Sunday, January 13, 2013

Business Model Me

This quarter, I'm orienting my learning blog around personal learning, and I will be going through the spin-off, "Business Model You". To keep things moderately entertaining, I'll also  try to integrate interesting ideas/tools for you to use.

In an effort to keep myself accountable to this task, I'm going to apply the Fogg Behavior Model.

My last blog post, "Changing Behaviors!", seems a perfect segue into a "New Years Resolution" type post.  I was semi-inspired to write this post because of a the YouTube Channel: PBS Idea Channel: "a PBS show that examines the connections between pop culture, technology, and art."  According to the show, New Years Resolutions have a success rate of about 12%. This is not due to a lack of willpower or discipline; It's in the creation of the New Years list. This is referencing the book, "Willpower: Rediscovering the Greatest Human Strength" by Roy F. Baumeister and John Tierney. 
"Put the blame where it belongs, on the list. Noone has enough willpower to for that list". 

 This idea sounded extremely familiar, in fact, for any who enrolled in Brian Weller's: Ultimate Study Skills course, it's based on the same principle. Essentially, in our personal quests for improvement and learning, we often set expectations that are so high, they end up becoming a barrier to our own improvement.

The concept is this, we can utilize creative tension to grow and expand our boundaries. In fact, we perform at our best with this tension. However, if the boundary we are reaching for is too far away, the tension snaps, and no progress is made. 

Once we're able to set realistic expectations for ourselves, that still push our boundaries, we are more effectively able to embrace change. Instead of reaching immediately for our future vision, recognizing the steps that are required can be a beneficial strategy in reaching that future vision. 

We briefly looked at backcasting strategies last week, which provides an excellent example of incrementalizing procedural steps towards sustainability. 

In another fascinating parallel, in many behavior modification studies, they've found that most people increase their behaviors in incremental steps, as opposed to gradual adoption. 

In this great marketing strategy video BJ Fogg, Director of the Stanford Persuasive Tech Lab, makes the argument that high motivation is not the most effective driver of behavior change; it's making things easy to do.

So, my realistic goals? Each week, I'll break down one section of the Business Model Canvas, write about how it relates to personal development, and provide at least one tool related to the content.

If any readers are interested in any behavior modification, or accountability to a New Year's Resolution, I will also commit to following up with them.


  1. Eric,
    Great post. I thought I was pretty good at creating small tasks but after listening the links you have I could definitely break things down even smaller achievable tasks. I am also thought a lot about my team project and the idea of supporting/creating a more regional food system. What are the things we can do to make it even easier for those who are motivated to eat regionally... CSA boxes are one way to make it easier but what about eating out, fast food, etc. Are there ways to promote regionally sourced foods in these models that make it easier for folks that want to eat regionally. I bet there is.. I will think more :)

    1. I need to connect you with my friend Kamal Patel...

  2. Aloha Aric...

    Behavioral change, making things easier to do. I need some suggestions. I was in one of our training buildings at UA last weekend. I noticed that my freind in management finally had set out the recycle containers, yippee I have progress. (I have been struggling with UA and recycling and making it easy for 2 yrs now). I noticed when I walked by the blue bin, it was filled with all sort of trash, and the trash bin was filled with paper and other things!! UGH.... How do we make recycling easier. THere are signs up depicting what and how to recycle, and right now I am only speaking of paper!! How do I change this behavior??? It is said it takes 21-60 days to change a behavior.... Okay these recycling bins have been out for 8 months, and I assume most pilots can read english and are semi-intelligent... I am done ranting!! :) See you this week

    1. Thanks Dorothy,

      I think you're touching on a really specific behavior, one that has a lot of data behind it too. When I was working for the government in Kansas, I helped integrate recycling into the city hall. I pretty much came into the same sort of problem, and what was more effective for behavior change their was "motivation". I modeled the behavior, and also just started implementing positive reinforcement when people recycled.

      One liners in a newsletter like, "Thanks everyone, we prevented xxx lbs of paper from going to the dump!"

  3. Thanks for sharing this content, Aric. It really helped tie together some of the things that I've been learning about making lasting change and modifying behavior. I'm excited to apply it to my personal goals for the year. It is easy to see how this info applies to behavior you want to start doing, or to do more. But I'm wondering how you make it easier to do something less or stop doing it? It sounds like removing the trigger is important, but what if you aren't aware of the trigger or can't avoid it?

    1. Thanks Michelle,

      From what I can remember, there are 3 main strategies in decreasing behavior.

