Learning Lab

How Relevant is Neuroscience?

I’ve been asked this question on several occasions now. The response I normally give is along the lines of suggesting that it is only relevant for people with brains. What makes me so sure? Neuroscience is the scientific study of the brain. There are some arguments against its relevance that link to the fact that some research focuses on very small components or processes. Granted, not all research is relevant in isolation. In fact, taking a broader view is a really useful thing to do. I’ll come back to this point shortly.

The Danger

What we’re seeing is that a little knowledge can sometimes mean that neuroscience is pigeon holed into a one or two areas of an organisation. Conferences on neuroscience and the workplace are springing up all over the place, which is fantastic. We’re often being asked to speak or advise on the content that should be covered. One of the worries is that when people hear a little bit, for example that challenge to our status can trigger a threat response, they get stuck thinking that neuroscience only speaks to leadership or HR pieces.

The Opportunity

Anywhere there are people within a business, anywhere systems are used by people, anywhere your end users are people – neuroscience can be relevant.

  • Strategy
  • Customer service
  • Sales
  • Leadership
  • HR
  • Finance
  • Marketing

Having just led a CPD weekend with a very talented group of coaches, trainers and consultants (graduates from our NS4C programme), I have seen again first hand just how relevant neuroscience can be. One of our NS4C Club coaches has been working with an individual from an organisation having been told that it was probably a waste of time because although she was very good, it would take a miracle to change him. (Ever met one of those people?) The organisation have been shocked at the change within him. The coach estimates 80% of the work she did with him came from her knowledge of neuroscience, 20% from strengths based work. Where did she start? By explaining his brain to him.

A lot of neuroscience is very complicated. It involves learning new jargon, anatomy, biochemistry, some physics. Do organisations need to know all the details? Absolutely not. Do the people advising or working with organisations? I firmly say YES. In order to best help they need an overview with enough details that they will be accurate in what they suggest.

Imagine your car breaks down, two people stop to help you out. Bob watched a programme on pistons last night. He starts saying some things that indicate he knows what he is talking about – but only about pistons. Susan on the other hand is a mechanic. She spends her days with the whole engine, she knows all the components well and how they interact. Who would you rather help fix your car?

Often a challenge we see is that organisations bring individuals in to try to fix the pistons without addressing the fact that you’re out of fuel.

Summary

Neuroscience is a scientific lens through which we can see deeper into how to get the most out of people by supporting them with what their brains really need.

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

Questions

What is the biggest systemic problem in your organisation?

What are your three greatest strengths?

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