“Organizations can’t change their culture unless individual employees change their behavior—and changing behavior is hard. When it comes to modifying deeply ingrained behavior, 12-step programs have a superior track record.”
–Keith Ferrazzi, CEO of Ferrazzi Greenlight
Chances are, you’ve heard of Alcoholics Anonymous (AA), the international mutual aid fellowship founded to help alcoholics achieve sobriety. But what does that have to do with driving and managing corporate change? More than one might initially think, according to an article from The Harvard Business Review Magazine’s July-August 2014 issue. The article shares insights gleaned from research conducted by Ferrazzi Greenlight, a Los Angeles-based research institute and strategic consulting firm. It highlights many surprising parallels between leading change management and 12-step addiction programs.
The study examined a variety of addiction treatment programs, including AA as well as other, less conventional approaches, assessing their methods and success rates. The research found that both change management and addiction treatment draw on human nature to adjust the behavior of individuals, and that change management programs could benefit from adopting 12-step program techniques, including incentives, peer support, celebration of small wins, and a focus on the here and now. Article author, CEO and founder of Ferrazzi Greenlight, and author of Never Eat Alone, Keith Ferazzi, points out, “Change is hard. Successful change can be addictive in a powerful way.” Overall, the study’s findings offer an alternative way for change managers to think about and appreciate their mission and methods.
Changing an organization’s culture is a challenge not to be taken lightly, and drawing on lessons from 12-step programs may just help. Click below to read additional compelling similarities between addiction treatment programs and leading change management.