Everyone is used to doing things their own way. We have our favorite routes to work, our go-to email sign-offs, and even strong opinions on the Oxford comma. As a result, adjusting our personal style to fit a new mold can be tough (currently, I’m struggling to transition to one space after each sentence as opposed to two). I think that behavior modification is the most trying form of change because it aims to make changes from the outside-in. However, just as treating symptoms won't cure diseases, external changes don't always reach the root.
To expedite the process, I think it’s important to initiate changes from the core. A great example of this is in the movie, Inception. If you haven’t seen it, then here’s the basic storyline: a team of thieves are hired to convince a man to split up his company—by entering his dreams. In essence, they want to plant an idea in his head in order to modify his behaviors.
This premise is the heart of change management: in order to change behaviors, you must first change mindsets. If you wanted your team to start using a collab site, for example, then you may have trouble getting everybody on board. Even if everyone attended one of the two mandatory training sessions and knew how to use the site, they’d still be inclined to do things their old way because it's a part of their routine. In this example, the objective to modify behaviors isn’t meaningful enough to resonate with employees, especially when there are a hundred other things taking place on a daily basis.
In his article, A Powerful Intention Begins with a Declaration, my colleague Chris had the following to say:
“To state it clearly, an ‘intention’ is something you want to get done, but which you cannot do by yourself. It could be a strategy, a mindset, an idea, a task, a concept - or a dream.”
In our previous example, the objective may be to get people using a collab site—but the intention is far greater, and much more powerful. Let’s say the intention is to instill an overall culture of collaboration and transparency in your company. Now, using a collab site becomes a tactic to fulfill your intention, as opposed to the primary objective. Intentions, by nature, resonate far more than simple goals or objectives. Once your team has taken ownership of the intention, you will have planted an impactful idea into their heads that will inevitably modify their behaviors.
If you want to make changes you can see, start with the ones you can’t—start with the dream within a dream.