I believe that we can sometimes overcomplicate the process of generating behavioural change in organisations. In a rush to subscribe to the latest theory on how and why people change their behaviour, we may be missing some simple approaches which have been around for a long time. I have been involved in encouraging and supporting behavioural change in organisations across all sectors for a number of years, as a senior manager and as a consultant. ‘Seeing the light and feeling the heat’ has been a very useful approach within my change toolbox and it might be useful to others?

I think that people can be encouraged to change because they ‘see the light’ or they ‘feel the heat. But is it really this simple to get people to change behaviour? It appears to be so sensible and straightforward that it must surely be worth considering.

How Does it Work in Practice?

Well …. you can convince people of the need to change by persuasion, coaching, development, influencing and leading. This also might include engaging with the vision and values of the organisation. They may then ‘see’ and feel the need for change and begin their personal change journey.  I think this is a good place to start when convincing people of the need to change and encouraging them to behavioural change.

If more ‘light’ is not fully effective can performance management with effective measurement and monitoring of behaviours and objectives apply some ‘heat’ to help facilitate change? I think some people respond to this approach especially if the investment in persuasion to see the light has failed. The generation of peer pressure in the team can also raise the temperature?

On Reflection

I think an either/or approach is just too simple? I have found that a more flexible combination of ‘seeing the light and feeling the heat’ works; depending on the size of the change and the mindset of the individuals involved? I think that if every individual will respond to a mix of the two then we need to judge the mix to apply based on a clear understanding of their personal context.

I think this approach provides a useful perspective on change. It has the benefit of simplicity and clarity; though in the long run ‘seeing the light’ is more effective and more sustainable?

Does this perspective offer a more pragmatic and actionable approach to behavioural change?


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