When celebrities announce their separation, it makes headlines and shocks the world. However, to many of us who are "normal people", a celebrity divorce is hardly news anymore.

We sort of think celebrity marriages as a ticking time bomb. Especially in this case where Gwyneth was once reported saying that she often feeds her children carb-free meals and soon enough paparazzi snapped pictures of Chris handing packet of cheese and onion crisps to their "consciously co-parented" children. But what struck the very normal world abnormally hard here was the terminology used i.e. "conscious uncoupling". Everyone on the internet, in the print media and even the one man & his dog with a twitter account has had the opportunity to react. Admittedly, I didn't want to lose the opportunity myself.

"Conscious uncoupling"? Hang on - even Westminster suits would agree that the words 'conscious' and 'coupling' within themselves are quite strong. When "paired" together in a clever way, an interesting plot begins to thicken. I recently read a BBC news article which stated that the new formulation comes from an essay, On Conscious Uncoupling, written by Paltrow's spiritual advisers Dr Habib Sadeghi and Dr Sherry Sami. "Although it looks like everything is coming apart; it's actually all coming back together," they conclude. I have to say, this time around the doctor's advice is interesting - via the methodology of disjointing or even coupling of two elements, pieces of the puzzle may fall into place to get desired results? Ermmm...

Perhaps! I can think of a few of examples. Every Monday morning, I often "consciously uncouple" myself from a weekend full of junk food, promising myself a healthy diet and a fat-free life. And then come every Friday find myself "unconsciously coupling" with lots of beer and chicken wings or that garlic mayo'd up doner kebab down the local with my Morgan Lovell colleagues. But the most interesting example that comes to mind is from the recent blockbuster film 'Gravity'. In a recent Morgan Lovell seminar, it was mentioned that it was the "airtight coupling" of various elements of Sandra Bullock's space suit that ultimately saved her life in a very hostile environment few hundred miles above the surface of Earth. Bullock then managed to conduct the "conscious uncoupling" of the spacepod from main ship to become homebound. So one may wonder - can this concept also be applied to how organisations, physical workplace and how you & I go about our lives?

The answer is - it can indeed. Organisational culture, the physical workplace and our individual work style is a result of several conscious & unconscious coupling decisions that are made daily, weekly or on a decade by decade basis. Some of these decisions are made by us and some others made by those who run our organisations. Let's see some examples.

'That's how we've always done it'

Many modern theories regard the above line as cancer for an organisation. Over time and tenure, organisational culture appears to be set in stone. But in fact what it really is a combination of multiple conscious and unconscious decisions made by people like you and me. It can be changed for betterment or at the very least gradually improvised. But you need to do this in a 'conscious state of mind'. Let's agree though - change is hard right? It can be. The change process itself involves consciously uncoupling from a number of habitual elements and then coupling with new ways of doing things until they become part of the unconscious mind.

This reminds me of one of my favourite films 'Shawshank Redemption'. Morgan Freeman uses the word 'institutionalised' quite well. Especially in case of Brooks, who after several decades of living in the prison forgot how to live outside in the free world. He even had trouble crossing the road and only after a few days of release, committed suicide. Let's think about it. Brooks must have had difficulties "consciously coupling" with prison life in the early days. But then it became such a strong part of his unconscious that he found uncoupling with it unbearable. I am no expert and the new age pseudo-science may dismiss claims made by NLP (Neuro Linguistic Programming) practitioners, however it's practice involves stages of conscious unlearning and then relearning a behaviour until it becomes the part of your unconscious.

Pick up a business theory book and it will tell you that organisations typically go through five stages - birth, growth, maturity, decline and revival. They move from one stage to another because the fit between the organisation and its environment is so inadequate that either the organisation's efficiency and/or effectiveness is seriously impaired or the organisation's survival is threatened. Therefore, change is necessary to omit severe cases of "unconscious coupling" or "institutionalised" or simply put, complacency. You do need a few 'Brooks' in your organisation who are experienced at what they do. But then too many of them and you have the issue of 'that's how we've always done it'.

Leaders and managers must change the goals, strategies, and strategy implementation devices to fit the new set of issues. Thus, different stages of the company's life cycle require alterations in the firm's objectives, strategies, managerial processes, physical workplace, technology, culture, and decision-making process.

The 'binary' workplace

Admittedly, it's a little harsh to expect your employees to be efficient and effective without providing them with the appropriate workplace environment. Unless you are Mitchell 'Mitch' McDeere from 'The Firm', you would be very familiar with the open plan office typology. So what's wrong with it? You see, many open plan offices are binary - they only have desks and meeting rooms. The thinking is you work at your desk and you meet in the meeting room. It's based on the old age assumption that you only undertake two broader activity types during your working time. So what about activities like concentration, contemplation and other kinds of collaboration? In order to be effective, activities need spaces that support them with the right environment. Unless you 'consciously uncouple' from the noisy open plan and find a concentration space that allows you to 'unconsciously couple' with that report you need to get out of the door, the physical workplace in reality isn't effective enough. Is it?

Ask yourself these questions - where am I most innovative? What do I do when I need to concentrate? What environment helps me reflect on things? And if you aren't 'Brooks', do also ask yourself if your workplace is binary or not.

'What's in it for me?'

Human beings are selfish! There you go, I said it again. At the end of the tunnel, we expect light. To go through the pain of change, we expect a reward. If you haven't read my last blog yet, you ought to read it here. I talk about how conscious coupling of individual & team goals can benefit organisations. But once you have done all the 'coupling', how do you ensure change sticks beyond day 1? What stops individuals from going back to old ways of doing things?

Change management is all about selling 'the reward'. You do this, you gain that. You don't do it this way, you lose that. That is the basic principle of addressing the big question of 'what's in it for me?' At Morgan Lovell, we believe in training organisations to conduct Change Management themselves. Why? Firstly, it is important that message comes from internal champions rather than an outsider who and I quote "doesn't have a clue how we do things here". And most importantly, the message will have to be delivered repeatedly in different ways until conscious practice becomes the unconscious way of how your organisation does things.

On behalf of all of us, I must thank Gwyneth and Chris for bestowing upon us another clever terminology. Separation, conscious or unconscious, is indeed painful. I do hope they reverse their decision and declare their "unconspired regrouping" at a neighbour-troubling celebrity house party in LA.