From many years of experience in changing and shaping organisations, I can safely say that change fails often. Research from 1995 onwards generally states that the failure rate is somewhere between 70% -80% and there are many articles, videos and books that will back this up.

Change is the only constant.
Heraclitus
(Greek philosopher about 2000 years ago)

Almost every source will refer to the fact that ability to engage people in change efforts is one of the most important factors in change success. Kenneth Thompson and Fred Luthans (organisational behaviour experts) stated almost 30 years ago that an individual’s reaction to organizational change “can be so excessive and immediate, that some researchers have suggested it may be easier to start a completely new organization than to try to change an existing one.” (HBR. 2012).
 
In my experience, change is almost always designed in an executive boardroom - a leadership team will review available data and make decisions based on organisational performance, a set of numbers, capability gaps. Some will even have a change management function to help with the people side of change. So why then is the failure rate still largely unchanged since Prof. Kotter published his research (and outlined 8 – steps methodology) in his 1996 book “Leading Change”?
 
Why is it that companies go out of business because they are not able to change at a pace required? Clearly, a new approach is needed to address organisational change and I believe that the answer lies in neuroscience.
 
As a certified i4 Neuroleader Practitioner and coach, I turn to neuroscience when faced with issues around change. For example, I know that when organisational restructure is announced an employee’s amygdala fires up immediately even if the restructure is not about cutting staff.

When a new IT system change is announced the same thing happens: the brain’s fear/anxiety centre lights up and the body gets flooded with stress-inducing hormones. Knowing this, I choose my approach to interactions with people undergoing change in organisations a bit differently.
 
Individual and team conversations need to be tailored to overcome the brain’s tendency for “fight/flight” response. Understanding the team culture, individual’s background, even mood, time of day, interdependent projects, organisational politics  - these considerations are, for me in my change practice, crucial elements of change approach.
 
So in my view, anyone who endeavours to lead change needs some knowledge of neuroscience to have a better chance of delivering change successfully. And if I could have my way, I’d regularly provide neuroscience training to all staff to equip them to manage themselves and others through changes. Because, as Heraclitus stated, it is truly the only constant  and that will never change!

Watch Sam’s Brain-Friendly Channel Session!

 

About this Session

Change is often managed by people at the top of an organisation, usually with middle management telling frontline staff what to do. If only the top would take advice from the neuroscience field and apply it to the change process, any efforts when implementing change would be smoother and the experience more successful. Samantha Z. Dzabic, Change Manager & HR Professional, will explain how change and neuroscience can be combined for the business world in a fun and engaging conversation. Hosted by our Founder, Silvia Damiano.

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Samantha Z. Dzabic

Samantha Z. Dzabic

i4 Neuroleader Certified
I am an experienced HR professional, passionate about change and organizational development in particular. My favorite projects are large transformations - especially leading and coaching people through it. I'm all about achieving results by engaging leaders and working with them on leading with meaning.

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