Innovation , Management , Change Alan Deutschman: The benefits of change What really inspires positive change is hope, not fear, according to a leading writer on change and innovation. He uses compelling case studies to show how heart patients, criminals, drug addicts and multibillion-dollar corporations can improve their future prospects by embracing change that at first may seem impossible. Deutschman also spent 19 years as a business journalist in Silicon Valley. He has profiled innovators around the world and discovered some of what makes up effective leadership, especially during times of change.
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You want odds? Here are the odds, the scientifically studied odds: nine to one. How do you like those odds? A dream team of experts took the stage, and you might have expected them to proclaim that breathtaking advances in science and technology — mapping the human genome and all that — held the long-awaited answers.
Then the knockout blow was delivered by Dr. About , people have bypasses every year in the United States, and 1. The procedures temporarily relieve chest pains but rarely prevent heart attacks or prolong lives. Around half of the time, the bypass grafts clog up in a few years; the angioplasties, in a few months. The causes of this so-called restenosis are complex.
But many patients could avoid the return of pain and the need to repeat the surgery — not to mention arrest the course of their disease before it kills them — by switching to healthier lifestyles. Yet very few do. The core of the matter is always about changing the behavior of people. And as individuals, we may want to change our own styles of work — how we mentor subordinates, for example, or how we react to criticism. The most notorious recent example is Michael Eisner.
But Eisner proved incapable of seeing through the idea, essentially refusing to share any real power with Ovitz from the start. The conventional wisdom says that crisis is a powerful motivator for change. Nor does giving people accurate analyses and factual information about their situations. What works?
Why, in general, is change so incredibly difficult for people? What is it about how our brains are wired that resists change so tenaciously? Why do we fight even what we know to be in our own vital interests? In highly successful change efforts, people find ways to help others see the problems or solutions in ways that influence emotions, not just thought.
Look again at the case of heart patients. The best minds at Johns Hopkins and the Global Medical Forum might not know how to get them to change, but someone does: Dr. Ornish, like Kotter, realizes the importance of going beyond the facts.
Still, the medical establishment remained skeptical that people could sustain the lifestyle changes. In , Ornish persuaded Mutual of Omaha to pay for a trial. Researchers took patients with severely clogged arteries. The patients attended twice-weekly group support sessions led by a psychologist and took instruction in meditation, relaxation, yoga, and aerobic exercise.
The program lasted for only a year. Framing Change Why does the Ornish program succeed while the conventional approach has failed? For starters, Ornish recasts the reasons for change. For a few weeks after a heart attack, patients were scared enough to do whatever their doctors said. The patients lived the way they did as a day-to-day strategy for coping with their emotional troubles.
That means enjoying the things that make daily life pleasurable, like making love or even taking long walks without the pain caused by their disease.
For example, we typically think of a company as being like an army — everyone has a rank and a codified role in a hierarchical chain of command with orders coming down from high to low. If we had the frame of the company as a family or a commune, people would know very different ways of working together. The big challenge in trying to change how people think is that their minds rely on frames, not facts. We may be presented with facts, but for us to make sense of them, they have to fit what is already in the synapses of the brain.
Otherwise, facts go in and then they go right back out. They are not heard, or they are not accepted as facts, or they mystify us: Why would anyone have said that? Then we label the fact as irrational, crazy, or stupid. The frame that dominates our thinking about how work should be organized — the military chain-of-command model — is extremely hard to break.
When new employees start at W. Gerstner Jr. He thought he could revive the company through maneuvers such as selling assets and cutting costs. He needed to transform the entrenched corporate culture, which had become hidebound and overly bureaucratic.
That meant changing the attitudes and behaviors of hundreds of thousands of employees. He proved to be an engaging and emotional public speaker when he took his campaign to his huge workforce. But it still needs to be positive, inspiring, and emotionally resonant. A good example is how chairman and publisher Arthur Sulzberger Jr. Raines fell when a star reporter he had shielded from criticism was exposed for fabricating news stories. Gardner says that Sulzberger successfully reframed the narrative this way: We are a great newspaper.
We temporarily went astray and risked sacrificing the community spirit that made this an outstanding place to work. Paradoxically, he found that radical, sweeping, comprehensive changes are often easier for people than small, incremental ones.
What could possibly be a smaller or easier lifestyle change than popping a pill every day? The paradox holds that big changes are easier than small ones. Research shows that this idea applies to the business realm as well. The means were drastic: In almost every case, the CEOs fired most of the top management. Without sufficient wins that are visible, timely, unambiguous, and meaningful to others, change efforts invariably run into serious problems.
Four years ago, when the company was in crisis, they came up with a new vision that required salespeople to change the way they had always worked. They knew how to do that. It was comforting. Under the new strategy, the salespeople were supposed to really engage with customers so they could understand the complexities of how their offices operated and find opportunities to sell other products, such as scanners and printers.
Maybe they would find that the customer actually needed fewer machines that could do more than the old ones had. It undermined the cozy predictability of their routines. The reps became anxious, Firestone recalls. It often took a couple of months before the salespeople received their scheduled training in the new approach. And it took two years before the company changed its incentive pay system to fit better with the new model, in which the reps had to invest a lot more time and effort before they signed deals.
Eventually, though, the change effort, by expanding the sales focus to a larger range of products, helped Xerox avoid bankruptcy and return to profitability. This Is Your Brain on Change Are most of us like the fearful copier salespeople who dread disruption to their routines? Now researchers such as Dr. Both use PC software to train people to overcome mental disabilities or diseases: Scientific Learning Corp.
Merzenich starts by talking about rats. You can train a rat to have a new skill. The rat solves a puzzle, and you give it a food reward. After times, the rat can solve the puzzle flawlessly. After times, it can remember how to solve it for nearly its lifetime. The rat has developed a habit. It can perform the task automatically because its brain has changed. Similarly, a person has thousands of habits — such as how to use a pen — that drive lasting changes in the brain.
For highly trained specialists, such as professional musicians, the changes actually show up on MRI scans. Flute players, for instance, have especially large representations in their brains in the areas that control the fingers, tongue, and lips, Merzenich says.
He has lots of specialized skills and abilities. How, then, to overcome these factors? My suggestion is learn Spanish or the oboe. Software engineers try their hand at marketing. Designers get involved in business functions.
In a company, you have to worry about rejuvenation at every level. So ideally you deliberately construct new challenges. For every individual, you need complex new learning. Innovation comes about when people are enabled to use their full brains and intelligence instead of being put in boxes and controlled.
Merzenich says that people who live to 85 have a chance of being senile.
Alan Deutschman: The benefits of change
You want odds? Here are the odds that the experts are laying down, their scientifically studied odds: nine to one. How do you like those odds? This revelation unnerved me when I heard it in November at a private conference at Rockefeller University, an elite medical research center in New York City. A dream team of experts took the stage, and you might have expected them to proclaim that breathtaking advances in science and technology—mapping the human genome and all that—held the long- awaited answers. Too much stress. Not enough exercise.
Change or Die?
Intuitively, we think that this change first has to be come from the inside. Return to Book Page. Given that any honest dialogue is rare, it takes an exceptional workplace context for people to openly talk through change. Workers and managers battled incessantly. The new relationship helps you learn new ways of thinking about your situation and your life.
ALAN DEUTSCHMAN CHANGE DIE PDF
Change or Die: The Three Keys to Change at Work and in Life