We now know the brain lights to novelty in refreshing ways - not a bad recipe for those who wish to stir up cutting edge advances at work. Gary Hamel refers to radically new management practices needed to launch "competitive success in an age of relentless head-snapping change," where toxic effects of the industrial age still predominate. In the video interview below, Braden Kelly refers to the difference between exploitation of workers, and exploration of novel designs. We also see servers and software equipped with interactive programs that engage more talent in teams. Imagine this merger of brain-compatible research and user-friendly technology, as the quintessential tool to rescue workplaces trapped in rigid ruts.
At MITA, we design mind-bending breakthrough strategies, to align with original approaches for improved workplace practices. We take advantage of new neuro discoveries, and use flexible technology capabilities to compare the mindset of traditional leaders, with innovative risktakers. Workers store brain compatible solutions to problems that hold back productivity, in data banks, for instance. Access is given to workers who borrow and build-on one another's original offerings. By making the digital process as interactive as possible, rather than prescriptive, the MITA approach encourages high performance minds and fine-tuned practices.
Departments that benefit business most, continue to post possibilities that improve their approaches on shared access servers. Workers who add value to original practices, reap mental and business rewards that accompany new neuron pathways away from traditional toxins, toward winning innovative designs. For innovation to thrive in stuck organizations, we toss novelty into the mix, to replace persistent workplace toxins that predictable progress.
Recent research supports novelty’s lifeline to growth, as well as workers' ability to transform tired trends into innovative brainpower. In MITA brain based practices, teams retool to ride over potholes, by fueling multiple intelligences for original designs forward.
If you've ever caught the enthusiasm of winning teams, you'll agree that a pioneering process provides incentive for productivity. The MITA brain based approach focuses on shared organic ideas that win. Transformation comes from the fact that the human brain is equipped to build and sustain innovative cultures, and neurogenesis helps people roll out novel designs to replace frustrating workplace ruts.
During renewal work with leaders in several countries, I've noticed exorbitant time lost in coaxing unmotivated people to consider new possibilities. It's the lived experience of brain drain that may have prompted the ageless wisdom "Don't waste your time answering a scoffer; all you'll get for your pains is abuse." Prov 9:8.
In comparison, I've also observed amazing advances at work when open-minded people embrace change. There is no finer workplace setting, than a team of enthusiastic people who pull top talents together to create novel alternatives, to replace tired or broken traditions. Workers who are passionate about progress, tend to solve problems innovatively through risking novel approaches. It’s opposite of one-way-only regimens that crimp micro-managed workplaces. It also differs from routines that thwart freedom to invent.
Recently I’ve been looking into dynamic research that shows novelty's trigger (when acted on at work) to increase transformation brainpower among open-minded leaders. Most people agree that boring meetings, combative colleagues, venting, blame or constant cynicism shuts out high-performance offerings in too many workplaces. Fewer recognize the deeper dangers of these toxins, nor do many relate the toxins to short-circuited creativity.
Although I worked within and observed many kinds of businesses, I saw consistently similar torpedoes that popped new innovations often before they could float. My own work with neuroplasticity showed how negative darts tossed at new ideas can burst efforts for innovative brainpower – extending dangerous cortisol chemicals that shut down entire teams.
In one workplace people supported naysayers, calling them critical thinkers, and in so doing affirmed no innovations, but shot holes in insights as they arose. Workers argued fast, foul and often – all at the cost of talented co-workers who either quit or simply stopped believing in advancement. In one department, a few bullies pushed rock-solid opinions, while others fought to tame their amygdalas, rather than scuffle with sacred cows. If you didn’t watch your back in these toxic settings, I was told you’d go down daily with criticism or others arrows slung when you least expected.
I rarely got anywhere in trying to introduce an appetite for novelty when I worked with naysayers, or those who admitted they simply worked for pay. Furthermore, in many toxic work environments I saw the reasons behind Gary Hamel and others' reminders that fewer than 25% of people like their work, or feel fulfilled in what they do. Even in such cases, the most successful facilitators challenge a novel response into innovative initiatives through careful tone they engage.
At the same time, I noted how neurons can build innovation with a few carefully crafted acts.
For example, it takes evidence of novel practices to change a workplace culture, from stuck to free flowing advances. It’s so because, neurons project extensions called dendrite brain cells – which connect and reconnect toward or away from novelty daily, based on specific acts for or against original approaches, that people do each day.
Companies I work within that cling to traditional approaches or practices, continue to grow further brainpower to run from change and micro manage rigid routines of frustrated workers. Axons, in contrast to neurons, relay information back from the body back to the brain. In a rather complex electrochemical process, neurons communicate with each other in synapses, and that connection creates chemicals called neurotransmitters. Because neurons that fire together, also wire together, the mental process of daily routines locks people into the same grip daily.
