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I've always been fascinated with how to understand social interaction. In my opinion people absolutely change their hearts and minds when their actions change. Isn't that the whole idea behind developing habits? Research says that habits can be formed over a period of time by repeating a process. In this case employees repeating an action can make them start to internalize it and stick with it.


Looking forward to the new book whenever it comes out. Keep shipping.

Dr. Bob (FP)

I'm in the health IT field & this well regarded chief medical information officer's (Ed Marx) recent blog post on HIStalk leads me to think he is either a disciple of yours or a great example of parallel evolution - "The Bad Boss" -


I think this is a great project. I particularly like Ddebow's idea of looking into how the research around memes may apply. Looking forward to reading the results.


FYI, more evidence of the importance of bosses as well as the process of behavior spread:

Amy Wilson

Hi Bob,
I would be interested to see how a mindset of inclusivity vs. exclusivity affects scale. My theory is that inclusivity scales good behavior and exclusivity inhibits it. Sounds like a fun 2011!



Scaling and how people change their behaviour...

You need to look into the Transition Movement in the UK. Transition Town movement is primarily focused on energy decent, how we live in a post peak oil world. The biggest single challenge facing the western world.

How the Transition movement is going about presenting the case of Peak Oil as a way of understanding Climate Change and our roles in it. The totally inclusive nature of the movement, it sees all parts of society as critical in the energy decent.

The way they are combining such massive and complicated problems of peak oil and climate change with what people can do at the local level to create local resilience is inspiring. They are trying to create a vision for a better low energy future.

Have a look at Transition Town Totnes.

Rob Hopkins is a key person in this movement he has a book out called "The Transition Handbook - Creating local sustainable communities beyond oil dependency."

Some web sites:

career descriptions

Thanks a ton Bob...this seems like a fantastic project...

Kate Nasser, The People-Skills Coach

I am very interested in your 2011 project Bob "the challenge of spreading and sustaining actions and mindsets across networks of people."

My consulting work, especially with technology departments, in major corporations puts me right in this zone.

Looking forward to your posts and books on it.

Nick McLeroy

I like this topic particularly because I work in a hectic business environment that leverages IT tools to communicate with business customers. To over simplify I see that everyone has the same goals when it comes to specific projects but when it comes to executing theses goals it seems we all get stuck viewing and implementing things from our own views. This tells me that when it comes to change driving a common vision and communicating that common vision appropriately is important. I also believe that allowing people to do things their way even if it is not my way provides people a level of empowerment that is important to the process, it fosters ownership, albeit false and encourages commitment. When or management controls too much even with best intentions they not only give themselves a headache but lose a lot of non-tangle benefits.

Another component is more subconscious and it involves fostering an environment that is conducive to the work you want done. For example if you want people to come to work early then provide coffee, in a break room. If you want people to interact and share ideas more then provide areas where people can congregate. If you want more team work then facilitate going out to lunch with each other or team building exercises. Have people put name tags on the outside of their cubes with a simple note about themselves.

It is like planting a garden once you get it going it will take on a life of it's own and then you will have to deal with new challenges.

David Wakelyn

Bob: This is a HUGE issue in the education sector and you might want to think about a case on a charter school network like KIPP that's trying to grow from 2 schools to 100+.

There's also a worthwhile article by Cynthia Coburn you might want to consult. She finds that scaling up has to be more than numbers. Part of what helps is local ownership-- in schools, that translates to: can you take a research-based curriculum, break pieces apart and make it your own?

Here's the cite: Rethinking Scale:Moving Beyond Numbers to Deep and Lasting Change
by Cynthia E. Coburn Educational Researcher, Vol. 32, No. 6, pp. 3–12

Philip Viola

The study of scaling is needed in this period of difficult change. I've taught an organizational behavior course for many years and, from what I've found, there is the circular dependency described but there seems to be a slight bias toward changing behavior having a more positive correlation to actual change than changing the mind. Humans tend to find it easier to develop reasons to explain changes in behavior than to actually do the things they know they should do but do not do.


I would love to see the results. Please keep us all informed as you're writing.

Heidi Grant Halvorson

Hi Bob! What a great book idea. The first thing that popped into my mind reading this was work on goal contagion - how just observing another person pursuing a goal leads you to non-consciously adopt it, under the right circumstances. There's a great 2004 JPSP paper by Aarts, Hassin & Gollwitzer on contagious goals.

Good luck!


I've recommended it to you in a tweet, but I'll repeat: The Checklist Manifesto presents a really straightforward manner for creating easily scalable best practices in situations where a) precision matters and b) it's easy to forget something crucial. For example, the safe surgery checklist ( is improving surgical care around the world, with different versions that are specific to regions, countries, and even individual hospitals.

Regarding Humanity in the Workplace, it sounds similar to what's espoused in Bury My Heart at Conference Room B.

Denise Lai

Thank you Bob. This is exactly what we need: codified concepts that support a cultural shift so that we can all start expected respect when we behave good. Being embarrassed for doing the right thing, not being embarrassed for doing the wrong thing...we need this shift that values good behavior and rewards it.


Bob - sounds like a great project.

A few thoughts:

1. The Hot/Cold emotion sounds similar to the Elephant/Rider metaphor that the Heath's wrote about in Switch. Great book.

2. If you have not already (you probably have), the one book I'd suggest checking out is "Diffusion of Innovations" by Everett Rogers. Thinking about "good behavior" as an innovation - a meme that has to spread - and seeing if there are parallels to the work Roger's did.

3. I love the point about "ergonomics of scaling". I know software can't change everything, but in this area, well designed software can change cultures. i wrote a bit about this here... hope it helps.

Let us know if we can help with some case studies... I have a few ideas.


"...if you change people's minds, their behavior will follow ... there is a lot of evidence that if you get people to change their actions, their hearts and minds will follow."

Also known as Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, and quite effective for depression. Change thoughts, change behavior -- upward cycle.


In terms of organizations, I think there is a meaningful differentiation between driving change and change that occurs organically. Driving change more often than not involves forcing people to confront an issue or accept a solution--people don't like to change and usually need to be uprooted. On the other hand, some changes (e.g., a new technology) "catch on" in a unexpected and somewhat random way, and these changes spread due to their popularity. This is somewhat reflective of the top-down versus bottom-up approach to change, and there is likely several hybrids.

I view the psychology of sustaining in a similar fashion: people choose to continue behaving in a certain way either because systems/procedures are in place to ensure that they do, or because they obtain satisfaction from behaving that way.

Can't wait to see how this turns out!

Matthew Wong

Can't wait to see your new book, specially on Hot emotion and cool solution, since I like Naomi Klein's work alot too.

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