Learn how to integrate behavior change into online learning with Chris Taylor from Actionable in this episode of the LMScast podcast hosted by Chris Badgett from LifterLMS. In this episode Chris and Chris talk a lot about learning, and more specifically about behavior change, because it’s not just about content.
One of the sayings on Actionable.co is, “Learning alone can’t create change.” And another saying Chris uses a lot at Actionable is, “Ideas are only valuable when applied.” Anything you actually need from a content standpoint is readily available online.
If you know what to seek, have the time to seek it, have the time to consume it, have the time to process that content, put it into your own context, and have the discipline and the systems to actually put it into practice, you can implement change with free content that’s available. The value in most programs is streamlined, curated content that empowers you in taking action to make the change happen in your life or business.
When we talk about learning alone not being enough to create change, it’s qualified by how you define learning. Content consumption, even content retention, doesn’t do anything. It’s the repeated application of the relevant elements of that content that actually leads to behavior change, which is ultimately what it’s all about. It’s about creating new habits. That’s how learning gets applied in the most meaningful, lasting ways.
There are different types of courses in the online course ecosystem. There are technical courses where the focus is implementing a technical process that you can apply and forget. Then there’s an adaptive style of course where the focus is on changing a core behavior.
A YouTube video focused around how to tie a tie is an example of a technical process where once you tie the tie, you don’t need to remember, since you can always reference the video. An adaptive style course may be a course on quitting smoking or losing weight.
To learn more about Chris Taylor, be sure to head to Actionable.co where Chris and his team do a lot of work looking at the science behind behavior change. Feel free to connect with Chris on LinkedIn as well.
And at LifterLMS.com you can learn more about new developments and how you can use LifterLMS to build online courses and membership sites. Subscribe to our newsletter for updates, developments, and future episodes of LMScast. If you like this episode of LMScast, you can browse more episodes here. Thank you for joining us!
Chris Badgett: You’ve come to the right place if you’re looking to create, launch, and scale a high value online training program. I’m your guide, Chris Badgett. I’m the co-founder of LifterLMS, the most powerful learning management system for WordPress. Stay to the end. I’ve got something special for you. Enjoy the show.
Hello, and welcome back to another episode of LMScast. I’m joined today by a special guest, Chris Taylor, from actionableconsultants.com. Welcome to the show, Chris.
Chris Taylor: Thanks. Thanks for having me. This is exciting.
Chris Badgett: We’re going to talk about learning, but specifically about behavior change, because it’s not just about the content. You have a saying on one of your websites which is, “Learning alone can’t create change.” So let’s unpack that, because the information is here. The information age is here. It’s been here for a while, but what do we need in addition to content to create lasting change in educational context?
Chris Taylor: Well, there’s the question that sets us up for an hour, Chris. I think that’s great. Yeah. So there’s another version of that expression that I’ve used for a long time, which is that ideas are only valuable when applied. I think and I have heard you say this as well, we’re information saturated, right? Anything you actually need from a content standpoint is pretty readily available. If you know what to seek, have the time to seek it, have the time to consume it, have the time to actually process that content, put it into your own context, and then have the discipline and the systems to actually put it into practice, which is a whole lot of ifs, right?
And it’s the idea. I talk to a lot of authors, and this is the conversation with authors too. There’s a whole lot of people that hear about the book, a very small percentage that buy it, a smaller percentage that just start it, and an infinitesimal percentage that actually finish the book and apply something from the book. And so I’ve been fixated on this concept for the last 12 years, is that it’s not just about knowledge consumption, it’s about what we do with that information. And that it’s typically better, more effective to consume less content, to actually have a sort of information diet if there’s a discipline and a focus around actually turning over some of those concepts and putting it into practice.
So when we talk about learning alone not being enough to create change, it’s about that. It’s depending on how you define learning, content consumption, even content retention, doesn’t do anything. It’s the repeated application of the relevant elements of that content that actually makes change happen. And by definition, leads to behavior change, which is ultimately what it’s all about. It’s about creating new habits. That’s how learning gets applied in the most meaningful, lasting ways.
