This is Your Brain on Organizational Change
by Walter McFarland | 11:00 AM October 16, 2012
Very interesting on how to drive change. It is a beginning of a broad new approach. I urge you to read the posting and followup with references in the article.
Why can't we change our organizations? Year after year, the list of companies that no longer exist because they were unable to evolve continues to grow. ….
…This is bad news for 21st century organizations. Increasing competition, globalization, technological changes, financial upheaval, political uncertainty, changing workforce demographics, and other factors are forcing organizations to change faster and differently than ever before. Worse, there is little reason to believe the field of organizational change can be of much help. Not only is the track record of change efforts dismal — it may not be improving. Experts have reported similar results for organizational change efforts since the 1980s. Clearly, new insight is needed into how organizations can better adapt to their environments and change.
Although myriad factors are cited, the inability to engage people is the factor noted longest and most often…
…One source of insight may be the field of neuroscience…..
….Keep in mind that there is no accepted general theory of change but rather traditional "best practice" clusters around a series of activities that have contributed to the continuing poor performance of change initiatives. These include:
• Perpetual underpreparation: change is always dreaded and a surprise to employees
• A perceived need to "create a burning platform": meant to motive employees via expressed or implied threat
• Leading change from the top of the organization down: only a few individuals are actively involved in the change and either under communicate or miscommunicate with others
Most of these ideas have implications in the field of neuroscience. For instance, the need to create a burning platform atmosphere at work can trigger a limbic response in employees. Instead of motivating people to change in a positive way, a burning platform makes them uncomfortable — thrusting change upon them. In another example, driving change from the top can trigger fear within employees because it deprives them of key needs that help them better navigate the social world in the workplace. These needs include status, certainty, autonomy, relatedness, and fairness — the foundation of the SCARF model. If out of synch, these five needs have been shown in many neuroscience studies to activate the same threat circuitry activated by physical threats, like pain.
Keeping all this in mind, let us propose one idea we haven't explored yet. We strongly believe that we need to think about change differently. To begin, let's think about people differently — not as commodities to be hurried and pushed around but as sources of real and powerful competitive advantage. A second step is to see change differently — not just as a perpetual crisis, but as an opportunity to be better prepared and equipped to manage organizational shakeups as a normal part of doing business, and as an opportunity to personally develop and grow.