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BTOES Insights Official
By
July 27, 2020

Digital Transformation Workplace Live- SPEAKER SPOTLIGHT : Using Neuroscience to drive Digital Transformation

 

Courtesy of Google Cloud's Travis Hahler, below is a transcript of his speaking session on 'Using Neuroscience to drive Digital Transformation' to Build a Thriving Enterprise that took place at BTOES Enterprise Architecture Live Virtual Conference.

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Session Information:

Using Neuroscience to drive Digital Transformation

People inherently resist change. With Digital Transformation at the top of most companies' list of goals, how do we harness what we know about the brain to prepare ourselves and our teams for the changes necessary to achieve Digital Transformation? Discover the different reactions to change and tips on how to manage change successfully. You’ll learn about your brain, how to relate to your teams, and leave understanding how Change Management can not only improve your odds of success in your Digital Transformation journey but also be a valuable investment in your people and culture.

Session Transcript:

We have the Global Change and Cultural Lead for Google Cloud, joining us to talk about the Neuroscience of Change. Travis is a personal friend, but also a leader in the change and transformation space. Any his career has worked with over 100 companies, including 40% of the Fortune 100 list. He holds degrees in business and psychology with an emphasis in consumer behavior, an MBA and has studied neuroscience at Harvard and perform neurological research and aalborg universe in Denmark. Currently traverses the Global Change and Transformation Lead for Google Cloud.

Travis, turn on your camera. Join us. We're really thrilled to have you today to have you with us today, and, and the very much look forward to your presentation.

Thank you so much, Josie, and thank you for the warm welcome.

Let me go ahead and just share my slides here.

Just say: Are you able to see my slides apologists?

It's not coming through just yet.

Now, they are analogous.

There is a kind of a widescreen for your slide right now.

All right, Let me try that one out.

There we go. Sorry about that. Alright, thank you so much for the warm welcome and thank you to all of you who decided to join this, this discussion today. I'm really excited to be here. And we're going to talk about things just a little bit differently today in terms of digital transformation, and that is on the topic of neuroscience. So, I hope that you find the next 35 minutes, fun and engaging, and if you have any questions, we'll have some time for Q&A at the end.

Perfect. Well, as Joseph mentioned, my name is Travis Hailer, I'm the Global Change and Transformation Lead for Google Cloud. I'm incredibly humbled to be here and excited to be here today to talk about a topic that I'm really passionate about. But first, I want to start out about with telling you a little bit about myself and why this topic is exciting to me. So, as Joe's they kind of alluded to, I have had a diverse set of experiences, so far in my education, my career, Along with my degrees, I hold undergraduates, specializations, and consumer behavior, and abnormal psychology. I have a Master's Certifications and neuroscience and neuropsychology accounting, and also organizational behavior and theory. And I've been conducting neurological and psychological research on human behavior and addiction, with some of that time spent in Denmark at all of our universities studying human behavior.

So, this mash up is a little interesting in the business world. I might get a few eyebrows raised when I tell people What I did in My education, What I've done so far. But what I like about this kind of conglomeration of business and Psychology and neuroscience is that it's provided me a really interesting perspective. That's a little different from many in the business world, and after 10 years, and working in, pretty much every industry, over 100 companies, I can tell you, with certainty that a basic understanding of our human nature is by enlarge the most undervalued resource in our business world today. And the answers to many of our frustrations, roadblocks, and successes are just right in front of us. But we don't really listen to it. And the reason is that much of that information.

We know about the brain has been written by neuroscientists and neurologists in a language that people, without a background in neuroscience or neurology can't really understand. So I'm here to hopefully be that vessel, to help take what we know about our brain, and make it understandable and applicable for you in your digital transformation journey.

Screenshot - 2020-07-27T143315.788So how are we going to accomplish this? It seems like a lot to do in 35 minutes, But my goal today is really to help you understand what your employees, your peers, and your colleagues are going to go through, as our world continues to evolve and change at a rapid pace. Digital transformation is driving changes in culture, ways of working, and at a pace of change that we have rarely seen in the past. Oftentimes, I like to equate it to the start of e-commerce and how that pretty much changed almost every industry overnight. This is essentially the same thing. Digital transformation is changing everything in business trends. So how are we going to I'm sorry to interrupt but yours light is only showing two thirds of the way. Go ahead and move your slide to see if it's something on the first panel or if it's maybe the format.

Sure, now it's now It's showing full, both full. Yeah. It was only showing partially before. So now it's showing full full screen. Thank you for that.

Of course, sorry about that.

It's still not moving forward. Josiah hold on. I'm just going to restart this for us here on this side.

All right, just one second here.

Sometimes we have to just restart the presentation. So, no problem.

All right.

Is it working? OK, now does that: Yeah, it looks good now.

OK, wonderful, All right. So let me go back one slide here, and I'll get back to where we were.

All right.

