During change, there are two types of behavior we need to influence in order to get the result we’re striving for. I’ll call them Future State Behaviors and Change Behaviors, to describe their relationship to the change initiative.
Future State Behaviors
In order for the change to be considered successful, people need to adopt new behaviors. They may need to collaborate differently, or make new choices, or follow a modified process, or use the new system, for example. These actions are the Future State Behaviors we hope people will continue after the change implementation is complete.
To get people to adopt Future State Behaviors, they need to do certain behaviors during the implementation. They need to participate in the change by providing feedback, attending meetings, going to training, and asking questions, for example. These interim Change Behaviors engage and equip people to eventually adopt the Future State Behaviors.
Sometimes I see change practitioners focus all their energy on either one or the other type of behaviors, and they end up spinning their wheels.
If you forget about Future State Behaviors, you’ll be too focused on Change Behaviors to notice that they aren’t bringing about the change you’re trying to achieve. Change Behaviors alone will not cause people to adopt Future State Behaviors. You’ll also need things like communication, incentives, and reinforcement that focus on those Future State Behaviors.
If you forget about Change Behaviors, it will be too large a leap for people to go from their current behaviors to the Future State Behaviors. They won’t be ready for the change, but you may not know that because they’re not participating.
As you plan your change initiatives, first, identify the Future State Behaviors that will signal success. Next, determine what Change Behaviors will help drive ultimate adoption of those behaviors. Then, figure out how you will influence both types of behavior at the same time so you can be sure nothing slips through the cracks.