Some Unchanging Truths
Change or Die: How often have employees heard that mantra from their boss? But in the book of the same name, Fast Company senior writer Alan Deutschman explores how difficult change is even for those facing likely death, such as criminals and heart disease patients. Remarkably, he finds that the oddsincluding for those facing the real choice and not just hyperbolic cheering from the corporate sloganmeistercan be overwhelming.
Consider that 90 percent of patients who undergo coronary-artery bypass surgery have not materially changed their diet and behavior two years after the fact. Or that two thirds of inmates tracked by the Justice Department were rearrested within three years.
Why is it so hard to change?
Deutschman points out that human beings believe they are rational and that when presented with clear facts and logic, they will act in their own self-interest. But real change occurs most easily when there is an emotional connection made, a new relationship with someone or a group that inspires and reinforces that change. He offers the example of medical pioneer Dean Ornish, who has successfully trained heart disease patients to adopt strict vegetarian diets and yoga as part of their daily lives. The book lays out some principles for change that might apply not only to companies but to many facets of life.
This story appears in the January 29, 2007 print edition of U.S. News & World Report.