So, before we really Jump in, is it still showing the correct slide?

It should be on my agenda slide here, Now it's showing what is digital transformation?

Yep.

Now, it's showing the the four steps OK.

All right, thank you. Sorry about that, everyone. Sometimes we have some technical difficulties. All right. So how are we going to do this in 35 minutes, basically? But we're going to start by talking a little bit about digital transformation, and then go into an understanding of our brains, and the role that our neurology and neuroscience plays in how we adopt changes, and new ways of working that. I want to talk a little bit about how we shift that culture and the tools that we use to drive cultural changes. And then I'm going to talk a little bit about what this means for you as leaders and champions of change in your organization. And finally, as I mentioned, we will leave some time for questions, and some Q and A So, I believe, just say they'll be e-mailing those, and for you, and we will we'll take them live. So that's fantastic.

All right, so we go ahead and.

Not sure why this is part of the economy.

I pause for a moment, but it did go through screen again. And now it's I can see your desktop now.

All right, let's push science.

It looks good on this end.

All right. Let's try this. Hopefully, this works.

Yeah, we can see the light bill below your picture, so it looks good at this end right now.

OK, wonderful, All right, so, our first step is to understand what digital transformation is, and I realized that many of you are here, for digital transformation. But, it's always important to level set how kind of, I view digital transformations, that we're all able to understand what I'm saying in the context that it's intended. And, for me, the definition of digital transformation that I like to use is that digital transformation, the process of using digital technology is to create new, or modify existing business processes, culture, and customer experiences to meet changing business and market requirements. This re-imagining of business in the digital age is digital transformation. I like this definition, because it's incredibly clear and concise, but also, because it's specified, specifically calls out culture as a part of digital transformation. But to make it even simpler, digital transformation is all about changing the way we work, and our corporate identity, and how we go to market using digital technologies.

And it's essentially all about change.

So we're going to start our conversation with the brain and more specifically, neuroscience and neuropsychology. So we start with the brain, because it's a fascinating piece of our anatomy and it really causes all kinds of problems. It has everything to do with who we are, and who the people around us are.

And while our brain essentially dictates all the things we do, very few actually understand the impact of the brain on our day-to-day lives. And a lot of what we know about neuroscience and neuropsychology today isn't accurate.

Btog CTAAnd I'll explain, many of you have been told that you aren't good at math. Or you are good at math because you're more of a right brained person, or that you learn visually versus verbally, And there's really no scientific evidence that logical versus creative. People use different sides of their brains. This got started because of where different brain centers are located in our brain, and somehow it got blown out of proportion as a way of working and a way that we should be learning. And it's the same with learning styles. Every person is able to learn in any type of environment, so you aren't a verbal or visual learner. You're just the learner, and it really depends on what's capturing your attention at that moment, versus what specific type of learner you are, or what you should always default to.

So, there are many myths and legends about the brain, and it's one of the reasons we spend a lot of time creating things that have no true baring on results.

And my goal is to change that, starting with the question, why do people resist change after working with a number of executives at over 100 companies?

I've asked this question a lot, and there are a few answers that I've heard and three in particular themes that I've heard for. The first is, I either get this message of distrust, where a leader will say, You know, our people are comfortable, and they don't want to do any more work. That's why they're resisting the change. Or I get something like an authoritarian answer, like, well, if we tell them to change, they'll either fall in line or they'll leave, and that's OK. We want the people who are going to fall in line and follow us.

Oregon, the third. and this is a little bit of confusion, and we get this one a lot at Google, and it's really around, you know, the solution is so simple. Why wouldn't they want to change? And this is oftentimes difficult to answer, right, But how come all of these statements are all 100% wrong? And there's actually one thing that makes all of them wrong.

They're all wrong, because they make an assumption on the word choice. By saying that someone doesn't want to change, you are saying that that person is choosing not to change. When in reality, that is just simply not true, and I'm here to tell you that your colleagues do not have a choice in resisting to change. They will resist change. The extent is going to be variable, but the human physiological response to change is to resist. So I hope you leave here with a number of takeaways. But if you leave with this session today and don't retain anything else, please remember that every human that's ever walked this earth will resist change naturally. It is hard coded into who we are as humans.

So if you let that sink in for a minute, your brain's natural reaction to being told to change is to say, no. So, when you're working with your colleagues, their initial reaction to this change is going to be resistance of some form, And I'm going to explain why that is so that you can be prepared for it and how to handle it. and understand that resistance.

But first, I need to give you a little disclaimer, really quickly, to go into our brain and understand what it is that is causing our brain to say. No, We're going to have to talk a little bit about neuroscience in neuropsychology. That means I'm going to have to nerd out on my neuropsychology background a little bit, and sometimes that can be daunting for people, but I will make two commitments to you. The first is I will make every attempt to make this topic is easy to understand as possible, by providing real-life examples that you can all relate to.

