Jill Bolte Taylor’s TED talk is pretty astounding. It’s an inspiring story that she tells very well. If anyone is looking for a bit of a “how-to” on presenting, check out her talk. I’m pretty sure it would have the Heath brothers’ seal of approval.
But rather than write about her presentation, I thought I would mention one of the points from her talk. In short, she is a neuro-scientist and she says that the “right” side of the brain, which is normally associated with creativity, is the side of the brain that sees big pictures, gestalts, overall patterns. The right side of the brain is also responsible for imagining possibilities, combining things in novel ways, modeling, seeing things with the mind’s eye, etc.
The left side of the brain is the analytical side. It’s linear and is responsible for vertical thinking, which tends to select, while in the process of decision making, one option to the exclusion of others. The left side is responsible for absorbing the data that it is constantly collecting and assigning it into the bigger categories that the brain is so good at creating. This saves time so that we aren’t constantly evaluating each new piece of information that comes into us but we can pick little pieces of data and draw conclusions based on our past experience.
So, what Taylor says is that the right side of the brain is responsible for the past and the future and the left side of the brain is responsible for the present. What’s the connection to corporations?
One leading management thinker (the name escapes me now) said that corporate strategy is simply a series of predictions. If that’s true, executives should be thinking a whole lot more time in right brain intensive activities than they are. More serious play, more work with images, more work with divergent sets of knowledge and experience, more work with looking for weak signals and imagining those signals being amplified 5 years from now….but this isn’t happening. It seems as though the higher up the food chain they get, execs are more and more concerned with the present rather than learning from the past and making better predictions about the future.