How is Your Organisation Using Neuroscience?

My husband and I managed to get away before the schools broke up (with a 2 year old we think it is fair to save August for those who need it). You’ll notice a relaxed deckchair chat feel to this month in the holiday spirit. So the previous month has seen me start to interview people for my third book bringing together neuroscience and HR. This means I’ve spoken to a lot of HR Directors and L&D Directors, which has been thoroughly enjoyable. (If you know any people do introduce me…the interviews continue!)

One of the things that struck me before I started this research when I was actually being interviewed by the Chartered Institute for Personnel Development (CIPD in the UK) was that there seems to be the perception that neuroscience is something that organisations are either ‘doing’ or ‘not doing’. It took me a while to realise that this was part of our current reality and a while longer to articulate why this is funny.

So, as I often tell people when asked what I do, ‘we help people understand how their brains work’. The premise in this response is that everyone has a brain. You’ll imagine the countless times someone makes a joke to the contrary of this presupposition. However, if we presume that everyone within an organisation does in fact have a brain… then it follows that neuroscience is at work within that organisation. Let me walk us through it.

Neuroscience is the scientific study of the nervous system. There are thousands of research papers published each year in this field and so the body of evidence and insights is constantly growing (one of the reasons we have such a big extended team who are keeping tabs on various different areas of use to organisations to bring to the table). It is absolutely the case that a lot of ground-breaking research is being done and is shedding light on new and better ways to do things.

It is also the case, however, that there is examples where research confirms concepts that people have discovered experientially. Let’s look at a specific case. We know both experientially and from neuroscience that culture is important to an organisation. We know that it has an effect on people. Neuroscience tells us how that happens and specifically what organisations need to look out for and how they can maximise the effectiveness of their culture tailored to the organisational outcomes.

One of the most common responses when I ask leaders what their culture is like is ‘we’re a family’. So long before these organisations had heard of neuroscience or any studies a ‘family-like’ culture had developed. We can now share with these companies that this type of culture could be fantastic for them. We can share research into connection and how important reducing social isolation is and so forth. The point here is that neuroscience sometimes confirms some of the good that already exists within a company.

Some things that occur evolutionarily and without conscious intention within organisations should be changed. They will not help the organisation achieve its outcomes. Other things have evolved beautifully and will dramatically drive the company forward. Neuroscience unveils which are which and how to change those that you need to.

Do get in touch with us if you would like to start a conversation about what neuroscience could do for your place of work.



Can you think of any ways your organisation is using neuroscience?

Instinctively do you know some things your organisation is doing that you don’t think are a good plan?

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