What would be more difficult: to stop smoking in a smoker’s environment or to quit when everybody around you continues with their same habits? Is it more difficult to change (your behaviour) in a new situation or in the old one? And why should you care?
Most of the time the structure of an organization is changed prior to the introduction of new working methods. The idea is to do things differently ‘from now on’. The alteration of the structure is an important event that inducts new behaviour. The new structure should support that activities will be organized in another way and that your behaviour is moved into a new direction. You are at a new desk, you have new people around you and your computer system is changed; so what keeps you from falling back in old habits? Perhaps nothing for the moment, but the chance is that is will happen shortly.
The more difficult the change is, the longer it will last. This is not a scientific hypothesis but just common sense. If you know that you want to quit smoking, the easiest reaction would be to move to an area where others also abstain from cigarettes. The example of the rest of the group will facilitate you to follow them. Yet, there is always that moment when you find another smoker and you remember how nice it was. And then the question is whether you will withstand the temptation.
Easier on the long term, but more difficult on the short is that you try to change in the old environment. Try to stop smoking with all the smokers around you. Once you can bear that, other challenges are easy victories. This is only possible if your motivation is profound.
If you are a manager, wait with structural changes until there is nothing left to do. Change structures only as a last resort. It is the easiest way, which will lead you to short-term profits that will soon fade away. Rather than formal changes you should focus on motivation. If you really want to motivate a change, keep things as they were.
© 2005 Hans Bool / Astor White
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