When we hear the word “investment” we almost always relate it to a financial tool. While it’s true that almost anything can be monetized, the investment in PROI is of a different nature. PROI is about the investment of personal resources (i.e. time, emotion and effort) to realize a particular change. It doesn’t matter if the change is a personal change or if it’s an organizational change initiative. Either way, there is time invested in getting to understand the change and what it really means to you. There is also emotion invested in how you feel within the context of the change. Finally, there is effort invested in how much are you really giving to effectuate the change.
“What’s In It for me” is all about the realization of a PROI and then taking full advantage of the opportunity to reap the greatest personal benefit. When presented in a personal change context, the PROI is obvious (stronger health, better quality of life, lower insurance premiums, greater personal happiness, etc.). When presented in a business change context, discovery of the PROI is highly dependent on the skill and awareness of the change team. We’ll talk more about this later.
In both cases, without the people affected by the change realizing their respective PROI’s, the change will likely not be successful. The argument is therefore quite strong, that in this case, selfish can and does translate to the greater good. This is additional reinforcement of our concept of selfish altruism.
However, most of us aren’t wired to do things or accept immediate changes for some pie-in-the-sky promise of long-term benefits or distant intangible benefits. We are comfortable with the status-quo. We know it well and it knows us. It’s predictable and we don’t want to mess it up. And even if the status-quo isn’t exactly the best, it’s still “the devil we know.” So we certainly are not going to turn our world upside-down even though we know it may benefit us much later on. We are going to fight those changes for as hard and as long as possible. And even if we have to reluctantly accept it, we won’t really accept it. We’ll scheme and plot ways to subvert it.
When discussing the concept of resistance to change, there are two fantastic non-business examples to illustrate this concept: Stopping smoking and losing weight.
Most smokers know that smoking is unhealthy, expensive and will likely impact how long they live and their quality of life much later on. Despite the irrefutable scientific and medical evidence supporting this, none of that is important right now. Right now the cigarette provides comfort from the everyday stresses in the smoker’s life. For some it also provides extra breaks and perhaps a certain social credibility.
Many smokers have tried to stop but inevitably return to smoking again. Others simply can’t rationalize the future promise of better health if they have to give up what’s comfortable right now. Their response to our ever-increasing smokeless society is either one of resigning to the new realities or angrily protesting them. In this case, the smoker is aware of a long-term PROI, but doesn’t acknowledge a short-term PROI. In fact, the smoker might believe that there is a negative short-term PROI and will therefore increase his resistance to this change.
While there is the emotional consideration with smoking, there is also the physiological consideration. Nicotine is a drug and has addictive qualities to it. In many cases, it takes more than just the will and desire to stop smoking. With smoking cessation programs and related products, as well as other remedies, there are tools to slowly weaken and then break the addiction. Notwithstanding the physiological, the fact remains that mental and emotional resistance is the single biggest barrier to “kicking the habit.”
Losing weight is another example of making significant changes to the everyday life in return for distant benefits. Food is the ultimate comfort pill. If we are emotional, scared, angry, sad, happy, festive, etc., food helps all. What’s different about eating from smoking is that we must eat to live. We can’t just stop eating altogether without having serious health impacts or simply not living period.
Losing weight is really a subset of being healthy. But to lose weight and maintain the weight loss, one has to undergo at least two radical changes; a change of eating habits and an increase in activity levels. Both of these require commitment to realize and sustain the gains. So in reality, there are two changes necessary to realize the future benefits.
This is why losing weight is so difficult for so many people. This is also what’s made the reality weight loss television shows so popular. We see the hard work and dedication that the participants must give to lose weight and sustain. In some ways, we project ourselves to the show’s competitors but then when it comes to emulating those habits, we stop. “I can’t give up sweetened carbonated beverages.” “I can’t give up fried food or white bread or sugary treats.” “I can’t exercise vigorously once a week let alone twice or three times.” “I don’t have time.”
Every excuse in the book is used in an effort to resist changes that will help. Again, the over-weight person understands that there is a long-term PROI, but refuses to acknowledge a short-term PROI. In fact, this person believes that there is a negative short-term PROI and thus will either fight the change or only half-heartedly engage.
The real strength of PROI is in its immediate benefits. Find the immediate benefits (short-term PROI) and the resistance to change is significantly diminished.
The truth is that there are short-term PROI’s in both of these cases.
What are the short-term PROI’s?
For stopping smoking, there is the immediate money savings, especially with the current trend of increased taxes. There is also the end of smoker’s breath and smoker’s clothing. There is an immediate start to the recovery of the lungs and overall health.
For losing weight, there is the immediate feeling of more energy. People who feel more energetic are better able to do more things. With the reduction of sluggishness, there is also the short term benefit of looking better, which only increases as the pounds are shed. As we feel better, we convey a stronger sense of confidence which strangely enough manifests itself to external appearance. We feel better, therefore, we look better.
With the realization of immediate benefits and a strong support team of family and friends, there should be little resistance to at least attempting these healthy changes. So what are you waiting for?
Author: Moe Glenner