Brain Fitness & Organizational Health

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brainfitnessSometimes disparate and distinct ideas, which weren’t initially meant to be tied together, can be used outside of their original context. It produces interesting results and most of the time I just note them and keep going. Today I am sharing one tidbit of insight…an “Ah-Ha” moment.

During a recent viewing of an episode from the “Brain Fitness” series, the following tenets were provided as critical in brain plasticity and change:

  • Change can only occur if the brain is in the mood
  • Change strengthens connections between neurons engaged at the same time
  • Neurons that fire together wire together
  • Initial changes are just temporary
  • Brain plasticity is a two-way street and we can either drive brain change positively or negatively
  • Memory is crucial for learning
  • Motivation is a key factor in brain plasticity

So what’s the epiphany? Try this on for size: instead of relating this to the brain, relate it to an organization, a team, a church…..

  • Brain = church, team, organization
  • Neurons = members, people
  • plasticity = vitality, sustainability
  • Memory = memory, culture, tradition or history, demographics

So now you have something like the following (with some personal notes):

  • Change can only occur if the organization is in the mood  — if there is no commitment or desire for change, there will be no (or very difficult) progress
  • Change strengthens connections between members engaged at the same time — this can be found with any group that has gone through an ordeal together whether it is a group of soldiers, people impacted by mother nature and recovering, or a ministry team that struggles over culture and tradition to move forward
  • Members that fire together wire together — members who work closely together, accepting differences, discussing openly but striving for a common goal or vision will establish close relationships and become a close knit team for change
  • Initial changes are just temporary — most are; it takes time (2-3 years), patience and reflect-adjust-do to instill effective changes (anyone who has started training for a marathon the day before the event realizes that trying to do it “all” is a sure route for failure and demotivator to boot, but recognizing and performing small, incremental, flexible steps is the key to continued progress)
  • Organizational vitality is a two-way street and we can either drive organization change positively or negatively — amen (“Yes and” vs “Yes but” conversations)
  • Memory (tradition, culture and history) is crucial for learning — without knowledge of the past, who “we” were, and what went right & wrong, progress will be difficult
  • Motivation is a key factor in organization vitality — it’s hard to make any change without commitment, excitement, motivation and inspiration of the “lone nut”, team, church, or organization; the “fun” factor

And finally, here were the 4 tips for optimal plasticity (your turn to figure out how they may apply ):

  • You need your heart to be in decent shape
  • Training should be incremental
  • Training needs to be taxing and systematically improving
  • Training should be interesting to engage the motivation circuits in your brain

So not only are the tenets and tips applicable to each one of us but can be used as guides for organizational flexibility and change.

{originally published on LinkedIn, 6/9/2015}

Looking at change through "brain fitness" understanding.