from my Company's server (gosh!).

Anyway...very interesting concepts and my thoughts are: some literature says that 99% of our behaviours are driven by our left brain side, the unconscious. Unconscious behaviours are those that have became second nature. So the question is how can we make new behaviours to become unconscious? Because if we want someone to take a new behaviour he needs to do it consciously, but what about when focus, level of attention etc drop down....what behaviour will I unconsciously perform? The new or the old one?

Nolan Beudeker said...

Surely it will depend on whether the under-lying belief(s)actually changed? If behaviour is ultimately driven by your belief system, then changed belief = permanently changed behaviour.