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An Experimental State of Mind January 6, 2008

Posted by cjescribano in change management, experiments.
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Experiments

What would happen if…
Someone once told me, “If you start making your bed everyday, it will change your life.” An interesting claim. I decided to test it out.

…you made your bed everyday
For years, I viewed making my bed as a waste of precious time. I told my mom, “Why should I make it? I’m just going to mess it back up tonight.” My husband felt the same way, so for years, we never made our bed. Until I started my experiment.

It could change your life
After several years of making the bed religiously, I’d have to say that that someone was right. Nothing earth-shattering. Not a new life, just some improvement. For one thing, I can no longer stand an unmade bed. I HAVE to make my bed now, even if I don’t get to it til 5 minutes before bed-time. And that tiny step toward organization and discipline affected other areas as well. I started looking for ways to make my home a cleaner, more organized, more comfortable place to live. I still have a long way to go, but had I not tried my experiment, I wouldn’t have come as far as I have.

An experiment is more fun than a resolution
I find the experimental state of mind a useful one. If I frame something as an experiment, it sounds a bit more exciting to me–a voyage of discovery. My curiosity gets engaged, so there’s a better chance I’ll actually stick with it. Instead of saying to myself, “That’s it. Tomorrow, I’m going on a diet. No more sweets for me,” I tell myself, “I’m going to do an experiment to see how I feel if I just eat fruits and vegetables for a month.” Since it’s an experiment, it doesn’t feel so permanent. And it doesn’t seem so punitive or harsh. It makes me feel in control. I’m doing this to find something out. What I’ll probably find out is that if I cut out the sweets, I actually feel better (I know this from other experiments I’ve done in the past). So, in the end, I will probably stick with this diet forever. But it becomes more a part of me, something I want to do, instead of a life sentence punishment for indulgence.

What if companies tried “experiments” instead of “change management”?
I wonder if companies could use experiments to help with change management. Instead of issuing a decree from on high saying, “From now on, everyone will close out their projects by filing all materials in the library and submitting a project summary,” they could say, “For the next 3 months, we are conducting an experiment. We want you to close out all your projects by filing all materials in the library and submitting a project summary. Then we’ll reconvene and discuss how that worked for everyone.” My hypothesis is that people will be more willing to try the experiment. Then on their own, they’ll see the benefits of the change they’re being asked to make. So, no one will have to “sell” them on it. And they’ll come up with some interesting results to pass back to leadership to make the change more effective, which will make them feel more a part of the change. It’s something they’re doing; it’s not being done to them.

I’m going to look for a chance to test out this experiment. Look for the results here. And let me know if you’ve done any life-changing experiments recently.

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1. You Never Know Until You Try! « LifeLongLearningLab - November 30, 2009

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