Addressing The Most Common Blocker In Stand-Ups // No Time or Motivation

drawing of busy people working on lots of tasks

Post created by Sara Slone
Applied IMC (Winter 2023)

Stand ups are a shorter meeting traditionally held every day within a team as a sort of personal progress check in. In these meetings everyone shares their progress from yesterday, what they plan to do that day, and what their blockers are. After being introduced to stand ups last quarter and participating in these short meetings almost every day this quarter, there are two things that consistently pop up: there is not enough time to get things done, and motivation is slipping. There is a positive here- team members are comfortable enough to be transparent about their blockers, but how do you help your team members move forward from this? Let’s take a peek at the Fogg Behavior Model (FBM) to understand how to break down our behavior and create a system that doesn’t rely on intrinsic motivation.

What Is the Fogg Behavior Model

The FBM shows that three elements must converge at the same moment for a particular behavior to occur: 

  1. Motivation // want to 
  2. Ability // how to 
  3. Trigger // remember to

When a behavior does not occur, at least one of those three elements is missing. The Fogg Behavior Model (FBM) makes it easier to understand our behavior in general by showing that these three elements must converge to cause an action. 

How to use FBM to Keep Your Team On Track 

After looking over this, it's pretty clear that motivation by itself is not a reliable way to get things done. The key to triggering a behavior is to make sure all three elements are working together, Motivation + Ability + Trigger = Behavior. The way you can use this model to help your team stay on track is to build up each of these three things with systems thinking. Systems thinking is the process of breaking down a whole into many parts for a holistic point of view as oppose to a silo point of view.Here we have to understand that systems don’t work unless you shape them to work for you, so next we are going to break down how a system might look within the three elements motivation, ability, and trigger. 

Systems for Motivation 

The first and most important element of motivation is the “why”. The why is something that triggers intrinsic motivation and looks very different to everyone. Something that's important to understand about the why is that it is the purpose behind everything we do. The next most important is the guiding principle for the individual, otherwise known as philosophy. The philosophy should be an actionable principle. If you find that your team is struggling most with motivation, prompt them to dig deep to find their why and their philosophy, then to write it down for themselves to refer to anytime they need it. 

Systems for Ability 

Methods are the most important part of ability. Within a system there should be methods on how to navigate that system. Methods increase the ability for someone to complete a task because they don’t have to start figuring it out from scratch, and methods increase ability as they are learned. Tools are the next most important, what are methods without the tools to complete them? Using the right tools increases your ability to complete a task since it requires less work, like when you started to use a calculator for division instead of doing long division by hand. As we learn to use the tools, efficiency and ability are increased. One of the most useful tools I use is a Kanban, which you can read about in one of my earlier blog posts. If your team struggles with ability the most, think about the methods and tools you can implement to ease this part of the process. 

Systems for Trigger 

Schedules and reminders are the most useful systems for triggers. A schedule will help create a rhythm of behaviors that will eventually feel automatic. Automatic behaviors don’t require ability or motivation because you just do them. Creating a realistic schedule can assist in creating these automatic behaviors. Reminders can come in a few forms, two that are very helpful to myself and teams I have worked in are setting reminders on your phone or using a Kanban. The reason these two methods work really well for triggering behaviors is that it makes the work that needs to get done transparent, something that is forgotten will never get done. If your team is struggling the most with triggers, trying a schedule that is realistic for both the individual and the whole team as well as using reminders like alarms and kanbans will take them a long way.