"Breaking habits for good" by Dean Per J. Agrell

Louvain-La-Neuve, Mons

A large part of the self-improvement management literature that you find spread on the internet and in bookstores focuses at the "seven habits of highly successful managers" or similar. The underlying idea is that by incorporating a desired behaviour as an automatic routine, like brushing your teeth, we pass into action faster without reflecting or resorting to poor alternative. We are bombarded by suggested habits: read a book per week, walk an hour per day, read only email in the morning, etc.

However, habits can also be the enemy of the change and renewal. The unreflected repetition of a pattern can become a false reassurance not to mobilise the cognitive skills we need in an ever-changing environment. Rather than promoting the formation of habits, I would like to see us all doing the opposite: break your habits, do something entirely new, dare walking a new path.

We at LSM have been through a lot this past year and it has set its marks on our students and staff. Trying to steer clear of danger in a deep fog is a strenuous endeavor where the risk of failure is higher until the end, when everyone in hindsight tells you what should have been done. When you are stressed, it is natural to fall into a drill of a new routine to protect us from thinking too much, saving energy for later use. Nevertheless, we must fight this tendency to accept either an improvisation as the "new normal" or to wishfully dream of recreating the past in all details.

Management of people and resources involves handling uncertainty, complexity and opportunities. It is not a game of perfection and anticipation. Management is not a spectator sport or an induced habit. At LSM, our culture should be one that rewards and incites initiatives and exploration, not one that condones routine and sanctions the error. Only the one trying something new will make an error, only the one looking will find a way out. Make it your habit not to become the slave of any habit.

Have a most resting Easter together with your families and close, see you soon!

Per J. Agrell
Dean of the Faculty

Publié le 03 avril 2021