Chris Badgett: That’s awesome. There’s a framework I use to help experts think through what type of course they’re building. One is called learn a process. Another one’s a case study course. Another one is a behavior change course. And another one is what I call a resource course. If we’re going to do a behavior change course or coaching program, or just learning experience online, let’s say it’s around… I mean, just throwing out some examples I’ve seen in our space. There’s the lose weight stuff. There’s the quit smoking stuff. There’s the make your relationship with your spouse better stuff. There’s the entrepreneur productivity stuff. If we’re doing a coaching program that maybe it includes some course content, what do we need to add to make behavior change happen as part of that transformation?
Chris Taylor: I appreciate the question. I think you hit on it right in the beginning about talking to different types of courses, right? And really, the tactical sort of technical courses versus adaptive courses where we actually need to get into changing some of our core behavior. And so often, just asking the question on the front end of, “What am I trying to do here? Is this a technical learning thing that I can apply and actually forget because it doesn’t matter? After I do it the one time, I can always come back to it.” Or is this a fundamental behavior component?”
And I want to unpack each of those or give a good example. My brother who’s an exceptionally educated, intelligent, he’s a veterinary surgeon, doesn’t know how to tie a tie, like a neck tie because he doesn’t have to. He wears a tie every once in a while. And when he does, he just pops up the two minute YouTube video that shows him how to do a Windsor knot and he’s done. And then he can forget it, right? That’s technical, right? I need it in that particular moment. I can watch them teach me how to do it, and then I can forget about it. I don’t need to develop a skill or a behavior around being an expert tie tier, right? So that’s technical. Adaptive, the examples that you gave around being a better spouse or losing weight or quitting smoking.
So often, the problem that we see out there is people do it, they have some quick wins, and then they slide and it falls back. And one of the reasons this is happening is because we’re treating an adaptive change, a behavior change, something that’s fundamentally different in their life forever if they apply it properly as a technical change, right? So it’s the, “I did the diet for a week. I treated it as that weekly activity, but I didn’t actually sink it into my core behavior.” And in order to move from the technical understanding to the adaptive change, we need to work through the behavior cycle. There’s different names for it depending whether you follow B. J. Fogg, or Charles Duhigg, or James Clear, or Michael Bungay Stanier, but they all talk about the habit loop, right?
We need to identify four things, and they are all equally important. We need a trigger for when the behavior is going to shift. We need to acknowledge the current habit, the thing that we do by default in our current sort of hard-wiring framework. We need the new habit. And there’s tips around how to actually make the new habit sticky and tangible. And then we need the reward. We need to be very clear on what that reward is. Not, “I get a cookie after I do this thing,” particularly if you’re doing the dieting one. But rather around, what’s the lasting benefit to me in doing this? And I think that last piece, I will pause for breath in a second, but I think that last piece around the reward often gets overlooked. It’s treated as my relationship will be better. Okay, but can we make that more discreet, more definite because it will help us identify the timeframe that it’s going to take to establish those lasting behaviors?
I think the challenge with quitting smoking or quitting drinking or anything that’s a bad habit, something that is ingrained from a dependency standpoint, it takes a lot longer than most people understand or expect to actually truly get that out of our core behavioral cycles. And so if we can identify the reward and stay anchored to the fact that that reward is, excuse me, something longer term, then I can acknowledge it’s going to take me a longer time to actually get there. Anyway, we can unpack all four of those pieces, but that’s sort of core to it.
Chris Badgett: Well, let’s look at the reward deeper. Let’s say we’re like a business coach and we’re helping people. Let’s just say we take the stance that getting up early is important. And getting a jump on your day before the demands of others surface or whatever, when you get up super early, and I’ve made this transition myself from being stressed out late night guy to more productive early morning guy, and I do believe there are some people out there that are meant to be night owls, I’m just not one of them. But anyways, when you first start getting up early, it’s painful like if you’re used to something else. So what is the reward in the early riser training context?
Chris Taylor: It’s going to be, obviously, a personal exploration of that. And I think if you’re a trainer or a coach, giving the time for people to find their own reason why is so critical. You and I, Chris could… because I’ve gone through the same and I slide from time to time, but I’ve gone through the same cycle of late night stress to early morning productivity. And so you and I could rattle off six or seven benefits to doing so. And I think it’s a good start. People can pull from that list, right?
