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October 17th, 2022

Your Brain At Work LIVE – S7:E17 | Make it Stick Essentials of Sustainment

You’ve identified a need for change, have defined your key habits to build that change, and deployed a great change program. Now, what?

Join us to learn more about making change stick and the essentials of sustainment. In this episode, we’ll discuss what sustainment is, how to scale your sustainment efforts, and examine how clients have used sustainment to manage change over time.

Episode Transcript





[00:00:02] SW: Welcome back to Season 7, Episode 17 of Your Brain at Work Podcast. You’ve identified a need for change, have defined your key habits to build that change, and deployed a great change program. Now, what? Join us to learn more about making change stick and the essentials of sustainment. We’ll discuss what sustainment is, how to scale your sustainment efforts, and examine how clients have used sustainment to manage change over time. I’m Shelby Wilburn, and you’re listening to Your Brain at Work from the NeuroLeadership Institute.


We continue to draw episodes from our weekly webinar series. This week, our show was a conversation between Katherine Milan, Senior Vice President of Client Experience and Product at the NeuroLeadership Institute, Erin Wickham, Director of Client Experience at the NeuroLeadership Institute, Kristen Elstein, Director of Client Experience at the NeuroLeadership Institute, and Craig Sherman, Global Insight Design Manager at the NeuroLeadership Institute. Enjoy.




[00:01:06] SW: Welcome my name is Shelby Wilburn. If you didn’t catch that before. In this week’s episode, we are going to discuss how to start change movements and how to make them stick. Now, before we do that, we’re sending a big hello out to our audience today, our registered Zoom participants, as well as our friends streaming across our social platforms. For those of you that are regulars, it’s great to have you back and those of you that are new to Your Brain at Work Live, welcome to the party.


For some context, it is a title of one of the bestselling books by our CEO and co-founder Dr. David Rock, and it’s also the name of our blog, and podcast. So, let’s introduce our speakers for today. Our first guest holds a Master’s in Social Organizational Psychology from Columbia University, along with extensive experience designing and implementing custom programs for Global Fortune 500 companies. He has expertise in developing sustained behavior change across different modalities and varying topics including leadership development, performance management, and DE&I. Please join me in welcoming Global Insight Design Manager at NLI, Craig Sherman. Craig, it’s great to have you here today.


[00:02:12] CS: Hey, Shelby, thank you so much for the warm welcome. Excited to be here.


[00:02:15] SW: Wonderful. Our next guest partners with organizations to implement strategic initiatives for leadership transformation, culture change and diversity and inclusion. She has led large scale engagements with enterprises in the tech healthcare and media sectors. She holds a Master’s Degree in Industrial Organizational Psychology. Please join me in welcoming Director of Client Experience at NLI, Kristen Elstein. Kristen, it’s great to have you here this morning.


[00:02:40] KE: Hi, thank you so much for having me. Glad to be here with you all.


[00:02:44] SW: Thanks. Our next guest is fast approaching her seven-year anniversary at NLI. And in the duration of her time here has led strategic business development initiatives and previously spearheaded our annual summit five years in a row. Now, she uses her event experience to assist clients in manufacturing, oil and gas and tech to create innovative solutions for learning communications, engagement and sustainable behavior change. Please join me in welcoming Director of Client Experience at NLI, Erin Wickham. Erin, it’s great to have you here today.


[00:03:14] EW: Very excited to be here. Thank you, Shelby and hello to everyone.


[00:03:19] SW: Yes. And finally, our moderator for today is not only in charge of delivering NLI products and solutions to our clients, but continues leading the charge on sustainment support and measurement data. She lives and breathes the impact of our work on organizations and the people within them. In addition, she has all the qualifications, a Six Sigma Lean black belt, a scrum master and multiple ITIL certifications, just to name a few. When you partner with NLI, you are in the hands of a great team led by our Senior Vice President of Client Experience and Product, Katherine Milan. Thanks for joining us today, Katherine and passing it over to you.


[00:03:53] KM: Thanks, Shelby. Really glad to be here today. So, we’re so excited to talk to you all. As Shelby mentioned, we’ve been doing a lot of work thinking about extending the science of behavior change. So, at NLI, we’re all about large scale change. How do we create change? When we think about that, we really think about not delivering training, but starting movements. Creating movements is how we get to that large scale organizational wide shift.


So, we’re going to talk about sustainment today, but we’re really going to talk about it through the lens of starting large movements. We’ve got some examples to share with you all. As a behavior change organization, when we think about that, and we think about the neuroscience, we think about starting with the science of change at scale. That’s how we get movement started. We need to look at what is the science? What’s the way in which large scale change takes place? We start with the science.


