Breakthrough Biodynamics™ is both a theory about how breakthroughs occur in human systems (individuals, businesses and cultures); and a comprehensive methodology which provides the processes and practices needed to break through any challenge in leadership or life to forge the future.
Breakthrough Biodynamics™: A Proven Science-Driven Methodology For Transformative Change
We have been developing Breakthrough Biodynamics™ for over 25 years working with hundreds of Fortune 500 and FTSE 100 companies; tens of thousands of professionals and leaders; and, literally, millions of regular people.
Breakthrough Biodynamics™ leverages cutting-edge insights from the forefront of science, as well as timeless ideas from the philosophical traditions, to help individuals and leaders transform their everyday problems with creative breakthroughs. It seamlessly blends behavior change tools, cognitive change tools and emotional change tools to provide the most comprehensive and rigorous pathway to transformational change that we know of.
Breakthroughs are transformative changes in businesses, products, models, strategies, systems, leadership styles, relationships, health, wellbeing and happiness that could not have been predicted by looking at the past.
They almost invariably mean we have broken through obstacles, challenges, assumptions, habits and addictions that are from the past to invent a more creative future.
But if breakthroughs were easy, every one would be having them left, right and center… and they are not.
Breakthrough Biodynamics seeks to first understand why we find it so hard to have breakthroughs when we want them; and then to use this insight to reclaim our innate capacity to create transformative change in ourselves and others.
The starting point of our theory and methodology is radically simple but often over-looked: All breakthroughs, whether in systems, enterprise, leaders, teams or in life in general, ultimately happen in our biologies.
Organisms Not Algorithms
We all have the innate potential to be creative and usher in transformations in ourselves and the people around us. However, most of get stuck in our comfort zones and can’t find a way out.
We all want to see change happen. But few people want to change themselves to make it happen (and even if we do, we struggle to stop old habits and start new ones).
We have been taught that change happens in a neat, linear and predictable way. This is how machines change (mechanisms, cars, production lines). Linear change is safe and unrisky. It works well to make things a little bit better. However it cannot ever land a breakthrough.
This is because breakthroughs are non-linear. They cannot ever be predicted by data because data is about the past. Breakthroughs forge the future.
Breakthroughs are not linear because we are all organisms and not algorithms. We don’t change in the same way that machines change. We have nervous systems that must be rewired for transformations to happen. We are driven by emotions not lines of code, like computers are.
That means established and entrenched neural pathways must change for a breakthrough to happen and become real.
By understanding how our biologies actually work, we can understand both why change is so hard; as well as how to hack our systems to land breakthroughs. This is why we study the biological dynamics or “biodynamics” of breakthrough.
Hacking Biology for Breakthrough
Although we all have the neural capacity to have creative breakthroughs, lead transformations and drive forward change at will, we have evolved to prioritize surviving (by using predictable behaviors learnt in the past); over thriving (harnessing creativity, collaboration and innovation to forge the future).
We are all evolutionarily programmed to stay in our comfort zones, doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. We are wired to repeat what worked in the past (old lifestyle habits, out-dated business ideas, habitual leadership styles) even if we can see they are not working and we are heading for a fail.
This is the source of all failure in the world, whether slow decline into irrelevance or a spectacular implosion. The need for continuous breakthroughs – transformational changes that could not have been predicted from the extrapolating what we did in the past – is a reality of every day of leadership and life in the world we exist in.
The pace of change is so fast and furious that every product, process and person in your business is either forging the future… or they are failing it.
Every relationship habit, mood and belief you have as an individual is either forging a future where you thrive in freedom and wellbeing; or one where you stress out and suffer, locked into ever-decreasing circles of your own pain and limitation.
For a breakthrough, we must give up old ideas and beliefs; heal old wounds; and let go of assumptions and habits that may have worked for years.
Trust & The Edge Of Chaos
Mastering the Biodynamics of Breakthrough: Control Vs Create
To lead and achieve breakthroughs in any area of human experience, we have to learn how to master our own biologies; and how to influence the biologies of others. Very recent neurobiological research has shown that we all think in two different modes. Each corresponds to different neural networks in the brain.
“Create Mode” is associated with the “Default Mode Network” in our brain. Create Mode helps us engage with problems and lead change with connection, creativity and collaboration. In individuals, we call it the Connector, as its job is to connect us with what is possible. In organizations, it is the force of experimentation, entrepreneurship, networks and innovation.
“Control Mode” is associated with to the Cognitive Control Network in the brain. It is associated with dealing with threats using pre-existing thinking. In individuals, we call all it the Protector, as it’s job is to keep us safe and alive using any habit that has worked in the past. In organizations, it is the force of perfection, efficiencies and hierarchical control systems.
The simple reality is that most leaders, most people and most organizations have become wired to become over-reliant on Control Mode at the expense of Create Mode. This will inevitably lead to a fail in a fast-changing world.
