Two weeks ago I was lucky enough to watch the 2014 NeuroLeadership Summit via live streaming. NeuroLeadership is the application of emerging neuroscience to help people become better leaders. It’s absolutely fascinating to me, and I love to share. Special thanks goes to the NeuroLeadership Institute for generously sharing this knowledge.
If you’re in a hurry, simply scan through the highlighted, bolded, or colour coded text to give you some ideas.
PRESENTATION ONE: Reimagining Work
Presenters: Josh Davis/Columbia Brain Lab & Brian Kropp/Corporate Executive Board (CEB)
CEOs and BoDs are prioritizing talent as top corporate focus because investor community is asking questions about how they’re developing talent as it relates to strategy and execution. This is fundamentally different than any point in time.
- Economic development – huge chapters / shifts in our history:
- Dawn of time to industrial revolution: Human muscle power
- Industrial revolution to 1970s: muscle replaced by machine
- 1970s to mid 2000s: computers started to replace humans
- 2000s: How do we get people to work together to advance society; a social phenomenon
Work is no longer about individual tasks; it’s about network performance. How well do you partner / share ideas / bring them through the organization? CEB estimates the weighting is about 50% task ability and 50% networking ability.
Orgs that more effectively collaborate have lower costs and higher top line results.
75% of workforce want more partnering (ie, they want to do work this way); Younger workers especially want this. Whether they have the skills do to this is another question. About 50% have the skills, with variation across sectors and levels.
The reason it’s hard to do is because companies and HR make it hard to do.
“To move fast move alone. To move far move together.” Brian Kropp quoting African saying”
Collaboration slows down pace. So how to do both but faster?
Two types of collaboration:
Perhaps we collaborate too much? Maybe it should be used for special occasions. When to collaborate?
– Creative decisions
: we have objective bias about the quality of our work so we we need input for quality decisions
– Time & Money:
critical to get others’ input as things close to us, or by us, limit the quality of our choice.
Reflection question: If collaboration was truly used just for special occasions, what might that look like inside organizations?
Thoughts from the crowd
: Culture (embedded beliefs) is hard to change. Instead they change climate (how we work). Senior leaders are fantastic at taking ideas and resources from other parts of the organization. They are terrible at giving ideas and resources.
Actual change happens via what’s noticed/focused upon and rewarded or punished.
When we have too much autonomy you get ideas that have nothing to do with corporate focus. When you have direction but no autonomy you may get a result but perhaps not the best ideas.
How do we allow flexibility / autonomy for employees but aligned with the organization (ie, direction to display that autonomy)?
We’re dealing with a false choice between autonomy and control.
They do not have to be pitted against each other.
It’s absolutely essential from a neuroscience perspective to do this but we also don’t have to give up total control.
People who believe they have low control will have higher cortisol response. As internal locus of control increases you see a linear relationship to size of hippocampus (self control).
Examples of big picture control: Vividly define and engage people about:
Then, you empower people to figure out the strategies and behaviours!
Not so great if everything is assigned from top to every person; limits autonomy and creativity. Instead start with purpose and at each level give people the opportunity to suggest strategies and goals to fit the purpose. Sometimes that’s not possible but ideally if you give people the opportunity to ask questions about how things are relevant you can then line up the levels of motivation.
Instead of the talent calibration process around performance review and rewards time, instead move that group discussion to the beginning of the FY and get alignment on goals across key people.
The issue then becomes how do we calibrate goals across the organization to say “oh, this would be a hugely difficult task” versus another that would simply be expected for someone at that level.
How would our talks on performance calibration be easier and richer if we aligned up front on goals?
Financial incentives for individually-oriented, task-based performance actually works. Does not work at all around network performance. When you pay people to collaborate, they actually collaborate less.
J&J start all company all hands start with a real customer telling a story about how J&J helps them. Links / reminds employees of purpose, which helps with networking.
: Is it perhaps better to reduce extrinsic rewards? A better question may be how to increase reward centre of brain through social motivators, improvement and contribution?
Base pay is not linked in any way with people’s behaviours. People think, however, that other people are motivated by those things.
- Moving any of the measures of the SCARFmodel (Status; Certainty; Autonomy; Relatedness; Fairness) towards a safe state
- Seeing improvement (defined as progress, insight, learning, and growing)
- Contribution (altruism, especially to in-group, or the group you identify with)
Don’t throw bad motivation after good! If it’s intrinsically motivating, let that be enough.
