“As If” Systems

Humans adapt to their environment.

Environments are an ecosystem — a collection of interconnected and interdependent systems.

To get a result that you’ve never gotten before, you have two basic choices: change your behavior or change your environment.

After having worked with some clients who really resisted change, I started having them alter their environment.

I came to the realization that the RESULT was what was important, not the behavior change.

I had studied management theories, self help, books on goal setting, and more, and they all focus on changing the person. Looking back, the closest thing I’ve ever seen to getting results through environmental changes is in the diet and fitness world.

In the wellness industry, they realized that if people were having a hard time losing weight it was because they were eating poorly. A look into the fridge and pantry will highlight why. Many wellness instructors say “throw out all the junk food and don’t buy anymore.”

And it works. That junk food didn’t get there on its own. If you stop bringing it into your house, you won’t eat it. If you don’t eat it, you lose weight.

Trying to use will power to get a result only works temporarily unless you have enough determination to stick with it until it becomes a habit.

Few achieve habit status.

So what if you could get your desired result as if YOU changed?

Here’s a concrete example from a client.

He wasn’t following up with leads after initial contact. If they came back for a proposal, he would give them one. If they didn’t respond to the proposal then that was the end of the sales cycle.

He kept saying, “Yes, I know I need to follow up.” But he would only do so sporadically. When he did follow up, he would get results (i.e. new clients). You would think that the reward of getting new clients would spur a behavior shift. It didn’t.

So what we needed to do was introduce a better system into his environment.

First, I told him to set up automated follow-up. Never happened. The thought of setting up the system triggered other suboptimal behaviors.

So I escalated to “hire someone.”

This worked because he was already thinking of hiring another person for the company to handle workload so he just put that person in charge of making sure follow-up happened.

Now, every person in the sales cycle from lead to close to long-term follow-up gets the required attention necessary to turn more of them into customers.

My client didn’t change. He is still terrible at follow-up. But who cares? He and his company are getting the same result as if he had become good at follow-up.

Notice that As If Systems are different than Fake It Until You Make It.

Acting “as if” is about changing you. As If Systems change the environment so that you get the desired result. If you change in the process, and you most likely will since humans adapt to their environment, that’s simply a bonus benefit.

What results are you not getting?

What systems could be introduced into your environment (or subtracted from) that would give you the results?

Focus on the result systems and not behavior change.