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Change capacity - what do we need?


This is the second in a series of three blogs jointly authored with Deborah Hulme of Minerva Engagement in which we talk about a critical, but neglected, issue in effecting organisational change – and how we can address it. Join Deborah and Epion's Nick Smith as they unpack Brain-Friendly Change in the forthcoming webinar at 12:30 on 22nd June – click here to reserve your place.

In the first blog, we highlighted that even where change is being done well, we’ve got a real problem. Specifically, our organisations have a real need post-Covid for changes in ways of working. But neurology tells us that the societal impacts of Covid (anxiety, stress, fatigue) have significantly reduced people’s capacity to engage with change. Just when we most need to effect change, our ability to do so has got much lower. And our current change methodologies and toolkits just don’t address this issue.

So, what’s needed? In summary, we need approaches to change that integrate current excellence in business change with best practice in assessing and enhancing the wellbeing and human connection that creates capacity for change. At the least, this means change approaches that:

  • Build an understanding of organisational and team capacity for change, aligned to our biological human need to feel safe, connected and well. It’s well researched, the safer we feel and the more we experience a sense of belonging, the more we continue to contribute and thrive; despite whatever change is taking place around us. Therefore, working with deeply ingrained human biology is fundamental to success. We enable that success by fuelling understanding with accurate measurement and data, delivering clear lines of sight, focusing attention on activity to enhance felt safety and belonging.

  • Support leaders to develop the capabilities and skills needed to lead diverse, changing teams, able to create safe environments built on trust, collaboration and connection. Sustained capacity for change (and sustained performance) is heavily influenced by leadership. In our modern-day environments, leadership is a continuous learning process, one that demands we learn how to apply the knowledge, tools and skills needed to deepen emotional, social and attentional intelligences. We equip leaders with that knowledge, tools and skills through training, coaching, and mentoring.

  • Include interventions and content that enhance team belonging, individual wellbeing and collective resilience before and during change. With clear consistent on-going communication, shared knowledge and learning we not only sustain but also boost capacity for change, as well as maintain high standards of performance. We design, develop and deploy such interventions and content.

  • Properly integrate all of the above into our standard change approaches, so they are what we term ‘Brain-Friendly’. This involves working with our natural biological preferences to stay safe, to collaborate and to connect in ways that facilitate innovation and performance, thereby enabling change, not just seeking to manage it.

This shouldn’t be controversial, but all the evidence points to the fact that it’s just not happening on the scale it needs to. We’ll explore more of what Brain-Friendly Change looks like in the final blog in the series, and in our webinar on 22nd June. Reserve your place here.

Deborah Hulme is founder of the Neuroleader Academy™ and Minerva Engagement, consultants and practitioners of applied neuroscience for high performance and wellbeing. Her passion for leadership and organisational wellbeing has been fuelled by a career in which she’s been instrumental in delivering sustainable change and engagement strategies across multi-national organisations. Deborah works hand in hand with organisations to deliver high performance and to create environments in which trust and wellbeing flourish. For more about Minerva Engagement, please visit www.minervaengagement.com

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