What should collaboration be? From a NS perspective, the aim is to get other perspectives. There is no need to have consensus. We do know it’s hard for people to listen when threatened. Still having toward state for people to work within is key, but consensus is not required.
Companies and people who are good at this talk about the work and separate the person’s value so ego / self-esteem are protected. Examples include the Lean Start-up methodology or any kind of structured experiment that proactively identify assumptions, limits, roles, process, etc and then compares those to actual results of tests.
Don’t collaborate when: if I have to make a hurried decision, or any decision about people. Or when a decision has already been made and people are put together to “collaborate” when really it’s about telling people a decision.
PRESENTATION TWO: Why Teams Do and Don’t Work
Ohio Buckeyes – used to award stickers for key plays, but it stopped working. When they awarded a sticker to all members based on how the teams (offense) did something well, they became a national champion again within 2 years.
Group competition is key, not individual competition.
Our evolution has produced a Tribal Brain that impacts:
: Our tribal brain is huge; group membership and in-group associations is key. Feeling like you’re part of a group is enough to overcome biases.
Group connection goes up when perception of threat is high.
: reward centre activated when your group does well, or other group does poorly. Groups represent boundaries for caring and love.
Hard to emphasize when there is animosity between teams.
: Survival required cooperation. You get a reward sensation when someone in your group does well.
A bigger, noble purpose is especially powerful for groups.
Tribal connection is related to size; bigger sizes reduce cohesion.
How do you create commitment?
1) Mere membership – Immediately feel connected simply by being a member of the in-group.
3) Social motives – SCARF Model very much applies within groups. Status, certainty, autonomy, relatedness, and fairness are all filled by teams if they properly meet these needs for people. Teams that offer a sense of relatedness and optimal distinctiveness
because they feel special (punks and goths: great example of distinctiveness). Or being a distinctive member is also very satisfying, so find ways of helping people feel witnessed and appreciated as distinctive.
Velvet rope effect – exclusion or scarcity makes it more attractive or desire to join.
Recruiting Tip: Clarifying group identity for outsiders is much more impactful to your recruiting efforts than anything else.
People choose to be with like minds than just working on useful things. They want to work on cool things with like people. This is where truly authentic team values uniquely articulated and actually used to run the organization via operating principles, processes, policies, symbols, rituals, and key stories told within and about the organization all contribute to people wanting to become part of the team, or stay far away.
There is a generational gap between the expectation and need of sharing perspective, knowledge, and opinion for young workers with those in middle or later part of their career. Group cohesion and creativity are boosted with the ability to contribute and be heard.
Groups that are high in social status or truly distinctive causes people to work hard to get in and be part of the group and remain in the group.
Fraternities/sororities force people to earn their membership, which makes it more attractive. Five rounds of interviews at a company does the same thing.
Another example is Zappos offering money to newly hired employees to quit if they’re not “feeling it”. Making the choice to stay for intrinsic reasons actually reinforces their commitment to the group and its norms.
Our brain has evolved for our 99% of group living in a savannah; the last 1% is from the last century.
Teamwork: What can you do to ensure everyone works hard?
– Common Goals: Superordinate and common goals bind different, unique teams
(Eagles and Rattlers @ Camp example). Pods versus Tribe @ Leadership program is example.
– Break groupthink:
Needs for harmony and cohesion override sharing of information and new or opposing ideas that will produce a variance in perception. Lincoln having rivals in his cabinet to produce variations in opinion. Or assigning that role to someone on a team and rotate that responsibility.
-Avoid social loafing:
Incentivize contributions to the team. Make contributions indispensable so if an individual fails the whole team fails. No one wants to let the team down so then they actually give full ability and motivation. Make it easy to contribute.
–Team size (social brain):
Humans have a brain optimized for personal connections no more than 150 people. Some groups actually split into separate organizations as they get to that size.
1) In teams, we have awards for the group (super bowl ring) and individuals (MVP awards). Should we have both?
A: Yes, especially for teams that require cohesion you need to reward the group for self-sacrifice but you also need the superstars, so the award helps with distinction within a group too.
2) How do the differences in the speed of biological evolution and cultural evolution impact team behaviour?
A: Biological is a much slower process than cultural evolution which tends to be much faster and context based. Because our biology is “hard wired” to adapt and attach to groups for survival we also tend to be flexible, social creatures and cultural norms adapt fast.
3) Thoughts on breaking biases?
