There is something you can’t see that is getting in the way of moving your business forward. It is hidden from view but it raises strong emotions in your staff that make them resistant to change. Buried deep beneath all that grey matter that deals with creativity, intelligence, collaboration, etc. (the neocortex or ‘human brain’) is a small evolutionary building block of life. Our ancestors’ reptilian brain from millions of years ago is still there and occasionally, when you least expect it, it takes control. When it does, the results can be spectacular.
Our reptilian brains resist against change
The reptilian brain controls the fight or flight instinct, one of the strongest impulses a human being has. It also has another name: resistance to change. When it’s triggered there is no room for reasoning or creativity, it takes over completely. We would all rather the neocortex that provides intelligence and rational thinking to be in control instead of a largely uncontrollable reptile. The trouble is it can be triggered not just by physical threats but by anticipated social or emotional discomfort too, so it’s important to set up the working environment to avoid any triggers. Otherwise, the result can be isolation, blame, indifference and a lack of engagement.
Keeping our reptilian brain calm
How then, do you avoid activating this evolutionary relic? Put simply, it’s about trusting people to be a part of the innovation and change cycle with plenty of personal development included. Humans are naturally driven to improve their situation and that of the people around them – we wouldn’t have engineers, artists or entrepreneurs otherwise. Most companies would find they have a huge untapped resource of creativity and enthusiasm if they allowed their people some control over improving their area and responding to threats and opportunities with collaboration and innovation.
Our research has uncovered a set of 4 winning habits that are working for successful companies. First of all, have a really good popular direction that is easy for people to agree on (e.g. Tesla’s vision for a sustainable future, but also smaller companies such as Wilco in Germany transformed their business by starting with a clear vision). Create a dialogue with your people to exchange ideas for innovation and give them the power and accountability for decision-making in their own area. Be open to the discovery of opportunities and threats that might turn your world on its head.
Start making these part of your organisation and avoid triggering any reptilian brains.
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