Imagine fifty-five open-minded, high-powered thinkers from the corners of the globe, coming together to build a better science of leadership by putting together what we know about the brain - integrating neuroscientific research (you can't fault them for the location they chose: Asolo, Northern Italy).
These people have the job of looking at how the brain functions as we think, communicate and lead others. You might think 'who cares?' But then you might also think 'can this tell us anything useful about how to do our thinking, communicating and leading?' Well it turns out that it can, and here are some of the key discoveries:
"The Summit began with Arie De Geus, author of the Living Company. Arie explored how people think about the future, focusing on the role of language in giving us the ability to make decisions. While a senior executive at Royal Dutch Shell, Arie had built one of the first widescale scenario planning processes which became sought after by government and big business the world over...." This brought up the focus for the conference on how conversation, or in neuroscience terms, focusing attention, creates real physical change.
"Next was one of the world’s leading Quantum Physicists, Dr Henry Stapp, who studied under both Werner Heisenberg and Wolfgang Pauli [two of the greatest of the 20th Century]. Henry has been working with Dr Jeffrey Schwartz for nearly ten years to explain the impact of attention on the brain ...
"Dr Stapp explained how Newtonian Mechanics [gravity, momentum...] was the science of objects, whereas Quantum Mechanics is the 'science of ideas'... ideal for understanding how ideas interact, in the physical world ...
"Dr Robert Coghill showed us how pain is an excellent model for exploring differences in experience, the so called ‘Qualia’ problem. Coghill illustrated experiments where the same pain stimuli were rated at from 1.8 to 8.9 on a scale of 1-10, showing how individual even the simplest experiences can be. He illustrated conclusively how a ‘dose’ of expectations can literally have the same impact on pain as a common dosage of morphine. He explored how we might set expectations more effectively based on his findings. This is an important area for further study".
Next day came "Dr Yiyuan Tang, one of the most respected scientists in China, and the government representative on the human brain project. Dr Tang presented neuroscientific research showing how Eastern and Western brains process even the simplest events differently: Eastern brains focusing more on context and Western on detail ..." [This is indeed remarkable information].
Dr Mark Jung-Beeman then explained "how the quiet brain is more likely to have insight, and how people who were happier were having significantly more insights. He said he could tell even before a person began an exercise whether they were likely to have an insight or not, based on their brain patterns".
David Rock said that "using a neuroscience theory base for leadership programs was contributing significantly to getting organizational leaders to focus their attention on human issues, and opening up new ways of thinking about driving change and learning. David then used the neuroscience presented to explain why our capacity to influence others is so low and how we can increase it significantly by better understanding the brain". Interesting? It certainly is if you're a manager - or just about anything else!
Some case histories came up from places as diverse as World Bank, CIMBA (the sponsoring university), from children's schooling, EDS Technology, Electrolux Home Products. Siobhan McHale shared the ANZ Bank's journey to transform culture across thousands of employees in their 'Breakout' program. The latter is an Australian-New Zealand success story for Appreciative Inquiry (AI).
Source: NeuroLeadership Summit
Labels: Appreciative Inquiry, Communication, Leadership, Learning