One of my favourite articles of all time is The Neuroscience of Leadership by Rock & Schwartz. Sounds technical and scary but it isn't. It really helps to explains why us weird humans do the things we do.
The article appeals because it helps to explain why the application of the principles of behavioural psychology so critical in driving organisational change. Simply demanding compliance ("you will now do this") from people does not work if you want to achieve sustainable, authentic change because humans have to believe in what they are asked to do. And only then will they come along for the ride - the 'why' is so important to us humans.
Another excellent article on the subject from Strategy+Business titled 'That's the way we (used to) do things around here', also helps to explain that change doesn't just happen simply because the boss decrees it. As the article says...
"New behaviours can be put in place, but only by reframing attitudes that are so entrenched that they are almost literally embedded in the physical pathways of employees’ neurons. These beliefs have been reinforced over the years through everyday routines and hundreds of workplace conversations. They all have the same underlying theme: “That’s the way we do things around here.”
So to change 'the way things are done around here', and get peoples heads out of the sand, requires a change in the conversations they are having, which then leads to an actual rewiring of the brain (mindsets) and which ultimately leads to new (and better) behaviours. Sounds like something out of science fiction but then what doesn't sometimes.
The article highlights that the "potential impact of neuroscience on management practice is mostly unrealized". This is surprising considering the compelling evidence to support it and this is something ON-Brand Partners is out to change because experience proves that only by recognising how human beings actually work, can we begin to change the mindsets that drive ingrained behaviours.
Basically, people aren't robots and never will be. Yes, demanding compliance ("you must do this") can get short-term gains, but this is not sustainable as people have to believe in what they are doing. And only then will they give you that elusive discretionary effort that every organisation wants, something most commonly known as 'better productivity'. Yes, CEO's, CFO's and COO's, productivity is pretty much nothing more sometimes than making people believe in, or feel good about what they are doing. Humans are as weird as that.
For anyone with an interest in achieving sustainable behavioural change in their organisation, I highly recommend you read these two articles. You'll no doubt see a lot of your own behaviour reflected in them but that's OK because you are only human - perfectly flawed like everyone else, but capable of change.
And one last thing that has dawned on me as I learn more about Neuroscience, is that when people talk about culture change as being about the soft stuff (sometimes, sadly in a derogatory way), I realise that is profoundly wrong. It's not about the 'soft' stuff, it's actually about the 'hard-wired' stuff!