How Neuroscience Applications Make Difficult Change Simple

Not all change is created equal. Even when people are highly motivated and open to needed changes, some changes are inherently more difficult to acquire and sustain. Furthermore, people can sometimes resist change both internally and externally in ways that block coaching, team performances, and change management efforts from reaching desired outcomes. Neuroscience demystifies many of the invisible obstacles associated with difficult change. Thanks to new science findings we can support people in a clear and powerful way through some of the most difficult change challenges along the way. This short article series is designed to (hopefully) start you on a journey of discovery. It focuses on t

How to Identify Difficult Change?

Change efforts sometimes run into complicated obstacles. Correctly identifying a change effort as difficult or non-difficult allows you to select the right model. This way, when you step into difficult change you are taking the right steps from the start. There's a saying: "If all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail." Unfortunately, not all change efforts are created equal and if your change education was anything like mine, you didn't get access to difficult change models. Stepping into difficult change armed with the right models often means you are ready to successfully guide people through difficult change because you can clearly see the steps of an otherwise complicated m

Case Study: How Identifying Difficult Change Makes a Difference

The CTO of a high-tech client organization was seen as dismissive, insensitive, one-sided, and at times manipulative and vindictive. His team experienced his unpleasant responses in meetings and everyday interactions. The senior leadership team coped with being told their opinions or concerns were irrelevant or ignorante on a regular basis. While the CTO was highly respected for his professional knowledge, these type of behaviors created negative ripples all around him. Most of us think of difficult change as high resistance, low cooperation situations. We recognize that when faced with such responses we'll need strong principles to guide us through. What we often don't realize is that our v

How Neuroscience Makes a Difference for Change Acquisition?

It's only just a little more than a decade ago that we started really understanding Change Acquisition. We knew that change acquisition was what people actually applied and adopted into practice as a result of workshops, coaching, team development, and change management efforts. But without access to what goes on inside the brain, we were mostly in the dark in terms of how to get people to actually do the adoption or application part. Over the years, we got extremely good at diagnosing the current state and defining what end-result, effective performances look like. Unfortunatly, how to get people from point A to point B was still somewhat foggy. We can share the best practices and skills wi

How Unlearning Gets Change Stuck

Unlearning is often part of difficult change. It is a process with specific stages and there are obstacles you need to overcome to move from one stage to the next. Ignoring Unlearning may mean running into invisible walls. Knowing how to guide people through Unlearning allows you to see those invisible walls so you can help people bypass or overcome them. To intuitively understand Unlearning, we should probably start with what Unlearning is not. Try to think of a time you learned a brand new skill. It can be anything from deliberately learning how to swim to more subconsciously learning how to respond to conflict. Which steps did you take in order to learn something brand new? For skills lik

Case Study: How Understanding Unlearning Makes a Difference

A biotech client organization wanted to adopt a culture of diversity and inclusion. They did everything right to reinforce the new culture but until they started applying Unlearning principles, the change effort just seemed stuck. Everyone in the organization agreed and bought into the new messaging around a new culture of diversity and inclusion. It made perfect logical sense. However, while people could easily get behind the idea, adopting the behaviors that stem from this culture was altogether a different story. The heart of the challenge in this case was that for some groups in the organization (which was more common with engineers, analysts, and scientists) deep response and thinking p

How Change-Readiness Skills Support Difficult Change

Many difficult change efforts require some degree of adopting new thinking habits, behaviors, and responses. Because the change is harder, it is not uncommon to find a wide variety of resistance responses in those cases. An important "family" of skills can help successfully change the way people respond to the discomfort associated with difficult change. Different tools help with different needs. Most Change Leaders are well versed with need-analysis and identifying which skills individuals, teams, and organizations need to adopt in order to improve performances and achieve desired outcomes. We are familiar with a wide variety of skills including (and far from limited to) communication, conf

How to Identify and Overcome Different Types of Resistance to Change

Overcoming resistance to change is one of the most important aspects of difficult change. Unfortunately, until recently we did not have access to some of the most critical related knowledge and as a result, resistance to change often remained misunderstood. New science sheds light on this important change factor, making it possible for us to identify previously invisible types of resistance and overcome them. Resistance to change is not one thing. Like the iceberg model, much more of resistance is invisible under water than is seen on the surface. We learned a lot about what is going on in the submerged part of the iceberg over the years and developed effective communication, transparency, a

Case Study: Understanding Resistance to Change and How to Overcome It

The VP of Engineering in a large apparel client-corporation was extremely task driven. Meetings she held were brief, to the point, and with tremendous emphasis on task management efficiency and effectiveness. The strong focus on speed often left managers reporting to her unheard. Decisions were often made based only on the VP's perspective. Equally importantly, this extreme task focus left her reporting managers unprepared to manage their teams. When her AVP discussed needed changes with her, the VP said everything she was expected to say. She was more than happy to develop her team. Willing to work on coaching each team member according to their strengths, thinking, and unique skills. Tota

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