When talking to business leaders about neurodiversity, I regularly encounter resistance to the idea that they need to implement any change to make it possible to tap into this talent pool. Neurodiversity is essentially a culture change that needs to be driven from the very top. They know that any change is disruptive. And they would prefer less (seemingly) disruptive ideas. They don’t always say it out loud but we know from the ‘tone and tenor‘ of the conversation, what it is that may be actually bothering them. Moreover, neurodiversity is unfamiliar territory for many leaders.
However, a good plan coupled with expert guidance can ease the process and make it less uncomfortable for those overseeing it and others experiencing it. Over the years companies have experimented with various approaches and methods while implementing their neuroinclusion programs. Some have gone by the book and stuck to the processes prescribed by researchers and experts, and others have created and followed their own. The outcome is that companies have now learned from these experiences and have developed best practices for the benefit of everybody. Most of this knowledge is out in the public domain for others to learn and adapt.
So, my take is that the resistance is not always to the idea of neurodiversity itself, but often, out of their internal reasons. When I looked closely at what it was that was driving this resistance, I found the following reasons that generally troubled them.
1. THIS WON’T WORK – To most leaders, neurodiversity is a new concept. Most have never even heard of it. They need time to process all this information. They do realize the value but are unsure of success with the initiative. ‘There are so many grey areas!’ they say. I see this outright resistance by claiming it won’t work, as a form of fear. Most likely, it is the fear of failure. More importantly, the fear that if the change does not work out, how would it reflect on them as a leader?
2. CONSEQUENCES OF FAILURE – There is always the nagging fear of the consequences of failure of the initiative. There is an underlying fear of the unknown and a perceived lack of control over the outcome. The belief is that too many internal and external factors are outside their control.
3. I DON’T HAVE THE TIME – Sometimes, it may be true. That is why leaders need to find the best-suited experts to take that load off their shoulders. Leaders need to depend on external support wherever required until such a time when they are prepared and ready to internalize the entire program.
4. UNSURE OF CAPABILITY – Many leaders are unsure of their capabilities in terms of knowledge and skills to drive such an initiative. This self-doubt creates resistance. Again, leaders need to find the right partners who will bridge the knowledge and skills gaps and enable them to navigate the complexities of neuroinclusion. So instead of doubting the outcome, leaders should think of potential reasons why the change will not work and then put measures in place to make it happen!
5. WHY CHANGE WHEN EVERYTHING IS FINE – In the absence of any compliance mandated by law, I have noticed that some companies avoid change unless there is a huge business case to it. At this point we need to help companies understand the short- and long-term benefits of neurodiversity and how much direct and indirect value it brings to the organization.
6. TOO MUCH EFFORT – Incomplete knowledge and understanding can lead one to believe that the effort required to change is not commensurate with the gains – in other words, leaders may feel that they don’t stand to benefit so much from the change. This is so untrue! This is where the role of the expert is crucial. Half-knowledge is worse than no knowledge at all. Neurodiversity can mean different value metrics for different companies depending on their nature of business, products & services they offer, the cultures they operate in, their customers, and their internal structures and systems. At Neurogifted, we begin with helping companies fully understand the advantages and challenges. We ensure they understand all the implications and benefits before making any decisions.
7. WE TRIED AND FAILED – It’s true. Some companies have had bitter experiences from badly planned and executed neurodiversity initiatives. Therefore, I reinforce the idea that it is essential to have an external expert to help and support wherever and whenever needed. Organizations cannot and should not do this alone and without support, at least initially.
MY TAKE: Resistance to change is natural, anywhere, and everywhere. Most of the reasons I listed above are internal challenges that are based on fear. Leaders can do themselves a favor by trying to understand the origins of this fear on the inside instead of trying to overcome it by looking for answers on the outside. Moving out of the comfort zone is always challenging; moving groups of people out of their comfort zones can be much more difficult. Also, most leaders don’t want to change until either the pain is high, or the gain is high. But leaders everywhere are desperate for new insights, products, and sources of energy and creativity, and neurodiversity may well be the answer to some of these issues.
At Neurogifted, we are ever ready to help you fully understand the subject of neurodiversity and how it can benefit your company. We can bring you to a place of making informed decisions on what is the best fit for your organization, what will be the scope, timelines, resources, planning, training, implementation, and all else that can make your neurodiversity initiative truly worth your time and effort.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Joel Godi is the Founder & CEO of Neurogifted. He is openly AuDHD and is a proclaimed neurodiversity advocate and activist. He has worked with companies and professionals across the world in creating value and solutions for neurodiversity initiatives.
He is also a specialist Neurodiversity Consultant and Speaker, Social Psychologist, Entrepreneur, Trainer & Facilitator, and has professional interests primarily in L&D, Education, and Neurodiversity.
He can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org
or through his social media handles below.