Then, this is unique to NLI, as all these things are, we focus on giving a few things to everyone fast. So, a lot of ways that other organizations will try to enact large scale change initiatives is by focusing on a small group of people, usually people at the top, giving them a lot of really deep, really rich content, usually just all at once, and then expecting them to go out and kind of be change agents, create those shifts within their organizations. That is both very slow, it’s very restrictive, and when we look at what really works, we’re seeing that that’s not actually the best way to get to change especially not get to change quickly. It’s not the way to generate and create those movements.


Similarly, we focus on, as I said, work from the top. So, leader role modeling, we know that that’s crucial to any large organizational change. We’ve done some studies showing that a lot of large organizational change initiatives fail, because employees aren’t seeing their leaders role modeling new behaviors. So, we want to focus on that, but kind of linked to this idea of give a few things to everyone fast, versus giving a lot to just one small group of people. You want to focus on the top, but you want to also focus on support from below. How are you helping to get your large employee base? Behind this change behind the movement that you’re trying to create, right? It can’t just be top down pressure. It needs to be from the bottom up as well, right?


And then finally, how are you equipping people to actually act on the change that you’re looking for, right? And that’s through tools that nudge, remind, and prompt them to practice these habits. So, we focus on habit formation, if you want people to change, if you want to start a movement, you need to identify what are the crucial habits that people are going out and practicing every day that align with the vision that you’re seeing. Today, we’re going to really focus on following the science of behavior change at scale, and the tools that nudge, remind and prompt. We’re going to focus on those two aspects today. But again, when you’re looking at creating a movement, you really need to hit all four of these. 


So, I’m going to pass it over to Erin Wickham now to talk a little bit about how do we create change? What inhibits change? And how do we overcome that obstacle? So, Erin, over to you.


[00:07:33] EW: Thank you, Katherine. Hello, everyone. I’ll talk a little bit about the benchmark of where we’re starting today’s conversation, which is following the change at scale. As Katherine mentioned, in order to make the movement, this is step number one. Imagine for the sake of the next couple 30 minutes or so, that we are all employees at XYZ Corporation, the most creatively named company to ever exist in the world.


Once upon a time XYZ Corporation thrived on experimentation, they pushed a lot of boundaries. But as they grew and became more of an established company, it became harder and harder to try new things to cultivate fresh concepts and expand their market presence. The CEO was looking at the organization saying I really want to recapture that energy of the past, and we need a paradigm shift. We need to create or embrace an organizational growth mindset. But where do we start XYZ? How do we align our goals with our employee’s day to day experiences? How do we ensure confidence in the learning and then make space for everyone’s schedule not only to teach, but to practice and to guide habit formation? What if there was a treasure map that could lead us towards the perfect growth mindset culture?


Thankfully, NLI has just the treasure map. Our learning modality looks at three critical components for the need of scalable change. Their priorities, habits and systems, or as I will no doubt be calling them, PHS. So, the first step to creating lasting behavior change is to get people to want to intend to change their behavior. That early commitment to change is necessary for shifting cognitive and motivational resources like attention and effort toward a new behavior. With our habits, we want our behavior to occur automatically and become second nature. The only way to turn behaviors into habits is through the frequent practice. Our systems become the environment in the form of influential leaders, perceived incentives, and processes in the organization. And these systems can either reinforce or discourage the practice of the new behaviors that we want to become habits. If systems push against a desired habit, it’s very unlikely to form even with a successful learning initiative. Together, this three-pronged approach creates a coherent ecosystem for sustained change and we want to drive towards coherence, because if everything kind of fits together well, it makes it really easy for our brains to understand and then act upon what we’re learning and what we’re supposed to be practicing.


So, change and transformation efforts should really entail or result in people engaging in new ways of doing things. And those new ways of doing things are what become our behaviors. Hence, the first task is in the planning stage of the change initiative, and it should outline clearly what it is people will be doing differently and set that as a vision from the outset. The Y becomes our priority. This is the goal. The direction of change. In the case of our fictional organization in creating a growth mindset culture, this would include making growth mindset part of our mission statement or building it into our organizational goals. It’s encouraging executives to talk about growth mindset in small meetings, large meetings and facilitating that trickle-down communication through leaders and managers. It is creating goals that measure both the short and long-term success of growth mindset in action in the behaviors you do want to be seeing.