In contrast, flexible companies such as Wegmans food chain, drive novelty through actions that mimic the change desired. Simply put, a worker’s daily process literally reconfigures brains as chemicals release at each synapse, and these shape mood, open brains to optimize learning and stoke creative solutions to complex problems. No question, there are still many mysteries that occur in the quadrillion synapses within a human brain. Novel advances and innovative growth, however, along with amplified benefits for leadership in a new era however, await people who act daily on what recent research names as novelty.
Because most people encounter ruts that impact brainpower I created 25 ways to add brainpower through innovation, by changing up routines for strategies that include novelty. In addition, I compiled 50 actions that enhance novelty at work, from joint ventures over many years, with diverse cultures.
As business and academic leaders, we continue to build technology tools to apply brain based approaches aligned with MITA’s brain based manifesto. In that regard, MITA emphases especially ethical renewal ,that adds dividends for all who takes risks for quality innovations. Mind-bending performance along plasticity’s pathway to invention is a new concept to many workplaces.
It’s also fair to say that only those employees who remain open to innovation, tend to give neuroplasticity (the brain’s ability to change and rewire itself) a try at work. Pascual-Leone, one of the founders of the term, put it this way: Brain activity is like Play-Doh one is playing with all the time. Everything we do shapes a chunk of the Play-Doh.”
Times differ with each workplace, as the collective brainpower for innovative change also differs. Sustainable change is incremental however, and so coaching or facilitation is often on-going. According to Dr. Doidge, in his bestselling book, The Brain that Changes Itself, plastic change, that comes because of novel experiences travels deep into the brain and ultimately even into a person’s genes, molding them as well.
A). Challenge: Because research on novelty is still quite recent, some leaders insist that brain facts hold little in common with workplace prosperity. While they constantly demand proofs, naysayers tend to use few brain-compatible discoveries they verify. Leaders such as Gary Hamel, Bill George and others at the MIX, challenge organizations to ask, "Are we changing as fast as the world around us?"
Solution: Engage leaders to discover how novelty advances innovative brainpower and improves performance at work. Illustrate how the brain’s hippocampus releases a shot of dopamine in response to novelty. Anthony Grace at the University of Pittsburgh describes a feedback loop that involves a chemical and electrical interactions between dopamine and novel or unexpected events, for example. This lively process appears to lock in memory, as it also engages the amygdala where the brain processes emotional information.
B). Challenge: Even after research proves that novelty stokes memory and kick-starts brainpower, why are many workers still so set in their ways? Henry David Thoreau bemoaned a lack of novelty observed daily: “There is an incessant influx of novelty into the world, and yet we tolerate incredible dullness.” Was Thoreau describing more here of what we tolerate or inspiring what we can innovate through brain based strategies?
C). Challenge: People bring enormously novel skills to work, yet too few of these unique offerings are integrated across departments. Instead silos are formed and then fortified through jargon or pretentious prose that separates people who differ. When departments prevent the cross pollonation that ignites innovation, they also limit novelty productions. Rather than default to broken systems, the challenge is to rid organizations of Thoreau's incredible dullness that predominates.
Solution: Host a Celebration of Innovation, that will entice more people to share highly original insights across departments. Here workers explore new areas together in cross functional teams, in order to develop innovations that draw from multiple talents, and in the celebration events, perfect these inventions with input from people across multiple fields.
D). Challenge: At times, one kind of leader gets promoted, while other unique leadership talents wait endlessly in wings of an empty stage. Not surpringly, when workers go unappreciated, some resort to spreading destructive toxins such as venting or bullying. In the process, novelty and risk-taking at work get truncated for a focus on lesser practices of survival and avoidance that shape entire workplace cultures.
Solution: One way to increase novelty is to move innovative IQ up a notch through mindful leadership promotion, plasticity and multiple intelligences, as illustrated below. Start with the question, How are they smart? – rather than the less useful question How smart are they? – and encourage people to develop their talents.
If you believe IQ is fixed and business is stuck in recession without options, then stagnation may be ensured at work, because brains either fuel or limit growth through mental plasticity. More intelligence at work relies on multiple intelligences, and leaders who expect dendrite brain cells to reconfigure for higher IQ in multiple domains. MITA brain based approaches facilitate originality through many mental and technological portals, such as multiple intelligences, built into strategies online. How so?