But I forget. I’m going to get the phrasing wrong on this. But someone once told me that if you speak with enough conviction, you’ll be able to convince some of the people most of the time, or most of the people some of the time. If they tell themselves the same truth, they’ll convince themselves 100% of the time that that’s true, right? Again, it’s sort of a butchered… I’ll find the original. But it’s that piece around people need to find their own reason for doing it because if I’m being told that this is the benefit to it, as opposed to I can visualize and feel the benefit of it, it’s an extrinsic/intrinsic motivator, right? The extrinsic being people telling you why it’s going to be good versus intrinsic coming from within to say, “This is what actually drives me. This is why this is important to me.”
So I’m stepping around the issue a little bit, but identifying it for yourself is critical. What’s also really critical is… and there’s a lot of B. J. Fogg’s work, he wrote a book called Tiny Habits recently, which was simultaneously gratifying and also very frustrating because B. J. Fogg has been this well kept secret for us and others in the space for many years. He’s been doing work out of Stanford for 30 years on this stuff. And now he’s out there in the public universe. B. J. Fogg talks about the trigger, this step to identify newbie habits. A lot of people when they’re thinking about a morning wake up would say, “Well, when my alarm goes off at 5:30 or whatever time I’ve decided for, that’s the trigger.”
That’s actually not the most helpful trigger because if your current habit is going to sleep at one o’clock in the morning, setting a trigger based on 5:30 in morning is going to be… you’re setting yourself up for a lot of challenge, right? So what you actually want to do is look at the current behavior that you’re trying to curb. The current behavior you’re trying to curb is not sleeping in in the morning necessarily. That’s more of the byproduct of staying up too late the night before. And so the trigger should be at nine o’clock at night, instead of putting on Netflix or opening my cash flow spreadsheet or whatever the stressor is, I will turn off electronics as an example. So there’s a couple pieces in there, but the benefit needs to be personal. The trigger needs to go back to before the current habit that you’re trying to correct for. And when you can take those two pieces into effect, you’ve already taken some fairly major steps in creating the advantage for yourself.
Chris Badgett: Let’s unpack the reason you said which was intrinsic versus extrinsic motivation. So I look at people using our tool, LifterLMS. And some people are like, “Yeah, this is a program for my industry. They have this mandatory continuing education requirement.” So there’s extrinsic motivation like, “I have to do this to keep my job or to keep my license of whatever.” And then there’s the other people who are like it’s more intrinsic or coming from the inside where they’re like, “I just want to be a better version of myself. I want to have better relationships. I want to make more money.” Or, “I want to get healthy,” and they really want it from the inside. So that makes sense. If you want it from the inside, that’s what we want to hook into. But is there any hope for people designing extrinsic training to get people to change behavior or help them in the process?
Chris Taylor: Yeah, it’s a great question. It comes up for us all regularly with trainers or consultants we work with. Yeah, because your registration rates are going to be great when it’s extrinsically motivated, right? Your completion rates and even more so the application rates, if you’re measuring that, which is what we do, they’re going to be very, very low typically. But it comes back to that, my dodge of your question of what are the motivations or the drives on getting up early? If we can put that type of framing into the beginning of a core mandatory course and not just lip service, but give it a module. Give it a whole unit of time to actually let people sink into, “Yes, you were told to be here, right? You have to be here. Understood.” You’re going to invest some time in doing this, right? What do you want to get out of that time? Right?
If you can actually tie it to almost like a sunk cost bias of, “You’re in this. You need to be doing this stuff. So let’s make sure it’s worth it for you as possible. What are the motivations? What are the drivers behind doing this?” We see this all the time where the compliance was well intended originally, but it’s turned into this just dry as sin, sort of, “I have to sit through this thing.” Right? Now, again, the facilitator can make it more entertaining certainly and engaging. But the biggest drive you can have the biggest sort of raving fan creation is to help them anchor as early as possible to their why for applying these concepts. And remind them of that throughout the course. You don’t have to know what it is. You can just ask them to sort of recall throughout the course, why are we doing this? And how did what we just learned actually advance that, your personal drive? Right?
Not, how does this help you get your continuing education credit? Because doing it helps me get my continuing education credit, right? But if there’s a motivation behind it, and if we can’t help them find that at the beginning, if there is no intrinsic motivator, then it’s going to be the bare minimum to get the job done, right? Because we’re all too busy. We get too many things to do to be super excited about the thing that we were told to do that doesn’t actually mean anything to us.
