When others start talking about change, our intuition tells us that we're already where we need to be because, well, why wouldn't we be? Our brain likes us. It thinks we’re better than most, and that we’re certainly more knowledgeable about the job we’ve been doing for the past decade than anyone else.  Our fast thinking brain applies rules of thumb like "change is bad". The brain seeks the path of least resistance and comforts us in the thought that change is unnecessary. We decide in an instant that things are fine just the way they are, and if it ain't broke then it's just good common sense that we don't need to fix it. If someone recommends that we try a new computer system to improve our work, we decide, in the blink of an eye, they’re just plain wrong about that. If someone recommends a new approach, they’re being critical of the way we currently work, and they’ve just violated Dale Carnegie’s first rule which will diminish both their likelihood to win friends and ability to influence.

It's a well-documented fact from psychologists, neuroscientists, and behavioral economists that we all have two ways of thinking: slow and fast, strategic and tactical, thinking and intuitive.  There's been many books recently written on the subject from Malcolm Gladwell's Blink to Michael R. LeGault's Think! The experts teach us that slow thinking involves deep thought and analysis, and fast thinking involves things we essentially do and decide without conscious thought. Fast thinking decision making involves rules of thumb, "common sense", and intuition; and our intuition tells us those very specific and predictable things about change.

Change is counterintuitive.  If we want people to change, we need to get them to suspend their intuition and engage their slow thinking.  We need to remind them that it’s also good common sense that we can’t keep doing what we’ve been doing and get different results. We need to be clear about why change needs to happen and very specific about what will need to change (none of this, “We need to do more with less.” business). We also need to give them something tangible by telling them where we’re heading and what it will look like when we get there.  And, importantly, we need to give them an anchor by explaining what will stay the same.  We need to get everyone on-board by getting everyone involved because strategic thinking isn’t just for the C-Suite anymore.  On our path we need to measure results and adjust our course.  And we need to do that, all of it, over and over and over again, all while our intuition is telling us that it’s not necessary, that everyone’s already fully committed to the-new-way because, well, why wouldn’t they be?


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