The second commitment I'll make to you is that you can leave here today, being able to use the words basal ganglia in a sentence and actually know what you're talking about. And someone else will not have any idea what you're talking about, but Those are my commitments to you. So we'll go ahead and get started with our brain. So I believe that there are six main reasons why change is hard at a neurological level. And we are going to explore each of them in detail.

Right off the bat, we can blame market basal ganglia. So I'm going to keep my first promise right away. You can simply blame it, all on the basal ganglia. Tomorrow, when someone asks you why you did something, just a basal ganglia walk away. And that's all you have to say, because our basal ganglia at the center of our brain that stores are repetitive, habitual tasks information, your brain is constantly striving for efficiency, and, quite frankly, it's absolutely amazing at it. It's amazing at being efficient. So, our brain uses the basal ganglia to optimize energy usage as we go through our day-to-day tasks. Are brain feels that if we do something over and over again in the same way, why not just automate it and not use conscious thought to control it?

Like how many of you have been in the shower thinking about your day and it felt like you'd been in there an appropriate amount of time, But you just can't remember if you actually use body wash or so.

Maybe some of you. Maybe some of you aren't sure, which is why we think it as far deodorant. But the reason you can't remember is, because your basal ganglia put you on autopilot. So most likely what was happening is that you're thinking what I what I consider to be shower thoughts, which are you're thinking about your day, maybe a strange dream or situation that you're concerned about at work. And your brain said You need energy to think about that. So it engaged your basal ganglia to basically put you on autopilot. Essentially, our brain is very lazy. And it saves us a ton of energy to continue doing things the same way, over, and over, by using your basal ganglia. So the same thing can be said for the business world as our personal world. So our brains want to optimize our tasks that we do as we work. A perfect example of this is at work. And if you're like me, maybe your e-mail address is the same at work as it is for personal. You go to your e-mail and you're trying to go to your personal e-mail.

Event Email Graphic Virtual Conferences (1)But what happens you type in your work password. It happens to me all the time. That is your basal ganglia. You didn't even give it a second thought. It's hard coded into how you access your e-mail every day And that's the password it put in.

So, naturally, our brain is already saying, you know, let me do what I do every single day to keep things simple and efficient, So already on this first one, we can see how change might pose some difficulty for us.

But our second reason is that change is exhausting. So, changing our ways requires us to think critically about how we perform a task versus leveraging our basal ganglia, for repetitive tasks. To do this. We have to engage our pre-frontal cortex, which is the center of the brain that houses logical thought, the pre-frontal cortex is the most energy consuming part of the brain, and it is easily fatigued. So this is why we often feel exhausted after a day, at a conference, where we're really just sitting in and taking information, and taking in information. And the reason that makes us want to go back to our hotel room at 8 0 PM And fall asleep is because while you're taking in new information, your pre-frontal cortex is in overdrive trying to form new neural connections based on what you know and what you are hearing. So, when I said, basal ganglia, your pre-frontal cortex, just rummage through every compartment of your brain to see if you've already heard that term before.

If you had it, then asked, Where did you hear it, in what context, Who told it to you, at the same time, your brain is taking in the information that I just gave you.

So it's even more work for your pre-frontal cortex and more exhausting, if what you're being told contradicts, what you've learned in the past. So if your brain searched, for basal ganglia, and it said, Oh, there it is, Susan told it to me. and she said that, basal Ganglia was a fruit she had in Peru.

But this guy just told me that basal ganglia is a part of the brain that houses repetitive functions. And your brain says, Hold on, so which one is right? Which one is wrong? Is it not a fruit? Is it a house in your brain, and which person do, I believe?

And so, if you're like me, then you start Googling, basal ganglia, and you start watching YouTube videos and three hours later, you're on to something completely different. And that's your brain at work.

But by and by the way, if the basal ganglia is not a fruit, it's actually the center of your brain. but your brain doesn't like to do new things. And in order to do these things requires a ton of energy. So we can already see that change is going to be hard and we're only on number two. We'll continue down the rabbit hole because it only gets better.

Our third one is that exclusion is painful. So when we don't include people in helping to design changes, we actually cause them pain and not just any kind of pain, a physical pain. So social exclusion activates the anterior cingulate which is the same center of the brain that causes physical pain. And so if you can imagine, you know, you're, you're able to get, you know, through your day, but you go and play soccer and you get kicked in the shed. That same amount of pain is registered in your brain and the exact same way as if you were to actually go and find out that you weren't included in a meeting. And you don't know why, and you don't understand why. That same type of pain is processed in the exact same way. And my point is that the brain will process pain no matter where it comes from, whether it's social exclusion, or physical pain. Your brain doesn't care. So, obviously, that's not fun for anyone. But as a physical pain, here's where it gets interesting is that your brain will naturally protect itself.