Chris Badgett: I love that. I’m thinking about… I’ve seen people doing training in our tool where they’re doing training that people have to take because the court has ordered them to take it. But I can still see it. Let’s say, for example, it was like mandatory safety training because you got a DUI or something like that for whatever state, in that beginning of that course like, “Hey, look, I know you have to be here, you’re forced to be here, but there are some benefits to being a safe driver. Let’s dig in a little bit here.” That’s what you’re talking about, right?
Chris Taylor: That’s exactly it. Yeah. And if the court mandated it, and this is what I started to sort of go down this path is that whether it’s legislature or personal from a court standpoint, or whether it’s company mandatory training, there was, I believe, in almost all cases… Look, human beings by definition are not typically punitive, right? They’re not just saying, “Take this course because it’s going to be awful and painful and you don’t actually need this, but we’re going to force you to do it in a draconian…” There’s a motivation behind it that made sense. There’s a reason why this would be beneficial for you to know and apply.
That’s someone else’s decision that they’ve made for you and it’s good to share that so people can go, “Yeah, I agree with that.” And then it’s easy. But if I don’t necessarily agree with that, let me at least dig into it to understand exactly to your point, like, “What are the benefits of being a safe driver?” Maybe they actually go, “I don’t actually care about being a safe driver. I’m a wild child.” Okay, well, what are the benefits of having your license then? Right? And actually helping them dig into, “Well, you want to go on that date? Right? It’s probably helpful to not jump on a bicycle.” There’s something in most activity that… Well, I’ll put it a different way. If we expect to make any change in regards to anything, there needs to be some benefit to us. Otherwise, we’re not going to do it, right? We’re creatures of habit. We’re going to default back to our original status. The gain has to be greater than the current gain that we’re receiving from something else.
Chris Badgett: I love that. It’s almost a sales challenge. I’m thinking about real estate or medical continuing training license stuff. It’s almost like selling people on you’re helping somebody buy their very first home, which is going to dramatically impact their quality of life. Or in the healthcare context, this is super important. Other people’s lives are on the line. I mean, you can dig in and help… You can re-enroll, to use a sales term, get people really invested in the big picture of what they’re doing.
Chris Taylor: We work predominantly with facilitators and trainers in a corporate environment and they know this. I mean, they learned this. Otherwise, they’re not in business. That the person they sold to, that actually signed the contract and wrote the check is the first sale. But then the people in the room is absolutely the second sale, right? It’s almost more danger. You know that when you’re getting into a room of people that have to be there, right? But when people chose to be there, opted into the program, I see that actually is more sort of insidious from a risk standpoint because there can be an assumption on the part of the educator, the trainer, that, “Well, people chose to be here, so obviously, they have their motivations for being here.” Right?
But we forget that we’re busy people. And so the thing that we signed up for three months ago, we may not remember why we signed up for it, right? Or what it was that we were hoping to get out of it or our motivations may have changed. Or we may have had that like, “Yeah, I know, this is kind of important. So I should do it. But I haven’t crystallized my why.” Right? And we need that crystallized why. We needed to move from the intellectual, “Yeah, I get that I should be a better spouse because I should be a better spouse and divorce is expensive or whatever.” Right? Down into a place of, “Dude, I made commitments when I got married. On the day that I got married, I wrote those commitments out and I just dug them out and I found them. And this actually meant something once and I want to reconnect to that.” It’s so much deeper as a driver to push me through the inevitable distractions and completing that being a better spouse course that we’ve been talking about.
Chris Badgett: That’s awesome. Well, let’s talk a little bit about small in the role of behavior change. And this is something I can just straight up speak to from personal experience. And I know like James Clear in his book, he started talking about some of these. I started seeing more and more of this kind of thing. But I have this hugely elaborate four-hour morning routine that I do. I was up at 4:30 this morning. I mean, I went through it. I’ve been going through it for like 10 years. When I started, there are certain things like, “Yeah, I’m going to get the body moving every morning. I’m going to have water every morning first thing. I’m going to feed my brain, wake up my brain.”
