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The Start of Something Really Small. How Small Steps Can Lead to Big Results, Better Outcomes, and Less Stress. WSHA Preparing for the Unexpected Conference May , 2014 Deanna Davis, PhD | Applied Insight, LLC. “When you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change.”

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The start of something really small

The Start of Something Really Small

How Small Steps Can Lead to Big Results, Better Outcomes, and Less Stress

WSHA Preparing for the Unexpected Conference

May, 2014

Deanna Davis, PhD | Applied Insight, LLC



Two small stories on one small step
Two Small Stories on One Small Step you look at change.”

One STEP at a time

One CHECK at a time


Innovation vs kaizen
Innovation vs. Kaizen you look at change.”

  • Innovation: drastic change leading to dramatic turnaround; the largest result in the smallest amount of time.

    • The “New Year’s Resolution” approach to behavior change.

  • Kaizen: Small, steady, comfortable steps toward lasting change.

    • The “Learning to Walk” approach to behavior change…accumulated progress.


How innovation can work
How Innovation Can Work you look at change.”

“A computer on every desk and in every home.”

1961: The dramatic and ambitious goal of sending an American safely to the moonbefore the end of the decade


And where it s not as effective
And Where It’s Not As Effective you look at change.”

“Hey, everyone…how about this…”


Change is well change
Change is…well… you look at change.”change

“All changes, even positive ones, are scary. Attempts to reach goals through radical or revolutionary means often fail because they heighten fear. But the small steps of kaizen disarm the brain’s fear response, stimulating rational thought and creative play.”

Robert Maurer, PhD

One Small Step Can Change Your Life


Why small steps work
Why Small Steps Work you look at change.”

  • Disarms fight or flight…

    the stealthy way around

  • Soothes the brain’s distress (something you CAN do, control)

  • We all have an inner drive to learn, create, contribute


How to foster drive
How to Foster DRIVE you look at change.”

  • Autonomy

  • Mastery

  • Purpose


More small reasons
More Small Reasons you look at change.”

  • Establishes competence, leads to confidence and primes future action

    • Neurons that fire together…

    • Where drugs in the workplace actually help

  • Sparks contagion

  • Creates a “virtuous cycle”


The start of something really small

Resources vs. Resourcefulness you look at change.”


Small step examples
Small Step Examples you look at change.”

  • We’re #7! (not for long)

  • A Penny for (big bucks)

  • Pull here (now and later)

  • A wrench in plans (in a good way)


Success with small steps
Success With Small Steps you look at change.”

  • Ask small questions

  • Take small steps

  • Repeat


1 ask small questions
1) ASK Small Questions you look at change.”


Why small questions
Why Small Questions? you look at change.”

  • The brain can’t ignore a question

  • Curiosity doesn’t judge or panic

  • Invitation vs. command

  • Questions create a game of creativity and possibility


What makes a good question
What Makes a Good Question? you look at change.”

  • What if…?

  • How could we…?

  • Who might know…?

  • What options do we have for…?

  • Where are there opportunities for…?

  • What small step could we take to…?


Small steps questions build on one another it s a simple as
Small Steps Questions build on one another. It’s a simple as…

  • What is the big vision we’re moving toward?

  • Why is this important to me/us?

  • How can I do to move toward this goal in

    • 2 minutes each day?

    • 30 minutes each week?

    • 1 hour each month?


After becomes the next before
After Becomes the Next Before as…

  • 5 things that worked

  • 5 things that could have worked better


2 take small steps
2 as…) TAKE SMALL STEPS


How to know it s small enough
How to Know It’s Small Enough as…

  • Start with “cannot fail” option if needed (absurdly small…even better)

  • Baby steps…literally

  • If a drop of water can do it, so can a drop of effort

  • “Well OF COURSE we can do THAT!”


Creating the sticky factor
Creating the “Sticky Factor” as…

"The specific quality that a message needs to be successful is the quality of 'stickiness.' Is the message-or the food, or the movie, or the product-memorable? Is it so memorable, in fact, that it can create change, that it can spur someone to action?"



But can small really work
But Can Small Really Work? as…

  • 15% to 5% with just one sign

  • $5/day, 5% cost reduction

  • 3 min/day, 60% morale improvement


High reliability organizations
“High Reliability Organizations” as…

  • The human factor…

  • Pay attention to small details, mistakes, opportunities early on so they can be fixed before bigger ones happen


The start of something really small

“It is better to take many small steps in the right direction than to make a great leap forward only to stumble backward.”

Chinese Proverb