In times of constant change and globalization it is crucial that people collaborate successfully. We need to understand the key drivers so that we become engaged and collaborative. Social needs are for the brain as important as food and water.
“Minimize danger, maximize reward”, is the main rule of our brain, according to current neuroscientific research. If the brain will tag a stimulus as good, it is open to engage (approach). If the brain will tag a stimulus as bad, it will disengage (avoid). When we we want people to be engaged in workshops and create better solutions for complex situations, than we need to trigger the good/engage/approach response and create the right atmosphere.
The key to this is the SCARF model by David Rock. The name SCARF if constructed by the first letter of the five social triggers, which are activating our brain in a positive or negative way:
Status is about one’s relative importance. If we feel our status goes up, we feel better, thanks to a rise in dopamine levels. However if we feel a sudden and decline of status, it may even hurt like physical pain. People are very sensible towards status threats. Some even shy away from being given feedback to avoid a loss of status. That is why in Strategic Play workshops everybody builds a model, has to tell her story and is listened to during storytelling, nobody is left out. With all the learning, sharing, raised interest and attention people will develop and raise their status together.
Certainty is what our brain craves certainty. We feel safe if we experience known situation when the brain can refer to memories, habits and expectations. In case of uncertainty so much more resources are needed, especially by the prefrontal cortex, to be somehow prepared for the next moment. The StrategicPlay process creates an atmosphere of certainty. The process is transparent, everyone knows the next step, even if we uncover hidden insights or exploring uncertain futures.
Autonomy is about being in control and be able to choose. The feeling to be in a situation we cannot control is threatening and destructive. On the other hand people are more motivated if they are given the chance to influence and have an impact. That is why in StrategicPlay workshops every participant is free to decide which model to build and which story to tell. Nobody is allowed to interfere or even touch the others’ models. Only the own interpretation makes the story, other interpretations have to be verified.
Relatedness is essential for social beings as we humans are. We want to be part of a team, group or even tribe. Perhaps in our ever changing times this is more evident than ever before. We are more willing to open up and engage if we have a feeling of belonging. That is why in StrategicPlay workshops people are given time and the setting to build up trust with the process and the team. The groups are usually not more than ten participants. Everyone will open up and share about mental models or even personal feelings or experiences. During this process people develop relationships and connect with each other.
Fairness is a primary need of us. Unfairness triggers intense brain reactions and is provoked easily and people don’t feel treated equally. That is why in StrategicPlay the whole workshop is transparent; there is no hidden agenda. Within the box the participants are asked to come with their solution and their results. It is out of question that a workshop will be designed and held to achieve a decided outcome or message.
StrategicPlay® solutions are a proven approach to initiate and implement sustainable change because they work systematic with those social triggers.