Why Don’t We Stick With Behaviour Change?

That’s the title of a terrific talk last night by Prof. Wendy Wood from the University of Southern California. An hour very well spent. Here’s the potted version: 
Knowing what’s good for you doesn’t mean you’ll change your behaviour. The 5 A Day campaign launched in the UK in 2003. Awareness is great: 85% of people know they should eat 5 fruit and veg portions a day, but the consumption of fruit and veg hasn’t moved since the campaign started. 
We don’t change habits because most of the time we’re not even thinking about what we’re doing. Instead we respond to cues, do what we’re doing automatically. In one study people were given stale popcorn to eat as they went into a cinema, and eat it they did - chewed through 70% of it. When the researchers tried it with people in a lab watching a film, did they eat stale popcorn? Some did, but plenty more turned their noses up. It’s all about the cues.

So, what is the secret? How can we make changes stick? Here’s what the evidence shows:
A survey of New Year resolutions found the ones people stuck at weren’t the good-for-you, ‘must exercise more’ type but the fun ‘see more friends every week’ type. Conclusion: we respond to rewards. If you want to start a new behaviour, make sure there’s a treat in it. 
If you’re trying to change a long established habit, think tactically: what can you do to make that habit more difficult, more awkward, less automatic. What cues can you remove? If you want people to walk instead of cycling, lay bumps in the path. If you want people to take their cups to the kitchen and not leave them on the table, make the table tiny, and maybe a bit wobbly too. 
But… it’s a complete myth you can change a habit in 21 or 30 days. It takes at least 66 days to change even a simple habit. So keep repeating, repeating, repeating.

We’d love to know what changes or new habits you’ve put in place, and how! 

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Download our Facilitation Toolkit

Bringing a facilitator on board to shape and lead your workshops, creative meetings and team events is a really, really good idea.  It frees you up to concentrate on contributing ideas and thinking. And at a step removed, a facilitator can ask tough questions, and help you to think beyond what’s familiar. A facilitator can get you to where you need to be.

 But we also know that it’s not always possible, or appropriate to bring someone in. It might make sense to facilitate your own session or ask someone in your team to take on the role.

 And that’s why we’re excited to be sharing our Facilitator’s Toolkit. We’ve distilled the key to successfully planning and running a creative session into a set of 10 cards, which we still use ourselves. And now we’re making it available as a free download. Use the cards to help you plan a workshop or creative session, or turn to them if you get a little stuck. And if you want to give us feedback, we’d be delighted.

Download your free toolkit

Download your free toolkit

Look Up ... and Find Everyday Treasure

We've got such lovely little safe worlds at our disposal in our phones. It's hard to resist losing yourself in them when you need to kill time. Checking emails or scrolling through social media can feel like an efficient use of time, but narrowing our focus on the world is killing an important area of stimulus. The everyday treasure to be found in the world around us.

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Celebrating Successful Women (and their failures) - A Blog from Leading Ideas' Wonderful Failure Night Partners at TRC Media

We asked 10 successful women working in various creative roles in Scotland to share a story with us. Our brief was simple: to tell a story about a time they had failed. We didn’t want PowerPoint presentations, microphones or philosophies, business pitches or case studies, but a true story told from the heart. We called it ‘Failing Up!’ and agreed to embrace our failures, which we often learn more from than our triumphs.

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Last night, for just a few hours, in a cosy bar in Covent Garden, we turned the world on its head.

The room was full of really brilliant people. Friends, clients and colleagues: A crowd who have achieved great things, have qualities that we truly admire and awesome strength. Any one of them could have held court and done a pretty great job of showing off.

But they didn’t. They did something far more arresting. They talked about the stuff they’d got wrong, the failures, the blips, the uncertainties and the regrets in their lives. This was a storytelling evening in celebration of failure and the brilliant role it plays in our lives.

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One delightful question that'll put fizz into your business (and life)

All too often in business (and in life in general) we focus on the question “what’s wrong?” and then use much of our time and energy worrying over the negatives.  I’m not saying there’s no value in being honest and brave when appraising what we’re doing, but fixing what seems to be broken isn’t the only way to move forward.

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Can it ever be ok to treat your colleagues like 6 year olds?

A friend of mine once shared with me a parenting tip he claimed had hugely improved his sanity and temper.  After years of delivering a running commentary of advice and instructions to a young son who seemed to be wilfully ignoring him, he was offered the secret to successful communication with the under 6s.  A former teacher, observing a drawn out stand off over a request to come in for dinner, glibly commented that whenever communicating with a young child, try to imagine they have the theme tune to Magic Roundabout running on a continuous loop in their head.

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