Improve collaboration through mind management using the SCARF model.

Licas Ventures
2 min readDec 1, 2020


It would be fair to say that COVID-19 has had an immense impact on the way we socialise. The pandemic has highlighted to us all the necessity of relationships for our wellbeing.

Yet, it is not only the interactions of our close and more intimate relationships which have an extensive effect on us. But also, those within the workplace have proven to significantly impact our bodies in ways we may have not previously considered.

Which relationship factors affect our wellbeing?

David Rock’s SCARF model recognises 5 key social domains which trigger primitive, unconscious responses within the body when interacting with others.

1. Status — our relative importance to others.

2. Certainty — our ability to predict the future.

3. Autonomy — our sense of control over events.

4. Relatedness — how safe we feel with others.

5. Fairness — how fair we perceive the exchanges between people to be.

How can SCARF apply to workplace relationships?

Observations from neuroscientific studies have found that the brain responds to both physical and social needs in similar ways. The brain relies upon categorising physical and social stimuli via a threat or reward system, formed to aid us regarding survival.

However, when triggered by a boss or co-worker, the unconscious reaction may be unhelpful as a survival-based response is likely to be unrepresentative to the situation at hand.

The SCARF Model aims to reduce polarized thinking to gain a more holistic and mindful view of given circumstances when interacting with one another, whilst simultaneously improving relations.

The studies have found that negative interactions concerning the domains of the SCARF Model can lead to an increase in cortisol within the body. Higher levels of cortisol can be detrimental to one’s working ability, causing dampened creativity and productivity, lack of concentration and mental clarity.

The brain has been found to be more attuned to threat, therefore we are more likely to have a stronger defensive response. On the contrary, interactions which are associated with being rewarded lead to increased motivation, pleasure, and focus.

Having established that social needs create the same neural responses as physical needs, the SCARF Model encourages one to acquire self-knowledge by breaking down and analysing perceived threats, to maximise the rewards of working alongside others.

By assessing our individual triggers, we can resist unconscious behaviours, leading to a working environment of expanded progression and collaboration.




Licas Ventures

Licas Ventures is a leading venture capital firm that invests in people and their companies from the earliest days through all phases of private company growth.