CHANGE IN THE NEUROSCIENCE WAY

 

If the manager give rise to threat signals, the employees cannot deliver. They only have one thing in focus - and it is the tiger that attacks them. They end up in a state of stress and get tunnel vision.

Marie Ryd - science journalist,

former researcher at The Karolinska Institute

 

Based on brain research's discoveries about why we humans react the way we do, we can learn many lessons about what supports change and what creates unnecessary resistance.

Below is a summary of the lessons learned from David Rock's SCARF model.

 
David Rock (a thought leader in the field of coaching and neuro-leadership, according to the website Psychology Today), presented in 2008 the, so-called, SCARF model (You can read a translation of part of the article by clicking here, and original article in its entirety by to click here).

The SCARF model summarizes five "social domains" that, in studies, have been shown to activate the same threat and / or reward system as physical threats and / or real rewards:
  1. Status is about relative importance to others
  2. Certainty is about being able to predict the future.
  3. Autonomy gives a sense of control over events.
  4. Relatedness gives a feeling of security with others - that they are friends rather than enemies.
  5. Fairness is a notion of justice exchanges between people.
When we experience social threats, the brain reacts in the same way as when it experiences a lack of basic things such as food, water or security. When the brain enters a state of threat, we find it difficult to concentrate on anything else. The brain's analytical and creative system is simply shut down - an important insight to carry with you for someone who is going to drive change!
 
To succeed in his change projects on "brain terms", David Rock conveys some clear advice for awakening the reward systems instead of not the threat systems:
 

DAVID ROCKS LESSONS - "EXECUTIVE SUMMARY"

To increase resistance...

To increase commitment...

  • Ignore those who lose their jobs, their position or have a reduced opportunity to influence

 
 
  • People become involved when they experience that they are developing and that it is being noticed
  • Give a lot of positive attention / feedback


  • Paint threats or the need for efficiencies and then leave employees without information for a long time
  • Create uncertainty about what is expected of employees in the change
 
 
  • Clarifies the change project's purpose, goal picture and framework
  • Break down the complex project into smaller, more manageable subprojects
  • Keep everyone informed when more information comes
  • Clarify expectations and what can happen in the project

  • Force the change
  • Implement major changes or deteriorations quickly and without warning
  • Micromanage manages managers and employees
 
 
  • Involve the organization early in the change project
  • Let engagement-driven working groups work on different parts of the project
  • Let people organize their own workflows and working hours, within given frameworks
  • Drive hard in the project, even if the employees lack confidence in the management
  • Make major reorganisations without regard to how it affects employees' social security
 
 
  • Find ways to increase secure relationships between people.
  • The more people trust each other, the better the cooperation and information exchange....
  • Have different rules for different groups / individuals:
    • The management says that we have to make cuts, but our sales department doesn't have to...
    • There is a lot of talk about "values" but the top management doesn't practice what they teach.
 
 
  • Fairness through grassroots decisions: Let working groups determine their own rules or who does what
  • Establish clear expectations in all situations - from short meetings to longer projects or contracts
 

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