Thursday, September 20, 2012

Whole Brain Organizations: Pulling for Creative Genius at All Levels?


"Want to inspire your staff?  Let them help solve the company's biggest problems."  From 30 Second MBA, Fast Company, John Landgraf, Pres. & GM, FX Networks

By Sandra H. Rodman - @SHRodman on Twitter

For new solutions we need: New landscapes of solvers.  What we're finding in Right Brain Aerobics pilots is that when you initiate a "pull" for creative/innovative genius it's there.  It's there at much greater levels of insight than you expect, and it's there at every level of every organization or network of colleagues.

That's a new landscape for problem solving in every organization -- but "Step 1" is: We must engage the "right brain" as well as the left, in every role.  

For Whole Brain Organizations: 
Make a Serious "Call for Genius" across the Board

When you're motivated by a serious "Ask" for genius from everybody for solution ideas for your organization's top problems -- you get new viewpoints that can knock your socks off. You'll see new doors open in the mind -- yours...
  • Starts accelerating right brain activation (necessary for whole brain thinking).  
  • Starts group dynamic change. You've shared the key problems and you've asked everybody for input = everybody feels responsible.  
  • Lessens time wasted during the day with emails or mental tapes of "if only they knew my idea" or "only a couple of people ever get asked for real ideas."
Try this:
  • For one month, designate that every staff meeting at every company level ends with 10 min. to request/record for at least one new idea on the company's key top problem.
    • Scribe and forward ideas to CEO.
    • Meetings attendance would go up.
    • Communication of real creative viewpoints to the top would alter perceived "roles" of each staff member.
  • Do this in a university -- pulling for ideas for solutions to top university/learning issues -- for 5 min. at end of every class for a week -- watch shift in learning and student energy/focus.
To Have Whole Brain Organizations 
We Have to "Ask" Everybody to the Table

The Act of the "Ask" -- as if the opinion of every individual member/staff were valuable -- is, in itself, starting up some new "engines of creativity." 

This changes perception of individual role/identity -- I'm at the table too!" It affirms at every level.  You will have to follow through and get some "randomly" selected picks of review of top ideas for the week actually read by top execs!  Not just "votes' -- those tend to push the safer "usual suspects" of ideas to the foreground -- "same old same old" themes or folks thinking.  Do some completely "random" picks that get reviewed.  

Food for Thought...  

You won't have to remind executives to actually take some of these ideas seriously and do something with them.  Most senior managers in any organization are starved for new viewpoints even if they aren't aware of it.  When we pull from everybody, we see some and we won't forget it. It's is basis, in a way, of the reality TV show:  Undercover Boss.  Every CEO changes the company after going "undercover" as an employee. Not a single one doesn't greatly value and appreciate the new viewpoint!  Not a single one doesn't think their organization will be better because of it.

This kind of 10-min. meeting exercise treats everybody as the "CEO for a 10 Minutes" -- in a sense, an undercover boss for a few minutes, in reverse...

A Whole Brain Organization = A whole new landscape 
of thinkers that you didn't know you had. 

This topic could be a book in itself.  We're hearing amazing stories.  And we don't want to be "half brained" organizations...
Using 10% of brainpower as an individual = using 10% of brainpower as an organization. 
Some brain scientists think that we're using even less than 10% of our minds/brains -- and some think the whole concept is skewed. But isn't the proof is in the personal pudding? We know this is true!  We know that we're leaving our greater intelligence and right brain -- at home. And no one ever asks us for whole brain thinking all day long or to put anything into larger contexts.  (For more from a senior brain scientist, Dr. Iain McGilchrist, about how there actually are two different "brains" -- impactful in the same way that Dan Pink's putting "right brain" and "left brain" into modern business/thinking metaphors.  See  TED Talk on "The Divided Brain" by Dr. Iain McGilchrist -- almost a million views...)
A "Whole Brain" organization might start to see 20% of minds/brains present and active...and if there are forums and techniques to interact at that level then 30% of minds/brains present.  Having that increase in real thinking/organization-wide, holistic problem solving would change any organization -- and raise the bar for performance at every level.  Every week there are more news stories about 7-year-olds teaching physics (sic) and today: "An 11 year-old girl bested professional computer developers at a competitive hackathon, winning $20,000 to further develop a mobile app and market it... ...the competition sponsored by AT&T."
Suddenly your "problem solvers" teams expanded!  But you didn't hire any new people.  You inspired and engaged those who are your staff, your volunteers, your clients, your students -- to come to the table "with their thinking caps on."  And once you start this process:  It doesn't turn off...

