He might be the most important person to know, when talking about change and development in organizations! When you study at his work and connect that to the work of Ph.D. Otto Scharmer, then you will become change master.
Change is about learning. Learning new skills, competences and habits which become stronger than the old ones we have. Sometimes it is pretty hard to push oneself through the wall of past habits. This is so difficult, that about 70 % of organizational change programs fail. On individual level we know that of new years resolutions over 90 % will fail before the end of February. The sad part is, that science (ie. work of Ebbinghaus and Scharmer) tell us why and and what we can do about it. Failure is evident, unless we take precautions and implement processes which help us to overcome our brains natural behaviour.
Change is needed. More often than perhaps ever in mankind’s history. At the same time we have the best tools and knowledge available to us. We know how impactful learning takes place thanks to Ebbinghaus. We know how to lead people towards new practices thanks to Maslow (my favorite book is “Maslow on Management”). We need the emotional cycles related to change thanks to Scharmer. We know how emotional intelligence skills can be used and utilized to make the pain smallest possible, thanks to Stephen Walker & al. Change, which our brain resists, is at the same time something we have lived with. The first 25 years of mans life has been filled with learning and changes! We can be successful in change, if we choose so!
Ebbinghaus (and many after him) showed that a clear construct is needed in order to make the covered knowledge to stick. Without memorizing things there is no true change. Memories require active repetition (or a major emotional storm). Matti Alahuhta has made the importance of repetition visible in his book “Johtajuus”. The question for you is very simple and clear “Do you utilize the knowledge in the best possible way?”. You cannot avoid changes, so it pays of to learn to make them in the most effective way!
Taking you or your organization through change is a matter of planning, sticking to the plan and as part of the plan communication. What Ebbinghaus proved, is that you need repetition in order to create lasting memory. He also found out, that there are two factors to take in consideration. The first one is that time from one refreshing activity to the next should become longer over the time. The second one is, that at each step there is less time needed. Alahuhta addressed, that in a large organization it takes between 30 and 40 repetitions, before something becomes the new norm. Using emotional drivers, these both can be boosted and hence the time required can be cut down to a fraction of what it traditionally has taken.
Change always starts with leadership. As a leader, you need to understand the dynamics and laws of learning. Once you do that, then the rest is easy. Ebbinghaus showed, that a major learning can take place in months. We all do remember events from our childhood or teenager years, where we have learnt something through one single event. My work with leaders during Covid-19 has made it very clear, that those who are willing and able to change, will come out from this as winners. Are you one of those?
To learn a new skill or habit, there are no short cuts available. Like they say “only in dictionary success precedes work”. Learn to work smart and you reach success faster. Future winners (on individual and organizational level) are those how master change best.
Not all of us have the time to study and learn all what Ebbinghaus (and Maslow and Alahuhta and Walker and many others) have found out. Not to mention having the opportunity to try out how that should be implemented in this particular cases. There you can use external specialist, just like you might be using for a ISO9001 quality management system. Being smart is about understanding when to look for external support in order to ensure success and timeliness of delivery.
My passion is making your change successful. When you need help, or just want to check up if you should look for help, contact me. I’m happy to help you to clarify what will be the best solution for you. After all, I’ve been working with change programs since 1986, which is an advantage for you.
Your partner in making change happen successfully, Kari I. Mattila