THE BLOG
01/28/2015 05:25 pm ET Updated Mar 30, 2015

How Relevant Is Neuroscience to Your Organization?

Science Photo Library - PASIEKA. via Getty Images

Executive Summary
How many people in your organization have a brain?
Neuroscience is only crucial for those individuals.

How relevant is neuroscience?
This is a question that I've, on occasion, been asked. The response I normally give is along the lines of suggesting that it is only relevant for people with brains. Why am I 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. I'll come back to this point shortly.

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 organization. Conferences on neuroscience and the workplace are springing up all over the place, which is fantastic. 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.

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

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

Having just led a CPD weekend with a very talented group of coaches, trainers and consultants, I have seen again firsthand just how relevant neuroscience can be. One of our coaches has been working with an individual from an organization 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. The organization have been shocked at the change within him. The coach estimates 80 percent of the work she did with him came from her knowledge of neuroscience, 20 percent 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 organizations need to know all the details? Absolutely not. Do the people advising or working with organizations? 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, and two people stop to help you out. Bob watched a program 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 organizations 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.