A: Change requires seeing the patterns and be open to changes in reactions. Diversity is essential, and you have to make it safe and noble to share differences in opinions. Figure out which group you’re leading, clarify purpose and values, and balance group and individual motivators, and dynamics.
PRESENTATION THREE: The Future of HR
Dean _____, Sears Holding Chief People Officer:
(1) Switch from mass HR programs (one size fits all) to mass customized HR programs. This requires simplifying HR so it’s easy to understand, employee driven, and social (Crowd sourcing is an example: Asking the employee population to choose for the healthcare and benefits programs for the company).
(2) Less event based and more daily based check-ins: Sears asks 90.000 employees once per day to rate their day over five choices. They can see correlation to mood “Unstoppable” and “I’m not telling you” and sales and net promoter scores.
(3) Moving from industrial psychology to data science tools: Philosophically shifting ownership for employee development from company (select few, assessment centers, expensive, big process) to employee (on demand, topic specific, fast, easy). They have data showing when an employee asks for feedback from someone, that other person asks others for feedback on them. Major categories of feedback:
- How am I doing on my results? (People ask their collaborators, not peers, receivers of services, managers)
- How am I doing on general capabilities?
- How am I doing on my match to culture?
Moving HR from being the police and central provider of feedback to decentralizing and empowering employees to own their data. Then Managers can ask “what are you going to do about your feedback?”
This means we should try and increase the levels of data and traffic: Asking for feedback significantly increases chance of it happening and receiving it. We are so biased in our self perceptions that it requires us to get broad based feedback if you want to change and grow.
Rich conversations and the ability to act on those insights quickly is a huge competitive tool!
Anje Dodson, VP HR Oracle
125,000 employees; 1/3 came from acquisition
– Talent – Global talent marketplace where portability and different ways that skills can be volunteered or identified or applied in an adaptive, empowered way.– Learning – How can we develop our people differently? Bite sized nuggets on demand, socialized, etc. – Change management – Different models of change management where trends / voices unite to bubble up and be heard by all parts of the organization (versus traditional change management initiatives that are sponsored from top on down)
Antionia Cusomano Binetti / PWC
Five mega trends
1) Demographic shifts: Lots more older people by 2050 (20% over 60)
2) By 2050 138T will be coming out of developing countries
3) By 2050, more than 72% will live in world’s cities.
4) Climate change and resource scarcity: by 2030 there will be 8.3B people in world. We’ll need 50% more energy 40% more water and 35% more food. How are we preparing to address these requirements?
5) SMACK – social mobile analytics and the cloud: by 2050 there’ll be 70b devices connected, and each of us will have 6.5 devices each. The connected nature of our lives will be mind blowing.
Trends we hear from managers deep into organizations:
- 1) Companies will need to create a connected employee experience: Not just technology, but data they need. Customized, dynamic info based on you, your goals, your team, knowledge you need, all proposed to you via data. Also, what’s the culture and learning provided to the employee to engage head, heart, and hands?
- 2) Talent asset manager – because of big data, more and more managers and HR professionals will need to evolve to thrive in a global talent marketplace. CEOs want the right person in the right role at the right time. From an HR perspective, we might have much smaller FTEs and the rest alternative staffing sources. We need to be better at managing people data in order to better manage people.
- 3) Curator of the brand – Creating a culture and experience that resonates with employees such that they voluntarily endorse and share about the brand. This notably impacts attraction – especially direct applications – and retention.
Implications to the operating model of HR:
- · Put the ops stuff in a global services function and make it efficient and easy.
- · Differentiate yourself with higher value services by clearing understanding what your internal customers need in terms of custom talent models, data analytics, and a predicable talent pipeline.
- · Integrated employee experience (Ryan Smith from Qualtrics does this very well): have that integrated system where you have all the data you need at your fingertips.
Peter Wilson, Chairman Australian HR Institute
Two ways the profession is changing:
- 1) Learning: we can learn anytime anyway in many ways. Not only can we do it, we have to do it. Onboarding programs need to augment what is missing via University education. Need to rethink budgeting as learning is a cost that may have benefits later and measurement is very focused on current FY.
- 2) About to have 5 generations working together in one company – Seeing 80 year olds working part time and staying very sharp.
Seeing CHRO evolving into Chief Learning and Diversity and Dynamics Officer.
Globally and internally we see a massive increase in choice/customization, data, opportunity to voice your opinion and share your perspective, and access to opportunities.