      1. Removing Triggers
      2. Identifying function/purpose of behavior, and satisfying it using a different approach(or removing the reinforcement associated with it). For example, a child's attention seeking behavior is often best resolved by removing the attention. The challenge is in identifying the purpose of the behavior.
      3. Punishment, either attached to triggers or the behaviors.

      According to my previous post, I suppose there's probably some sort of positive reinforcement that might work as well... rewards when behavior doesn't present over certain periods of time, and either increasing the time periods incrementally, or randomizing them...

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  5. It sounds like perhaps the same principle of realistic, small steps could also apply to doing something less or to stopping a behavior altogether. Aric, the concept of small, realistic steps seems to quite accurate. Perfect example; I want to commit to going to yoga more often. Without a job right now and surviving on school loans, it's easier said than done to get to yoga. A bus pass costs $100, which is ridiculous. I do not own a car either. So, I purchased a bicycle with a small amount of money and will now be able to get to yoga. Here's the other component: I started out with the desire to attend two classes per week, but the reality is that I have not had a yoga routine for years. My sister suggested that I begin with one class per week, and I balked at that idea. I resisted it, but then I thought, why not at least try that idea and set myself up for success? Thank you for the extra motivation, Eric! This can apply to our studies as well!

    1. Awesome application/example Hava! Thanks!

      It's interesting though, I sort of ran into a dilemma in a similar situation. Really it's an ongoing thing for me, but exercise is harder for me to maintain, if I only do it once or twice a week. If I up the amount to 3-4 times, I'm much more likely to retain the habits. I wonder what factors are at play here...

  6. Awesome perspective Aric :) I have a feeling that your commitment to this will spread like wildfire throughout the BGI community. Are you planning to pull in more learnings from LPD here as well? I see a great tie to your blog with our Immunity to Change book. Keep up the great work!

    1. Thanks Lauren,

      My LPD section actually isn't using the "Immunity to Change" book, although it's by the same authors. I'd love to hear more!

      Amusingly, I did see parallels in the "Startup Owner's Manual..." by Steve Blank, and the video assigned for tomorrow's webinar. Mostly along the lines of iteration, and "features" of a product.

      The parallel is that, instead of trying to design a perfect product right off the bat(and probably missing the mark), iterating the product, and taking incremental steps in its useful functionality.

  7. Thanks for your insights, Aric!

    My experience resonates with the findings of behavior modification studies: behavior change tends to be incremental in nature.

    I'm going to think about some resolutions for change and let you know where I'd like some support/accountability.

    Also, I really appreciate your use of graphics to illustrate your written points. I would like to work on increasing my ability to do this more effectively. Thanks for modeling it here on your learning blog.

    Happy New Year, Aric!

    1. Thanks Hex!

      Sometimes I feel a little limited by the blogging interface, and the placement isn't always ideal...

      I like theNewHive, you might check it out. It's sort of inspirational for layouts.

  8. I like it. Simple and effective. I tend to feel it's a bit easy to think the big goals matter, well... more than they do. Especially on big tasks.

    A very useful lesson I learned from some of my instructors was "just find a place you can move an inch... and move that inch. Find the way to take the next breath. If you look at the whole thing, it's too big. Keep moving an inch, and you'll eventually prevail."

    I've found this to be true, and helpful... but not necessarily for most things. It's relevance for me has risen with the scale of the obstacles, and the depth of the consequences.

    When you're warm, and well fed, and strong, and walking down the street, it's enough just to look ahead to the end of the block.

    When you're blown to a ragged shard, and the next step takes you off the edge of the world... then you put all you've got into the next step.

  9. Thanks Andrew,

    I totally agree. Certain strategies are more useful in different situations. It's particularly interesting when we think about the massive problems that we're faced with in today's world. Even Paul Hawken, Amory & Hunter Lovins sort of rip on small behaviors that don't account for much. e.g. the whole, changing every light bulb to energy efficient light bulbs, and the impact that has... Or owning hybrid vehicles, when the manufacturing practices for batteries, and plain pollution created during production...

    I do think that these serve a purpose though... maybe not something tangibly more energy efficient, but it's starting to build a different form of capital, sort of that movement to the paradigm shift...

    I dunno, maybe I'm too much of an optimist.

  10. Aric,
    As usual I take delight in your posts - AND they leave me thinking. Great application of the business model canvas too!
    I agree with your incremental change idea - leave room though for breakthroughs bcause even organizations have them - on occasion!


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