The SAFETY Model in Creative Workshops

The main point to remember is that our brain is protecting us towards SURVIVAL by reacting to social catalysers and is adapting thanks to its plasticity. As 99% of our actions are non-conscious, our ‘automatic pilot’ is taking the lead in our actions and reactions. Each person perceives the same situation differently, based on his/her own cognitive bias, developed through our education and stored into our in-depth memory. Therefore, the reactions will be different for the same situation, from one person to another. The first mean to conduct a project is to make sure that everybody perceives the situation the same way.

In today’s world, survival means not to feel rejected to stay part of our social group. However, each of us has different triggers, and the SAFETY® model helps in identifying our main triggers. This model gives a better understanding of the group triggers within the Art&Management creative workshops organized to create a better environment to accompany change and thus to reduce stress in groups.

As a coach dealing with change management, it is important for me to better understand the fears felt by the team members towards change, as it is perceived as a threat. Ensuring a secure environment is a key factor to success in change management projects.

Developing group creativity is a way to accompany change, and this is the methodology I have developed within Art&Management. In fact, creativity develops interconnection between neurones, which is good for the brain and the pre-frontal activity, as well as changing the way we perceive situations. Moreover, having group creativity activities will help in sharing the same perception of the situation, and will ease the communication among the team. Therefore, the non-conscious reactions to threat will be decreased, as the working environment will become clearer and shared by all. Besides this, creative activities develop the social brain through positive environment, thus producing more dopamine, generating more pleasure and motivation in the brain.

Below, I have analysed how the creative workshops through Art&Management® to accompany change address each trigger of the SAFETY® Model.

  • Security: people need secure and predictable future to feel secure. Change is generating unsecure environment. Any ambiguity might be perceived as a threat, and the people will experience stress. By visualization of the future wanted through a creative workshop help people to share the same perception of the situation and the future, therefore reducing threat and stress towards uncertainty and decreasing ambiguity.
  • Autonomy: creative workshops enable the participants to share and construct their own ideas, thus expressing their autonomy. This will contribute to develop their sensation of being involved in settling goals and the desired solution to be implement in the change process. Therefore, resistance to change will be decreased.
  • Fairness: some people react actively to unfairness and injustice, as it is a threat for their evolution within the group. As the rules are equals to all, creative workshops allow all participants to develop fairness among the group. Neither conflict, nor negotiation will arise, as the rules are the same to all.
  • Esteem: participating to a creative workshop enhances the feeling of self-esteem, as the participants will create their own work, and will be proud of their results. Self-esteem is fundamental for health and survival within the group. Lack of esteem generates stress and makes us feel anxious. One rule I always repeat in the beginning of any creative workshops is the ‘non-judgment’ rule as any work is nice and beautiful. This help in reassuring the participants that their esteem will not be put in threat. All the participants are rewarded through their work and this contributes to the overall positive energy among the group.
  • Trust: empathy and trust are built during a creative workshop, thus contributing to build trust within the group. They all feel part of the group and the collaboration is positive and constructive to find solutions together, thus creating positive group energy.

Ghita Benkirane, 26/02/2017

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