We should see more opt-in features/systems to help respect privacy.
SESSION FOUR: Neuroscience of Organizational Values
Getting to the neuroscience behind people’s values helps explain behaviours.
Jamil Zaki, Assistant Professor of Psychology, Stanford University
The neuroscience of value: Dopamine. It’s a deep and central part of how our brain processes rewards and value.
Two key regions track reliably what people value:
Originally it was food, but since adapted to things you covet like money, beauty, and other valuable outcomes. Two key parts of the brain focused on assessing value:
- · The nucleus accumbens
- · The prefrontal cortex
Our brain’s value system is very sensitive to context, to comparing reward and value.
Chapter 1: Value as Socially constructed
Dutch tulip – value rose exponentially in 1700s for the Viceroy bulb for no clear reason. Value is contagious; it spreads based on what other people seem to value.
Do people do this to conform, or take on the internal representation of the value? They ran a version of evaluating physical beauty of faces. They found peers’ opinions affected the value people placed.
There is a value system in the brain:
It’s multi-purpose and highly dependent on context. Different (sub) cultures will likely have different values and sub-values
Connection to the values is different than conformity. Allow people to explore how their personal values align or differ from the group’s values.
Values do differ across global cultures that then impact organizational cultures, so being clear about the meaning is key (allowing variances of expression based on local cultures).
Chapter 2: Primary colours of value
What are the dimensions that drive the experience of value in the brain? In other words, does the brain have “meta” categories of what it values that anchor more specifically defined values (like creativity)?
The scientists offered the following three categories of value:
1) Safety versus risk
: known or unknown value. People prefer lower risk and engaging a choice with a known value engages PFC. Engaging on an unknown value engages the Amygdala, the center of the brain associated with mitigating risk.
2) Connect / Disconnect:
brain scanned while they learned if their peers agreed or disagreed around food choices. Disagreement with the group causes a decrease in activity in the nucleus encumbent part of the brain. You’ll try and build social connection to compensate.
One way to establish social connection is to be pro social or nice to others. Fairness drives activity in the PFC. Money is valuable sometimes, but if you have to put social connections at risk you inhibit behaviour.
3) Worse / better: Social comparison:
What’s my standing among peers?
Money is only valuable if it helps you know your social standing in the group.
Values interlock: risk is often social.
Context highlights which value is most resonant with you at that moment (community versus Wall Street game).
What level of risk am I willing to take in order to feel safe? Wondering if I’m better or worse matters because it means I’m safe.
Does integrity appear as #1 value in companies because it’s foundational to safety in relationships?
Critical for teams to understand which game you’re playing (ie, which context) so that people can interpret the situation and apply their right values.
1) Match individual and organizational values: A match between individual’s values and the organization’s (i.e., the congruence): Barry Pozner: values congruence track with stress, desire to stay, performance.
2) Being explicit with organizational values: ask employees to write about what’s important to them about a core value. It actually produces higher performance on scores because you’re connected to what matters most to you. Simply ranking values does not have all the impact than writing about why it’s important to you in your life.
3) Clashes within companies – be explicit about the tensions between values, or how companies need to balance tensions between groups and contexts.
4) Being wise about social value. They can be embedded in an org through influence, can propagate even outside of social contexts, but can also silence individuals low in power.
- Brain has flexible value system
- Which responds to many types of positive events
- These can be organized into primary categories highlighted by different contexts
- Understanding and being explicit about values holds many potential benefits
- How you help people talk about a disconnect in the values helps keep people safe, and therefore more willing to align with the values if the new context requires different application of those values.
SESSION FIVE: Organizational Growth Mindset
Researcher Dr. Carol Dweck has been digging into the world of the organization. It turns out that organizations have a mindset too – which she refers to as either a ‘culture of genius’, or a ‘growth mindset’. This mindset permeates everything in the business, and has a particularly large impact on a firm’s ability to grow talent and drive performance. In this important new session, Carol will share her research around organizational growth mindset, highlighting what it is, the levers that firms can use to develop it, and specific examples of how companies are building it. Dr. David Rock will facilitate this session, offering a practitioner’s perspective to bring the research alive even further.
You can essentially divide the world into learners and non-learners. Learning is at the core of all successful people and teams.
Fixed mindset – people believe their talent is fixed. They and others need to work with what they currently have.
Growth mindset – people believe everyone can grow. Not everyone can be Einstein, but even he had to develop himself.
