05/10/2013 10:54 am ET Updated Jul 10, 2013

Inspiration, or More Perspiration in Problem Solving?

Inspiration and imagination are part of what Einstein called the "sacred gift." Without it, an individual can go through life much like a robot or drone.

Inspiration is like a blast of fresh air upon leaving a smoke-filled room. Unfortunately, unlike opening a door to get fresh air, it's not a simple task for most people to tap into a source of inspiration. Tapping into this mysterious place in which intuition and innovation can be found, however, does not have to remain a hit-or-miss proposition. As Dr. Roger Sperry discovered in 1981, our brains are comprised of two independent hemispheres. He was awarded a Nobel Prize for his work which laid the groundwork for further right-brain ideation research and application.

More than thirty years have passed since Sperry's work validated the research about hemispheric division in the brain. The art community had already welcomed Betty Edwards' Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain, published in 1979 and still popular in art schools today. The essence of Edwards' book is learning how to draw by getting the left brain out of the way so the right brain can "see" the image. Dr. Lucia Capacchione subsequently applied Dr. Sperry's research to the field of psychology in her seminal book, Recovery of Your Inner Child.

Why have business leaders been so slow to embrace right-brain ideation? It's true that most of the time an individual operates primarily from the left hemisphere of his/her brain, which is the seat of logic, math, analysis and reasoning, among other functions. Obviously, these skills are helpful for putting food on the table, paying bills, and remaining employed, though less likely to assist in inventing a new breakthrough app or product that changes the landscape. The right hemisphere of the brain, on the other hand, is believed to be the part of the brain in which artistry, music, intuition and problem solving reside. Problem solving? Ultimately, tapping into the right brain can help solve problems in improving a business and its bottom line, and it deserves traction in the business community.

In a globally competitive world, in which the speed of change continues to accelerate, it is a distinct disadvantage to be caught flat-footed. Organizations can no longer afford to rely on a dominant left-brain-driven model for progress--a method which leads to slower incremental steps. Unfortunately, few game-changing ideas tend to result, despite the time and effort expended. If individuals continue to do what they have always done, they will get what they have always gotten.

Adding the right brain's inspiration to the equation, while preserving the productive left brain steps, results in transformational change. Learning to tap into the right brain also helps to level the playing field with twenty-something innovators who are not as ingrained or "encultured" in their thinking processes. (No wonder Einstein, Newton, and Heisenberg did most of their important work in their twenties!) By tapping into the right brain, innovative, creative, and intuitive thoughts begin to emerge.

Personal experience in facilitating sessions in which executives have learned to tap into their right brains has demonstrated that fresh, big ideas can come to the surface in a relatively short period of time. These ideas, when combined with more conventional thinking have resulted in actionable steps to improve the bottom line. It's time for management to embrace wholeheartedly a whole-brained approach to ideation.