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Why Knowing Better Doesn't Always Translate to Doing Better

by Katherine Hunter on Tuesday, August 20, 2013 12:01 PM

Lean Transformations begin as an idea, an idea that by doing something different we can be something different.  In the security and comfort of our own thoughts, we can imagine how amazing it will be to work within a continuous improvement culture where our talents are recognized, supported, and our skills utilized.  What a great place to be!  No end-of-the month rushes, consistently making the numbers, everyone contributes, and life is good.  Sounds great, right?  So how do we get there?  And why is it so hard?


The truth is, ideas are cheep and we can imagine all kinds of things both good and bad without invoking any action.  The heart however, represents the subconscious motivations -- the gut responses and deep fears.  As such, the heart can have a very different perspective on the same issue.


Organizational change has the same dynamic as starting a diet or quitting smoking. We all know the benefits and are painfully clear about how our current behavior doesn't support out goals. However, just because we know better, doesn't mean we do better.


Resistance in doing the work required for organizational change is the same as grabbing that last donut off the HR filing cabinet on your way into a meeting instead of going back to your office to retrieve the carrots you packed for lunch. We justify the behavior by claiming a lack of time. I don't buy it, and here is why: I know a whole lot of vegetarian/vegans, athletes, recovering addicts, and excellent organizations. The thing they all have in common is that they are absolutely clear that the boundaries they set and the choices they make, ensure their actions are steadfastly congruent with their beliefs.  A vegan simply doesn't make the choice to grab a ham sandwich just because it is available any more than an excellent organization will comprise quality just to ship product. Choices have consequences.


When we resist change, be it eating the donut or doing the work of organizational change, it is because we are fearful of how fast the world will change when finally have our head and heart aligned. Conquer the fear and the resistance goes away.


Don't expect these fears to be rational, they’re not, and that's the point.  Regardless of what the change is, be it dieting or corporate change, working with the rational head-stuff is only part of the task.  The more difficult, and therefore often ignored aspect, is the heart-stuff.  When the heart and head aren't aligned it creates a cognitive dissonance that, because it is non-verbal and sub-conscious, manifests itself as self-sabotage and resistance.  When we are not aligned, the accelerating pace scares us so we sabotage it slow it down.  When the head and heart are aligned all the energy flows in the same direction and momentum gains exponentially.  This changes the world.


Go change your world.  Call us if you need a hand.

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Katherine Hunter

Katherine has completed three advanced degrees in human behavior including a doctorate in Transformational Psychology. She is passionate about transformation: transformation of business, company culture and individuals. Katherine believes that the success of an organization is directly proportional to the passion of the individuals to make a difference and works with clients to leverage teamwork and collaboration as key components of sustainable performance.

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