: Look talented at all costs. Never look dumb.
: Learn at all costs.
Who are the great leaders? They all shared one thing: Growth mindset:
– Faith in their ability to develop through learning
-Goal of helping employees develop
: It should come naturally. If you were smart, things should come easily to you.
: Hard work is key. The belief is that input from others, hard work, and practice matter. Research on genius scientists show tons and tons of practice and pushing themselves on the areas where they need the most growth.
: Hide mistakes and deficiencies
: challenges and mistakes are a natural part of learning,
Moser & colleagues studied electrical patterns in people studying processing of errors. The growth mindset brain has tonnes of activity because they’re processing it and studying it. The fixed mindset brain had no activity; they were ignoring it.
Fixed: always look smart, act like a natural, run from difficulty
Growth: hard work and mistakes are how you become expert.
How are mindsets transmitted?
Key Idea About Feedback: Talent praise versus process praise. When you praise talent, if backfires because people fear failure. When you praise or reward the process (hard work that leads to improvement, good strategies, persistence, teamwork) that’s when you get the growth mindset and all its benefits.
Struggle comes to Silicon Valley: They start each meeting with what each person is struggling with, how they need help. It’s transformed a culture previously focused on looking good to one developing and celebrating creativity and pushing each other to new levels.
Use “yet…” as a way of helping orient people towards a growth mindset. Trust the process.
Reflective Question: In your organization, how are Learning, teamwork, struggle, and perseverance celebrated versus individual talent? What’s rewarded: improvement or talent?
What does your organization value: Growth or fixed abilities? They studied this across large organizations. People easily figured out what their organizations valued:
Employees in growth mindset companies:
47%: people are trustworthy in this organization
34% agreed with “I feel a strong sense of ownership and commitment to the future of this company”
Are they choosing comfort and inclusion over ownership?
No…people in a growth mindset company:
65% more agreement with: “The company supports risk taking and will support me even if I fall.”
49% more agreement with: “People are encouraged to be innovative. Creativity is welcome.”
Supervisors in growth mindset companies rated their employees as: more innovative, having far greater management potential
They invest in their people and actually promote them to bigger roles. These companies stay in the vanguard.
Fixed mindset companies: lip service is paid but no actual focus. Fixed mindset companies reported:
- · In this company there is a lot of cheating shortcuts and cutting corners.
- · People are competitive with each other.
- · People hide information from each other.
How do we create growth mindsets?
Peter Heslin & Colleagues did studies about manager mindsets and then changed it.
Fixed mindset managers: were rated as more closed, unaccepting of critical feedback, were poor mentors (if talent is fixed..why spend the time?).
Heslin took those managers, did a growth workshop, how the brain works and grows with learning, how to put things into practice, your skills as a manager can grow and improve with practice, and exercises to inspire a growth mindset (where you were once bad and now are good). What happened?
Employees reported the managers were more open to critical feedback from those employees. There was more willingness to mentor and higher quality of mentoring (managers understood it was part of their role).
What are some misconceptions about a growth mindset?
People think a growth mindset is more laid back, and groovy on learning. No, it’s just as concerned about achievement and productivity but they understand that the process of vigorous practice and experimentation, work is vigorous, but you’re getting to the great outcome through the process.
People may feel their huge focus on a goal precludes learning.
A growth mindset is just fancy words for extra hard work. In reality, we don’t know our potential. We develop it through hard work, good strategies, and improvement. We value the experience that will bring about the desired result.
How to bring this insight into your org?
1) Teach about brain growth.
Show videos about how the brain responds to feedback, rewards, neuroplascity, etc. In the Schroder study, they realized that once people know that brains grow, people pay more attention to their mistakes and actually improve their performance on subsequent tests where people who were told growth was fixed did not see increases in performance on the skill test.
2) Reframe the purpose of what we do: bring good versus getting better.
Needs to be a structure around this belief so people feel safe adapting their behaviour accordingly.
Use certain words in the statements you make about your organization: Improve, progress, develop, become, grow.
· Less of this:
have simplified systems; become expert users of social media; be innovative
· More of this:
Continue to improve system simplicity; develop greater expertise in social media; encourage innovation through openness to learning from mistakes
3) Change how we evaluate:
How good are you versus are you getting better?
What does your evaluation system say about what question the company is asking?
· How good are you?
