Why messages about 'Change' fail to realise any Change in practice. (The Case of the White Collar Psychopath)
The inspiration behind this blog post came from Anthony Greenfield, the originator of the top left video; and it happened when he e-mailed the link to me a couple of days ago.
Using the "upper-middle-lower class" concept popularised by Mssrs Cleese, Barker and Corbett, Anthony not only appeals to a younger me, but captures an issue that might be called 'Transactional analysis on a Social Scale', which happens to be the principle behind the culture & communications analysis tool I developed in the absence of there being anything like it on the market (Example graphs below). Anthony's simple parody of the cultural layers which are generated by complex psychologies in social hierarchies provoked me to write down a few thoughts it brought to mind ... so here they are.
This is a tiny collage of the available messages out there on the subject of change that popped up on YouTube when I watched Anthony's video - these and a 1000 others like them all make a lot of sense, so it made me wonder why is it, that we still 'see' the same behaviours in politics, organisational leadership & management, education and parenting that we've seen for the last 'X' number of centuries.
In the true Keynesian Economic nature of expending effort to create a message which may lead to the opportunity for me to prostitue my brain to the highest bidder, (i.e. I'll only write what I think will benefit me in terms of recognition or reward - WIIFM), I would suggest the 'simple' answer is the lack of understanding in the 'Change Arena' about psychology and neuroscience, especially as they apply to CI / Lean / 6 Sigma etc. in manufacturing and service organisations.
In broader terms, the issue I'm perceiving is that the creators of these video's have taken sufficient interest in the subject of 'Change' to have gone on a journey of discovery and analysis. This has provided them the capacity to understand 'Change' through their own actions and passions (usually leading to an understanding of change in themselves as well as others). In turn, their acquired knowledge leads to their efforts to share what has helped them in their own lives and convey that positive message outwardly, for reward, either emotional or financial.
That issue spun a different way, is this; those leaders who would most benefit from understanding 'Change' (be they parents, production mangers or politicians) in the face of day-to-day priorities, don't have a sufficient level of time, inclination or interest in the subject of 'Change' to go on this voyage of discovery for themselves.
Any CEO or HRD picking up the phone to any provider of 'Change' be it 'performance change' or 'Culture Change' (where they are perceived to be distinct and different), will typically be taking that action based on the assumption, that the expert, the consultant, the new employee, i.e. someone else, can affect the change the leader / leadership team wish to see in those around them ... and as soon as that's the motive behind an action, the issue of 'responsibility' raises it's very ugly head. The 'Leader' or leadership team looking to affect change, in other peoples brains, have already drawn the conclusion that they will have to rely on someone else's actions... rather than asking 'How can I / we learn more about 'Change' so we can take responsibility for affecting outcomes?' ... their failure is to not 'WANT' to learn to lead by example in a highly psychologically conscious way. They have already created a mind-set which says, who can we get-in to do this for us ... now that's OK if you're managing resource, but maybe not so OK if you're expecting it to impact the culture that your own beliefs and philosophy engenders in the business, country or department you run.
In some ways, this dichotomy reflects something a colleague said to me recently, he said, 'There are only two reasons you can make a sale, 1. because you can do something someone else can't, or, 2. because you can do something someone else doesn't want to.
I think there may be a third; because others want to learn what you know so they can do something for themselves, but that's not something you can 'Sell', it's a service you can provide that will only be taken once someone has already come to realise they need to learn something they don't currently know.
Often when they grasp sayings like 'You can't solve problems with the same level of knowledge used to create them'.
However, in the absence of this 3rd 'Desire' in leaders, and the prevalence of reasons 1 & 2 promoted and sold in our capitalist markets, this means the default approach, ''to hire in the help'', popularised globally, smacks of 'Projection', 'Blame', 'Confirmation Bias' and leads to 'Cognitive dissonance' and a host of other issues leaders don't even know exist, let alone know how to address them.
In this global plague of 'failing to understand change'; 'Change agents and leaders alike fail to create the prevailing conditions which lead to confidence and thus, responsible action in pursuit of some kind of goal or target. I say some kind of goal or target, because in the world of the psychologically uneducated, most targets based on 1, 3 and 5 year financial output requirements have typically lost all meaning by the time they get to the people doing the work who can actually make a difference. As a result, leaders and organisations around the globe LOSE 80% of the potential capacity their employees possess and thus a huge chunk of their organisational capacity to perform.
Another aspect of the problem, (as I see it), is the use of language. Most messages about change (including this one) use words like behaviours, attitudes, vision, values, motivators, urgency, coalition, rewards, empowerment, resistance, believable, tangible, resonance, education, personalised, expectations, encourage, realistic, credible, attractive, social norms .... all of which feature in the video's in this post.
Yet, if we take just one of those words and consider 'meaning', we can see that there is potential for interpretation... and that interpretation will be individually specific. In many video's and talks on Change, it states 'Education' is not enough, or that the provision of 'Education to create change' is a myth. Also, that attitudes follow, rather than predict behaviour.
Here's my interpretation of that message: 'Education' is the transfer of knowledge to provide a context related understanding in another brain or brains, based on the (Tacit / intuitive) knowledge held in the brain imparting that knowledge. All official definitions of the word 'Education', utilise the word 'knowledge'. Now, if we follow links for 'Theory of Knowledge', we end up at 'Epistemology' which digs into the principles of 'Knowledge that', 'knowledge how' and 'knowledge by acquaintance', which together, provide, in intricate detail, an exploration into the principles of becoming educated - of learning something new... of forming a new belief /or/ the capacity to re-contextualise a previously held belief (re-framing).
