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What comes to mind when you hear the word abracadabra?
Many of us associate the word abracadabra with a magician pulling a rabbit from a hat. However,abracadabra is an Aramaic term that translates into English as, “I will create as I speak.” This is a powerful concept for organisational transformation.
75% of transformation efforts fail, and often because they undertake to change business models without also changing mental models. When we embark on any transformation journey, the challenge is not just introducing fresh ways of doing things, the more troublesome part is letting go of established ways of doing things. This extends beyond physical processes and procedures to mental ones. That mental aspect is the focus of this Thursday Thought.
The brain uses previously stored information to make sense of the world. I think of the brain as a vast library containing all our experiences, mental models, education, upbringing, media and any other information our minds absorb, consciously or otherwise. If we are in a meeting for example and someone suggests an idea, our brains are like librarians scrambling to find the right book that correlates with that idea.
However, when someone introduces an unfamiliar idea, our brains cannot find the corresponding book. When it can’t find a related book, the brain grabs the most closely related information. This is where our frames of reference limit us. While this is the case for ideation and brainstorming, it is also the case for change initiatives.
When leaders seek change within organisations, they often overlook the most crucial part: What is the Vision?
To change the future, we must change our thoughts and our thoughts only change when we overwrite them with new thoughts. This is when the abracadabra (“I will create as I speak”) moment can happen. Because our minds don’t know the difference between what is real and what we imagine, leaders can use this to their advantage.
When a leader paints a compelling vision of the future, she also creates a reference point in the library of our minds. Now the librarian has got a reference point, a new book in the library, even if it is just a draft. Now when people talk about change, transformation and disruption within the organisation, everyone has the same reference point. Everyone is on the same page.
Without a compelling vision of the future, our minds revert to records of the past and we get stuck there.
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