Change Disrupts Our System


In his new book entitled “Ways out of Fear”, Gerald Hüther refers to a “paradise condition” for which we all strive in which everything fits optimally together because this simply saves the most energy. The condition in which an organism expands only the most minimal quantities of energy is precisely the condition in which everything that is running there functions harmoniously to the greatest extent possible. In our brain, this is always then the case whenever older areas work together seamlessly with younger areas, the right half of the brain with the left half of the brain and whenever thinking, feeling and acting form one entity. However, how often is this the case in reality? Rarely – which we all know only too well. This condition is truly a paradise because it is fundamentally unattainable.


But if we haven’t already succeeded in doing this, why should it then succeed at companies with hundreds of different employees? How often do we hear in organisations that “the one side doesn’t know what the other side is doing” and that the harmony at companies has already been lost again? Like in our brain, there is always something which is disrupting the internal order. In our organism, there are new experiences or impressions which we have never experienced before. Our visual cortex sends out a signal pattern which initially must be compared and evaluated. This is quite similar to how things function within organisations. New employees enter the system and irritate the prevailing co-existence. Even if the new colleague ultimately is considered to represent a valuable addition to the team, a team-building process begins which must bring the new order within the system into stability again.


Announcements of changes are then already the extreme case because the system’s coherence can no longer be guaranteed with certainty. The desired condition of stability is supplanted by a condition of instability because only unstable systems can be changed. However, once again, only a handful of employees want this because the energy required for this increases dramatically for each individual person when one then abandons one’s routine, begins to think differently, to solve problems, to resolve conflicts and ultimately to even still learn something new. Thus, we very often experience within change processes that employees have the feeling of being overwhelmed. This is also understandable because, based upon our neurological structure, we have the tendency to want to reduce complexity. We love automatisms. Everything which we experience in life we then subsequently endeavour to automate as much as possible so that optimally we no longer have to think at all when fulfilling these tasks.


Thus, during change processes, we can change not just “outward appearances”. As I have often seen that companies with a new organisational structure believe that they can affect a change. We must work on the overriding models, on our internal attitudes and approaches. Sustainable changes always begin internally. In our brain as well, the attitudes and approaches which are anchored in the frontal brain lobe as complex networks decide how I deal with other persons or a new situation. The organisation must develop the ability to embrace new tasks with interest and to not consider them to be disruptive. It is necessary to promote values such as candour and creativity, but also curiosity. However, all these internal attitudes cannot be measured which once again poses difficulties during a time in which we would like to quantify everything. We can determine only through observation whether we have successfully implemented these skills within organisations.  How the employees and management conduct themselves, what they say, what they do.


Thus, we must understand change management as a process and not as a project. It is not a matter of initiating a change initiative for a limited duration of time and celebrating each and every event as a success. We must prepare organisations for a perpetual change process. They must be able to ultimately change themselves and perceive this condition – of instability – as being stability. That means that we must internally work on the self-image of the organisation and not just quickly repaint the facade, so to speak. This is oftentimes no easy process and costs energy because it is initially perceived as being disruptive. There are only no other alternatives if we want to successfully complete change processes.

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