“An idea. Resilient… highly contagious. Once an idea has taken hold of the brain it’s almost impossible to eradicate. An idea that is fully formed. Fully understood. That sticks; right in there, somewhere.” – Christopher Nolan / Inception
Based on “The Power of Habit” by Charles Duhigg, habits get a bad rap. Most people when asked about their habits go right to describing their bad ones… they eat too much fatty food, are always late to work, too often forget their keys, etc. But habits can also be good… like waking up early, keeping promises, exercising and staying fit, etc.
A habit is when a person starts and finishes any action without any involuntary effort. Plus, habits come in all forms, from eating habits, study habits, to relationship habits. But for the purpose of this article, we are going to concentrate on our business/work habits.
We believe that positive workplace habits can be transformational… taking a business from mediocrity to greatness.
Let’s start with our daily jobs tasks. A person, a team or even the whole company can adopt really solid and positive habits. Duhigg expresses that “the biggest opportunity for a company to grow and improve overall is by implementing or re-adjusting habits.”
But like all hard work, it takes energy and commitment. Not all habits make a difference. The one habit that can have a huge impact on your company is called a keystone habit, most commonly known as the company’s culture.
A Keystone Habit Case Study
One story of a company that applied keystone habits successfully is Alcoa, the US industrial giant and world’s fifth largest producer of aluminum. In 1998, Alcoa had a huge productivity problem: their sales were decreasing while staff turnaround was increasing. At the time, Alcoa’s investors thought that Paul O’Neill, their CEO, had little chance to turn the company around.
O’Neill understood that changing one person’s habits was complicated. How was he going to change the habits, the culture of a company with more than 1,000 employees around the world? He was able to do it by implementing a new keystone habit that ended up affecting the entire company.
O’Neill’s keystone habit was “Make Alcoa the safest company in America. Zero injuries”. That mantra had such an impact inside the company and industry that Alcoa increased productivity over +100% in one year and generated 27 billion dollars in revenue. It became known as the safest place to work in North America.
Let’s dig deeper… how CEO O’Neill achieved such a change in his workforce? This happened putting to practice the 4 pillars principles.
4 Pillars for Keystone Habits
Any good or bad routine consists of a cue, a routine, a reward, and a loop.
- Identify the cue to activate the habit.
- Isolate your routine and try to change it.
- Experiment with the rewards. What type of rewards does your routine have?
- Finally, you need to loop your habit.
When changing a bad Habit into a positive Habit, a company’s workforce can be influenced one person at a time… just like a domino effect.
Create a keystone habit for your company
Here are some helpful guidelines if you are interested in implementing a keystone habit for your business:
- It should be one easy sentence, with everyone inside the company memorizing and using it.
- It should be used in a task every single day.
- All employees, stakeholders, and stockholders must accept it.
- Employees should have a direct and tangible benefit when they apply it.
The keystone habit should have a chain reaction benefit. This means, by being consistent, the habit solves indirectly other issues inside the company.
That said, people and habits are all different, as well as the specifics of diagnosing and changing the patterns in our life and job. Change is not fast nor easy, but if you dedicate time, put effort into it, and believe in the change, almost any habit can be reshaped.
Suggestions to start building your habits
We recommend to use Wunderlist to help you get things done by tracking your tasks and making team members accountable for each task. For a keystone habit, using this kind of tool will help you create a checklist as a follow up tool on actionable items for research, track, and implementation.
We also recommend that you address your meetings with a Level 10 Meeting Methodology. This tool helps you optimize each meeting without wasting valuable time.
Having an integrated system for your team to manage projects and keep efficient communication between team members and even clients is very important. At Nolte, we use Atlassian’s platform with tools such as JIRA for project management and Hipchat for chat rooms and direct communication, to mention a few.
Keep in mind that data, knowledge, and analysis are power sources for your business, and together they can be implemented at any time. We suggest to use the tools previously mentioned to keep control on that power.
To conclude, all businesses want to grow and prosper. That is why we suggest you define your keystone habit and change your organization’s culture, using the 4 pillars approach. First – define a habit that can be turned from negative to positive. Then make sure that your workforce is behind the change. Finally, use the tools that can help you structure and develop the keystone habit on a daily basis.
Read more about Charles Duhigg’s eBook.
Find out what our CEO and Founder had to say about business commitment on his interview with Applause.
Understand what are the most important metrics to follow for your business.
Our work speaks for itself. Reviewed by the best, Nolte has been awarded as a Top Web Development Agencies on Clutch.