The stress response, which is activated when we feel attacked, anxious or overwhelmed, locks us into Control Mode as individuals. Research shows most people are under chronic stress most of the time. A overly hierarchical, Command-and-Control, fear-based organizational culture will reinforce the focus on control over creativity. When we are under stress of any kind, or just locked into our comfort zones, creativity and possibility are sucked out of the moment. Then the status quo always prevails. For people to change, and for systems to transform, we must be able to lead ourselves and others out of Control Mode and into Create Mode.
Some of our most important BioBreakthrough leadership and life practices are aimed at ensuring we can switch on like this at any time.
Although we always have the potential to switch on and shift into Create Mode at any time, we are biologically geared to favor the perceived predictability of Control Mode over the risks associated with Create Mode. Better to focus on surviving than seeking to thrive, so the system thinks. So many of us move through life switched off to possibility; and shut down to just how amazing our lives, workplaces and projects can be.
Corporate cultures and social systems, like family dynamics, reinforce this biological wiring by making everyone do the ‘right’ thing, the efficient thing and the socially-approved thing. But right, efficient and socially-approved rarely lead to transformational breakthroughs. To thrive, in any sphere of life, we need to be able to consciously choose which Mode to use which fits the moment and the challenge. This means re-calibrating our cultures and dynamics to embrace change, creativity and risk as much as certainty, efficiency and control.
What makes things even trickier is that a third brain network, the Salience Network, decides which Mode we are in. It does this by relying on our emotions. No longer seen as irrational and irrelevant, scientists now believe our emotions evolved to provide quick and clear signals which can focus us on what is important. If we had to stop to think about what to do, rationally, every time we were faced with a threat, we would be dead and our species extinct. We believe that emotion, reason and action must work together to create breakthroughs. It is only through mastery of our emotions, that lie at the heart of all decisions and actions (and which scale up to ‘culture’ in human systems), that we can guarantee breakthrough after breakthrough.
The Salience Network is centered in the amygdala in the brain, the center of emotion. It processes intuitions and instincts from our body and from our external reality to determine whether we should be in Control Mode or in Create Mode. If we are stressed, overwhelmed, anxious or afraid, we will lock into Control Mode, repeating old habits and clinging on to old thinking. If we feel excited, purposeful, open, relaxed and inspired, we can switch into Create Mode. Then we can innovate our way out of any problem; and flex around challenges without resistance.
Fail or Forge the Future
We all need to be able to enact continuous breakthroughs to ensure we can stay in tune with the world.
Nobody in business can afford to ignore this truth. Those who do, get disrupted and become obsolete. Consider Kodak, Blockbuster, Radio Shack and Blackberry. They did not fail because they were not smart. They failed because they could not, or would not, break through their assumptions to fit the changing world.
Simply put, a power-playing management-style learnt in a major corporation in the 80s is unlikely to help drive collaboration in a start-up. A business model from the 90s is unlikely to work well in the 2010s. Even a social media strategy created this year is unlikely to work well next.
But nobody who wants to achieve their life potential, whether in their career, love life or parenting can ignore this reality either. If they do, they end up with chronic stress, anxiety, depression (now the No1. burden of health worldwide) or worse.
This is the path towards breakdown: a long, slow decline into stuckness and suffering. This is because a dating strategy from our teens is unlikely to land us committed, conscious intimacy in our thirties or forties. A way of dealing with childhood trauma is unlikely to allow us to feel free and on fire in later life.
Embedding & Embodying Breakthroughs
However, there is still more challenge. For even if we manage to stay in Create Mode and have a breakthrough, we then have to re-condition our neural pathways to embed that breakthrough into everyday life. This is why real change can take weeks, months and often years of constant attention. We must, neural pathway by neural pathway, shift our wiring so that we exhibit a breakthrough habit or breakthrough belief by default, rather than having to remember that we no longer do X and now do Y. This is what it means to embody change.
Many of our BioBreakthrough leadership and life practices are aimed at ensuring we can embody and embed breakthroughs in reality once the workshop or session has concluded.
Breakthrough Biodynamics™: A Rigorous & Comprehensive Life & Leadership Philosophy
Underpinning both the process and the many practices of Breakthrough Biodynamics™ is a robust, inspiring yet down-to-earth life and leadership philosophy that enables us all to make sense of change and challenge. How this philosophy relates to everyday life is covered in the mass-market bestseller Switch On: The New Science and Spirit of Breakthrough, written by Switch On co-founder Nick Seneca Jankel. How this philosophy relates to breakthrough innovation and leadership is introduced in our free 80-page ebook, The Little Book of Breakthrough, which can be downloaded here.
Lying at the heart of the biodynamics of breakthrough is The Breakthrough Curve. We believe this is the archetypal blueprint for all transformative change in all human systems. It is not a nice, linear straight line, which is how machines change. We are organisms and not algorithms, and before we change we must first let go of our old ideas, habits and assumptions. First things must fall apart (the process entropy); before creation occurs (in what is called syntropy). Old neural pathways must loosen before we can invent the new. Problems trigger the start of a Breakthrough Curve journey. Possibilities realized into innovations and life changes complete it. If we don’t consciously choose a breakthrough, we progress firmly towards breakdown: Usually slow decline into irrelevance, stress and failure.