The Power Of Habit
Empathy, Neurochemistry, and the Dramatic Arc: Paul Zak
Neuroscience research is revealing the social nature of the high-performance workplace.
Naomi Eisenberger, a leading social neuroscience researcher at the University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA), wanted to understand what goes on in the brain when people feel rejected by others. She designed an experiment in which volunteers played a computer game called Cyberball while having their brains scanned by a functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) machine. Cyberball hearkens back to the nastiness of the school playground. “People thought they were playing a ball-tossing game over the Internet with two other people,” Eisenberger explains. “They could see an avatar that represented themselves, and avatars [ostensibly] for two other people. Then, about halfway through this game of catch among the three of them, the subjects stopped receiving the ball and the two other supposed players threw the ball only to each other.” Even after they learned that no other human players were involved, the game players spoke of feeling angry, snubbed, or judged, as if the other avatars excluded them because they didn’t like something about them.
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Psychologists have worked tirelessly trying to figure out what makes innovators different. In one of the most thorough examinations of the subject, Harvard researchers interviewed 3,000 executives over six years, and they found that the No. 1 skill that separated innovators from noncreative professionals was “associating”—having an ability to successfully connect seemingly unrelated questions, problems or ideas from different fields. The three-year Harvard research project confirmed what Jobs had told a reporter 15 years earlier: “Creativity is just connecting things.”
Read full post here at Forbes.com.
Everywhere you look, from business to science to government, teams of people are set to work solving problems. You might think the trick to getting the smartest team would be to get the smartest people together, but a new study says that might not always be right.
Researchers at Carnegie Mellon University found that collaborative groups who conversed easily with equal participation were more efficient at completing sets of given tasks — and produced better results — than groups dominated by individuals.
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We have a natural tendency to romanticize breakthrough innovations, imagining momentous ideas transcending their surroundings, a gifted mind somehow seeing over the detritus of old ideas and ossified tradition.
But ideas are works of bricolage. They are, almost inevitably, networks of other ideas.
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Leaders today must understand and apply the knowledge of behavioral psychology and the lessons from brain science to manage organizational change successfully. In the past, efforts at organizational change which has focused on the structural aspects of organizations have systematically failed because they have neglected the reality that change doesn’t happen without individual people changing their thinking, beliefs and behavior.
In an article in the McKinsey Quarterly, Emily Lawson and Colin Price argue that change success in large organizations depends on persuading hundreds or thousands of groups and individuals to change the way they work, a transformation people will accept only if they can be persuaded to think differently about their jobs. In effect, CEOs must alter the mind-sets of their employees-no easy task.
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