From Routine to Habit

Tuesday, July 25 2023

Joe O’Neill – When speaking with entrepreneurs, the subject often turns to the things they need to do to successfully transition out of their business. Anecdotally, many private entrepreneurs are doing better at planning for this eventuality and are investing time into the process, moving from routine to habit. That’s encouraging!

From Routine to Habit

Many privately owned businesses lack standard operating procedures which often makes succession more challenging. Some follow routines, but evolving routine procedures into habits can be the key to laying the foundation for a successful transition.

As Kristi DePaul notes in a Harvard Review Article “What Does it Really Take to Build a New Habit”, a habit is a behaviour done with little or no thought. A routine on the other hand is generally a series of behaviours frequently and intentionally repeated. Turning those routines into habits can result in a huge pay off in maximizing value and creating a smooth transition.

So, how do we do it? First, there are no short cuts. Success will be measured in small steps. That’s because while a habit is usually enjoyable, say a nice dessert after a big meal, routines (laundry) seldom are. Recognizing this reality, the next step is to choose the routine you wish to turn into a habit carefully.

Develop a SMART* goal that is truly realistic and make certain those involved in succession understand and have agreed to it. For instance, first thing each workday, as a team, you walk the plant floor. Eyeball activity, then chat with the employees.

You meet as a management team every Wednesday at 3pm to review production numbers. The team takes turns bringing refreshments and treats. So, it becomes pleasurable, something the team looks forward to; a habit.

Create Habits

Work as a team to assess the things they need to do “habitually” to effectively manage the company. Develop the associated routines and as these routines slowly evolve into habits, they will become more meaningful and informative.

Finally, be patient with each other because this evolution will take time. It will lead up to beneficial habits that will enhance the value of the company and make succession a much less stressful experience.

*We define SMART as Specific, Measurable, Agreed upon, and Target date. Contact us to learn more about our different approach to turning routines into habits.