“All that I know already; this is the hundredth time you tell me! “.
“We know this technique. This is the umpteenth time we rehearsed it! “.
“We have already had training on this subject but it has not changed anything”.
You have probably already heard or pronounced these phrases in your professional life. But what do they mean, if not your exasperation in the face of a repeated misunderstanding? These complaints express cross-reproaches about what you are supposed to know, on the one hand, and your lack of zeal in its implementation, on the other hand. The problem is that nothing changes. But is it enough to know something for a change to appear magically?
Let us recall that “to know” is to be conscious of something; is to have in mind a set of concepts, notions, representations, “figures” say the Gestaltists.
Pretending that you know this is nothing more than announcing the capabilities of your memory. This is to say that you are informed.
This quote from Einstein sums up the difference between knowing and being informed : “Knowledge is acquired through experience, everything else is information.”
The verb to know comes from the Latin “sapere” which means to have the flavor, the taste, the perfume of something. There is a great difference between knowing the time and being on time. Knowing the time means that you are able to intercept the smell, the notion of time. This does not mean that you are able to implement the behaviors necessary for your punctuality or the mastery of your agenda. Knowing the rules of management or leadership does not mean you have the skills. If knowledge is necessary to acquire a competence, it is not enough.
In other words, how can we transform an information, a notion, a concept, a vision into a tangible result, be it a product, a solution, a behavior or any form of human genius? The model of the cycle of the Gestalt experiment gives us the answer.
Knowledge is information stored in your memory. Only the use and application of this information can lead to its concrete implementation. As you have understood, it is action that promotes the transition from knowledge to competence. When you are able to demonstrate your ability to do certain things that are essential to the practice of your profession, then your professional competence is indisputable.
The lack of awareness that they have to do something about it, the non-decision to do something about it, non-action, non-evaluation … in short, the answer is: “Resistance to change”.
In the present case, these resistances are unconscious responses of your organism, expressed in passive opposition to everything that appears new. The purpose of these resistances is to protect you from the danger of exposure to the risk of the unknown. This exposure could reveal, for example, a disability or awkwardness in exercising something you do not master. And, if nothing compels you to do so, why seek to hurt one another? You are probably not in a hurry to barter mastered skills, even if they have become obsolete, against hypothetical new skills that you are not sure of being able to exercise effectively. After all, it must be realized that these “old” skills have nevertheless helped to settle you in your current responsibilities. They can not be so “bad” that! Finally, why, in a hurry, take the risk of a rejection of your group of belonging which would not fail to suspect you of a guilty excess of zeal? E. Schein attributes these resistances to “learning anxiety”. This anxiety nurtures the passive opposition process described above. To facilitate the understanding of the phenomenon, let us give it the characteristics of a brake that blocks our motivation to explore what is foreign to us. This anxiety nurtures the passive opposition process described above. To facilitate the understanding of the phenomenon, let us give it the characteristics of a brake that blocks our motivation to explore what is foreign to us. This anxiety nurtures the passive opposition process described above. To facilitate the understanding of the phenomenon, let us give it the characteristics of a brake that blocks our motivation to explore what is foreign to us.
This anxiety is inherent in all of us, it is more so when we are together, ie in our organizations.
According to the research carried out by E. Schein, a commitment to change requires that this braking force, both useful and alienating, be counteracted by another force, this time the motor: “the anguish of survival”. The horrifying and nevertheless mobilizing revelation that, to get you out, you are going to have to change something. When the intensity of this antagonistic force is not sufficient, no one ventures into the action of his knowledge. The difference between the intensities of these two anguishes represents your level of resistance or appetite for change. It leads either to mobilization towards action or to immobilization in favor of the status quo.
This “mechanical” model shows that anxiety should not always be considered negative. The desire to reduce an anguish leads to mobilize a motor energy of accomplishment, of self-realization.
At the individual level, in order to be acquired, a competence demands the regular activation of knowledge, in such a way as to be enriched by the accumulation of experience. This activation becomes possible once you have become aware and you have been able to manage the intensity of these two antagonistic forces. To do this, answer unambiguously to this question: “What will happen if I do not regularly implement these buried knowledge from now on?” If you do not have an answer or your answer is “nothing” or “not much”, then you will simply declare yourself informed and you will continue to feed your illusion of competence. It is the status quo assured.
At the organizational level, the wise and astute management of the anxieties of learning and survival described above encourages the process of mobilization to change.
Management has two alternatives. He may choose to increase the anxiety of survival, threatening the collaborators from falling into disgrace, losing their jobs or suppressing their advances. They may also decide to reduce learning distress by enhancing environmental safety to promote the initiation process.
Unfortunately, when the managerial skill in accompanying change is insufficient, managers often choose the first option because it seems easier. The model opposite shows that this tactic is unreliable because it is based on an additional tension – the stress – which can not last and can even be counterproductive. Our approach to measurement-gathering-transforming aims at favoring the forces favorable to change by favoring the production of shared collective sense (consciousness and trust). It takes the side of reducing the anxiety of learning rather than the exacerbation of the anxiety of survival, without ignoring the latter.
This involves, for example, a collective assessment of the threats and opportunities attached to the acquisition of new skills and comparing them with the threats and opportunities attached to the status quo. On this occasion, to ensure the credibility of its messages, management strives to educate the rest of the organization on its economic, social, structural and other realities. Because it combines awareness and confidence, the energy devoted to this collective analysis leads to a strong consensus in favor of highly respectable development goals within the organization. This process of channeling the two anxieties of change naturally leads the organization towards a general mobilization. From this point on, everyone is working towards a safe and healthy environment.
If the protagonists fail to support the process of consolidation and thus enrich themselves with the accumulation of experience, it is the return to the “illusion” box. An interesting opportunity is then offered to the leaders to set an example by humbly acknowledging the weaknesses of the system and their own vulnerabilities. By drawing lessons from this practice, they attest to their willingness to learn and to strengthen their skills. This wise posture allows them to revive the two pillars of change that are confidence and conscience. Is this not a seductive way to reopen the path and to mobilize the energies towards this safe and healthy environment, a key factor for the success of the steps of development of the efficiency of the companies?
The mistake – alas often made by inexperienced managers – would be to try to pass in force and cause a level of demobilizing stress.
We invite these unenlightened managers to meditate on this quotation from Einstein: “madness is behaving in the same way and expecting different results”.