= Comparison to others (traditional PM process); or…
· Are you getting better
? = Comparison to past self, valuing progress over time
Comparisons create mindsets:
Experiment telling people they were evaluating them (a) against others and (b) against their own performance on earlier questions. When you compare me to others, the point is to look good. When you compare me to myself, the point must be my improvement of my own journey.
And mindsets change performance:
Comparison to others: no notable improvement
Comparison to self: They improve notably
95% of the time the ultimate best solution is found among participants who were told the point was to improve. The insights that emerged were allowed because of a growth mindset. Fixed mindsets limit potential and growth.
Juniper Networks: no reviews since 2011, instead rich conversations that encourage growth and development. 90% of employees at Juniper say this has been helpful or Very helpful in their experience at Juniper.
Cargill, Microsoft, GAP, are all doing great things in this space.
#4) Send the right message from the top leadership
– A culture of continuous improvement. Kaiser’s culture: “Our culture lets our employees know that if they see an opportunity to improve, take it. You have to keep reminding people of their ability to make progress
Letters to Kaiser from CEO: One of our goals as a care system is to be the best at getting better. He cites “we cut the sepsis death rate from 30% to 25% and then to 20% and then to 15%, and then we cut the death rate to under 10%. We did that by continuously improving.”
Saying “I don’t know” is a hallmark of a growth mindset. Figure it out together with others. Or celebrating key failures that produce rich learning and insight!
Interview questions can be insightful into understanding a growth or fixed mindset. If we do recruit for that we need to set expectations of company towards growth mindset.
|SESSION SIX: Rethink Learning (Presenters: Rossann Williams/SVP and President, Starbucks Canada; Dr Lila Davachi, New York University)
Work is changing, dramatically, and fast. Yet learning is barely keeping up. With all this change, there is more to learn than ever, in less time, with shrinking budgets, across virtual teams and across the globe. Developed in conjunction with CEB, we have found that in today’s digitized, just-in-time learning approaches, employees are often overwhelmed with what they are expected to learn. In fact, we are finding that employees can actually learn more effectively by learning less. In this session we will explore the key dynamics for what today’s successful learning organization looks like, drawing on both brain research into how learning happens, and case studies from organizations successful at driving learning.
Key Idea: Attaching the new learning to your prior learning is most impactful to actual learning.
: Prior knowledge, how things work, script, routine, patterns over many experiences (a gist). Essentially it’s everything you’ve ever learned.
Learning is optimal when you are adding new info to prior knowledge/schemas
Schema congruent learning is faster and involves different brain systems. Attaching it to prior knowledge makes your memory better for new information. The hippocampus, critical to memory, takes less effort when encoding new information because there is interaction between cortex and essentially tasks are shared.
This means the new info is interleaved / integrated with the old info through a consolidation process. This makes the info more stable and adaptable and accessible to you for future use. You’ve updated your knowledge structure and that makes it more accessible.
Conversely, to change mindsets takes lots of time because the effort to process unique and contradictory info takes longer to encode.
Key Principles Around Memory:
- Layering new info on top of the old is beneficial
- It makes encoding faster
- Consolidates more quickly to schema congruent learning; doesn’t require hippocampus access (it becomes how you view the world)
- Becomes embedded in your main systems for navigating the world means you won’t forget it; it’s core to you
: How to more easily integrate new learning with existing memories. Make it relevant to people (ok to forget certain things; forgetting is an adaptive behaviour); spacing the learning; applying and trying things out. The AGES model is helpful here.
: attention enhances memory; it has limits 10, 15, 20 minutes is the maximum you can stay sitting focused. Also, multitasking destroys it. Even small distractions limits encoding.
Especially important as people try to learn. Breaks and how you structure learning is key to maintaining attention.
Multitasking is not good for cognition or memory. Just because we do it doesn’t mean we should do it. High media users performed worse on tests of attention. They’re prone to distraction but what you’re really training your brain to do is be distracted by things in the environment. Email, calls, texts, IMs are all distractors to focus, cognition, integration, and memory. etc.
Asked people to look up a few items on the web while listening to a lecture impacted negatively memory of the lecture, even if you did not have the laptop in front of you (as it distracted others).
Learn to teach:
Knowing you will have to discuss with others about information you’re acquiring actually helps with attention and encoding (social pressure).
Question: how to do this with Millennials who are wired around multi-tasking?
: perceptual or semantic elaboration; putting it into your own words enhances memory. Using your own words and explaining it to others validates your learning (or reveals) that you need to acquire more info.
