On the use of change in management (and not the management of change)

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I was reading an article on the Influence Report yesterday. Here is an excerpt:

This small study demonstrates an important factor when it comes to understanding how people are influenced and persuaded. Often a behavior is activated not because of an individual’s desire to achieve a particular goal but instead because the specific environment or context they find themselves in triggers such behavior. When sitting in a movie theater, regular popcorn eaters ate just as much unappetizing popcorn by virtue of the fact that they were sitting in a movie theater. Indeed, recent neuroscience studies support the idea that a specific cue or context can activate a resulting behavior regardless of whether such behavior achieves a desired goal (see Yin & Knowlton 2006).

That led me to think– how much do we use change in management?

No, I don’t mean how much we deal with change in the world of management. Everybody knows that change is an important fact of day-to-day business and strategy. The term change management has almost become a cliché. I am talking about using change as part of the way we manage.

When is the last time you actively created a change in the environment of your team? It could be simple things like changing the place people are sitting when they come into the meeting room. Heck, it could be changing the place where the meeting is conducted!

In the book Iconoclast: A Neuroscientist Reveals How to Think Differently (which I have written about before), Gregory Berns describes the neuroscience behind new and creative thinking. There is ample brain research to show that just by visiting a new place we open up the brain to new and creative ideas. That means that if we want to be innovative, we need to change our location. The research cited in the Influence Report article just drives that point home. We sometimes act in a certain way because of the environment, so maybe we should experiment with changing the environment.

I think this concept of change is true for many other things in our daily working routine. Sometime, something is working (or not working) and we never notice it. But what will happen if we change little things every once in a while. The way the furniture is placed in the office. The order in which we do a certain activity. The people who participate in a meeting.  Whatever.

Sometimes, the results will of the change will be negative. But many times they will not. And even if they are, we still learned how not to do something. Isn’t that a worthwhile lesson?

Change is a tool we can use. We should use it more. How much do you use it?


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