Organizational "energy" expands -- because staff "dialogue" starts going more to whole organization impact and context, needs. People think larger and broader if we ask them for "big picture" solutions.  They become more mentally "engaged" in the organizational mission; they can "see" consequences of small errant decisions more readily.  IF -- they have to focus at least a couple of times a month or more on the REAL issues for the organization, clients, students, fans. They can become energized organizational enthusiasts this way, and impact their own networks which is another kind of organizational asset which -- except for companies like Apple -- are often largely untapped.

The work of continually developing right brain training techniques reveals new potential for these approaches every day as we try to techniques -- far beyond what we originally envision. 

Whole Brain Organizations don't evolve with one off training events

The whole brain must be engaged in daily practices (including expanding human sensory/conscious awareness, not just creative but intuitive-meditative-alpha mind, with new mainstream ways to enter the alpha "aha" mind state readily and increase focus).  That's what we're seeing in events -- glimpses of the largely untapped, massive organizational and individual brainpower that could function at new levels.  It's what's coming.

The big surprise is:  We have the mind/brain and techniques already.  

We're just not training them; or don't think they're possible.  The boundaries of the "possible" are being pushed back every day! The good news is, though we keep waiting for computer chips in the brain or pills to do this for us -- this is a natural "social," human consciousness/community/communications transformation skill, ready for development.  We've had reduced skills in this area not increased ones -- so this is a major opportunity to change that trend, for the organization who decides to "think different." 
See: "Your Brain on Computers: Attached to Technology and Paying a Price," NY Times series. Those who invented computers didn't use computers; the fundamental laws of science where discovered without computers. We're just beginning to understand the power of "whole brain" thinking and organizations -- what new technologies might they create that are more synchronous and sustainable for all life systems, beyond creating more gadget models for landfills?  (This is happening -- read "" daily for a real right brain stretch!)
Easy steps to do this are a kind of holy grail I'm still chasing, and why I'm doing this at 70 instead of retiring!
When I was an executive in Fortune 500 or large non-profit organizations, there was always some "accidental" right brain thinking -- innovative thinkers gathered in private conversations, knowing most of our ideas would never see the light of day. We spent time strategizing how to get them heard -- but we lost good people who were tired of never being "asked" for any ideas beyond a given task; of they were the thinkers of "outlier" ideas that would later be seen in new industry trends. Big losses to the organizations.
Whole Brain Organizations hire the whole individual, not for just a single job, level, or task, but to think big and imagine bigger! To inspire themselves and the whole company -- from any level or position in that company.  A whole brain thinker will be able to move any inspired idea or contribution to the highest levels quickly, and if they keep running into roadblocks, companies will lose them to other organizations.  Where they know they are being hired for more than programming one app. You have to draw new "organization charts" when you start freeing the larger intelligence of a global organization; it's going to get more circular and more subtly invasive across thinking units.
If I'd had these right brain activated group processes when I was in corporations, teams would have been armed with vaster perspectives and mental  resources that we didn't have available.  Jeff Bezos was working in a bank before he thought of Amazon and left to create it.  How many new companies come out of the minds and hearts -- and garages -- of lower level staff -- never asked for their bigger ideas every day?
How many Jeff Bezos's are on your team?  Until we ask for more than a spread sheet, a report, a sales call log -- we won't know.  How many of our clients or students could give us genius input that "changes everything" every day?  Until we ask, we don't know.

All businesses and technologies are going to shift as global economies, environments, societies resynchronize... Every day new science findings and societal reinventions turn every belief and mental context "on its head." This "rethinking" of everything with a different kind of mind -- Dan Pink's "Whole New Mind" -- may not be a party to which organizations want to come late...

If we can imagine "Whole Brain Organizations" -- and "right brain thinking" -- some organizations are going to start now, performing and thinking at unimaginable mental levels!

They won't be just more creative or innovative, they will literally be using the brain/mind in a different way, in intuitive or supersensory or supervisionary states of mind simply untrained for business.  They will be improvisational in alpha brain states and more focused on global context -- they will respond quicker with more honest self-reflection and insight.  They will be happier!  When everyone is "at the table," we begin to activate what is an unlikely sleeping giant...the other 90% of brain/mind/heart/passion/intelligence -- rarely brought to work. And almost never "asked for"...

Sandra H. Rodman, CEO, 
Right Brain Aerobics -- Classes

For corporate and institutional training contact Bill Gallagher, Gallagher Management Co.:
410-905-2055 or Email

(c) 2012, S.H. Rodman.  Photo Credits, 

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