If we prioritize the messaging and create that buy in from the outset, it’s easier to create buzz, to create excitement around the change, and make people want to set that intention for change. A really good thing I like to do at the priorities pieces, as you’re identifying what you want to do differently, contrast that to the known behaviors that already exist internally. So, you can see a very clear we are here we want to be here.


In terms of creating habits, we want to create consistent routines done by many. So, this is setting a new pattern for behavior. Again, pretending we’re in our fictional company, the habits are going to become the trigger points for trying out that new behavior. It’s not only educating the team on what a growth mindset is, and how it exists at XYZ, but it’s then also encouraging each other to try it out. For example, if you’re in a team brainstorming session saying everyone in the meeting needs to submit five or more pitches, and there’s no limitations on how wacky that they can be. I want you to push your imagination to the limit. We can also create a challenge where we say in this meeting, every statement that is definitive should end with a yes, so that we can keep the opportunity open for a potential idea we hadn’t considered.


So, that would sound like we haven’t solved our customer retention issue yet. Or we can provide the safety for employees to experiment and share mistakes with one another to encourage that sense of safe risk taking. We can then ask them to share what they’ve learned from their experimentation or even mistakes in a social setting. We do that really well at NLI. We have a monthly meeting where we dedicate 10 minutes at the end of the meeting to sharing mistake of the month, where we say, “This is something I tried, or this is a mistake that I made, didn’t go to plan, but this is what I learned from it.” And as we create the social systems that support the habits, we’re more likely to model each other’s behavior and then feel comfortable trying it out ourselves.


A good thing to remember in the habits piece is to consider how your employees are engaging with each other already. I like to think about, are they communicating in Slack channels? Or do you notice that everyone kind of congregates in a central eating space around lunchtime? And how can you build in reinforcement and reminders and practice to things that are already existing, instead of looking at habits as an additive.


Finally, we’ll talk about the systems piece, which is the environment in which we want the change to get done. So, this is the facilitation, implementation and reinforcement of new habits. Systems become this unspoken structure that can really make or break the habits and behavior change that we’re looking for. If your systems are in direct opposition to what you want to change, you’re going to have friction and cognitive dissonance and you’re going to minimize the priority. Because people will run into a situation where they say, “I’m trying to practice a growth mindset. This process does not enable me to practice a growth mindset. Therefore, a growth mindset does not matter. And you’ll really stop the learning process in the future.


So, when we think about the systems, we want to think about the technology people are using, the review processes your employees are going through, or even what is going on in the calendar year within your organization. Do you have a big hiring influx in May? How can you make sure that you are attributing a growth mindset during that time? Maybe your company is going through a restructuring or you’re redeveloping your leadership framework and you need to make sure that growth mindset is present throughout all of that to create the through line.


We’ll go back to our pretend organization XYZ corps where we say, okay, we built the most successful, wonderful growth mindset culture. Employees are engaged, they’re practicing, they’re exciting. They’re excited about the momentum that they’ve experienced. And then real life comes in. We’ve all been there, fresh from a conference or retreat, bursting with new ideas and really wanting to practice and then it’s meetings and kids needing to be picked up from school. As the demand on our time increases the opportunity, we have to practice our new habits and behavior decreases. After a few months, you notice experimentation is dropped off, fixed mindset kind of creeps back into the organization, and you’re doing things the way you’ve always done them.


So, why does that happen? It’s because of the forgetting curve hypothesis, where if there’s no attempt to retain information, after 60 days, you’ll remember just 20% of a learning experience, which really reinforces what we were thinking about on paying attention in this webinar. Maybe it’ll lasts for an hour. But by next week, will I remember much about it? Unlikely. Unless you are making recall and practice easy and spaced out over time.


In Ebbinghaus’ research, he repeatedly shows us that when learning is chunked out over time, with the learner being asked to either remember, re-participate, or practice and what they have learned, the forgetting drops off significantly. The more this is done over time, the more the memory is strengthened. If done well and if you have chunked out learning, if you’re constantly reinforcing the learning, if you’re allowing time for people to practice, habits become our default under pressure. I’m going to use pressure very lightly here. Imagine pressure as you’re sitting in a meeting, you’re reviewing a project solution, you’re interviewing a new candidate, it’s not like you have to be in a growth mindset this second. It’s much more what are the day to day moments in your working life and even external to work where you can default to the desired behaviors.


So, the key is to make sure what is learned over time is not only readily available, but is also consistent in application. The big question being, how do we use these freshly developed habits in frequent and useful practice? The answer is by solving for sustainment. Over the last year, we have been working at an NLI to develop a sustainment toolkit which would support that extended learning over time. We did that by making sure we considered all facets of P, H, and S. So, encouraging continual learning, making sure there’s frequent and useful practice that is relevant to the day to day, to embed skills, and then prompting learners to consider a wider change.


