Innovative and conservatism mindsets - How to lead change?

Innovation and conservatism led humanity to develop in what it is today. On one hand, humans use technology that simplifies their daily life starting with lighting fire to the last smart phone in your hands. On the other hand, conservatism develops institutions and beliefs that frame the way people look and interpret the world. Innovation is intimately tied to conservatism. The presence of conservatism points out the existence of “attachment objects” threatened by innovation. I encourage you to read my article on Resistance to change for more details.
Short explanation: When we grow up, we develop attachment to objects, ideas, people, rituals and so one. We call them “attachment objects” as defined by Dr. Victoria M. Grady. One day, for some reasons we lose this object. The loss causes six symptoms such as anxiety, frustration, and retardation of development (more details in Resistance to change). Luckily, there are strategies to soften the pain by using an appropriate “transitional object”. It helps to cope with the change and be part of it.
Innovation led to great discoveries such as vaccines, water filtration and outer space exploration. At any time, conservatism is confronted to its fear to lose its beliefs, rituals and so on. The dynamics of innovation and conservatism look like the chart below:




At the first stage, the innovative mindset develops hypothesis whereas conservatism mindset develops convictions. One looks at the world with questions while the other one looks at the world with certitudes. Then innovative mindset observes and analyzes its environment in order to understand it. The conservatism mindset creates rules and morals to explain what makes no sense. When a new idea emerges innovative mindset welcomes and tests it while conservative mindset rejects it. This rejection comes from the fear to lose the attachment objects developed in the past to explain the world. The innovative mindset generates innovations when conservatism tends to freeze.

Organizational development specialists encourage innovative mindsets in organizations. Our goal is to help employees cope with the change. We can encourage and coach people to be more innovative by helping them question the world they live in and observe it before they generate convictions. But things are not that easy. Everyone is confined by beliefs, rules and mental models {kind of maps that we use to navigate the world}. We should not try to become absolutely innovative because our conservatism is also a security that invites us to reflect on the necessity for change. All changes are not necessary.

This highlights the requirement to evaluate the need for change before implementing it. Once organizations determined that the need is necessary it makes sense to encourage employee to belong to the innovative sides of the balance and not the conservationist one. The Change index tool is a wonderful one that helps organization identify the individual and organizational symptoms that the change may cause, cause and will cause. It also help create a personalized change strategy which has more chance to succeed than a massive plan that does not take into account the organization uniqueness,

Accompanying employees is then the key to an accepted change and here is how you can do it.


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