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  • Writer's pictureKate Earle

Tiny Habits. Big Impact.

In my experience, teams often struggle to change how they work together because they think change requires big moves with associated process map and project plans. B.J. Fogg's book Tiny Habits gives teams a framework for making small shifts that generate big results.

Fogg, a Stanford behavior scientist, emphasizes that lasting change doesn't require massive willpower or dramatic overhauls of your life. Instead, he advocates for creating tiny habits—small, manageable actions that can be easily integrated into your existing routine.

Fogg suggests that behavior (B) equals motivation (M), ability (A) and prompts (P). By making the desired behavior easy to do (increasing ability) and by attaching it to existing prompts people can create lasting change.

Helping teams develop tiny habits is one of my favorite things to do. Here are some tips I've learned in the process.

  1. Identify Keystone Habits: Teams can identify key behaviors or habits that, when consistently practiced, can lead to significant improvements in performance. These keystone habits should be simple, specific, and aligned with the team's goals and values. One example is the use of check-in questions at the start of a team meeting to connect with one another on a personal level.

  2. Start Small: Rather than trying to implement major changes all at once, teams can start by establishing tiny habits that are easy to adopt and maintain. This might involve setting small, achievable goals for each team member and encouraging them to take small steps towards improvement every day. For instance, a small goal might be to block 15 minutes on calendar to allow for some breathing time between meetings.

  3. Create Habit Loops: Teams can create habit loops by linking new behaviors to existing routines or prompts. For instance, all teams have moments of disagreement. These moments create the ideal "trigger" to try on new behaviors. Team members can learn to spot the signs of when the disagreement trigger gets activated and make more intentional choices about how they want to respond to one another in that moment to work through the issue.

  4. Provide Positive Reinforcement: Encouraging and celebrating small wins reinforces desired behaviors and motivates team members to continue making progress. This might involve giving a shout out to a team member when you see them put one of the team's tiny habits into action. Make it fun!

  5. Iterate and Adapt: When developing new behaviors together, teams need to experiment with different habits and approaches, and adjust their strategies based on feedback and results. Be ok with less than perfect. Make failure OK. Celebrate and learn from the mess.

Reframing change as a series of tiny habits makes it feel more accessible and achievable. What's one tiny habit that could have a big impact for your team?

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