A simple but useful model of behaviour change

Celynn Erasmus has spoken for all the MD2MD business leaders groups recently, on the subject of Performance Chemistry.  A fascinating workshop full of practical and pragmatic tips to help typically hard working Entrepreneurial Managing Directors to deliver high performance consistently throughout the day and long term.

Key to Celynn’s talk was, of course, the need for us all to move away from some of our bad habits and onto some better ones.  Being the sensible speaker she is, Celynn took some time out from her core subjects of diet and healthy habits to talk about change and pointed us to what I thought was a very useful way of looking at change and what it takes for a change to be sustained.

Her tip was based on a model of behaviour change developed by B J Fogg of Stanford University, summarised by the formula B=MAT.

In simple terms, B J Fogg suggests that for behaviour change to happen and be sustained three elements have to be in place.  The ability to change has to be in place; the motivation to change has to exist and there has to be a trigger to provoke the change.

He further develops the thinking by suggesting that it is the combination of the first two that affects how likely it is that a change can result from a trigger event. I.e. the higher the motivation or the easier the change, the more likely it is that the change will happen.  If the combination of both is sufficiently high then a trigger event will result in action.  If not, the change will not happen or will not be sustained. In graphical terms he calls the boundary the Activity line, as illustrated here.

So what does this behaviour change model mean? How do we use it? Clearly it can be used to clarify thinking in a number of ways.  For me the new insight was that there is a lot of (good and bad) stuff around about how to boost motivation.  But in reality, for me the easiest way of increasing the chances of a behaviour change happening is simply to make it easy.

As always, the above is my brief interpretation of an idea I find useful and think worth sharing so if you want more detail, please check BJ Foggs’ website, here.

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Bob Bradley

Bob is a specialist in running high value added service businesses, having run five such businesses as General Manager, Managing Director or Chief Executive. His last employed role was as Chief Executive of a £16M, 200 person family owned business having previously been Chief Executive of an AIM listed company for which he raised £5M funding and which he grew from £4M to £12M in three years through two acquisitions and organic growth, and a corporate PLC subsidiary where he was Managing Director responsible for delivering £10M profit on £45M turnover through 450 staff.

Bob is now following a portfolio career providing entrepreneurial business leaders with mentoring and coaching around business leadership, business growth, merger integration and exit planning.

Core to his portfolio is MD2MD. Having experienced for himself the value of having a strong sounding board of fellow Managing Directors he founded MD2MD in 2004 to provide groups of business leaders with a confidential environment within which they can support and challenge each other to raise their game as leaders and by doing so improve the success of their organisation.

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