Overcome The Pain Of Change: Easy Lessons From Anthropology

Whether we like it or not, we are living in an era of rapid and relentless change—societal, demographic, economic and personal. As a corporate anthropologist at my firm, Simon Associates Management Consultants, I routinely show companies how to use “a little anthropology” to see their business problems with fresh eyes and find new ways to embrace change: to stimulate growth, open new market space and advance innovative solutions.

This same anthropological approach also works well when navigating changes in one’s personal and professional life. As I explain in my latest article for Forbes, wherever it’s coming from, change is quite literally pain, but by using an anthropologist’s toolkit, you can alter the equation, master the change and ultimately triumph.

The brain simply does not like dealing with change

How true! It much prefers its well-worn habits rather than the new, the novel. Nevertheless, changes are coming—faster and faster—and you’re going to have to help your brain deal with them. The best way to do this? With a story.

When you create a story to explain changes, your brain can more readily accept them.

As I describe in my Forbes article, before your brain can absorb and accept change, there are four hurdles to overcome:

  1. Motivational hurdle—You need to tamp down those instinctive fight-or-flight reactions connected to change so that you can actually address the changes.
  2. Cognitive hurdle—You must explain to yourself why you have to change. Once you convince yourself that the reasons are valid, you can address the resistance to them.
  3. Resources hurdle—Your brain will find numerous reasons why you can’t find the resources to make the changes (time, money, staff), yet by eliminating or reducing certain expenditures, you can invest in making change happen. 
  4. Political hurdle—People like to keep you where you have always been, even when you want or need to change. To overcome these political pressures, you will need to declare exactly how you are going to change (have a game plan). 

Believe me, as you craft and communicate your story, you will find yourself mastering the changes that at the outset looked like they were going to break you. But now they won’t! Armed with these anthropolical tools, you’re ready to take on any challenge, and any change.

Want to master the pain of change? For the complete story, read my article

Ready to give “a little anthropology” a try? 

At SAMC, we use the tools and methods of anthropology to help organizations see their businesses with fresh eyes and then adjust their company culture so they can grow and thrive in changing times. Contact us for a free consultation. We’d love to talk with you.

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From Observation to Innovation,


Andi Simon
Corporate Anthropologist | President
Simon Associates Management Consultants