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Carole Osterweil, author Project Delivery, Uncertainty, and Neuroscience – A Leader’s Guide to Walking in Fog, was asked by us for her top tip for working in a VUCA setting.
VUCA environments can be volatile, uncertain, complex, and ambiguous.
Carole OsterweilVUCA environments are stressful and can cause anxiety. Carole explained that this can affect our ability to think clearly and increase the likelihood of us misinterpreting the situation and acting in ways that add complexity and raise the stakes.
Any assistance that can help you navigate these difficult situations is a benefit.
Carole suggests that everyone involved in project delivery has a basic understanding about how the brain works and uses that knowledge to guide their actions.
Unconvinced? Think about the projects that you are working on. How often have clients or team members become defensive over something minor?
Perhaps you have been in a meeting and realized that others are convinced that the discussion has no value or is even unhelpful. Yet, nobody does anything.
Today, we are turning the blog over to Carole. She outlines five Brain Basics you need to know as a project manager. She explains how to spot the hidden emotions in these charged moments and the SCARF framework to help you understand and respond.

Brain Basics and The SCARF Framework5 Brain Basics

What is the SCARF Model? A demonstration of SCARF in action

Social threat: How to respond
SCARF can be used to manage project change
David Rock on Neuroleadership
Key Takeaways

Are you ready to learn more about the SCARF Framework These concepts will help you effectively manage project change.
Brain Basics and SCARF Framework
5 Brain Basics
Let’s start by reviewing some basic information about the brain before we move on to discussing SCARF and how you can use this as a project manager.
The brain of the human being is wired for survival.
The human brain responds to social threats in the same way it does to physical threats – it tries not to.
The brain relies on its own experience to determine whether a situation is dangerous.
This is a response to social threats and can lead to avoidance emotions such as fear, anxiety, anger, shame, and anger. Avoidance emotions can lead to avoidance behaviors like withdrawal, denial, attack, or attack – all of which can get in the way delivery.
The brain produces emotions like joy, trust, joy, and love when it feels psychologically safe. These approach emotions are essential for project delivery success because they allow us to work together, think creatively at work, and be highly productive.
Take a moment to think about the charged moments you have been a part of. To understand what may have been happening beneath the surface, use the five Brain Basics. How can you understand the situation by thinking in terms of avoidance’ and ‘approach’ emotions and behaviors?
Avoidance behaviors are caused by social threats. We need to understand how and where they came from. This is where the SCARF framework comes into play!
What is the SCARF Model?
Five factors are constantly monitored by the brain that have a significant impact on how we behave.
To explain these factors, David Rock from the Neuroleadership Institute created the SCARF model.
These factors are very important to us. SCARF stands as:
Status – The perception that you are better or worse than others
Certainty – The predictability of future events
Autonomy is the degree of control we feel we have over our lives.
Relatedness – The feeling of sharing goals and being part the ‘in crowd’
Fairness – The sense of th