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Try Changing what you can’t see

All things change. Life doesn't stop for anybody …

… and nor will it for the ongoing digital revolution.


At least 40% of all businesses will die in the next 10 years… if they don’t figure out how to change their entire company to accommodate new technologies. “John Chambers, Cisco


How do you make people ‘see’ that the digital acceleration is actually accelerating? How to address the inexorable ‘metal maps’ in your organization? The medicament I suggest: contrast x confrontation.


With differences in colour, shape, light setting and backgrounds objects can be observed more clearly. In addition, objects that are directly in front of us are will most likely occupy ‘mind-space' than objects in our peripheral vision. In complex organizational settings, there are so many things to looks at that people can selectively focus on easily seen elements from the past and present that are similar (and familiar) rather than different. In effect, they can choose to ignore key contrasts and thereby avoid looking at why what worked so weak in the past might fail in the future.


The essence of confrontation is as simple as it is powerful. Just as people see most clearly what is directly in front of them, people see mentally what they most directly experience. Why? The most vivid and deep images in our mind are put there by a combination of direct physical senses. The more senses involved, the better the emotions and images are anchored in our minds.

  • Event x Emotion = Unforgettable

  • Emotions act …act as Lubricant

  • Emotions act as glue

  • Emotions 'lubricate connections'

  • Emotions generate dopamine

  • Positive experiences aid memory

  • Positive emotions aid info processing

From here it is clear that low contrast and low confrontation experiences will have no meaningful impact on your change initiatives. If what is different today versus tomorrow is not clear and there is just some email about it, without contrast or meaningful confrontation it is unlikely that anything can be ignited. If people don’t see the need for change then they will not change.


Your “dog & pony show” is an elaborate presentation as part of your promotional campaign, but when the confrontation is low people will “oooh” and “aaah” for a moment. But when the parade has passed and the show is over people will go right back to what they were doing before. As people can not embody and feel the need for change the parade failed to engage them and ultimately will fail to generate to break through their mental barrier and see the need for change.


The "old shoe" is a context in which the confrontation is hog but contrast low. It smells and looks obviously worn out, so you notice it, but it is still the same old comfortable shoe that has been there day after day … so what’s new.


And last, if the contrast is low coupled with high confrontation rarely anything will happen that helps people to see the need for change.


Curious to know how to create healthy confrontation and create a sense of urgency by contrasting what is happening with your customers’ needs, your competition’s value proposition, new promising technologies and the potential of new products and services… then let’s get started with a ‘get to know each other’ coffee over zoom.


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