So it started with a walk to the mailbox outside. So getting the sun and all that stuff, which is literally designed to wake you up, hydrating the body. And I’m a huge learner type person. So a podcast or audiobook for me is like a reward. And sometimes it might be like a YouTube thing that I’m interested in that I get to just wake up my brain. But those are all really small. Like this morning, I actually did… I think I walked six miles over a mountain. I record a video, whatever, but this is… I love it. But it all started with this super small commitment and lots of things like I meditate every day. And I’ve actually never grown it. It’s still a five-minute meditation, but it happens every single day. Can you talk about small versus these huge things like, “Oh, I’m going to go train for an Iron Man,” or, “I’m going to, I don’t know, go do this drastic change.” What are these micro commitments? I don’t know what the right words for this stuff is. What do you call this?
Chris Taylor: Every time a new book comes out, they’ve got a different term for it. But I like micro commitments. It’s fun. Yeah. So there’s a couple pieces I’m going to unpack in there. First of all, it’s the fact that we’re battling inertia, right? And not inertia in the fact that we’re not doing anything but inertia in the fact that we have sort of hard-wired patterns around the things that we do that our brains on autopilot most of the time. Right? if any of your listeners are into sort of neuroscience or psychology, you are literally carving pads in your brain as you repeat habits and behaviors. And anyone who doesn’t believe me, remember the last time you were in a car and you drove to the office. So think pre-March for those of us in Canada, and you had that… You get distracted thinking about something and then you were at home or you were at the office and you’ve lost track-
Chris Badgett: Autopilot.
Chris Taylor: Right. We do that 90% though it’s made up stat. But the vast majority of our lives is in autopilot. We’re saying the same things. We’re moving through patterns that we’ve pre-established. And so actually shifting those patterns is really, really hard because we are trying to overcome how our brain is already functioning to survive. That’s separate topic. The way that we do that is by identifying these tiny, tiny moments in time and these tiny, tiny shifts in behavior and noticing when they arise. And trying to create a little bit more space between input and reaction as the reticular activating system, how we actually process information and respond to it. We’re trying to just create a little bit of space so we can take a tiny pivot.
Chris Badgett: Hey, real quick, I heard a quote recently about… Are you still there, Chris?
Chris Taylor: I’m getting into shape, right?
Chris Badgett: Oh, there you are. Sorry, I froze for a second. Keep going. Keep going.
Chris Taylor: How far did I get to?
Chris Badgett: You were just talking about inserting something between stimulus and the response. And there’s a famous quote, I can’t remember who said it, is between stimulus and response, there’s a choice. But that’s super like, “All right, I’m more actualized to be in that mindset or whatever.” But that’s where you were. You were talking about that gap.
Chris Taylor: Great, perfect. So that gap and that choice are all very tiny. The smaller we can make them, the more likely it is that we will see it, create the space, and respond in a new way. And so like anything, tiny means precise. In order to actually manipulate at that level, you need to be very, very precise. And most people when they’re making commitments to new behaviors, I don’t call it that for starters. But it’s New Year’s Eve at two o’clock in the morning with a, “This is the year I’m getting in shape.” Right? Okay. So this is the year, not a particularly useful timeframe, that I’m getting in shape. Well, you’re already a shape. So what shape would you like to become that’s not your current shape?
There’s too much ambiguity in there. There’s too much vagueness. It’s too lofty. It’s too much. And when the alarm goes off at 4:30 in the morning, the last thing I’m trying to process is today the day of the year, what progress I’m going to make on that shape. So everything starts for tiny habits to borrow from B. J. Fogg. So the way that we do that, I talked about this earlier, but trigger, current habit, new habit, all three pieces are critically important. The trigger is something that is time based, location based, activity based, ideally a combination of them. Basically, it’s when I put my key in the door coming home at the end of the day, it’s something that I can viscerally connect with and it happens at that moment in time. At the end of the day, key in the door.
The more specific we can be on the trigger that we want to wake up, the stimulus and reaction, the more likely it is that our brain when we put the key in the door will go, “Wait a second, something was supposed to happen because I visualized that before.” Right? So trigger. Current habit is just the thing that naturally comes after. It doesn’t mean it’s a bad thing. It doesn’t mean we’re going to stop doing it. But it does mean that there’s something in there that we want to put the space between trigger and the current habit, insert new habit.
