Your health, wellbeing and fitness are more than a roll of the dice. Or are they? According to three business gurus that’s exactly what it is, a roll of the dice. But in this instance, the DICE to which they are referring are based on a carefully done and well-respected study dating back to 1992 in which they looked at 225 companies over a two-year period of time and learned that DICE are exactly what distinguishes successful and unsuccessful change efforts in businesses.

Now, I want to extend the role of their DICE to your wellbeing. After all, success is success and failure is failure, whether we are talking about attaining increase in shareholder value or decrease in waist size. OK, to head off the sticklers, I’ll add, more or less.

Across the country, two-thirds to 70% of organizational change efforts fail. Think it’s much different in personal fitness programs?

Just look at the increasing obesity rates in America…despite my 1972 thesis ☺, health coaches, behavior-change programs, more than 150,000 gyms, thousands of DIEts, surgeries, Dr. Oz and pills. Business and fitness experts alike dive head first into a mash-up of alphabet soup corporate initiatives, styles of leadership, fitness motivational paradigms, exercise change models, the newest flavor exercise routines, “sigh-ence” based protein powders, business change acronyms and still there are brutal failure rates.

Sirkin, Keenan and Jackson, writing in the October, 2005 Harvard Business Review (“The Hard Side of Change Management”), presented their carefully derived business change data and I believe it has direct value for those interested in helping others improve their health and fitness, including weight management. While this model provides a quantitative scoring procedure, making this an objectified measureable process, I’ll leave that out for now and simply describe the more general approach.

Here’s the DICE to take into consideration to insure success in a change process:
Duration – the time between monitoring progress of change effort, shorter is better
Integrity – the client’s and trainer’s/coach’s skills to achieve SMART goals
Commitment – the dedication displayed to the process by the trainer/coach/client
Effort – the extra effort needed to accomplish SMART goals, less is better

Let’s say your goal, or the goal of your client if you are a trainer/coach, over the next three months, is to lose 20 pounds and prepare to complete your first 5k in less than 10 minutes. Roll the DICE by asking these questions as you prepare for your new behavior change health and fitness program:

1. D How often will I review my progress, how and with whom?
2. I Do I have the know-how, or does my trainer/coach, to design a carefully constructed, specific and measureable plan, including proper time estimations, for me to be abundantly successful? Do I have the skills, and do I trust that my coach/trainer has the skills, to go step-by-step through the plan to achieve success? What skill areas am I, or my trainer/coach, lacking?
3. C Do I have a team of valued supporters and accountability partners around me with whom I can continually talk about my “why,” frequently discuss the purpose I see in my losing weight and running my first 5K, and is there anything I need from them that they aren’t giving me yet? Have my supporters and accountability partners shared the value they see in my achieving my goal? Am I in agreement with myself and is my support team in enthusiastic and in full support of my goals?
4. C Do I truly understand my internally driven purpose and grasp the deeply held importance for me in my life of engaging in this effort?
5. E How much extra time will I need to carve out of my already busy schedule to see success at the finish line? Am I resisting this in any way?
6. Do I have the strength, the drive and the internal motivation to put in the extra effort needed to achieve this goal?

This original set of gauges developed by Sirkin, Keenan and Jackson in 1994 has found much success in corporate consulting. I’ve used these tools and this approach for decades and found many companies readily adapt to this simple framework and are better able to easily support and create successful and significant change through the roll of this set of DICE.

I believe the same can be said for initiating a successful health and fitness behavior change program with the same set of DICE. Try it and let me know how you find it helpful.