CHAPTER 7Principle 2: Close the 5 Reinforcement Gaps

If your reinforcement program addresses only the knowledge component and is focused on knowledge retention, your foundation is not strong enough to drive behavior change. This second principle will guide you to create a solid foundation that includes all of the elements needed for behavior change. Besides new knowledge and skills, you must also consider how the learners’ motivation, or maybe better, demotivation, influences the results. Also think about the environment in which your learners need to grow, develop, and show behavioral change.

The 5 Reinforcement Gaps need your full attention while building your reinforcement foundation (see Figure 7.1). Focusing on each gap in turn will prevent you from building a weak foundation that cannot support lasting behavioral change.

Diagram shows box divided into three columns and diagonal banner with labels for 6. follow reinforcement flow, 1. master 3 phases, 5. create friction and direction, 2. close 5 reinforcement gaps, 4. provide perfect pull and push, 3. create measurable behavior change, et cetera.

Figure 7.1. Close the 5 Reinforcement Gaps


To understand the second principle, look at behavior change first. Change is never easy. We have discussed how the brain works, that is, instead of choosing the most beneficial solution, people place more value on the potential losses than on any benefits they may get from the unknown future. If you want your learners to change behavior, you’re doing battle against the brain. Sometimes the battle is easy, but you should be prepared for difficult battles, too, just as in sports.

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