Can Business (You) Really Change?

There’s been rumors of revolution!

Scratch that, there’s been widespread advertising of revolution.

From Richard Florida’s "The Flight of the Creative Class" to Thomas Friedman’s "The World is Flat" to the recent Bob Garfield’s "Chaos Theory" article, to even the humble stuff I write... it seems that we are all aware of the impending destruction and recreation of business, society, culture and more with the arrival of the connection economy. But is the world really gonna change the way we think that it might?

The answer to that is perhaps best inspired by the latest article by Alan Deutschman of Fast Company called " Making Change". In it, Alan offers new insights from psychology and neuroscience about why it is so hard to change our ways, and what actually works to make changes happen.

This one struck home. Especially having known people (including myself) who repeat counterproductive patterns despite knowing better. The key finding from current research is quite interesting.

It basically states that the odds of changing are 9 to 1 against you.

It goes on state that resistance to change is not hardwired from childhood like we’d previously thought but rather, we need to change our emotional frame of reference about why we should make that change. Facts don’t change our ways as most smokers or overeaters will tell you, and neither does fear of impending doom. Small gradual changes almost never work, as they don’t show us dramatic enough results for us to stick to them.

It must be about changing one’s frame of reference. It must be radical and sufficiently supported in order to sustain. Knowing all that is great, but the real question now is how do we apply it?

How do we get CEOs who revert to methodologies of their prior success in the face of adverse market conditions? Why do CMOs still insist on spending for TV media buys when the stats are to the contrary? Or COOs who still think operational efficiencies give them the competitive edge when we already know opportunities come from exploration and not process management?

The only thing anyone can predict for certain is the inevitability of change.

The ones mentioned here and elsewhere relating to the changing nature of business are real. It’s going to be a requirement for survival in the connection age. So how can you think different about the emotional context of it so you can make it happen?

The real question may not be about if business can change, but rather can the people who lead business change? I believe people can. They just need a real emotional reason to do so.

I can offer some of those reasons, how about you?

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