Now, in my last 20years of study, I've discovered that behaviours (Actions - at work and in general) are a result of a persons deeply held (neurologically imprinted) beliefs. Beliefs of course, are another one of those small words which require a lot of understanding and they are not attitudes, but are more the bedrock of attitudes and reactions in any given set of Physical, Emotional and Social conditions. (Making it right to say to a point, that attitudes follow behaviour - but also behaviour is influenced by attitudes ... one statement can be justified using Cognitive behaviour theory, the other, justified using Perceptual control theory - both, in context, are right - it depends if you're talking bottom-up / top-down or outside-in / inside-out information flow in respect to the neural firing of the brain).
So, I suggest, what is more accurately meant, when it is stated, 'Education' is not enough to influence change, is that, 'the provision of data, or information is not enough!' (Which could lead to a challenge of accounting practice and Six sigma - but that's a different blog entry).
As the true definition of the word 'education' necessarily engenders the need for change, at a neurological level, (which is ultimately, where all change originates and ends up - in brain cells) the use of the word education rather than information in such statements requires a little more consideration.
And that's the difference between the provision of facts or data, as delivered in spreadsheets and e-mails by computers and 'effective communication' between humans being ... however they're being ... interested in Change .. or interested in other people knowing about Change so they don't have to consider change in themselves.
Which makes the use of words and language a matter equally important as the attitudes which people hold about themselves and others. As they say, the pen is mightier than the sword, so we must be careful how we wield not only the pen, but the words it can present to others.
Now anyone really interested in 'Change' (for themselves) and not just a list of buzzwords easy to misinterpret relative to their own bias's, will, in my humble opinion, show an interest in psychology and neuroscience. (Which is a weighted view of course!)
Any leader truly interested in understanding what is required from them, if they are to create the prevailing conditions in which the psychological barriers to change are minimised, apprehended and removed as much as is possible in others, will not be satisfied with 'data' and 'information' about inputs and outputs from a talk or a power-point presentation. They will want to know about the 'seeking mechanism' and other such wonders of the brain. Not just as a spanner in the toolbox of motivation, not just as an abstract concept, but in respect to neural pathways, imprinting and reality tunnels, such that 'motivation' (and thus 'Change' and the performance improvement any change is ultimately tasked with realising in practice) can be understood and specifically acted upon in time and cost efficient ways.
(as opposed to the current, and popular methods of approaching change which have reported a 75-90% failure rate in respect to projects going over time and over budget for the last 50 years --- and that's in industry - the public sector is worse, inheriting one leader with a different manifesto but all the same performance capabilities and behaviours across the chamber, as the last, for generations upon generation having predominantly all come out of the same set of schools).
Only when leaders take an interest in 'Change', themselves, can they truly understand what is required to improve the behaviours (actions) which sit behind an increase in sustainable performance and profit in organisations and economies, especially where the new knowledge their interest will deliver, will apply to their own actions and behaviours as leaders ... which, I guess, would ideally make self-development and discovery a fundamental part of their Job description?
This is a funny principle, when so many 'leaders' are in their positions because they have an (often near psychopathic*) attitude of already knowing enough and/or, more than others.
1. an [often offensive] term for somebody who is regarded as highly antisocial, aggressive, and lacking in empathy. Psychopathy (/saɪˈkɒpəθi/) (or sociopathy (/ˈsoʊsiəˌpæθi/)) is defined as either an aspect of personality or as a personality disorder, characterized by enduring dissocial or antisocial behaviour, a diminished capacity for empathy or remorse, and poor behavioural controls or fearless dominance.
... & that's really why these messages about change don't make any change, just like Anthony captured in his video - our 'system' rewards psychopathic tendencies with high power positions and large pay-packets, and then we create nicely packaged messages that don't get to the science behind root-cause and ''gently suggest'' these 'psychopaths' listen (used as the loosest of clinical terms, rather than as an insult) hoping they will 'Change' their 'minds' about what works, when their existing attitudes have seen them personally benefit from their atypical approach.
The only way to appeal to someone who has fearless dominance and a focus on numbers and the financial interpretation of those numbers is to paint a picture that shows how numbers improve when leadership skill (including the empathy they 'potentially' don't possess, promote or consider in their approach to leadership and management) is increased.
An example might look something like this;
Gap analysis across cultural layers in a £40Million T/O company pre Duxinaroe course.
& post Duxinaroe course.
This is representative of the changes made to a client who had a 7 year history of losses up to and into the recession (2008). The changes made to mind-set at the start of 2009 led to an in-year increase in sales of £2.8 Million and 63% EBITDA improvement in a fallen market.
In the MD's own words, "I sought a culture change solution because 3 extensive and expensive consultant led change programs had all failed to make any difference. The Duxinaroe course on the psychology of change was presented and it made sense when explained, so we engaged David and the rest is history. The biggest revelation came from my own realisation that I needed to change as much as anyone else in the business did. That wasn't something I'd seen coming, but it's certainly what made the difference and led to us being in profit then, and ever since."
You can see in some cases the Executive opinion was clipped, while the employees opinion significantly improved - the key being to close the gaps, then raise the bar.
As always - the devil is in the detail and understanding the questions behind the 4 main headlines is what provides a leadership team the knowledge they need to address those issues the 'tools and techniques' & 'Control systems' approach to performance improvement has systematically missed for the last many decades - closing these gaps can be considered 'taking care of the other half of change', i.e. the 'Waste' in the people process. The 'Human Factors'. The Muri and Mura as it integrates and influences Muda... and thus performance and profit.
For more information or to see how Duxinaroe analysis tools and leadership courses incorporating the psychology and neuroscience of change could benefit your business - contact us.