The Myth of Rational Behavior. Employees don’t behave rationally when it comes to behavior change. At an intellectual level, they may understand the rationale and the benefits of a change and even feel excited about it. But when they get back to their daily work, satisficing takes over and their good intentions are outweighed by old habits, the comfort of the known, the effort required to overcome unanticipated hurdles and a sense that the old way is “good enough.” If you want employees to do things differently, you have to make the new behavior the path of least resistance.
The Case of the Smelly Sheep. Traditional learning and development, with its focus on competency gaps and skill building, is too small a box to encompass the complexities of employee behavior and business performance. The skill gap methodology (“sheep cleaning”) presupposes that there’s something missing in the brain of your employee and that once you have provided it, performance will improve. When it comes to the complex endeavor of changing behavior, this is a highly suspicious assumption. For lasting behavior change, you must partner with business leaders to “clean the pen” by removing environmental obstacles.
While technical challenges can be daunting, often failures don’t happen because the technology itself doesn’t work. More often, failures are on the organization side. Poor planning, unreasonable or fuzzy expectations, misaligned business processes and lack of buy-in from stakeholders are far more likely to bring a project down than technical issues. Governance builds on the ethos of change management. But where change management typically revolves around implementation of a single initiative, governance begins earlier, takes an enterprise view, asks more strategic questions, draws connections across disparate projects and processes and looks at all stages of the lifecycle for each project.