Perceived Weirdness Index

May 19, 2016

How weird are you?

Continuing my interest in the topic of cultural change I was reminded the other day of a concept called the Perceived Weirdness Index.

It was back in 1976 that Jonno Hanafin first described this as a way of highlighting the need for an agent of change to be sufficiently different [weird] that the desirability and possibility of change can be properly explored, but not so different that all ideas of change are instantly rejected. In effect there is a “weirdness sweetspot” that it is necessary to find if effective change is to take place.

Sadly, we always underestimate the effect of environment on behaviour. It is often the case that those who are brought into an organisation with the brief to bring about a change in thinking quickly realise that the way to be successful, or even to survive, is to conform to the very norms that currently rule.

Ironically one of the greatest strengths of human beings is their ability to adapt to new environments so it is perhaps not surprising that new hires soon “go native” when the hope was that they would shake things up.

Those that don’t respond in this way can push their radical agenda too hard and suffer rejection as a result.

If we genuinely want to create transformational change then we need to encourage and support those that think and act differently even if they may at first seem to be a bit weird.

DK May 2016

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