What are your organizational habits?

Your brain forms habits to make your life easier. Instead of thinking about every little detail involved with, say, washing your hands, you develop a cue-routine-reward loop. It's basically your autopilot.

Your organization forms habits this same way. Over time, both intentional and situational processes become habits. Once they are set, they are very difficult to change because they create paradigms. Over time, people within the organization lose sight of why they are doing something. It just is the way they've always done it.

Are you a leader?

When is the last time you stopped to pay attention to your habits and your organization's habits? What areas are you operating on autopilot? Is it helping you?

For example the problem with preventative maintenance work in the facilities maintenance industry is caused by a bad habit that spans our entire industry. Facilities managers habitually focus on reactive, urgent work. Facilities maintenance departments remain in reactive mode because they are failing to innovate around preventative maintenance. 

Good habit today. Bad habit tomorrow.

I believe in continuing to do the things that got you where you are. However, this is not always applicable when it comes to habits. You need to prune the habits that keep you from what you want to achieve. What started out as a necessary process-turned-habit in the early days of your organization, doesn't always scale for your future goals.

Map out new habits, and build them over time.

We work with a lot of companies who are putting together or formalizing their facilities maintenance programs for the first time. One of the biggest mistakes they have made when trying to do this on their own is trying to do too much at once.

Change is very hard, and you should break it out into steps based on achievability and importance to the over all goal.

When it comes to putting together a facilities maintenance program for the first time, step one is always getting a handle on what is going on. This means we are building a new habit around how facilities maintenance information flows and is tracked within the organization. Later on, we fine tune vendor networks, raise service level expectations, analyze data to find savings and efficiencies, etc. We would fail if we did all of this at one time.

Prune old habits. Define new ones. Repeat.

As a leader you should be paying attention to your organization's habits. Identify the ones that are holding you back, and work to replace them with new habits that will take your organization where you want it to go.