Chris Badgett: Let’s use an example of like, “Hey, I’m trying to be more present with my kids when I come home from work or whatever.” So we put the key in the door. Then maybe we’re used to just continuing on with our cell phone and not really being present or something.
Chris Taylor: For sure. I think that first step is acknowledging what you currently do, right? If normally I’m putting the key in while I’m looking at my phone, right?
Chris Badgett: We’re still talking to somebody at work or something.
Chris Taylor: Perfect, right? So it’s that. So when I put my key in the door, instead of carrying the day forward with me or that’s probably too vague, instead of continuing the work train of thought that I’m on, I will spend 15 seconds visualizing my kids upstairs or whatever, right? Now, what do we do there? 15 seconds. Ideally, we want something that is a minute or less that’s going to be the new behavior. And it should be something that is the smallest unit of the thing. What do I mean by that? When my alarm goes off first thing in the morning, instead of hitting the snooze, I will go for a run. That’s too big, right? You don’t go for a run when you first wake up, right? You get out of bed. You put on your shoes. You walk out the door. You stretch, whatever, before you actually go for a run.
Chris Badgett: For me it’s a glass of water. That’s the beginning. Just have it.
Chris Taylor: Beautiful. Beautiful. That’s the smallest unit, right? You’re not going to drink… I mean, you could go to a sip of water, but you’re probably okay with a glass of water. So that’s that new behavior, is something that is a minute or less, something that’s very concrete, and it’s the smallest unit because when you’re in the moment, it’s not the time to be trying to deconstruct the first step on the path to the thing you want to do. We’re basically trying to give ourselves cheat codes, right? We’re trying to set ourselves up. The glass of water is a really good example too where pour the glass of water the night before. I mean, you have the habit established but anything that we can do to make it easier so that when we wake up-
Chris Badgett: Well, I have tea too, and I have the water in the teapot is ready to go on the stove. I don’t have to put the water in. The press pot with the Yerba Mate is already ready to go.
Chris Taylor: Yeah. So you got this stuff down, Chris. And this is it. These are all the little tricks. And so when we want to build a four-hour morning routine, we don’t start with a four-hour morning routine. We start with I think your example of walking to the post office is great, right? That’s it. That’s all I’m committing to, is the walk to the post office. And if someone finds that too challenging, it’s putting your shoes by the door the night before and the commitment is, “I’m going to put on my shoes in the morning.” Because once you have on your running shoes, it’s ridiculous. It’s easier to just go than it is to not. Right?
Chris Badgett: Yeah. Well, let’s pivot to what if we’re no longer working on ourselves and we’re trying to create change for another person? How do we design… In the training world, some people call it instructional design or whatever. But how do we put behavior change components into our instructional design? And maybe we’re doing it in person. Maybe we’re doing it online or a hybrid of both? How do we design training programs with behavior change in mind?
Chris Taylor: This is my favorite question. So I’ll give you a tiny bit of context for the audience. So we work with trainers, consultants, facilitators, coaches to measure the behavior change that takes place at the end of a learning session. So that’s the work that we do, is help facilitators change when we’re onboarding new clients. We’re helping them understand how to work through this process of, how do you get people, your participants, into the headspace of lasting behavior change? And in our case, so that they can utilize the platform that we have to actually demonstrate the behavior change taking place?
So this is the space we come from and speaking about this, the royal we. So a couple things that we’ve learned the hard way over time. We’ve seen I think right about 30,000 or 40,000 participants that have gone through this process, and so we have a ton of data as well which is really fascinating to watch. So number one is it’s not a big reveal at the end of the program that they should be applying something after this, right? It sounds really obvious, but seeding it through the entire experience, if you’re running a modular program where people are consuming over multiple weeks, or all in one hit, the way that we’ve seen consultants do this really well, and again, personality dependent, is in the first five minutes saying, “So here we are, we’re together. You’ve invested time or money,” depending on what their relationship is. “I’m fully present. As the trainer, I’m going to show up, I’m going to teach you a bunch of stuff. You’re going to be inspired, you’re going to be educated, you’re going to have all this new information, and none of it’s going to be worth anything if you don’t put something into practice.”
That blunt call out at the beginning tends to wake people up. And so-
Chris Badgett: It’s not just edutainment. This is not a movie or a TV show, right? It’s that we’re going to do this together.
