How primary drivers in the brain trigger participation in change

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Primary drivers are the primary forces in the brain, driving automatic responses that we cannot easily control. For example, the desire for social connection is such a strong driver; when we are ignored by someone or left out of an event, this isolation triggers pain. We feel angry, we feel diminished and embarrassed – even if we didn’t want to attend the event, not being invited feels humiliating.

Understanding these deep-seated reactions enables us to trigger the responses we need for our change initiative. We can trigger a “pull” mechanism, an instinctive, urgent response by stakeholders to want to take part in what we are offering.  

We create this automatic engagement by cutting out noise and distraction. Our messages go straight to the shortcuts that our brains use for processing information.

These primary drivers are:

  • Connection– social interaction, being part of communities, having the support of others
  • Predictability – the desire to know what is going to happen next
  • Choice – the need to be in control of what happens to us
  • Equality – our need to ensure that we are not disadvantaged compared to others
  • Respect – the importance that we have relative to others
  • Growth – the pleasure we experience from increasing our capability and what we can achieve by using these capabilities

Review your next stakeholder communication against this list to see if what you are saying triggers any of these responses. If not, revise your content to create a more explicit connection between what you want to happen and why it will meet at least one of these needs.