So, if you're feeling social exclusion and that is registering as pain, your brain will start to say, Well, I want to protect myself from any future pain, and I don't want to be involved with that. I don't want to be around those people who just excluded me from the meeting. Because that's not what I want for myself. And I'm going to protect myself.

Screenshot (4)So, our brain's going to tell us to avoid the things that we weren't included in. And it's got to try and avoid that pain as much as possible. So, being excluded is incredibly hard for our brain to deal with.

And our fourth one is that limbo is a no-go for our brain and plain and simple. Our brain is not designed for ambiguity. It doesn't function well without knowing what to think about or focus on, and quite frankly, it's just not good at it.

There was a study done at a bank during the financial crisis and they told one group that they were going to be laid off in three weeks and they didn't tell another group because they weren't sure at the time. When it came to ultimate layoffs, the group that was told in advance basically left the company saying, No, actually it was a great company to work for. I understand the situations that were going on, I'm obviously disappointed, but I've made plans.

The group that wasn't told and found out on, you know, right before, all said that they didn't enjoy working for the company and would not recommend it to another person.

So, all of that to say, your brain really hates to sit in limbo. And what does it do? It tries to piece together a story that makes sense to it. So it takes in all the information and knowledge that you've ever held and attempts to create a reason behind why something is the way it is, how it works, why it works, and what you've been asked to do.

So when you run out of knowledge, it creates the urge to talk to others and gather more data.

Our fifth reason is that we have an anxious amygdala. So your amygdala is the reptilian part of your brain that harnesses the very basics of staying alive. It's your fight or flight response. So, if you become too overwhelmed with too much change or information, amygdala hijacking will occur. Where the amygdala, in an attempt to protect you, will shut down all of your bodily processes, except for your fight or flight determination. So, while you're in the state, you're unable to be productive outside of anything beyond basic gate and basal ganglia functioning. Meaning, your pre-frontal cortex, which is required for change, is completely shut down and unusable. So if you've ever been in that situation where you're, you know, working away and minding your own business, and someone e-mails you, and says that they need a 45 page slide deck for the CEO by 5 0 PM tomorrow, and you quickly check the exits, that is your amygdala saying, Do we need to run? Or can we do this?

And, that's really interesting because, if you can imagine, amygdala hijackings would make changing the way we work incredibly difficult, and it would make everything in terms of productivity pretty much impossible at a company.

And our final one is that loss is hard. It's not something that our brain processes very well, and there's typically three types of loss that you'll experience in your life, and the first is the loss of security or control. So you don't know, you don't feel in control of your job, your role or the activities you feel a lack of support. On the second is a loss of competence, maybe your previously, an expert's. You know, you've lost that personal identity, that came with being an expert, and there's a fear that your skillset will no longer be relevant or viable for your role.

And the third is that there's a loss of relationship or a sense of direction. So you're unsure of where you fit into the company, you're unsure of where you fit in the world, and your sense of belonging might have changed.

These losses are all very detrimental to the human psyche.

Oftentimes, we approach lost by attempting to point out the silver lining. But unfortunately, for our brains, and for us, our brain reacts to loss in a stronger way than it reacts to gain. So this means it will take significantly more positive gains to overshadow a loss. And so, if we put this in the context of a typical business situation. If you have a co-worker who's going through a large change, let's pretend they're in accounting, and they're moving to a new accounting system. And, you know, they look a little upset after hearing about this new system that they're going to and you try to comfort them. The typical way that we do that in business is by giving them a laundry list of reasons why it will be better. So, we say things like, You will be a lot faster, the experience will be easier. You know, we won't have to spend so much time at the end of the month, etcetera.

And that just doesn't seem to work with people. And we often wonder why, if we put that into a personal situation. So if we imagine that your 10 year old child lost their favorite dog, and you start to say things like, Well, we're really better off because we're not going to have to walk your dog. We're not going to feed, and we're not going to brush his teeth. The reaction that you're gonna get is pretty obvious, right? It's not going to help. So, that conversation isn't going to go well.

But it's the same for us at work. So if we bring a little bit more of that personal touch into our work life and understand that just by listing that many reasons why it's better, isn't going to help us cope with loss. Although they might be true, and they may all be factual, it doesn't really matter, because our brain doesn't care.

So, obviously, we have a lot going on here with our brain, and we can pretty much summarize by saying that our brain is really lazy. It needs a lot of energy to change. It will avoid exclusion. It doesn't do well without knowing what's going on. It's going to shut down if it's overwhelmed, and it doesn't care about the games and the positives. So it sounds like we might have our work cut out for us in helping people change, just based on our brain. But the good news is that none of this is a secret, and none of this is intentional. And we can harness what we know about the brain to create an environment that is ready to change. So, how do we use what we know about the brain to overcome its natural resistance, or, as I like to think about it, how do we trick our brains? And they're doing what we want, instead of what it wants to do.