Now, that I’ve gone through PHS, I will hand it back over to Katherine and we will debut the sustainment toolkit.


[00:17:39] KM: Thanks, Erin. Before we go to that, I had a question. I would love to hear, as we’re thinking about PHS, we’re thinking about what really trips up clients and working on the sustainment toolkit, what was the number one thing that we’ve learned from clients that you think kind of was brought to bear in the way that we’re thinking about making sustainment scale?


[00:18:03] EW: I think it really speaks to the H and S piece, that even our attendees today said that they struggled with. It’s having a vision outside of learning being a one and done situation. It’s really trying to push the thinking that learning is an experience, a continual experience that happens over time, and having a vision for how sustainment can support learning and being considered just as valuable a key, as the actual learning sessions themselves.


[00:18:32] KM: So, I’m going to pass it over to Craig Sherman now, our fabulous Global Insight Design Manager to talk to us about making sustainment scale. How are we scaling movements through the reinforcement of habits and continual practice? Craig?


[00:18:49] CS: Excellent. Thank you, Katherine. And that’s a great question, right? How do we make sustainment scale? Taking Erin’s example, imagine we are still the XYZ Corporation. We’re trying to make a movement. We need to reach as many people as possible within our organization. So, what do we turn to at this point to ensure that it’s scaling? The final part of making a movement stick is the tools, right? It’s not just any tools either. It’s tools that nudge, remind, and prompt participants to put their learnings into action. Because ultimately, a movement isn’t a movement if it peters out after that initial or core learning experience.


Here at NLI, we’ve met this challenge by developing the sustainment toolkit to have a series of tools that remind and prompt participants to engage in learning and habit activation. From here on out, as part of this webinar, we’ll dive into this toolkit. We’ll talk about how we developed and deploy it, to ensure that the habits we teach employees are sustained well after that initial learning experience. Now, the purpose of the toolkit is simple. It’s to reinforce participant learning and set up organizations for long term and lasting behavior change. It’s to fight that forgetting curve that we talked about at the start of the session. It’s our way for keeping momentum, sustaining momentum, and building on the momentum for the learning movement we started. The tools are designed to be flexible, adaptable. They can be used and deployed in the moment, as needed, or as part of maybe a longer term or more strategic planning engagement.


Now, I want to call out the reason that we’ve called it a toolkit and not just a tool. The reason for that is simple. There’s more than one item involved in this, with the idea of, we have a series of different items and different modalities that service different tools that lead to the sustainment of habits and learning in different ways. There are four key components of it. We’ll walk through them each one by one. We have the five-minute sustainment video, 12 nudges, 10 flashes of insight cards, and one sustainment stand up meeting guide.


We’ll start with the five-minute video. It has many purposes for which this can be used. It’s a multifaceted tool, if you will. One, it serves as a perfect recap or refresh of the core learning concepts of a particular solution. So, we’ll go over the main learning, concept or model that was part of the core learning as long as with those key habits and how participants can implement them.


Second, for anybody who didn’t go through the core learning experience, but should be informed that the learning, this can be shared as a video to kind of as a quick way for them to get up to date and aware of new habits, and then one of the other key call outs for this one is that it’s that unique video modality. So, it’s easy to share on your internal social media or message boards. By being a video, it distinguishes itself from the other tools in the toolkit. It can be used as both kind of a broader team viewing experience, or it’s more of an individual self-paced refresher as need be.


Beyond the video we also have a couple of other self-paced tools. We’ll start with nudges. Nudges are a series of PDFs that connect with a broader learning, and the specific habits within that learning. They are designed to of course, you can see it in the title, nudge participants to put their newly learned habits into action. In the sustainment toolkit, we have 12 nudges for each solution with each nudge connecting with a habit, as it associates with a different part of the employee lifecycle. This gives us and our partners the opportunity to deploy them in the moment, or strategically over the course of a year with the idea being there is 12, you strategically deploy them or one per month, from here on out.


So, the next time you have a new member joining a team, or you go through the interview process, you can send out the nudge that has to do with finding common ground with new team members or how to mitigate bias during the interview process. Each nudge, as mentioned, is designed with a couple of different aspects in mind. Now, the way these are designed is there’s a couple of different sections within them and I’ll talk about each one at a very, very high level.