1. Looking for more linguistic intelligence? Want words to come easier, ads to mean more, speeches to ring truer, or books to yield innovative action? Then play with words, do crosswords, join a list serve discussion, compete in scrabble, debate, or offer to speak to leadership conference. Search for new ideas on the internet, write a blog. Or tell your best idea in a Tweet of 140 letters or less. To develop words and language daily is to boost your linguistic brainpower, which includes mastery over language.
2. Interested in more musical intelligence? Want music to move and shake workplace creative designs? Listen to Gregorian Chant to move you out of stress. Play Bach or Handel to plan your next team project. Toss tunes from Shumann, Chopin or Liszt into your romance and watch it grow. Or gain inspiration from Soul, Blues or Calypso. Don Campbell shows how to gain musical intelligence to jack up workplace productivity, or to improve moods on a bad day?
3. Want more intrapersonal intelligence? Leaders need intuitive brainpower for better decisions, common sense for keen insights, contentment in your own company, simple ability to laugh more on a busy day. Thanks to neurogenesis, we now know these intrapersonal traits (that grow novel leadership) also increase with use. Panic a bit too fast? Feel sidelined a bit too much? Run from risks or new adventures? Grow sad when others celebrate family ties without you? Leaders who enjoy a heaping dose of intrapersonal smarts, add contentment and turn tough challenges (such at attack from another) into opportunities to move forward without sinking.
4. Need more bodily kinesthetic intelligence? Would you like to exercise better? Then step and move beside a person who stays fit. Leaders who make deals and share insights on the golf course, simply learn to shuffle and stretch in ways that grow more memory within body muscles themselves. It’s much the same for building websites or moving to Wii tasks, where the brain kicks into kinesthetic mode. With daily acts leaders shift into movement gears that zap innovation alive with use. New research also show it depends less on age or physical limitations, that limit too many traditional workplaces.
5. Dream of more mathematical or logical intelligence? Leaders who create organized schedules to plan the next week, develop more of this intelligence with each schedule that get them to their targets. Since sequencing and patterning is at math smart’s core, so’s organization at the heart of math IQ and seeing the bigger picture through numbers or patterns. Unlike other intelligences, mathematical leaders lead more through math ideas that move people and profit forward. Highly successful leaders who are strong in this IQ, model how mistakes add growth. In contrast rigid workplaces use errors in math thinking, as arrows to kill a brain’s best. It works well to increase novelty that fits all, and it differs from the way we tend to do business. Einstein’s words that learning’s what remains after one’s forgotten everything learned in school, are relevant to innovation growth, that requires different leadership skills.
6. After more visual or spatial intelligence? Ask an marketing team to grab a paper along with anything that writes - and sketch their funniest marketing memory in the last few weeks. There is no need to attend an art class, or learn to paint, to grow spatial IQ at work. It’s true that highly spatial leaders may visit galleries, surround their offices with images that teach more about leadership, or create an avatar to show their novel thoughts to an online community. But most leaders graph ideas, select visuals to explain life, or take photographs to record the work of experts. Like the other intelligences, spatially intelligent leaders can facilitate others to develop more visual intelligence through use.
7. Into higher interpersonal intelligence? A leader who interview a person in order to discover what makes that person successful, is growing interpersonal IQ? It also comes to those who ask of peers, How are you smart?” rather than the passé question How smart are you? Most leaders agree that people high in interpersonal intelligence will come away from conflict with solutions in mind, rather than retribution. Because they let go of the need to be liked by all, even controversial exchanges offer opportunity to expand innovative approaches through a leader’s interpersonal acumen?
8. Long for more naturalistic intelligence? Leaders who take time to breathe in refreshing scents of spring, surround themselves by sounds of brooks running, model high naturalistic IQ. At work they may captivate changes in design as nature changes for different seasons, or show naturalistic intelligence, by the way they use patterns in nature to address problems at work. Naturalistically strong leaders gain more by using patterns and designs found outside to solve problem faced in any situation. Soil types, animal or tree patterns, or rock formations – all amount to nature’s wisdom that converts into novel business approaches.
MITA facilitates workers to value multiple talents developed for innovative workplaces. To illustrate strengths that could renew a workplace, for instance – use a flip video camera – to record 3 minutes of each intelligence in action.
It may be far too simple to say use it or lose it, when you consider that people possess more than one or two intelligences. For better balance innovative leaders take brainpower to new levels. We start with an online survey of multiple intelligences at work, to determine what to expand on for the next original advancement planned. In MITA brain based programs, leaders start with even one activity planned to involve a strength that leader most enjoys. Another action deliberately dips into a weaker IQ area leaders hope to strengthen, for a smoother ride in one of the areas listed above. It’s through novelty that comes from added intelligence at work, leaders will best facilitate innovation for a new era.