Just like there were six reasons people resist, there are six ways to overcome that resistance. And the first is repetition. So, as we talked, about, our basal ganglia hold onto repetitive and habitual tasks. The only way to change it from defaulting tool, from the old ways of working to the new, is through repetition. To provide that repetition, you're going to have to repeat yourself a lot. You're gonna have to utilize many different avenues to share the same message. Maybe creating a branding to help drive or simple recognition of the programs, creating a repetitive slogan that people will see often in e-mails and on posters. And you're gonna have to use numerous forms of communication to reach employees, including e-mail, posters, digital marketing swag, townhall discussions, team meetings, all of that you're going to have to repeat, repeat, repeat. You also need to be aware of, your colleagues need to repeat doing the new tasks, and repeat during the new processes, which brings me to my next point.

And this one always makes me the least liked person in the boardroom, but it's so important, especially if you want to make sure that your business runs as usual during changes. But you need to allow time. And don't try to do too much at once, and make sure that everyone is allowing enough time for people to digest the new information and perform the new tasks repeatedly.

Our first goal is to hard code, the new ways of working, into your basal ganglia, and replace the old habits that we once did.

But our second goal is really to provide you with time, so that, we want to avoid exhausting the pre-frontal cortex, or in the worst scenario, triggering amygdala, hijacking both of these situations will lead to decreased adoption and ultimately hurt productivity and disrupt the business. So when you're thinking about your digital transformation journey, and you're creating plans, make sure that you're leaving ample time for repeating messages and repeating tasks, because that's going to be so important to adoption.


Screenshot - 2020-07-27T143315.788
Our third is to be inclusive, and as we know, excluding people and their opinions or thoughts is really quick way to cost strain and ultimately, versus ultimately make people resist. So instead, tasks that widen that when you're inviting people and when in doubt default to inclusion over exclusion oftentimes are met with pushback because leadership is afraid of involving too many people in the decision making and that it will slow down or create increased complexity. But while this is true, in some cases, there are other ways to involve people that you can leverage. one of those ways is a change agent network, and that's a great way to involve a lot of people in the change. Change Agent networks are not only incredibly useful, but they also provide an opportunity to get stronger ownership from your employees by involving them.

So, including a Change Agent Network in your project will not only promote an inclusive environment, where people feel that their opinions are known, or art are appreciated, and help. But it's also a great way that you can utilize for communications and training transformation, labs, training, focus groups, all of those. So, if we just remember that exclusion is painful, and has met with avoidance, we, and we steer clear of it. We should be good, But try to open things up to as many people as you can.

Frequent and transparent messages are so important, it's the only way to avoid avoid ambiguity. And frequency is the only way to create trust and predictability. So, you need both to ensure that your employees don't start questioning what's going on, or begin trying to piece things together. So, while we're creating, while you're creating your plans, make sure it's communicating frequently enough, and honest that unexpected schedule, so whether that is brand new information, or repeat existing information, frequency and transparency are key.

Our fifth one is that we need to be walking the walk. So we need to start modeling the new behaviors immediately, and show your employees that it's OK to adopt at, and do the new ways of working. So Malcolm Gladwell wrote a great book titled The Tipping Point which looked at how and why certain things blew up and went viral or became trendy. What he found is that at a certain point, adoption of something breaks through that difficult journey of informing and educating, communicating and sharing and the scale tip, and all of a sudden, people rushed to adopt it. He called that the tipping point.

In many organizations, that sits around 30 to 40% of your population meeting, 1 is 30 to 40% of your population is adopting, the other 60 to 70% is going to quickly rush to also adopt. So that's where you can also leverage that change champion or Change agent network that we talked about, and share those messages broadly, and really embrace the change to model those behavior.

Further, rewards are so important when it comes to walking the walk, rewarding people who are, who are showing that they are adopting the new ways of working. and showing their proficiency in the new world is going to be so important to getting other people on board.

And finally, listening, this is the hardest thing to do, because in the business world, we oftentimes don't stop and listen too often. But loss is really difficult, and for some people, and especially for those who have a deep feeling of loss, in terms of the new ways of working, so there will be times when, honestly, you just need to listen and let people know that their concerns are being heard. It's very easy to get frustrated by people when you're going through a large change. But if you just think about their loss and lead with empathy, because they're going through a journey on their own their change journey for themselves, and listening might be exactly what they need to get them to that next stage on their own journey.

So, a quick recap of what we know, First. We need to change that narrative about resistance. From being a scary, scary thing to avoid to being something that naturally happens, and it's not happening to you. It's just a natural thing. So if we leverage, and if we leverage that, we can make sure that we're making plans and creating plans for people to overcome their own personal and natural resistance.

And if we make sure that to embrace the loss and acknowledge the loss, we will make sure that we're supporting our employees and listening.

So, what's, why is this important? Why do you need to know this for digital transformation at your company? I think there's three reasons that neuroscience in business is really important, and will go into them. But the first is figuring out what to worry about.

