Routines can absorb the most complex changes
When you break it down, brushing your teeth sounds like an impossible task:
- It costs money: you have to buy toothpaste when it runs out and a new toothbrush every three months
- It takes space: you have to find a place to store both in your bathroom
- It takes time, from the part of your day where you are the most rushed
- It's inconvenient: you have to get up a little earlier to work that additional step in your routine and not be late
- It has no immediate benefits
- It doesn't end, you have to continue for the rest of your life
On paper, it sounds like a no win situation. It can't work. It's not possible. I don't have the time, the space or the money to do this. Presented with this request we would turn it down.
And yet ... after we make it part of our routine we don't notice it any longer. The impossible has become an invisible habit.
There is an obvious lesson there for how we approach change ourselves, but it's even more useful for when we seek to change the way another department does things: change always seems like a bigger deal than it is. Breaking things down into small parts isn't always the way to make it more approachable.