First is the intro and it’s created to specifically to grab participants attention. It’s made to go beyond corporate speak and stand out from kind of the constant communication that participants, employees, people leaders traditionally receive. It’s mainly a scenario or an interesting analogy that connects a real-life situation with a habit that participants has learned. To take a closer look from there, we have a call to action piece, where once again, you guessed it. We know its participants to put their habits into action. Now, this can be through interactivity, it can be by asking participants to take a certain action going forward, it can be through tips and tricks that participants learned during the core learning experience, all with the goal of nudging participants to take the habit that they’ve just learned and actually implement it into their day to day. So, it goes beyond awareness and moves them into that habit activation stage.


And then the nudge at the very end ends through pause and reflect questions. These are made for participants to reflect on the topic in new and interesting ways. They serve as kind of tangential to the core of the nudge itself, but give participants an opportunity to pause, reflect and generate their new insights. Now, these nudges are great because they can be used dynamically in the moment, and then once again, because there are 12, it makes for a really nice synergy with creating sustainment that lasts throughout a year.


The next tool we have that as part of the toolkit is that flashes of insights. Now, here we have 10 conversation cards per solution that are meant to engage leader to team or peer to peer discussion around the concepts, models and habits that are discussed as part of the core learning experience. The goal is to make learning interactive and social, prompting discussion and maximizing stickiness. It’s a wonderful way to engage in bite-sized learning. People can use these cards as part of a larger meeting, or just one card if all they have time for is a five-minute discussion. So, there’s a lot of flexibility and adaptability built into these.


Now, we’ve all seen conversation cards before. What separates these is they’re designed with a twist. Instead of just being a digital card with a prompt or two, we have four different categories for which our cards fall into. Those four different categories or test your knowledge, choose your own adventure, now and later, and practice makes perfect. Each card’s front has unique engagement in one of these four categories. On the screen, you can see test your knowledge now and later, and choose your adventure. Through this peer or team lead will kind of read the prompt on the front and have participants engage in either answering the question, performing an action or choosing their own adventure. Once that’s occurred, we then flip to the back of the card through interactivity, which is where the discussion prompts are displayed. This is where kind of everyone engages in social learning, through that peer to peer or team to employee discussion, all meant to generate new insights about the core learning concepts and habits that participants learned about during their core learning experience.


Now, this isn’t the only tool that engages participants in social learning. To discuss the sustainment standup, I’ll pass it over to Kristen.


[00:25:24] KE: Thanks, Craig. I’m really excited to talk to you about the last tool, the sustainment stand up. So, this is designed to help facilitate 3 15-minute conversations around the behaviors. Since it’s a shorter discussion, it can be carved into at the beginning or end of an existing meeting. It doesn’t have to feel like it’s just another thing. You can fold it into an existing process.


So, let me show you an example from grow. It’s team application, individual application, and it ends with a commitment to action. So, this structure gives participants the chance to generate new insights and also creates accountability. It’s a really great way to keep the learning top of mind, there will be brainstorming, and also talking about operationalize it. So, that systems piece comes in as well, and talk about ways to improve, and again, we’re making it social. Back over to you, Katherine.


[00:26:13] KM: Great, thanks, Kristen. All three of you work with our clients, day in day out. And the sustainment toolkit is awesome. I think making something standard, that’s easy to scale, huge leap forward, not something that a lot of organizations are making available, and we have a sustainment toolkit available that pairs with each one of our standard solutions. At the same time, we know that every client is unique. Everyone has different audiences, different ways that their populations like to consume content, different things that are important to them, different ways that initiatives kind of connect into larger organizational goals.


So, I was wondering if you all could share a bit about how are you seeing clients personalize use of the sustainment toolkit overall? Erin, maybe, starting with you.


[00:27:06] EW: Yeah, this is actually my favorite part of the sustainment toolkit is the adaptability. As mentioned, when introduced, I work with a lot of oil and gas, a lot of manufacturing clients, and they don’t necessarily have wired employees who can download a PDF, and use it in the moment. So, we have spent a lot of time working on how do we take the sustainment toolkit out of the computer and put it into the environment. Some of the things that we’ve done is, because they’re all PDFs, and they can be printed, we’ve turned the nudges into blow up posters that then get put into a breakout room. I have seen some of the sustainment flashes of insight turned into Cahoots or little quizzes that are just pushed through an employee’s device if they have one, and that’s a quick little engagement for them to use if they’re out in the field.


Then with the sustainment standups, it’s been really easy to kind of build those into a shift meeting. Or if you only have five minutes to bring everyone off the floor and talk about something quickly, it’s a really easy way to do that in something that already exists. Those are a couple of examples.