So it's really great in that respect. The second is determining how to use your time. And the third is discussions based on science versus theory.

So, let's go through just a couple of examples of each.

We're talking about figuring out what to worry about. Before we really jump into it, I want you to think about your own digital transformation journey and think about where you are, and then maybe just think about a specific initiative that's coming or one that's underway, but have not launched yet. And I want you to think about what keeps you up at night, what worries you? What are the things going through your head that are saying, man that could go wrong? And this could kind of, you know, ruined adoption or this could ruin the program, etcetera. And I'm going to use an example that I received from a, from a VP at a company that I've worked with in the past. Obviously, a week, we keep the specifics out of it. But what I asked this person, what failure looks like for a technology implementation as part of their digital transformation initiative, This is what they said. And this probably doesn't look that much different from the list that's in your head, or, you know, a list that you've had in your head previously.

But honestly, this list is pretty typical. But when we started the discussion, all of the things on this list felt like things we couldn't control or things that we weren't sure would or would not happen.

But now that we know things about the brain, these four concerns in particular are no longer unknowns because we know that leadership will initially resist naturally, not because they're against it, but because that's how humans react. So you can plan for that and prepare the correct business case to help tell the right story.

We also know that employees will experience a sense of loss of any change we put before them. So a natural reaction to loss is denial, anger, bargaining. Employees are not necessarily upset about the change. They're grieving for their loss. So, we know that providing an outlet and acknowledging that loss is key to helping your employees move forward in their change journey.

We also know that employees leave time, are of working to overcome their basal ganglia. So, employees typically find workarounds because they're not given the proper amount of time to learn the new methods. And, if that will look for a faster solution to continue to deliver delivering results? So, by providing that time and repetition, and, frequent and transparent messaging, employees will be able to fully learn the new ways of working and, hard, put it into their habitual knowledge, which will make them much more likely to follow the new ways of working.

Event Email Graphic Virtual Conferences (1)And, finally, we know that employees will have an initial reaction of resistance, but there's always a fear that they will just play, not like it. So, a go live should never be when you learn that people are going to have an adverse effect on the chain of, by the change. So, that's why you need to be to engage as many people as possible throughout the process, to ensure you have as much diversity of thought, to identify the pieces of change that employees simply won't like. And plan for ways to either make it easier for them, or be upfront and honest about the areas, and give the business reasons why it's necessary while acknowledging their loss.

So once we take all of those out of the equation, our list actually looks like this, which I think is a lot easier to think about. what are the things that I need to worry about as a leader? What are the things that are actually going to keep me up at night?

Yeah, Next reason is determining how to use your time. So knowing now what we know about neuroscience and people's natural reaction to change, we can leverage that knowledge in how we plan and use our time and resources. So, I typically do this by making a list of impacted groups, also known as our stakeholder analysis, or an impact Assessment. And this can be really complex, Are pretty simple like the one I have here. So, using what we know about these types of changes and how people react, we can put another column next to it that shows what we need to do. So, basically, how we will need to engage that group to overcome natural resistance, and where our time and effort needs to go. And the type of effort required is pretty simple. Once. We understand the neural neuroscience behind the reason that they are, or what they're going to experience going through this change.

And finally, we can leverage neuroscience to have discussions based on science, and not just theory. We don't have to sit in the boardroom and say, well, I think we might have some resistance here. Instead, we can say, we know that people will naturally resist changes, but this group in particular, is going to resist because of their loss of competence, which will require us to invest greater time and effort. Or these timelines seem too short to be able to give this particular group of employees the time to learn new ways of working, repeat those new processes, and keep the lights on at the same time.

This is incredibly helpful when you're having planning discussions and needing to push back on decisions or timelines when necessary. It really changes from being something fluffy to something scientifically proven and based in science.

So I'll leave you with this. Digital transformation is a marathon, definitely not a sprint. Your employees will be going through their own change journeys each step of the way, and so we'll use. So it's important to really reflect on resistance, and ask yourself, where are my people out in their change journey? Are people resisting? because natural resistance meeting their brain is making them, or selective resistance, meaning they're choosing to resist for a reason, and have I done what I need to do to help my people overcome their natural resistance? I definitely want to thank you for your time today. And I will invite Josey back to help open up for Q&A.

Travis, fantastic. Great presentation. Lots of questions have come in. Thank you very much for sharing your expertise. And I will start with one right off the bat here. This one comes from Jonathan.

Very kind of a personal question. And he says that regarding uncertainty. I thrive in environments, which are not black and white, and upheaval. I'm I'm able to process and find a way forward is this a learned response or is it part of my DNA?

