I got a Fitbit Force for Christmas from my mother (thanks Mom) and it has had the unfortunate side effect of making me obsessive about how active I am on a daily basis. As a proponent of metrics, I totally get how they can be used to change behaviour but until now, I didn’t realize just how powerful metrics could be.
First, for those of you who aren’t part to the latest tech rage of wearable technology, the Fitbit Force measures how many steps you take in a day, the amount of time you are active, your sleep patterns and a few other things. You wear one of their trackers (in my case like a watch) and it uploads your stats onto the web where you can see your results and track all sorts of other things. You can also link in friends who are wearing one and compete with them as well as earn badges (meh.)
Anyway, I stay fairly active running and cycling but I work out of my house so don’t walk around a lot getting to work or at work unless I am at a client’s for the day. Well much to my horror I discovered that I wasn’t reaching the daily goal of 10,000 steps that Fitbit prescribes. Neither was I racking up enough active minutes of flights of stairs. And to top it all off, my kids were more active than me and beating me hands down for top spot.
Well of course, that had to change. I immediately started walking more, even going out for purposeful walks during the day. I extended my runs and started focusing on how I could meet my step objectives for the day. It has even changed how I get around the city. Before I would get in my car to go see a client. Now where possible I walk to the subway and take public transit. (Those of you who know me know what a radical change this is.)
Last weekend I went to a movie on a Saturday night downtown and even took the subway to that so I could get in more steps. Tonight I will be walking to dinner with my Valentine (Happy Valentine’s Day by the way.)
The point of all this is that measuring my activity with the Fibit has changed my behaviour. My proposition in Leadership Development is that you can’t change behaviour or attitudes just by talking to people (and that’s the way most LD programs work.)
No, if you want to change behaviour, you have to define what success is by having measurable objectives. You have to report back regularly on results. You have to change your process just as I did with the Fitbit.
I didn’t start out trying to change my behaviour but those damn Fitbit Metrics managed to change them just by telling me how I was doing all the time.