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Innovation & The Brain


To many, innovation is a right brain activity. In reality it is a whole brain activity. Where the right brain randomly tosses our creative concepts, it is only after these concepts are analysed in terms of how to bring them into reality that a new product or service is created.

Mental Laziness

Many of us become mentally lazy over time. After years of study and learning the ropes of our career choice, it is easy to sit back and enjoy a stress free day where nothing new rocks the boat. To many, this sounds blissful. To compulsive learners like myself it sounds boring. Thus some of us would find this day stress free, and others stressful.

The same mental laziness applies to problem solving. In most instance, I find that insufficient questions are asked around a problem. This leads to treating symptoms rather than the cause, a common complaint in the health industry.

Whilst my natural shyness prevented me from asking a lot of questions as a young child, I am certainly making up for it today. The end result is that I often find a very simple solution to what was previously thought an expensive complex problem. I am not smarter than the others – I just kept digging deeper to find out exactly why the problem was occurring. This approach can be frustrating to some who just want to write up the new requisition and move on to the next problem. It comes down to a quick cost-benefit analysis. Sometimes spending more time on finding the root cause is just not worth it, if replacing the item is low cost, and the work it does high value.

The Cost of Change

I also find this with people. Change comes with an emotional and/or mental cost. It requires us to learn something new and change old ways of doing things. For many people, this is either stressful or too much effort and a natural resistance sets in.
In change management, often too much time is spent on that 10 percent of humans that just don’t want to change and nothing is going to make them. If I can’t find out what stands behind their resistance in 5 questions – I prefer to stand behind them as I walk them out the door to a new job. As a variation on Pareto, I would suggest that 90% of cultural and political issues in organizations is caused by 10% of the people.

Today, if people are not willing to adapt and participate in ongoing change, then they are in the wrong industry and both them and the business is better when they leave. This is where employment law needs adjusting. Employment is a co-operative state. Yet, employment law is based upon ‘suitability’ at the time of engagement, and places full onus on the employer to ensure the person stays happy and productive for the duration of their employment as defined by the employee.

Accepting Change as Normal Activity

However, with constant change an accepted part of business practice, an employer should not be solely tasked with the responsibility to ensure every employee remains a ‘best fit’ for the organization. If the individual is not willing to change with the changing needs of the organization – it is their responsibility and no redundancy pay should be attributed to the employee effectively making themselves redundant in value to the company.

Those whom accept change and even welcome it enjoy the revived energy it can bring and the stretching of old entrenched boundaries.
The further we extend our boundaries of learning and reasoning, the better equipped we are to deal with any opportunities or challenges that come our way. We become more adaptive, more flexible, and to employers, more valuable. We also become more interesting as humans and open ourselves to a broader range of relationships.


Whole Brain Management

To work most effectively, the brain should be utilised in separate models: rational and creative. This is the basis upon which brainstorming methodology is based. The first round poses creative ideas without the fear of judgement. In a separate or following session, the left brain is engaged to analyse each idea.

Expanding upon this, business intelligence [BI] technology allows for rapid analysis of performance data, upon which the creative right brain can be engaged as to how best to utilise this information.

An interesting management paradigm, based on Joel Barkers paradigm question engages whole brain thinking:

“What is impossible for you to do today, but if you could do it, would
dramatically later that way the business operates”.

Next: The Brains Mind Maps

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