Fear and Organizations

As we move towards another season with Labor Day approaching, I thought it an opportune time to shift this conversation towards innovation and how we cultivate innovation both within our own organizations and with our customers.  Before we have that conversation, however, I think it’s important to talk about fear both in relation to process improvement and organizations as a whole.  In the attached article by Power, the author proposes that we can enable process change by removing the need for fear.  To me, we can do that through creating awareness, desire, knowledge, ability, and reinforcement.

While change is a constant part of any corporate culture (and life itself), many times we don’t take the time to talk about the fear that comes along with change.  But why do we fear change so much and yet speak about it so little?  For one, I think that’s driven by a culture that rejects fear instead of embracing it due to base human needs.  From this article by Power’s: “… if we change immediately every time we encounter a new environment, we will constantly spend energy on changing — energy that we need to survive. And whenever we encounter a new environment, our first reaction is fear. It has to be fear because before we take any action, we must ensure that we can survive. We use this fear to keep us safe.”  The emphasis is mine, but the point is clear: we don’t want to waste the energy required by change because we want like to be predictable and comfortable (we could have an entire conversation around Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs) and that we can survive.

Next week I’d like to tackle the issue of fear within organizations, and from there dig into innovation and the consultative mindset.

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