Organizational Change and Evolution

From Caveman to Superdude, man has evolved slowly over the millennia. This is a good reminder for those of us who are in the organizational change management consulting business. Change does not need to happen quickly or grandly to make a measurable difference. In fact there is a whole group of practitioners who maintain that change can occur very effectively in small moves or “nudges.”

To change the behavior of employees, perhaps it makes sense not to change the way they think so much as to change their environment. Subtle adjustments can make a huge difference in the way people make decisions. In fact, this is a central theme of behavioral economics, a field of thought that maintains our decisions are made as a result of a combination of psychological, social, cognitive, and emotional factors. Altering the context just a bit can drive a positive change.

Authors Richard Thaler and Cass Sunstein provide an example in their book Nudge: Improving Decisions About Health, Wealth and Happiness. To slow down drivers at a series of dangerous curves on Chicago’s Lake Shore Drive, two nudges were used—a sign warning of slower speed limits and then white stripes painted across the road at ever closer intervals. Drivers sense that they are increasing their speed as the strips come faster and they naturally put on the brakes. The nudges produced the desired outcome…safer speeds.

What nudges should you make to get peak performance out of your workforce?

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