Innovation! Creativity! Collaboration! Who doesn’t want to spend their day focused on fun and interesting work?
We all know however, we can only focus on the fun work after we get through the emails, the expense reports, and the timesheets. So, we learn processes for the mundane stuff. Over time those steps become so ingrained that we can move through it quickly and get back to the work we want to do. Process becomes a necessary evil, helping us turn humdrum tasks into quick, efficient habits.
Yet in today’s environment, with companies recognizing the need to continuously improve, we see ongoing tweaks to processes and systems that also change our deeply ingrained habits.
Power of Habit
Driving to work using the same route every day. Using an iPhone. Entering expenses into the expense system. All of these are habits that help us efficiently navigate our days.
Throughout a single day people execute thousands of behaviors. From the complex (e.g. going to the gym in the morning) to the simple (e.g. shutting off the lights before leaving the house), about 45% of our behavior might qualify as habitual (Neal et al., 2006).
Nearly half of our behaviors are wired so deeply in our brains that we perform them automatically (Trafton, 2012), leaving space for fun, creative, innovative thinking. We can listen to the radio while we drive. We can debate with a friend how many ribs humans have while simultaneously finding a search engine and looking up the answer on our phone. (FYI – The human rib cage is made up of 12 paired rib bones; 24 ribs total.)
The habits that make up our everyday behavior are a key part of why it can be hard for us to adopt any type of change. Put a detour on the route, move the bread at the grocery store, or hand an iPhone user an Android, and you’ve disrupted the habit.
Written by Katie Brandt, Consultant, Leslie Oines, Principal Consultant, and Dr. Shannan Simms, Vice President.