Chris Taylor: Yeah. Let that sink in with people, right? So there’s a couple different specific tactical points, but one of the mental shifts is I’m not here to tell you why you should shift your behaviors. Right? What I’m here to do is to nurture and says me as the trainer, I’m here to help you surface why this matters to you and to give you the tools to give you the best shot at creating lasting change. Or what we often refer to as leveling up, right? If you’re in video game lands, you’re actually becoming more advanced as a character.
Chris Badgett: Love that.
Chris Taylor: And I think it’s a really important distinction because we can’t make change happen for other people. We just can’t. It comes back to the extrinsic, intrinsic thing, right? It’s if people don’t have a strong enough why, they will not do it, right? So if we want to create lasting change, we need to help them find their reason why. And we need to give them the systems and the tools to help them actually make that behavior change last. So in sort of rapid fire succession, right at the front ends, help them clarify their why on each content piece that’s being delivered, giving them an opportunity to let it sink in, to what would it look like if I applied that thing? And how does that advance the reward or the benefit that I identified at the beginning? Constantly sinking back to the benefit, right? What was the reason for me?
At the end, I think every trainer worth their salt at the end of a session says, “All right, so identify your biggest takeaway and how you’re going to apply it.” Great, right? We may end up with a list of tasks, things that we need to do from a completion standpoint, taking some extra time at the end, 20 minutes, to actually have people… If it’s a synchronous session where you have multiple people together, have the discussion. If it’s asynchronous, give them time and exercise to do on their own, maybe ask them to submit the behavior shift that they want to make as a result of this. Educating them on the structure of a good commitment where it’s not about being a better spouse, right? It’s about when I arrive home at five o’clock, instead of continuing the workflow, I will take a minute to ask my wife, to make eye contact with my spouse and ask them how their day was.
Can be super small, and then it’s going to stack. But getting into a place of something really specific that has deep meaning from the beginning that I was reminded of throughout the course, that’s by far the most effective from a setup. And then the critical nature is around social support. We are social creatures as you and I were talking about before we started recording. We need people to understand what we’re trying to achieve and be there as a system and actually applying the change. To having an accountability buddy, someone that you state your commitment to and tell them what it was that you’re working on and why if it’s not too personal, right? And then checking in with them sporadically, asking them to check in with you every couple days. It’s the classic gym buddy thing, right? I’m much more likely to go to the gym or go for a run if I have that person that I’m doing it with.
And then a level of reflection along the way. Right? So we see there’s lots of streaks and other tools for completion of, “I did the thing today.” We go one layer further to, “How am I progressing with the thing today. One to 10, how do I feel I’m doing today and why?” Right? Again, we have a system for this, but you can do this on paper, right? Just capture every day that commitment that you made. When this happens instead of that, I will this, and here’s why. How’s it going today? Give yourself a score and actually write about why you put that score down. Magic things happen when you journal, and particularly if you share that journal with other people like your accountability buddy.
Chris Badgett: A question about metrics. I’ve actually put a lot of thought into this, and I’d love to hear your perspective on it that a training like a course or a membership or coaching program or something, it could have lots of metrics, but most training could have like one mega metric that’s the master metric to track progress and ultimately results too. What are your thoughts on that? Having a primary metric versus… You go to a doctor and you get, let’s say, some blood work, and there’s like all these markers of this and that and the other. So that’s lots of metrics where in some cases, if you’re in a business coaching program or something that it’s supposed to help you make more money, there’s really ultimately the yardstick of at least if it’s a growth thing, you got to look at your revenue or whatever. If we keep an eye on that, we can track our progress that everything’s working. Or if it’s a relationship course, on a scale of one to 10, how solid is your relationship with your spouse on a Likert scale?
That’s like a mega metric. And if you’re trying to lose weight, there’s kilograms or pounds or whatever. That’s a metric that we can track along the way and ultimately see what happened at the end. Does every training have a primary metric? Or is it more like the doctor where we got a hundred markers we’re going to look at?
Chris Taylor: Yeah. This is where I need more time, Chris. Yeah. Anything can be measured depending on how we’re choosing to quantify it. I think the challenge that we see is the distinction, and again, sort of that blending. We were talking about earlier between tactical and adaptive change, technical and adaptive change, it’s similar here where leading versus lagging indicators become an issue. So leading metrics, lagging metrics. For those who aren’t statisticians at home, basically, lagging being things like weight loss, things like revenue, it’s the later analysis-
Chris Badgett: Got to do some work up front to move those.
