Think Past Yesterday

By Nilesh Bhagat, CHRP                       

“The newspaper business, the steel business, law firms, the car business, the record business, even computers… one by one, our industries are being turned upside down, and so quickly that it requires us to change faster than we’d like.”

This is an excerpt taken from one of Seth Godin’s recent blogs . We’re in the midst of a revolution, he says, in the ways business is being done. This means that the status quo of yesterday is fading, fast, and those who fail to hop on the wagon of tomorrow will be left in the dust – scrambling to even survive, with the weight of their traditional work structures and processes dragging them into the depths of extinction.

So how do you free yourself from the shackles of outdated business systems and position yourself for success in this new age of work and business?

One solution might come from David Rock, author of Your Brain at Work. He discusses the human tendency of impasse – that feeling you get when you’re trying to be creative and insightful, but you just can’t.

What Seth says we’re struggling with are essentially impasses concerning work structure and flow, namely an inability to think past the status quos of yesterday.

Getting past an impasse means inhibiting active streams of thought and allowing the quiet noise of subconscious activity to connect weaker signals in the brain. To do this, you must recognize when you are at an impasse and allow yourself to inhibit primed activity to let the subtle noise take over. This recognition is known as mindfulness: a key characteristic which defines Emotional Intelligence (EQ). Wikipedia defines Emotional Intelligence as ‘an ability, skill or… a self-perceived ability to identify, assess, and control the emotions of oneself, of others, and of groups’. It is mindfulness which creates the ‘ability to identify, assess, and control the emotions of oneself, of others, and of groups’.

A solution to organizational change would include education and practice of self awareness techniques through a culture which reinforces the importance of EQ, alongside IQ. Rather than focus on stocking your organization full of high performance intellects, the new organization can create and integrate a workforce with high levels of emotional intelligence to crumble the barriers of status quo and old-school thinking.

A few examples of how to increase EQ in your organization:

  • In the Spring 2011 issue of Strategy and Business, authors Jeffrey Schwartz, Pablo Gaito and Doug Lennick outline a six step process to overcome old ways of doing things, using self-awareness techniques grounded in the latest neuropsychological research
  • In Appreciative Intelligence: Seeing the Mighty Oak in the Acorn, Tojo Thatchenkery and Carol Metzker describe how a strengths-based approach to creativity and leadership can help to compliment EQ

Times are changing – are you ready?

Nilesh Bhagat, CHRP, is the membership and CHRP administrator at BC HRMA. After several grueling years in school, Nilesh graduated in October 2010 from Simon Fraser University with a Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration, First Class Honors. He majored in Human Resources Management and tacked on an extended minor in Psychology. He’s a self-confessed nerd (the first step is admitting), likes to read, loves hockey and is struggling with the complexities of learning the game of golf.


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