People by nature are quite strong in adapting and driving change, if there are good reasons to do so and not too many obstacles. That is why human kind is one of the most successful species on our planet, fostering rapid changes in our world.
However, the willingness and ability to drive change is quite easily blocked. Let’s have a look into a little psychology. Roughly we can distinguish three different parts of our brains:
The issue is that the reptilian brain is twofold:
- When triggered, it is extremely dominant and blocks the rest of the brain. In survival mode, there is no reasoning or creativity.
- It is extremely easy to trigger the reptilian brain. Not only by life-threatening issues, but also by anticipating social or emotional discomfort. This is why our mothers taught us to count to ten and inhale before reacting in a way we might regret later.
Common management practices too often trigger the reptilian brain to become dominant. A few examples:
- Performance management systems focus on forcing performance of people instead of on learning and developing (organisational) capabilities to perform:
- Not meeting objectives is considered as a (personal) failure.
- Peers and managers tend to react with disapproval after setbacks
There is no dialogue on how to achieve stretched targets
- Many change initiatives emphasize problems and failures, rather than the great things we can achieve and feel proud about. Threat becomes dominant instead of the rewards of making changes.
- Often, there is too much emphasis on the big gap, without a clear picture of the doable next steps to close the gap.
- The lack of planned contingency and margin in plans to achieve stretched objectives can causing panic when setbacks occur.
- Inconsistent decisions and messages, increasing uncertainty and unpredictability.
It is quite easy to recognize the reptilian brains at work. Typical signs are for example:
- Externalising issues in performance or progress
- Blaming others
- Window dressing, lack of transparency of challenges and issues
- Sceptism and negativism
Momentum for Sustainable Success – In brief
Wouldn’t it be great if we could simply prevent resistance against change? Everyone would be passionate and eager to jointly perform, to make things happen, to adapt to changing requirements and new opportunities, to learn and to develop. Continuous and timely adaptation and change would be part of our DNA. This is Momentum for Sustainable Success.
This is exactly what the successful organisations have in place. They apply new perspectives and practices which drive momentum to continuously adapt and drive change – that is to drive sustainable success. This momentum is their foundation for an adaptable, learning and growing organisation which has the capabilities to continuously perform, execute and prepare for future success.
Our ongoing research “Momentum for Sustainable Success” defines these perspectives and practices and provides practical tools which help organisations and leaders to build and maintain momentum.
Other articles elaborate on the different elements and provide examples.
Below, I describe these briefly.
Every business leader can start increasing momentum for sustainable success today.
- Make sure you have a clear and shared vision of the future state which is compelling for all stakeholders.
- Establish a practical road-map consisting of doable next-steps.
- Change the dialogue and dynamics around targets and objectives. Move it from “monitoring and reviewing” to “strategizing and learning together”.
On top of this, I would recommend you to:
- Assess the momentum in your organisation through our web-based survey. Until the end of 2016 this is free of charge, as the survey is also part of our research programme.
- Check out upcoming articles, which will be elaborating on the Momentum-Framework and practical approaches and tools.