Generation via meta-cognition: self-reflection, thinking about your process actually enhances your memory. Thinking about what you do know actually enhances your memory. An easy way to put this into practice is to ask people what they’ve learned, or what they feel they’ve learned as reflection actually enhances memory.
: correlation between emotional arousal and memory; too much distracts attention, emotional regulation aids memory.
Performance based evaluations stress people out which encodes the negative messages but tends to limit encoding of the good messages.
Arousal can be optimal; too much blocks encoding and too little limits it as well. Meditation is helpful here as a tool for emotional regulation.
A sleeping brain enhances encoding; the brain is pruning the info and selecting what’s relevant and suppressing the irrelevant. Also helps with coherence and integration with cortex and hippocampus.
Question: how do we successfully break apart learning and scaling it?
You do not have to eliminate 4-hour trainings. You instead could do virtual reminders afterwards to induce reflection and encoding. The key is talking about the learning, asking for insight or application, and keeping it front of the brain. It always works.
Leader–led training: Learning to teach others really accelerates learning and encoding.
Simple control in autonomy boosts learning about 10%.
Key Idea: Self-generated insight actually changes behaviour.
Four effects of insight on the brain
1) Insights help us learn through:
Insight – gamma waves – memory
Insight – amygdala (that good feeling via insight) – memory
Amygdala is connected to hippocampus, so it helps encoding
2) Insights help us engage
Seeking out own answers – engagement – lasting learning
– constraint relaxation: Forcing someone to be creative because of a new constraint can actually produce new insights
4) Systemic change in brain
Holistic, physical change in the brain:
Insights give ideas legs: learn new behaviours; become engaged; generalize new solutions; wire into the brain
How to stimulate an insight:
3) Limit threats / create positive emotion
4) Reduce conscious attempt to solve the problem (ie, insights happen in the shower; you can only have 1 thing in conscious awareness at a time. Very well learned things use different brain structures so you can do multiple things at once.). If you’re letting it relax there’s space and a new signal can take over.
Q: Should instructional design perhaps shift from content delivery to creating the space for insight? How it may apply to their world and goals?
We can leverage our social orientation as people to help with insights.
– Adds opportunity for layering (integration into schemas)
– Focuses attention: Human interactions create focus (you’ll need to share with peers at end of class..)
– Activates generation: Dialogue activates networks
– Creates strong emotions: social emotions are strongest
-Engages spacing: The “bumping into people” idea
– Creates space for insight
Any kind of learning can be leveraged by social learning.
Q: how does brain know what’s irrelevant?
Usually it’s about what important in your environment? Food, safety, rewards are all things from our animal brain. Your brain will “tag” which info you’ll need (ie, are relevant) for future use. Episodic memories may be forgotten and only recalled when we realize that memory was key. You then grab it back and recode it for relevance.
The best way is to tell people, or have them realize, that the new info will be relevant to them.
Mnemonics: ways to group lots of info into one easy to recall memory. You still need to unpack the mnemonics and see how sub-components is relevant to your life will impact recall and utilization.
|SESSION SEVEN: Hormones & Leadership
Hormones such as cortisol and testosterone play a key role in shaping our character, influencing our confidence, reactivity to stress and more. This session explores the latest findings about the influence and role of these chemistries on leadership capabilities. More information on how to participate in this hands on research will be available at the summit.
Presenters: Dr Pranj Mehta/University of Oregon; Smrithi Prasad/University of Oregon
They believe there is an adaptive endocrine profile conducive to leadership
Testertone: linked to status seeking, behaviours / risk taking but there seems to be inconsistent findings
Cortisol: produced under stress, status-seeking behaviours (also inconsistent)
They believe cortisol impacts how testosterone impacts behaviour
High testosterone is only good if low levels of cortisol
· Adaptive hormone profile for leadership is high testosterone-low cortisol, or seen as being confident & calm
High testosterone + Low cortisol -> Dominance -> better relationships (see also more logical decision making)
Does not appear to be a difference between men and woman.
Caused cortisol levels to drop but testosterone to rise
Diet (low GI), sleep, physical actions (stance/expansive poses, victory (We know from examining endocrine profiles that our previous experiences carry over and impact our decision-making;
appreciation and noting progress can also impact the profile).
People have a set-point for their personality but the neuro-endrocrine system variances within a people’s profile determines results.
