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Ever had to buy a new computer? The old one turned a bit slow, isn’t really performant any more and installing updates is risky business… Time to switch, right? But, hey, on the other hand, the old one is still working (more or less) and the idea of having to spend a whole day transferring all your applications and folders to a new one is just too dreadful… so you stick with the old one and hope it will bare another 3 to 4 months.

Well, this situation is very similar to adopting new work routines. One of my customers is launching daily stand-ups right now and after a great kick-off and 2 weeks of trial and error, team leaders turned back to the old “ad hoc” style of managing their teams. They “know” that this old style is banned and will need to be replaced, but at the same time, they dread the idea of having to invest time in the new routine and get it all up and running… so by default their brain turns to hope: hope that the old style will bare for a couple of days/weeks/months more… and so the change doesn’t happen.

What is needed here? Let’s go back to the computer-case: If you are at Mediamarkt shopping for a new laptop what does the sales guy need to say to get you convinced? Should he talk about how great the new computer will perform or how happy you’ll be once you’ll have it all set up? No, your brain doesn’t want to hear about the gains, first, it needs to be relieved from its pains. It needs to be comforted on the part it fears the most: “the transition from old to new”.So if you run into a good sales guy, this is what he tells you:

  • “Don’t worry, the transfer is really, really easy”
  • “I have just done one myself last week”
  • “Here, I’ll show you how it works”

… and take you to the demo-computer and show that it is as easy as he claims.

And this is exactly what will need to happen in the team adopting a new daily management style: We won’t convince them by explaining how great their life will be once those daily stand-ups will be the norm or how much benefit it brought in another department. What they need to hear from me is that:

  • It’s going to be easy
  • I helped teams transitions many times (which is true!)
  • They will get the necessary & practical support to feel confident enough to start experimenting

In leadership & change management we often over-emphasise the final gains and we often emphasise those gains too soon. This calls out to resistance because the brain is still busy with processing the current difficulties. Only a brain in experimental phase can adopt the concept of rational gains. When people are not ready, change managers must rely on the power of pain relief.

First comfort – then movement – only then comes change.



Find out how the different stages of our neuro change model can help your business forward.