Home > Change Management, Unstructured thoughts > Marketeers do “Change Management” … ?

Marketeers do “Change Management” … ?

Eye catching article in today’s New York Times by Charles Duhigg: Warning: Habits May Be Good for You .

Who would’ve thought that there’s quite a bit of insight on change management techniques from marketing that could be easily applied in our projects or business as usual activities? Changing behaviors, mind-set, business strategy, organizations etc is at the heart of what marketeers do as Dr. Curtis intuitively knew when she called upon the top consumer goods companies to help her overcome hurdles of people’s soap habits – namely not using soap and washing hands in poor developing countries.

…[M]any companies had perfected the art of creating automatic behaviors — habits — among consumers. These habits have helped companies earn billions of dollars when customers eat snacks, apply lotions and wipe counters almost without thinking, often in response to a carefully designed set of daily cues.

What if we had said this about our own organization – during reorganizations, or during project implementations requiring business process re-engineering – that we needed to change people’s mindsets and behaviors. Of course you’d be thinking but yet, how well do we really do manage change or do change management in these circumstances? Dismal results, only matched by the sheer number of consultants out there who do “change management” consulting in its various forms.

So what can we learn from the marketeers to do change management better?

Through experiments and observation, social scientists like Dr. Berning have learned that there is power in tying certain behaviors to habitual cues through relentless advertising.

One key lesson learned apparently is – communications plan on steroids. Have a communications platform that advertises far and wide. Can’t we borrow a page from the Marcom guys? Maybe lots of engagement or touch points with the target audience is one key factors to changing mindset and behaviors. Be a broken record, beat the proverbial drum and beat it again some more…

Here’s another interesting tidbit providing some insight to successful enabling change management:

“Habits are formed when the memory associates specific actions with specific places or moods,” said Dr. Wood, a professor of psychology and neuroscience at Duke. “If you regularly eat chips while sitting on the couch, after a while, seeing the couch will automatically prompt you to reach for the Doritos. These associations are sometimes so strong that you have to replace the couch with a wooden chair for a diet to succeed.”

Alter the environment along with the mental changes to get people to do things differently. So, for example, that means during a major organizational shift, providing an environment that facilitates the new behaviors should be part of the plan. Perhaps project teams may want to have a separate workstream or WBS devoted to change management?

Other possibilities are to use reverse marketing – brand the project or change as you would a product/service and communicate, communicate, communicate. Ironically, marketeers have often gotten a bad rap (deservedly so) for being poor operators and project managers, but they might have actually the keys to effective change management technique!

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