The Impact Of Habit For Business Innovation and Personal Growth

This article is written by Jannatul Tazreen

If there is one thing potent enough to dictate our every behaviour- it is our ’’habits’’ yes habits. Surprised! I was too when I was first discovering the power of habit on our behavioural change and business innovation.Especially by reading one book called ‘’the Power of Habit- by Charles Duhigg”. And I never looked at any activity or decision made around me the same way again.

  • What is Habit?

We have for long misconstrued habit as being merely our hobbies or minor personality nuances. But in reality it is a well established scientific concept that has a far greater impact on our behaviour and decisions made than we realise. According to many theorists habit can be defined as – a behavior pattern acquired by frequent repetition or physiologic exposure that shows itself in regularity or increased facility of performance.

or Simply put, habit is our repeated behaviour which becomes a part of our subconscious!

  • What is the formula of habit?

According to Duhigg and various research journals 40%-45% of our daily decisions are actually habits and not really decisions. There is a very simple base formula by which habit works to form and execute our personal and business decisions.

Example:
The Cue: the trigger for an automatic behaviour to start unfoldingIn the morning we feel our teeth are dirty
The Routine: the behaviour itselfWe Brush our teeth with toothpaste
The Reward: the feeling of satisfaction, which tells our brain whether we should store the habit in our brain.We feel clean and fresh in our mouth


….Now brushing our teeth is part of our daily habit!
  • How is habit related to business innovation?

Now you must be wondering what does a scientific concept associated with human psychology have anything to do with ’’Business Innovation’’? To answer that, look back at  the example of the pepsodent loop. It wasn’t always as simple. About a 100 years ago brushing teeth was not prevalent in America. But Claude C. Hopkins , an advertising executive changed that. ‘He made his name creating habits around products and making them Famous’ Duhigg said. He intuited the habit loop years before it was scientifically proven.He took a play on the habit loop which supported the lucrative business decisions to make toothpaste a part of the daily habit for the masses- sales soared- profit boomed- most importantly satisfied the customers.

All businesses run on their own ‘Hook Concept’- an elevated form of the habit loop.They achieve it by extensive market research on consumer habit and historical company data.

Starting from the gilded age, capitalism is a concept etched in most commercial businesses. But in the past decade , due to consumer awareness, backed by policy makers and further pushed by the UN SDG’s. Most business’ are facing an increasing pressure to hit triple bottom line, to retain market share and survive in the long run. Does this mean for profit , capitalist companies which have been the engine of economic growth for a nation will cease to exist?

The answer is NO! The best thing about the habit loop is , it is also about the adaptation of new routines for the old cue and the old reward. According to Rebecca Henderson, the author of ‘Reimagining Capitalism’, business should innovate to meet consumer demands.May be go a step further and play along the line of supply creates its own demand- just like the pepsodent loop, where you create a new habit for your consumers which is sustainable and capitalise on it. The transition will be difficult – just like breaking out of any old habit and slow but it is inevitable for surviving in the next decades.

Given the current situation with COVID-19 , we see the best example of how habit forms our behaviour both personally and in business context and how it is reimagined as well.

Change in habit is also necessary for businesses  to compete with the new wave of emerging businesses called the impact entrepreneurship,  where their concept or habit loop is to keep capitalism at the core of creating sustainable solutions.Who are supported by dynamic organisations like- The Hult Prize Foundation, Ashoka, Acumen Academy, Nasscom Garage  to name a few.

  • How Habit impacts personal growth?

Habit is more closely related to our personal growth (innovation) which will ultimately shape us as a professional. In my case, I have a broad habit loop supported by precise smaller habit loops. My first realisation of what I wanted to do in life happened when I started making positive use of the internet back in grade seven. I realised there is so much to be done to achieve social equity- and boom that was the cue for my broader habit loop- I wanted to work to bring transformational change in society. I supported that by forming many routines- I studied economics as my undergrad degree, became part of the largest academic student club in my country- The Young Economists Forum. Wrote numerous articles of different genres for its annual publication. 

But my greatest routine has been to be a part of the Hult Prize family. This organisation has not only mobilised millions of young changemakers around the globe through their flagship annual student learning platform called the OnCampus programs. But kept me on track with my habit loop. It helped me to explore my entrepreneurial stances when I participated as a competitor at the regionals, it helped me redefine my leadership qualities when I implemented the OnCampus programme for the first time in its actuality at North South University.Helped me connect with like minded people from all around the world. Allowed me to motivate 1000+ youth all over the country as a speaker and mentor in the cause of impact entrepreneurship.

And lastly where I worked- the largest NGO in the world, BRAC- based on whose findings Abhijjet Banerjee, Esther Duflo won Nobel Prize in economics.

You may ask, what is my reward? Well, it is the experiences which made me more driven to be the change I want to see in the world! So what are you waiting for? Like Aristotle said ‘Become the product of what you repeatedly do’.

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