Oh, that's a great question. So I think there's a number of answers. So kinda depends on what your journey has been. I know some people who have been through numerous situations, where they've had to adapt and adopt and they've learned that by doing that. It causes them success, have learned these behaviors, but there are also people who are actually have the ability to think more abstract. And that's probably what's allowing you to have a more natural ease when it comes to ambiguity. I think there's, there's an interesting conversation that could be had about your brain being able to kinda think about itself, But that, I think that's the reason why, it's either, you've learned it because it's been successful in the past, or you just have a natural ability within your brain to think more abstract, about the way you work.

Very good, very good. The next question here comes from Ikai ..., and the chi asks, What is a good method to convince your organization at all levels about changes? I mean, you mention a few of these things already, but if you think holistically about implementing companywide change, what would be a good approach for something of that magnitude?

Yeah, I mean, the first thing in everything is sponsorship. So, you have to have leadership that's aligned. And that actually is supporting change initiatives on a lot of leaders, support, changing, but don't necessarily support the change management, and the transformation management necessary to help people along their journey. So, that's kinda the first step, if you don't have executive sponsorship. It's gonna be really hard to move forward with the rest of the company, But once you have that executive sponsorship, it really comes down to education and awareness. I find that a lot of times, even at Google, we have people who would consider themselves like the previous question, very good and ambiguity, very good at, you know, shifting gears, and trying new things, and being innovative. But they don't have a knowledge of what change means and what it means to go through changes.

And, so, having a method and a framework of how your company is going to address change is really important. And once you have that executive sponsorship, and you have a method and a framework educating and making people aware of those things, it's going to be the way to drive change. And once people buy into that, you will really have great change management experiences when you go through your digital transformation journey.

Very good. Very good. Next one from Danny Ricard, and talks about, actually, someone who has a degree in neuroscience, as well. And O, C, M. And the, and the very, fascinated by your presentation, and the thankful for that. And then a specifically asks you questions about, regarding work that you may have done with federal agencies. And there's a commentary here is that's important. He says that they have mandates for, for big transformations. But then they never want to implement the changes. Do you have any suggestions as to how to work with them mentality that is far more stubborn than any commercial workforce you may you may encounter?

Yeah, so, I've done a little work in the public sector space, and I would agree with thier take, in some respects. There is a lot of work that's done to investigate all these different changes, but then it doesn't really get implemented. The way that I kind of looked at these experiences, and I haven't probably done some of the transformations, to the level that you're probably referencing.

But, in small changes, even, it's really important to level set what's going to be the go forward plan, and why.

So, upfront saying, OK, if we're going to X, if we're going to go through this effort of exploring this transformation path, maybe it's a new system, maybe they want to redo a system, and you're gonna look at vendors, and you're going to do all those different things, you're gonna go through that effort upfront. Having a discussion about, OK, so, what's going to be our decision making peace.

If we find the right system at the right price, that's going to do, you know, 70% of the things on our list that we have for our wishlist is that our go forward and having a agreement on that? And then, coming back to that at the end and saying, OK, we found the vendor, the price is right, It meets 80% of the things on our list. We said, 70 with our threshold, we're ready to move forward. Correct. And reminding them that that was their threshold can help to remind leaders that, Oh, yeah, That's right. You know what? We did set some pretty stringent rules, maybe we need to investigate a couple more things, but it really creates that buy in. The other piece that I'll mention is keeping leadership updated on what's happening throughout the process and keeping them really involved. Makes them feel a sense of ownership and a sense of obligation that the work's been done. They've been involved, they've shared their opinion, and now we need to move forward.

Screenshot (4)But obviously, you can't change everyone to move forward on your, on your transformation journey, but hopefully that helps.

Alluded to that during your presentation, as well, that, that you, sometimes, you have to take things slowly, over a longer period of time. I often, you know, on a personal example, I've led a transformation where we're supposed to shift the business and the culture in about a couple of years, and then we want a global award for it.

But the caveat is that we want that global award 12 years later, which means that it was that it took a lot longer than most people expect, sometimes, especially when you're talking about shifting a culture and the above. But let me go back here to a specific question. This context is very important. This is for Andrea ... who is in Argentina in the hospital, dealing with the whole covert 19 situation right now. And her question is that health standpoint. How how do you keep your mental health and in the process of change? not only just said is that you're talking about, but now imagine her setting in a hospital right now, dealing with ... patients and and all of that's going on around them.

Well, first off, thank you so much for your hard work and dedication to fighting hunger 90 and this has been a very tumultuous time for our world. And so I just appreciate all the effort that you're putting in every healthcare worker and a frontline worker so thank you so much. When it comes to mental health I do a lot of talking our mental health, it's something I'm very passionate about. For me, I think mental health is a symptom, not a cause. And so, a lot of times, you know, we have employers or we have We have groups that share all this great mental health. You know, benefits or perks or ways that you can treat mental health. But, really, we need to look at kind of what's the, what's causing this mental health.