[00:28:12] KM: Awesome. Thanks, Erin. Kristen or Craig, anything to add to that? Other interesting things you’ve seen clients do with the toolkit?


[00:28:19] CS: Yeah, for sure. I’ll jump in here. When it comes to the flashes of insight, we’ve seen clients print those out and laminate them, and make them actual individual conversation cards that exists within a break room or a lunch setting somewhere that employees are consistently in, where they can kind of take the time to engage in these bite-sized conversations. We’ve also seen them printed out and put us pocket cards, so things that participants can put in their wallets or things like that, pull out when they’re ready to have a conversation.


[00:28:42] KM: Great. Thanks, Craig. So, at NLI, one of the core components that we always look to when we’re thinking about creating products that help you know, establish and help clients see large scale organization change, help them in their furtherance of movements. What are they looking to accomplish as an organization? Is it create a growth mindset culture? Is it really having all of their employees be DNI advocates? Things like that. How are you making sure that what you’re doing is effective? How do you know that it’s working? Kristen, I’d love to hand it over to you now to talk about measuring impact, and especially looking at how are we seeing behavior change, behavior change over an extended period of time? How are we gathering kind of longitudinal data to make sure that what we’re doing is actually effective?


[00:29:36] KE: Absolutely. So, I’m going to talk to you all about a new measurement offering it at NLI, the Behavior Change Pulse. It’s a short five items survey that can be deployed 3, 6, 9 or even 12 months after a learning of the intervention or all of the above. The goal is to assess three key areas, so how well the habits are being sustained, where employees are applying the habits, and what additional support employees need to further embed the habits.


So, I’m going to share results from two clients that have set to shift towards a growth mindset culture, starting with Lockheed Martin. If you’re a regular viewer, you might have seen us debut the Lockheed Martin results, but we’re going to talk a little bit more about them today. So, Lockheed Martin set out to encourage growth mindset and create environments where feedback and learning occurs, create a common language, and make growth mindset a common practice by making it pragmatic, simple and easy to apply. The results are really, really strong. They were assessed two weeks after the learning intervention, and you’ll see here what we call BCP. So, that is behavior change percentage. To do that, we look at the proportion of participants who are using a given behavior at least once in the last week. 


So, we were particularly excited to see that 95% BCP, for learners discussing growth mindset with others at least once per week. But all of these are really, really solid. So, this is encouraging data, but it was collected two weeks after the learning intervention. We were curious how well it was sustained later on. We went in and did a poll six months later. The results remained really strong. So, we were able to compare the results longitudinally between the two weeks after and the six-month pulse. We saw here that 91% are still sharing mistakes and learnings with others, and 86% are discussing growth mindset weekly.


This tells us that the common language around growth mindset is sticking. Right? We can attribute these strong sustainment results to Lockheed’s teams, the Lockheed teams planning. So, it was a really, really strong team. They had a strong executive spot sponsorship, which really got at the P, in PHS. And so, people in the leadership team really prioritize making growth mindset a movement, where they kept the conversation going through coffee house chats, and a podcast series, and kept drawing learners in through a well-structured social media campaign to keep the learning alive.


Let me tell you about one more case where we deployed a pulse survey and this is the Waters Corporation. So, really great client. They are a life sciences organization and they set out also to do grow. Now, we work with a smaller cohort in this case. So, this doesn’t just have to be with a large organization or a large rollout. Their goals were to socialize the language and best practices around growth mindset, and to improve overall leadership capabilities. The results they had after two weeks are really, really strong, particularly in that 94% BCP shifting from a fixed to a growth mindset at least once per week. So, we were really pleased to see this, but we wanted to see a little later on how well this was sticking as well. We did a pulse three months later, in this case.


So, three months later, we saw the first two BCP items remain especially strong, right? Again, we’re looking at 91%, sharing mistakes and learnings with others. The results also identified that there is an opportunity for more dedicated forums for learners to discuss growth mindset, and practice experimentation. Overall, really consistent results with a little bit more opportunity for discussing growth mindset and making that language social.


[00:33:30] KM: Thanks, Kristen. Yeah, these are really impressive, really encouraging results, and I want to dig into something that you touched on at the end there, which is, how is the Behavior Change Pulse able to be useful to practitioners in thinking about, okay, what do I need to go do now? What should I be doing more of? Where do I need to refocus my efforts? Beyond just seeing, yes, people are practicing the habits and how frequently, what other insights could practitioners glean from the pulse?


