Neuro-Science of Change Management the Appreciative Inquiry Way

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If change is the only constant thing then why do we resist it? The answer is simple it is all about our past habits and thus the programmed behavioral responses to change. We are all prisoners of our past practices and change demands new behaviors. Let us explore the exciting world of change.

Change needs to be distinguished from Innovation. While innovation caters to a need explicit or implicit in improving the quality of life; change is a corrective response to a noise created by internal or external forces. Our internal and external environment is interdependent and volatile to variables that change consistently. Success is all about instant adaptability to change and awaiting a further change which is around the corner.

Change must be seen as an agent of growth within the organization. So many have wound up owing to the inability to adapt to change. Thus, let us first deep dive into the Principles of Change:

  1. Change is an expansive aspect of the evolution of this Universe
  2. Change is a perpetual process and is eternal in nature
  3. Change is an outcome of interrelated and unrelated exogenous factors at play
  4. Study of change drivers results in growth while resistance results in decay
  5. The change ensures a diversity of experience with the use of new behaviors
  6. Change catalyzes intellectual abilities
  7. Change demands collaboration

Change must be managed through proven methods. The essential component of change is knowledge. Whatever we study will grow. Thus, there are steps associated with managing change that Appreciative Inquiry defines lucidly. Appreciative Inquiry comprises of a 4D model which allows you to control any complex change.

  1. Define: A problem needs to be reduced in its intensity while managing change. It is not possible to free a system of a problem as it would be against the Principles of change. However, the Design stage requires reframing the negative problem statement to a positive Objective Statement which tends to be difficult at times because we are wired to describe the problem negatively. Reframing to positive makes our brain operate in Default Mode Network where all lobes fire neurons effectively and start playing with the problem. A negative statement takes the brain into Task Promotion Network which restricts the firing of Neurons through survival task mode.
  2. Dream: The Element of Dream activates a whole-brain activity. Dreaming is essential to life as it triggers a positive image of the future. At the dream stage, one can tap into past successes and transpose them to future use. All successful change agents have done this very effectively unconsciously. They are wired to remember only achievements. The memory of failure does not occur to them instantly. Key behavior drivers of the past that helped us manage a similar situation helps us build a changing environment of the future. Dream stage helps us activate Positive Emotional Attractors and thus makes change an exciting process.
  3. Design: Here we take the success behaviors of the past and design a controlled environment for effectively managing the change. One can build a story of how the new change could be accomplished and explore new stories to amalgamate ideas. It reinforces confidence through a controlled visualization.
  4. Destiny: The Project is thus finalized with detailing of how the change will be managed, controlled, and measured. A collaborative team can be formed through a Project Management tool like RACIT and then get the process going enjoyably.

As we said change demands new behaviors. Behaviors are easy to manage than mindsets. Our brain comprises of trillions of neurons. When new neurons fire they start creating new pathways. New pathways get reinforced through repeated use. That is why a controlled environment is key to success in change management. Over some time, these new behaviors become new habits. However, while the motivation for the practice of new behaviors can be intrinsic as well as extrinsic, a new motivation technique needs to be deployed. This is an Autonomous Motivator. Our brain takes it as a task to build the new pathway through a conscious purpose-driven discomforting behavioral change. Once we practice the new behavioral pathway, it becomes unconscious competence. The creation of new neural pathways is classically termed as “stepping out of the comfort zone.”

A change process, however, needs to be backed by the following for its success:

  1. The purpose of the change must be clearly defined and must be ecologically sound for all stakeholders even if discomforting.
  2. Participation of all stakeholders is critical to change
  3. Hope is an essential factor in change and successes must be consistently communicated.
  4. Success must be celebrated
  5. The team must be told to be ready to manage the next change project so that it becomes the DNA of the organization.

The success of change is a result of communication, communication, communication. Change can never be an isolated process handled by a select few. It builds excellent teams ultimately. There is a win for everyone when the change is ably managed. It is vital to understand that though intellectually people accept change emotionally; it can be challenging.

Since change is an eternal process, it is essential for an organization to become adept at the process of change. Look within and see if your organization can manage change effectively. After all, what we study grows so equip your team with the Principles and methodologies of change. We live in a Global Village where changes will be more pertinent and rapid.

Enjoy the change process and its journey!

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