I read an interesting article in Psychology Today written by David DiDalvo about why it’s so difficult to change your behaviour and that got me thinking about some of the challenges facing individuals and companies in changing the way they operate.
He set out 8 steps on how you can change behaviour and as this was an area that I worked in many years ago I thought I would adapt these ideas and try and apply them to how we work with technology and the green agenda. This is purely a brief snapshot of some of my views and is not intended to be definitive so there are topics I have skipped over deliberately as this is not a white paper, but happy to sit down and discuss any of these point in more detail.
DiSalvo comments that Long Term behavioural change is one of the hardest challenges we’ll ever face. I would imagine that anyone fighting an addiction or mental illness will fully understand this position.
Trying to break learned habits is tough for an individual but I would imagine the same is true of many businesses. We always do things this way and it works for us! Well, it might but that doesn’t mean its optimised for what you do as a business or delivers a sustainable solution for the future. Thankfully the shift towards smart buildings has created a buzz that has challenged this Status Quo and is driving change.
Many large organisation will find change difficult to accept but there are processes in place and if you use a process or at least understand some of the pitfalls that might occur should you choose to do nothing then you can be best placed to manage the risks and threats to your organisation.
The following 8 points as I mentioned earlier are adapted from an article by David DiDalvo and are an interpretation of how I see change being a reason some organisations are reluctant to move forward.
1. We are motivated by negative emotions; At a personal level this may be true and negative feelings can seriously impact individuals. We only have to look at some of the challenges facing the workforce with fear and guilt driving some to very dark places. Business can also see negative emotions as a trigger to undertake change and usually this is because they fear being caught out from a non-compliance or far worse. Negative reactions to anything have no real upside as its often a knee jerk response to a problem when we need to look at change from a purely positive approach. Re-enforcing the negative has a detrimental effect on those trying to implement change so it’s crucial we remove the negative and focus on the positive.
2. We get trapped by thinking fallacies. Feeling overwhelmed by trying to change a behaviour tends to foster an all or nothing approach to fixing a problem. We can’t change everything overnight and this is a mistake we all make in life. Plan to succeed and you will achieve small steps and these small steps will become giant strides over time. In the original article there was a comment about gym membership and how this peeks in January but falls off after a few months and this is true of any new initiative if we feel it’s not attainable, we give up!
The all or nothing approach is unrealistic and therefore when updating or evolving our smart strategy we need to start from a solid basis and work to develop a truly connected solution.
3. We try to eat the entire elephant. Change or corporate behaviour is a very big thing and you cannot expect to make all the changes at once. Incremental changes work and you only have to look at the use of self-help Apps to support this. How many have learned to run from Apps such as Couch to 5K. These apps mentor and coach individuals to take small steps and similar to point 2 we have to consider the big picture but be mindful that we cannot do everything in one sitting as the title of this point makes. Overall be realistic and specific.
4. We neglect the toolbox. This is a rather generic term that should be described as a device or service that supports our actions. An example of a tool or service would be Analytics often hosted via the Cloud. We need to measure change and see if we are going in the right direction. Analytics provide Information that allows us to manage services and control our buildings. We regulate the lighting, reduce or increase the temperature and monitor air quality, occupancy and safety. These tools allow us to optimise our buildings and if based on a smart platform provide a degree of upgrade throughout the life of the installation.
5. We try to change too much. This is a common theme but if you are trying to improve the working environment then work with bite size chunks. Where are the real issues and how can we make the biggest impact both visually and environmentally? We know from anecdotal evidence that Lighting and heating/cooling are the two most obvious problems cited as user related concerns, it’s too bright or dark or it’s too hot or cold.
Lighting has an instant visual impact and is an area that can provide significant savings.. The vast majority of lighting is now LED, but as with all technologies these can vary tremendously, and the selection of the right light source is critical. Also, it doesn’t matter how efficient the luminaire is; if it’s on or not dimmed when it should be then you are wasting energy and sending out a very negative message about how you manage your building.
Also, it’s worth noting that Smart lighting systems can control or provide data to the Heating and Cooling systems so the convergence of technology can with right application start you on a journey to change each space one step at a time.
6. We underestimate the process. Like so many things in life when we start to look at changing anything within a building, we can sometimes not appreciate that a building is a lot of connected devices and sustained change cannot happen without a process or strategy that considers all of the pieces.
We must never fool ourselves into to believing this is a simple process, it’s far from that but with planning and commitment we can manage the transition.
7. We forget that failure is usually a given. We cannot always get it right and this is a reality. If we have undertaken our research and have worked with manageable bite size projects then if we should make a mistake, that failure will have a limited impact. If we go all in and we get it wrong, then the aftermath can be more significant. Never be afraid of failure as often the reason something fails is because of something that couldn’t have been predicted and if you have enough flexibility within your solution then changing and evolving your strategy to accommodate a problem would be reasonably straightforward.
Failure is a step to resolving a problem and not the end of the process.
8. We don’t make a commitment. This is perhaps one of the most important features of Smart building technology in that if we don’t make a commitment to change or develop a strategy for Commercial, Retail, Residential and Industrial spaces then we will never develop a truly cohesive approach to the Internet of Things. You need to firmly establish what you are going to do and over what time period.
Commitment is nothing new to big business as mission statement often outline the ethos of the business and in essence what we are trying to do here is take that statement to the next level and consider the wider impact on both the building users and the environment.
When I studied at University; it was a Poly when I started, I worked on motivational theory along with electronic manufacturing and part of that process was, what motivates us as individuals, and what motivates the business. They can be at odds with each other at times but increasingly companies have a more inclusive approach to their workforce and with standards such as the Well standard we are focusing more on the occupants and the impact that environment can have on their wellbeing.
In the lighting world we have had a major environmental bonus from the shift from Fluorescent, HID and Halogen to LED and this has seen lighting loads reduce dramatically , but it’s still inefficient if it’s on when it’s not needed or we don’t regulate to take the savings from daylight.
The matrix of smart and connected is an idea I have been working on for some time and tries to give a value to what benefits your business whilst not forgetting the needs of the user.
Many companies have their own interpretation of this, and I remember some of the major lighting groups having some interesting approaches that one could consider counter intuitive.
One such example was that of contrast ratio where a bright background such as a window may cause a shadow to fall on the face of the individual with their back to the window. Therefore, should you increase the light levels to light the face to balance the contrast or accept the energy saving from dimming the luminaires adjacent to the window. One improves the lit experience and the other is environmentally more acceptable.
The application plays such an important part in these discussions as does the prime focus of the business, so discussion and negotiation are key to developing a proper understanding of your needs.
Change is good if managed correctly and you have the right advice and appropriate support. Qualify and quantify any change and always look to the short, mid and long term aims of the business and accept that the needs of each will differ but the key elements and process should work across all three.
One thing is a certainty we are all moving forward, not necessarily at the same pace but with guidance we can all achieve an end goal that delivers a real benefit to all.
author: Stewart Langdown FSLL
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