[00:34:02] KE: Great question, because this is a pulse. So, we wanted to keep it really short. But there are two other key questions that we ask here, which is where are you applying what you’ve learned? And in what ways can your learning be better supported? And so, we wanted to ask those because we wanted to see, first of all, where is this sticking? Where is this working? In what processes? Is it team meetings? Is it one on ones? Is it in solving problems? Where is there some room to refocus or to create nudges or deploy other interventions? And then, by asking people just outright, how can your learning be better supported? Practitioners have information about what they can do about it. Is it sending out more communications? Is it encouraging leaders to do more role modeling of the behaviors and using the language more? Is it carving out time to practice a dedicated opportunity to practice? We love to hear that learners are actually asking for more time to get together and learn. And so, in that case, we could then go in and use the sustainment stand up, or even scheduled an insight refresh session.


[00:35:06] KM: It’s great. Thanks, Kristen. So, I was wondering, Kristen, if you could address, this question, maybe. So, what kind of response rates did they see on the Lockheed and the grow surveys in terms of getting those responses from the behavior change assessment and the pulse?


[00:35:26] KE: Yeah, absolutely. Lockheed that a really great response rate. The number of responses actually increased from the initial, from the behavior change survey two weeks after, and through the six months afterwards. Initially 365 responses, so really, really high-end sides. And then for the pulse, and we attribute this to being, it’s such a quick survey, it’s really easy for learners to complete, 571 responses. And for Waters, it was a smaller group, it was 40 participants, so just one cohort, but they got 33 of their 40 people to respond to the behavior change assessment two weeks after, and then 32 of them to respond to the pulse. So really consistent.


[00:36:11] KM: That’s great. Wow, yeah, so Lockheed actually had more people respond to the pulse than to the behavior change assessment. That’s really interesting. Okay. Just kind of putting on my measurement team hat, I’ll say there that in general, in terms of response rates to surveys, there’s a lot of variations. There’s a lot that you can go out and read about what is a good survey response rate, and it varies based on what you’re asking.


So, for example, general employee engagement, or employee experience surveys, people tell you that you want to try and target around 80%, 85%. When you see much higher than that, especially when you get into the 95%, that’s actually bad. Because it means that either your company is forcing people to complete a survey when those types of surveys shouldn’t be mandatory, or people are so upset, that they are really eager for a chance to provide feedback, because what we know is that what we tend to see in terms of survey completion, in general, so not the behavior change assessment, but just general kind of the way that people interact with surveys as they complete surveys when they’re very, very happy, or when they’re very, very upset.


For the types of surveys that we deploy, so looking at actual behavior change, we like to target something more around a 40% to 60%, or 70% completion rate. And the variation there really just has to do with how many people are you launching to what Erin and Craig have been discussing? How are you creating that movement? The importance that you’re putting on it. But since we believe very strongly that training should be compelling, not mandatory, and the types of questions that we’re asking, our response rates tend to be a bit different than what you would expect from something like an employee engagement survey. Thanks for that question.


We have another one here. What’s your recommendation on how to send nudges to end users? How do you measure engagement nudges given an environment where end users have email fatigue, or avoid reading them? So, Erin and Craig, I would love to hear your thoughts on that, and Kristen, as well.


[00:38:21] EW: For sure, I can probably take the sharing, and then maybe Craig, you can take email fatigue. But the best part about the nudge is the adaptability. So, it could be you send it just an email body as a PDF, that’s all that it is. You link it out to an LMS. I have a client right now who linked all the nudges to an LMS. They have a little prompt to go view it and then they actually have like KPI targets on the nudge itself. So, you can see if people clicked, or some of the nudges are interactive with forms that you can fill out or they link out to additional resources. So, you can set those as targets for engagement.


[00:38:58] CS: Excellent. And I can jump in and talk about kind of how you break through that static and ensure that participants are kind of engaging with the nudge, whether they have email fatigue, or not. One of the key things we do and I kind of spoke about it a little bit at the start was kind of the key hook or the introduction of the nudge, is using language that separates it from traditional corporate speak. So, I know we kind of briefly went through an example but at a high level, they really try and tie in experiences from outside work. Using the concept of analogies and things like that to really gather the participant’s attention. One of the creative ways you can even make that shines through to ensure that participants are actually reading the nudge is to include that in the subject line of the email that you send out. Something that’s different from what participants normally see in terms of their email, enabling them to click on it, and we feel confident that once they click on it, and they start reading it, the hook is so unique and different than what they read otherwise, that they’ll stick with it, they’ll get to the call to action, and they’ll end up being nudged to obviously put their behavior in action.