Metrics at MITA, start with reflection, and end with discourse about how to improve skills in novel ways. Brain based reviews begin with supportive evidence - from the person being reviewed. Rather than opinions delivered by overseers or even peers, whose feelings may limit talent growth, people facilitate their own intrapersonal progress in this way. It's a win-win, since high quality performance typically results. At the MITA International Brain Center, for instance, leaders respond to specific questions related to smart skills that show evidence of innovative leadership in action.
One question, for example asks: Do you improve outcomes through risk-talking. Person checks yes √ or no √. If no √. is checked, then that person is expected to design a plan to work on specific weakness that prevents them from taking risks for growth. If yes √. is checked, the leader being evaluated is expected to provide specific evidence of risks (or whatever smart skill is being evidenced) that others could affirm.
Only at this point, and after the person being reviewed has intelligence-fair opportunities to prove strengths and identify weak areas, being worked on (with evidence provided) do others enter of the review process. At that point, supervisors who are evaluating the worker can:
- Ask for more evidence of this strong or weak specific smart skill identified
- Disagree with review results – with supporting evidence on the other side
- File negotiated results – or areas of final disagreement for further consideration
In brain based transparency feedbacks, the evaluation review forms rely more on articulation of the person reviewed, on the rigors of evidence for good or poor scores, and less on feelings or proclivities of reviewers.
MITA metrics are based on the premise that a more transparent approach to talent promotion, holds workers accountable to their innovative growth, by supporting genuine talent development at the peaks.
People work for or against innovation in any workplace. Furthermore, because of mirror neurons in the brain, workers mimic those they associate with more than most realize. Observe groups that vent daily about fallen markets, and you’ll see how negativity shrinks people's opportunities to increase profit, for example.
To revisit mistakes is to add novelty and profit as two oars of the same boat forward. Starbucks brewed winning coffees, and drew many of us together, to brew similar successful ventures. Then, after recession struck and customers lacked the $4.00 daily fix, they nearly crashed. That’s before Howard Schultz set out to reboot Starbuck’s success with novel approaches..
To turnaround mistakes into novelty that advances, Starbucks spotted brainpower in five areas, that MITA Brain Center also fosters for growth:
- Admit you blew it – Anger, fear, and frustration fuel harmful cortisol chemical hormones that stops success, while admitting errors stems its flow in brains.
- Pop a novel fix – Venting curbs brainpower and creates neuron pathways to more complaints. Novelty adds the opposite for increased intelligence.
- Push brainpower buttons – Buy-in from community and clients benefits from multiple intelligences for a winning array of answers.
- Create rather than criticize. Cynical or critical mindsets block creativity, limit talent and stomp out innovation. Creativity jolts brainpower for a better way.
- Ride shotgun for risks. Encouragement changes the chemistry of brains through raised serotonin levels, and fuels new risk-taking for profitability.
Read more about dendrites, and discover their function for innovative workplaces with Dr. Eric Kandel., who along with, JH Schwartz, TM Jessell, offers tips in the book Principles of Neural Science.
Identify way that people can begin discourse and build innovative launches, in Braden Kelley's new book, Stoking your Innovative Brainpower, and see Braden's interview below related to this MIX article, Reducing Workplace Toxins with Novelty that Transforms.
In Dr. Norman Doidge’s new book, The Brain that Changes Itself, research backs brain based practices with facts. The research encourages leaders to try new ideas related to the brain’s ability to rewire itself for novelty and innovation that succeeds.
In Keith Ferrazzi's book, Never Eat Alone, are listed 106 tips to become a master connector. See Keith's novel suggestions at http://www.lifeoptimizer.org/2007/06/06/106-tips-to-become-a-master-conn... in the 21st Century.
25 Ways to Reboot Brainpower for Growth through Novelty http://www.brainleadersandlearners.com/working-memory/blame-it-on-the-brain/
50 Actions that Enhance Novelty at Work http://www.brainleadersandlearners.com/innovation/50-acts-that-enhance-novelty-at-work/
Invited feature article, Keeping the Brain in Mind - Boost your Problem Solving Power, by Ellen Weber (PhD) for Capital Business and Finance Glossy Magazine, November, Vol 2, Issue 2, 2006.
Innovation, Design and the Human Brain http://www.brainleadersandlearners.com/general/innovation-design-and-the-human-brain/
Boost Brainpower to Advance in a recession http://www.brainleadersandlearners.com/general/25-ways-to-boost-workplace-brainpower-in-a-recession/
While novelty requires more working memory – rigid routines - on the other hand, rely more on the brain's basal ganglia which dominates most organizations. Braden Kelley Speaks to this topic of novely, innovation and past ruts -- from his new book, Stoking Your Innovation Bonfire (Wiley Press)