Chris Taylor: Right. Exactly. And one of the challenges that we see with learning programs, if you’re too quick to measure the lagging indicators, and then you go, “It didn’t work.”
Chris Badgett: Yeah, you’re actually like gaining muscle, but your waist’s not going down as an example. You’re actually doing good, you just don’t realize it.
Chris Taylor: Yeah, totally. I mean, you and I are in a program together. And the driver is revenue, right? And I could look at it and say, “In our first four months, we have not generated the revenue growth that I want to see as a trend line in the future.” But it’s because everything we’ve been doing has been foundational, and now we sort of see that pop, right? And so I think it’s so easy to confuse these two. And people give up too early because they’re focused on lagging indicator data, right? So I think your example with the blood test and all the different markers is actually more apt in those are leading indicators. Well, they could be both, but they’re lagging indicators for the lifestyle that you had before, but they’re leading indicators to heart attacks and other things.
I’d be looking at a broader swath of metrics as determining the efficacy, the impact of a program that I was taking as leading indicators, but have clarity on what is the lagging indicator that I’m attempting to impact and work backwards from that. We do this work predominately in the corporate space, right? You’re buying a leadership training program. Great. Why? It’s not just because your people have lots of time and don’t know what to do with it, or you’ve got lots of money that you just want to throw at stuff. There’s a business reason for it, right? And it’s amazing how difficult people find it to define that where they’ll say, “Well, it’s because we want better leaders.” Why? It’s like, “Well, because we want…” And maybe they get to a place of, “Well, our retention sucks. We’re losing really high caliber people because our leadership base isn’t very strong.”
Awesome. So retention is the issue. What’s that costing you? That’s that super metric, right? What’s the outcome that we’re trying to achieve? We take a step back and say, “What are the behaviors that need to shift for those leaders in order to make that business change happen?” Right? And then what’s the knowledge that we need to provide to them in order to give them the content and the motivation to want to shift to the behaviors that lead to that outcome?
So I actually think it’s… I see this too often where programs and courses get designed and then we’re trying to figure out what the desired impact is, right? So you start from the desired impact, figure out the behaviors you want shifted, then figure out the relevant content to actually get there through. So I believe that there’s the possibility of a single lagging indicator metric that will require certain behavioral inputs. So you want to measure that. And then because behavior change is messy and human, it’s not going to be declarative. “We’re at 42% of behavior change, Joe.” That doesn’t happen? Right? So we want to look at trends over time. How are people progressing? How do people around them think they’re progressing? That actually sort of starts to validate the behavior change impacting the lagging indicator.
Chris Badgett: That’s awesome. That’s awesome. Chris Taylor, he’s from actionableconsultants.com. Any final words for the people? And what’s the best way for people to connect with you?
Chris Taylor: Sure. Thanks, Chris. I have so much respect for the artists, the creators, your audience that are creating from a place of passion, good work to share with an audience of people that would benefit from that good work. I’d encourage those creators to… and you used the word before, to think beyond edutainment, right? And again, you likely are speaking to the audience. We need to help your audience see this is more than edutainment because what you have to offer can be life changing. It can be transformative. But people need the reminder of that, and they need the systems to help them make that change happen.
And if you can do that, if you can take your brilliance with your content and scale it from an impact standpoint beyond the video they consume, but into their day-to-day life, you’re changing lives. That’s pretty meaningful stuff. So I just want to share my respect for the work that your audience does. If anyone wants to reach out on any of this geeky stuff, I’m on LinkedIn. I’m Chris Taylor in Canada, and actionableconsultants.com, you can find me there.
Chris Badgett: Awesome, Chris. Well, thanks so much for coming on the show. I really enjoyed it.
Chris Taylor: That was a lot of fun. Thanks, Chris. I appreciate it.
Chris Badgett: And that’s a wrap for this episode of LMScast. Did you enjoy that episode? Tell your friends, and be sure to subscribe so you don’t miss the next episode. And I’ve got a gift for you over at lifterlms.com/gift. Go to lifterlms.com/gift. Keep learning, keep taking action, and I’ll see you in the next episode.