[00:39:55] EW: To that point, even the one we shared saying, I tried something new yesterday, if that was your email subject line, but I don’t know in the number of emails I’ve received with that kind of subject line before. So, it has an almost like instantaneous emotional response that we’ve tried to be intentionally provocative about to get that attention.


[00:40:13] KM: Yeah, I think every client that I’ve shared the nudges with has made some comment about, like, “Oh, these are really fun, or they’re funny, or they’re different”, that they’re not designed to be just informational, i.e. dry, right? They’re very kind of interesting and put, like a different spin on things, are those self-report numbers. So, just to share there, the results that we looked at from Lockheed and Waters are self-report numbers. But we do have what we call a direct report or a colleague survey, where we ask people to share what they’re seeing their managers or colleagues, we’ve been through an initiative to do differently. So, we are getting kind of a 360 view there, which is really nice. So, it is self-report, plus a bit more there.


Another interesting question coming in, what do you see as most effective and the upfront overcoming of initial employee’s cynicism about change initiatives based on past experience? When I talk to clients about this, I like to talk about how do we get over the HR flavor of the month kind of cynicism? So, Kristen, I see you smiling. I’m going to maybe go to you first and then we’d love to hear from Erin.


[00:41:25] KE: Yeah, I would just start off with the HR flavor of the month. Find ways to get it out of HR, right? Find your allies and your champions that are in the business. You really have to design a strong what’s in it for me, for people. So, what’s in it for me for the executive sponsor? What’s in it for me for the business? And what’s in it for me for the individual? If you can make that clear, and get people in the business on board, also, it’s not an HR initiative, right? It’s going to enable us to do all the other things that we set out to do.


[00:41:53] KM: Erin or Craig, anything to add?


[00:41:56] EW: Yeah, I 100% would agree with that. Get it out of HR. Make it very clear to the end user what they’re getting out of it. I always like to tell my clients, I am the cynic in the room and that’s why I was so excited about designing, helping design the sustainment toolkit, because it was like, “Okay, if I’m the one I’m trying to market to, and I think it might all be bunk, then like, how do I reach myself? And how do we come at it with that viewpoint of using what we know and the science and the research to really capture those who may be somewhat resistant?”


I think another part of that, in terms of getting it out of HR is just making it more fun, making it adaptable, making it fit the environment that exists. If you are not an LMS organization, and you do everything in person, and you want to create some kind of retreat, and build on a lot of social learning, and do what works for your audience, and be honest about what works for your audience. If your audience likes a park and bark, they just like to sit and learn and take notes, then do that. But being aware of and then like gently pushing against the boundaries that exist, I think are going to make it more engaging for your participants.


[00:43:04] KM: Yeah, and I think that really gets to the heart of it again, making things compelling, not mandatory. That it’s always easier when you can do something that people want to be a part of, right? When we’re creating movements, we need people to get behind them and support them. It’s been fabulous hearing from you all today about what does this look like in terms of sustainment. How are we creating these large scale organizational changes. So, thank you so much for taking the time. I really appreciate that. I will hand it back over to Shelby now with a few announcements. Thanks.


[00:43:39] SW: Amazing. Wonderful. Thank you, team, for today’s discussion. It was so insightful. Our hybrid survey. So, the hybrid work saga is continuing for leaders and teams around the world and we want to put a fun spin on that and invite you to join in on analyze research. So, here’s how. Visit surveymonkey.com/r/hybridnext. Insider exchange, specifically for senior executives. If you enjoy Your Brain at Work Live, we think you’ll really love the insider program. We invite you to join this exclusive opportunity where you can sit and have roundtable discussions with our leaders and get a first look at new research and insights that are coming from NLI.


We’re hiring. So, if you’re interested in joining our team and being with us, visit neuroleadership.com/careers to learn more about our open positions. Just to plant the seed and put it on your mind, Summit 2023, we’re already jumping into working on that for next year. So, be on the lookout for new information later this year. And then our podcast. If you enjoyed today’s conversation, you’ll love the podcast shows, so make sure that you subscribe. You can check it out wherever you get your podcasts on demand.


This is where we officially say farewell. So, on behalf of today’s guests, and our NLI team behind the scenes, thank you so much for joining us and we hope to see you when we return next week. Have a great week and weekend. 




[00:44:58] SW: Your Brain at Work is produced by the NeuroLeadership Institute. You can help us make organizations more human by rating, reviewing and subscribing wherever you listen to your podcast. Our producers are Matt Holidack, Mary Kelly, and me, Shelby Wilburn. Original music is by Grant Zubritsky, and logo design is by Catch Wear. Thanks for joining us.



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