The only person who likes change is a baby with a dirty nappy. Mark Twain.
Change is hard for most people. Fact.
As soon as you ask someone to perform an action that is unfamiliar, contains any uncertainty or doesn’t fit their current norms, warning sirens start wailing in their brain.
You have a choice. Either give up and accept things as they are, or find ways to make the desired change more palatable.
Of course, there’s plenty of guidance out there designed to make change less of a muddle and more of a process, perhaps John Kotter’s 8 step model being the most famous.
A step by step approach is all very well and helpful, but a process still doesn’t enable you to pinpoint the specific reasons why change is tricky or what can actually be done to achieve the breakthroughs.
A process is only as good as the insights and ideas you can generate within it.
But what if you could take the guesswork out of finding the best answers and approaches? That’s what’s possible with a mindset-based approach.
You’re not just putting yourself in someone’s shoes. Your putting yourself in their brain. That gives you a far deeper understanding of why they think and act the way they do and what prevents them from taking the desired behaviour.
Brain-based diagnostics ensures you know where to place efforts so your solutions will be much more hit and far less miss.
In other words, it’s hacking into others’ brains to get a glimpse of their true needs and motivations for change.
Most challenges require a multifaceted mix of rational and emotional solutions. There is no one-size fits all solution. Change must occur in a way that feels natural and human.
Sounds tricky? Well, the 7 Creatures of Habit are here to help. They represent 7 core thinking patterns that influence how we think, interpret information and base our decisions. They distil multiple principles of neuroscience and behavioural economics and make the science of change far more accessible and applicable.
We all have the Creatures to various extents. When working on different challenges, being able to recognise how much a role each plays can offer valuable insights as to the most effective solutions.
Now get ready to meet the Creatures…
Your brain’s task automator. It loves to keep you in the comfort zone of what you know best. Repetition is a sure-fire way of ensuring the are no unwanted surprises and as little mental effort is wasted as possible.
Routine wants you to stick with what feels familiar so any change to actions or environment can defy usual expectations and end up getting rejected.
Your brain’s inbuilt resistance to change. Protection loves to keep the status quo and looks to avoid any upheaval due to new methods at all cost. Protection is often heard muttering, “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”
Protection may see new opportunities as a threat that reduces their sense of control if current ways alter too much.
Your brain’s desire for quick gratification. Obvious likes to find an answer then move on without over-stretching the mental muscles. It’s job is to find the quick route without stopping off to explore other directions.
Obvious will ensure you take the path of least resistance as much as possible, so any change that requires extra steps or doesn’t stand out will be avoided.
Your brain’s need to spot flaws and avoid negatives. It hates to waste time and resources and subsequently takes a no-nonsense line by being as critical to new ideas as possible. Judgement can’t stand being wrong and is responsible for fuelling an ego of power and superiority.
Judgement has a strong negativity bias, which means it will only trust a change that has overriding positive outcomes and makes complete sense.
Your brain’s social barometer. Follower prefers to stick with the herd to protect you from doing anything too embarrassing or unsafe. It influences you to make decisions based upon what is most likely to conform to others’ expectations.
Follower will only go along with a change if it is shown the way, whether that be a large enough crowd or a figure it really respects.
Your brain’s law and order department. Obedience ensures you conform to the correct ways of doing things so you don’t experience any unknown consequences. As such, it will do its utmost to uphold the rules – even the unwritten ones – often without a need to stop and question any assumptions.
Obedience needs explicit permission or enforcement to stop existing behaviours and start new ones, otherwise it will fear consequences of stepping out of line.
Your brain’s ambition censor. Gremlin wants to ensure you avoid emotionally challenging situations and is responsible for stripping your confidence and motivation. It’s a bit of a hypochondriac; it plans for the worst and as a precaution and prevents you from taking action by talking you out of even trying.
Gremlin needs the right amount skill and responsibility before it will have enough confidence or self-esteem to act on a change.
By looking at a challenge through the lens of each Creature, you are able to determine how much of a factor it plays in someone’s behaviour and decisions. You can then begin to select the most appropriate interventions in relation to the power each Creature holds within the context of the situation.
Change may still be hard, but knowing how to go about it can be much easier once you get a real understanding of what’s going on inside people’s heads. The Creatures of Habit enable you push all the right behavioural buttons and turn issues into opportunities.
It’s also important to take into account the fact everyone’s mind has a different makeup of Creatures. Their reality may be very different to yours. A new software solution may seem the perfect solution for someone in the tech world, but assuming that others will be equally enthusiastic is a limiting bias.
The Creatures provide a more systematic analysis, ensuring focus is firmly fixed on the needs and motivations of the target, without personal biases taking over. They help lead us down a more empathetic and understanding path that’s far more reflective and less impulsive than if we went with just what we thing is best.
The Creatures of Habit can come to the rescue in any challenge where there’s human intervention, from designing new experiences, improving cultures, driving environmentally sustainability, ensuring the uptake of new products, generating better campaign engagement, combatting bad or damaging behaviours and so on.
They also act as a checklist to ensure all the right mindset factors of the target audience are being addressed in the best way. From selling something online to implementing a bold new initiative at work, the model is inherently scalable.
Master this thinking method yourself – download the Creatures of Habit Behaviour Change Toolkit for free!
What if everyone in your team was able to gain much deeper insight into challenges and design the most effective solutions? How about a facilitated Creatures of habit training session for your team? Whether already working on tricky programmes or want to create a new group of change agents that will be more effective than ever. Visit the behaviour change training page to learn more.