Our brains like predictability – it helps people feel a sense of control and safety. The human brain is wired to detect change, and any change is considered a potential threat. This is one reason many people find change uncomfortable and will sometimes avoid change or delay adapting to changed circumstances/demands.
Stop resisting the change!
The human brain takes up 2% of the body’s mass but uses 20% of its energy. Thus our brains strive for efficiency whenever possible. The more we repeat the same process, neural networks develop to support that sequence making it stronger, faster and more efficient. Using these neural networks is comfortable and pleasant. Likewise, efficiency has been critical to business success for many years and remains an important competency.
Efficiency comes in many forms, but studies in recent years shows that a by considering the environment in which work is carried out is just as critical to efficiency gained through repetitive work. This culminates in a need to supplement our efficiency mindset with an innovation mindset. In contrast to efficient thinking, innovation requires openness to change and new ideas. It benefits from the influx of different types of information, including unrelated memories, sensory experiences, random thoughts and emotions. It also requires a degree of novelty and stimulation which can be gained from new interactions, more unusual work-settings, or working offsite at any time. Workers now need to be able to adapt in an ever-changing business environment, with creativity and flexibility.
Environment is key
An actively based physical environment provides a great foundation for cultivating a social environment that encourages openness, transparency and social connections -key prerequisites for broadening thinking. Building on this foundation leaders and employees can begin to identify ways to provide more stimulation through encouraging input from diverse stakeholders, inspiring curiosity, humour and even a sense of fun.
Actively considering what you are trying to accomplish at any given time and choosing the best physical, technological and social environment to achieve that outcome is a great first step – making this a new habit is an even better approach.