And I think a lot of that is based in change management and ensuring that people are going through the right steps to adopt changes and adapt to new environments and new ways of working. Obviously, covered 19 caused a massive and very quick change, and that probably wasn't great for mental health, because we didn't have the time necessary to provide resources.

Training, get people ready for it, but in terms of trying to get back onto that mental health, train where you feel confident, and feeling good about your mental health and improving mental health, I think it's really important to talk with your peers and leaders about, OK, we know that we had to make this shift really quickly, But that doesn't mean that we can't provide the change management roadmap that we normally would starting now. So, we've changed, but how do we provide the resources to help people adapt to their New Way of Working? How do we do training? How do we provide any of the quick reference guides, things like that, that they need to do this job and do it well? And the reassurance that everything that they're doing is appreciated, as well as rewarded, right? And I think that's the biggest part that's probably missing right now, especially with such a quick change, is that reward mentality of Thank you so much for all the effort, and also, you're doing what you need to be doing. And this is in line with our company's priorities. Very good, Travis. Gwen Stewart asks a question along those lines. That applies both in the like much of what you've covered today. It applies to our professional lives and, and very much to our personal lives, especially this new culvert world, where things have really tangled in a way that's hard to separate often.

But but he says, do you have a good tactic, as well as listening? And I think you mentioned listening. But to help people reframe away from the loss that we're all experiencing right now and onto a more positive mindset. Are there any good tactics for that?

So, there's some actually really interesting ones that have been done, and I think there's, there's a lot of symbolism and loss. And I think it's something that, as as humans, you know, we have our personal symbolisms when it comes to loss. There's things like grieving, funerals, et cetera, they kind of our ways of closure.

And so, if I were to say that there were some interesting ways to go about dealing with loss, actually, I've seen some companies embrace the more personal ways of lost. So, I had a company that I worked with once that was moving to a completely new system that would require them to have new laptops, because it wouldn't run on their old hardware. And, so, they kind of did almost a, like funeral, kind of symbolism, where everyone on a Friday came and turned in their old laptops. And, Monday morning, they all got new laptops. It was very symbolic of, like, the Old World is ending. The New world is beginning. I've also had people and businesses do, with something like a sharing of, you, know, what are the things that they're losing? What is the loss of their feeling? Even just writing those down on pieces of paper. And having a bonfire as a company cookout, or some late that's like burn those bad thoughts and the those losses and start a new.

Those are very personal things that we do in our personal lives that don't often go into business, but I think they're really important. And the symbolism is great for our brains to be able to kinda start coping with the New Way of Working or the new world that we're living in.

Very good. Very good. And Travis to wrap up, what is the best way so many people ask questions about how to follow up, how to learn more? What is the best way of following your work, may be online? Or maybe conferences that you present? And what is the best way for the audience to know what you're up to and maybe follow your work?

Yeah, Absolutely. You are all very welcome to connect with me on LinkedIn, LinkedIn dot com slash travis D as in David Taylor. Otherwise, you can follow me on Instagram. I post from time to time. I'm not super busy on Instagram yet, but when I'm speaking, there's more on my Instagram is the neurological nomad. And, of course, I do a lot of speaking throughout the year, so I would invite you to obviously come and connect. Hopefully, the next time that we connect can be in person, But obviously, digital is just as good. So, feel free to connect in any of those ways, and I'm happy to connect with you all. And stay, stay connected that way.

Thank you so much for sharing your expertise on me. or if you're leading and supporting change in an organization of the scale of Google on a global basis. And it's a real honor, a privilege, as your friend. And there's a host of this show to, to have you here. It's a, it's a real blessing for all of us. So thank you for for being here with us today. Thank you so much.

and thanks for having me, this has been an honor of mine, so it's been great to talk to you all and I hope to see you all soon, thank you very much Travis.

Ladies and gentlemen, this completes this segment of digital transformation workplace. I hope that you enjoy the conversation with with Travis and So many of the insights that he shared with us. We're not done yet. We're gonna close this segment, and we're gonna open back up at the top of the hour, and the top of the hour, we're going to talk about, It's time to automate. How can we do that on a digital transformation journey, on a way that we can create lasting, positive change in our organizations? So, we'll meet you back up at the top of the hour. Thank you for joining us.

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About the Author

more (39)-1Travis Hahler,
Global Change and Culture Lead,
Google Cloud.

Travis is an expert in change management, organizational effectiveness, and business transformation. With +10 years of experience helping Fortune 100 companies from varying industries and across the globe go through large, strategic organizational changes, Travis brings this expertise to Google's customers and partners as the Americas Change and Culture Lead. Travis holds a Bachelor's Degree in Psychology with an emphasis in consumer behavior, business management, and neuro psychology and a Master of Business Administration with an emphasis in management, organizational behavior and theory, and accounting. Travis' education is also comprised of several notable experiences including time studying neuropsychology and neuroscience at Harvard University and performing neurology research on cognitive functioning at Aalborg University in Aalborg, Denmark.

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