My LinkedIn feed is crowded with people who want to help other people change their behavior.
Thought leaders, people leaders, change agents, agile coaches, HR consultants. You all ask the same question:
What is the best way to make people do something new?
And you all choose between the same answers:
- Tell them what to do
- Make it easy for them to adopt the new behavior
- Make the new behavior the default
Most of you don't seem to consider it a real choice, though.
You know that 1 doesn't work, and that 3 is beyond your control.
So, 2 it is.
Even though you believe the human brain is wired in a way that makes it hard for people to change their behavior, you insist on making it easy.
It's an intriguing idea that some people can make it easy for other people to do something they have a hard time doing themselves.
But what is your secret?
"We design environments that make the desired behavior the obvious choice", you might say.
But that's not the secret I'm looking for.
I'm not looking for the secret you are telling yourself. I'm looking for the secret you are not telling anyone. Maybe because you don't want to. Maybe because it's a secret to you too.
Either way, you are not going to reveal the secret, so allow me:
The real secret to making it easy for other people to change their behavior is to prevent them from making any choices themselves.
Or to put it differently:
You are not making it easy for people to make the obvious choice. You are making it easy for them not to make any choice at all.
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