SESSION EIGHT: Organizational Mindfulness
This ‘state of the nation’ report explores how organizations are using mindfulness today. Building on neuroscience evidence for how mindfulness impacts the brain, we explore the results being achieved in organizations, how mindfulness is being packaged and branded, how many people are being impacted by mindfulness approaches, and the types of interventions being used.
: Alison Hooker/Chief Talent Development Officer EY; Dr Chrissie Cox/New York University; Dr David Creswell, Assistant Professor, Psychology Carnegie Mellon University; Dr Jennifer McCusker, Director, Global Talent Development, Oakley
(1) Mindfulness and the brain
Why the interest? May help reduce stress and increase focus. Mindfulness training is attention training. Noticing what’s happening moment by moment in a non-judgmental way. It’s not relaxation technique, but really how you bring your attention to your experience whether it’s positive, negative, or neutral. We are often on auto-pilot and new research shows that a wandering mind is an unhappy mind (study over 2250 US adults found 47% people found their mind wandered during the day and that was correlated with lower moods later in the day).
Research show it improves neural measures of attention and cognitive control. Studied advanced meditators (15 years +) against a control group. Findings: Advanced have greater resting state connectivity between PCC and and Dorsolateral PFC. In other words, the brain goes quiet faster.
Another study focused on unemployed, stressed adults using a 3-day mindfulness meditation retreat. Saw improvements in resting state connectivity with DLPFC drive subsequent improvement in health at 4 month follow up. In other words, meditation seems to be connecting us more closely to the emotional regulation parts of our brain (Amygdala or other central response nodes in the brain) and that has implications around hormones and overall health over time.
MM training reduces stress and functional connectivity of neural stress nodes.
Mindfulness training seems to be decoupling amygdala and its highly reactive tendency, and establishing greater connections with executive center of brain (PFC).
(2) Organizational Mindfulness
Working definition: If we were to personify the concept, we might see a group of people who are very clear in its intentions; aware of individuals and the collective; deliberate in its decisions; perhaps a growth orientation.
There’s a cultural group in the Amazon have no language for past or present and they measure very high on the happiness scale. Raises a question of what that might mean for one’s ability to be present and accepting of what is, versus what you want in the future.
How could mindfulness at an organizational level help with things like: greater resonance with team values; developing talent, enhanced learning; teamwork?
Ideas from the crowd: To shift from a fixed to growth organizational mindset requires people to first tune into their internal narrative and then register what’s going on for them about that narrative. That could help them make choices. It also helps declutter and hit the “pause” button. We still need to balance what we ask of people from a role perspective (billable hours, for example) or personalities (those with low EI).
(3) Companies implementing organizational mindfulness: Google (Search within yourself); Goldman Sachs; General Mills; US Marines with its Mind Fitness Training and Tactical Breather; Harvard Business School; Michigan Business School; Education as a whole in K-12 or at risk youth.
It’s been branded inside organizations:
Google: Direct experience; search inside yourself – neural self-hacking
General Mills: Mindful Leadership
How much mindfulness training do we need?
1 hour a week for 12 weeks: reduced stress, better sleep (21012 study)
twice daily for 10 days = reduced emotional exhaustion, improved job satisfaction (2013 study)
2.5 hours a week for 8 weeks = reduced burnout (2009 study)
Mindfulness training is like exercise training; the more you do the more benefits you get.
Minimum: 10-20 minutes per day with micro hits where you really focus your attention.
experience with Mindfulness: Senior leaders came and said they’re struggling with authentic relationships. Their Head of Talent brought in mindfulness, vulnerability, self defeating thoughts and it was uncomfortable in the beginning. It became clear that mindfulness was the thread for all other self-discovery, relationship clarity, and making progress. Very word of mouth; seems to work.
: Very masculine, tough culture. They have done a lot to introduce wellness into Oakley (they built a full-on health clinic for employees onsite). They did research into the 8 chronic disease causes and one of them was chronic stress. They introduced mindfulness via athletes that practice mindfulness, like Olympic athletes, Phil Jackson’s work with the Bulls and Lakers. They found one of their own sponsored athletes and interviewed her on stage and disclosed how it made her a better athlete, a better marriage, etc. They used that to ask people to reach out if they wanted to participate in an 8-week program and soon they were over subscribed.
3 broad practices of mindfulness:
1) concentration on a single point, like your breath
2) Open monitoring: close your eyes and just note what images, thoughts, sensations come up
3) Loving kindness meditation practices: wilfully trying to produce positive emotions and thoughts