Scientific discoveries and new technologies promise much better life to all individuals. But delivering on that promise means that we must think and act differently. The history of innovation shows that it is a lot harder than most people realize.
It’s just like the adage “A tiger doesn’t change its stripes.” Throughout my career as an academic scholar, author, manager, advisor, consultant, mentor, and coach, I have seen how changing behavior can be very difficult. No one can change your behavior except for you. (That was my blog last week and now, I am going to expand on that.)
Businesses Often Fail to Innovate
Disruptive innovation teaches us that when the world changes, many leading companies fail to innovate. Lotus could not compete with Microsoft, General Motors could not compete with Toyota and now Toyota is challenged. American and United Airlines are unable to compete with Southwest, and now Microsoft can’t compete with Google. Why? Changing behaviors is a lot harder than most realize, even if it means lost business, bankruptcy or the demise of a company.
That’s a depressing discovery, but fortunately there is a solution.
Science behind the Experience
Behaviors are driven by beliefs. To change behavior, you must first change beliefs. This is where the neurophysiology of decision-making comes into play.
Our beliefs do not reside in some anatomic filing cabinet in our brains. Rather, studies show beliefs are generated by complex recurrent firing of patterns of neurons accompanied by subtle but very specific changes in hormones and neurotransmitters. This brain activity is developed by experience and linked to the feelings that experience engenders.
In other words, we are not rational but we are sentient. Our brains are hardwired by experience and feelings. The stronger the positive feeling and the more frequent the experience, the more we become hardwired to respond in the same way.
To change behavior you must first use experience to change beliefs; you have to act, not think. Experience generates feelings that inform future experiences. The more positive the feelings and the more direct the link to experience, the more likely beliefs are to change. When beliefs change, behavior changes.
So, you can’t think your way into a new way of acting; you have to act your way into a new way of thinking.
Action Works by Acting
Here are the keys to leadership success in getting people to act their way to a new way of thinking:
1. Set a clear, simple and meaningful direction.
2. Develop and empower people; it’s people, not technology, that make the difference.
3. Build trust and optimism through positive results in problem solving the needs of clients.
4. Solve those problems as real-time experience, close to the work, not in meetings.
5. Grow by repeating your success and relentlessly challenging the status quo.
The results are always positive.
Surya M Ganduri, PhD. PMP. is the founder and president of eMBC, Inc., an international firm specializing in strategic and executive leadership development processes that Help People Succeed in an Evolving World. His company is dedicated to helping organizations and individuals manage strategic change, innovation, cultural transition, and goal achievement. Surya has over 26 years of business experience in management consulting, leadership development, executive coaching, process improvements, organizational development and youth leadership. Contact Surya ats6ganduri@eMBCinc.com. For more information, visit www.eMBCinc.com or contact eMBC, Inc., directly at (630) 445-1321.