15 Oct 2018
From Ego to Eco
The ASAP team have the fortune to meet a lot of amazing people through our partnerships. One of these is Tabitha Cooper, Innovation Manager at Nordea. She is an inspiring person with a deep knowledge of innovation, culture and trends. We asked her to write a blogpost, and here is the result. We hope you'll get as inspired as we got! /Team ASAP
One of the hardest things to do in life it seems, is change! Therefore, most of us don’t do it...often until we find ourselves in a personally impacting situation not in our control. In my experience this is true whether you’re a Millennial, Zillenial or Changennial (the last two not actual ‘things’ by the way!), but there are neuroscience-based studies explaining why. I make this point simply to make clear that if you are a human being – whatever your age - you might not be as flexible to changing as you like to believe. Changing for people and organisations in general, is usually hard!
But why is that?
My conclusion is simply that many (or most) of us trust what we already think, believe or like to believe. It’s more comfortable isn’t it? Feeling like you already know? It makes you feel like you are in control and therefore on safe territory! Often the idea of ‘knowing’ something is the motivation for learning, because how much better is it if you can back your thoughts or view up with a waterfall of facts, than not knowing or having an authentic sense of something? With that waterfall we are intellectually protected and maybe even indestructible right! Or are we?
Have you noticed how annoyed people get when you start arguing facts with feelings, for example when you start talking about not ‘feeling’ that something is right, that you ‘sense’ there may be more to the picture. To some people this kind of talk can be anything from extremely irritating to intellectually or scientifically sacrilegious because we have all been brought up to believe that life is best trusted when backed up by data, facts and evidence.
I am not saying that facts and evidence are not super important and useful, the opposite in fact, but my experience is that we consistently take facts at the exclusion of other critical and innate tools that we have as human beings. That of emotional intelligence.
Innovation and introducing new ideas is just like change; in that it is most often rejected from the system like a virus. These foreign bodies of change, innovation, new ideas, emotions enter stage right, and the system automatically sends out the white blood cells from stage left, to defend the status quo. All the intellectual arguments are there ready to ‘fight the good fight’ against anything changing.
Neuroscience, which is the study of the brain and human behaviour, says that we are made up of Thoughts, Emotions, and our Behaviour, meaning that a sanely operating human has these aspects operating in good balance. In addition, Neuroscience has also proved that emotions are the body’s natural prediction mechanism. Often feelings or emotions help you assess a situation much faster than the brain is able to process, but in a situation of navigating the unknown and survival, they become critical tools. Emotions, as is the case with thoughts can of course be wrong, but thinking is not “more right” than emotion, and more often than messily tied up between them.
So if – as I have found – the underlying message of most corporate cultures & society as a whole is that emotions are somehow “not okay”, then as conditioned and widespread as it may still be, we are in fact collectively distorting our behaviour and therefore the creative potential of every outcome. It begs the questions of what kind of decisions are we then making from that perspective?”. As Otto Scharmer (Professor at MIT) often says, in the context of his Theory U, where we must shift from Ego system to Eco system mindset and economies, because as a global Society we are “Collectively creating results nobody wants.” We already find it hard to change, so if we add to this, an embedded Western fixation with ‘self-determination’ and a light peppering of ‘entitlement’…what we are left with is an imperfect dysfunctional system (business, societally, politically and financially), that appears unready for the future ‘it’ is responsible for having created.
But, there’s no escaping it, we are all ‘the system’. Life and its outcomes are in large part are the results of our daily decisions, it is all about where we place our interest. Are we sitting in the fence? or are we interested and as our CEO, Casper Von Koskull puts it, “leaning in and engaging”? What would it be like to simply be interested in what we don’t already know? Free from how we like to do things or live? how we want to see & feel about ourselves? Because the results or outcome of each position we individually or collectively take, makes all the difference to the outcome. As Casper has said: “We cannot afford to be disconnected from the broader ecological questions. I think we finally understand that we are fully dependent and linked to the environment, not only the urban environment but the rural environment and the planet we live on.”
We need to create the space strategically and emotionally to continue to innovate and partner with new players previously not considered in our financial context, while recognizing the accelerating speed, mindset shift and dynamics of living in a networked technology-enabled world. We need to lean into possibility.
Our challenge and potential is to navigate the need for speed with the wisdom from balancing our Intellectual and Emotional Intelligence.
Written by Tabitha Cooper