Enabling behaviour change

One of my favourite speakers is Celynn Morin a specialist in Performance Chemistry.  She runs 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. ie. 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 Action line, as illustrated opposite.

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, 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.