It suprprises me that our aspiring business leaders and even general managers in corporations and in public service do not dedicate more time to brain science. I liken this to the world of athletics. An athlete’s primary job is to run faster, or jump higher or throw further. Sounds simple. But it is now well-recognised that to be the very best and to achieve the nano-second advantage that might make the difference between gold & silver or even between qualification for the olympic team and staying at home, athletes need to know a lot more than ‘just’ their traditional training programme. In the course of becoming the best they can be, they become well-versed in areas of muscle physiology, nutrition, anatomy, cardio-vascular mechanics, as well as some important principles of the the way their brain works through relaxation techniques, managing and channelling emotions and positive visualisation exercises. So what do we need and expect from our leaders? Continue reading
I don’t believe we learn “simply by attending”….there’s more to it than that. It’s got something to do with integration and synthesis and making ‘new connections’ (resulting in new neural pathways). It is these new connections that we know as “Aha moments” – when things suddenly become crystal clear. This is captured well in my view by John Nelson in the book “What color is your parachute? For retirement(2007)”. He talks about the “sea of information out there and the difficulty of making sense of it all. It splashes around with no sense of order. It is also relentless – like a fire hose that forever is trying to fill you up as though you were an empty barrel.” Where he takes this metaphor next is the notion that it is “at the confluence of the information stream and your own stream of consciousness, that you’ll make your best decisions”. I would add that it is when you are paying attention to the confluence of streams of information that you “make connections” and where most learning takes place.
The importance of Reflection is clear. This is where LEARNING happens. For reflection to be successful the reflector needs to be open to his espoused theory and theory-in-use gap being exposed and crawled over. I suspect that many people may retrospectively “close this gap” (cognitive dissonance?) and thereby not acknowledge it. Doing this closes the door to learning. This is where the power of the techniques used and espoused by Chris Argyris come through – the power of disorienting people and leaving them feel exposed ‘in practice’. This then opens things up for learning. i.e. by Shining a Light or Focusing Attention sharply on the area.
Read more about Chris Argyris and his double-loop learning theories by clicking on the title of this blog post.