Whole brain, all natural
In The Globe and Mail today Harvey Schachter reviews the book Management Rewired by Charles Jacobs. “Many of the management practices we’ve taken for granted are not only ineffective, they actually produce the opposite of what we intend,” advises Jacobs, based on extensive brain research. “Objective reasoning has nothing to do with the way we solve problems, make decisions and plan for the future. At best, logic is just a way to justify conclusions we have already made unconsciously.” He also cites a landmark study at General Electric that found “…a manager’s praise had no effect on performance one way or the other, while the areas that a manager criticized showed the least improvement.”
This evidence-based view of problem solving and motivation is in line with a eye-opening TED presentation by Daniel Pink. In this talk, Pink emphasizes that as businesses dig their way out of the financial crisis, it’s crucial to get these management basics right – and to stop doing harm.
Jacobs and Pink are on to something important in terms of creating an environment for innovation to thrive. Mechanistic management processes need to be questioned in light of new revelations about human nature.
In our own practice we are finding that an open, yet rigorous “design with” approach is more effective than “design for” our clients. What else can we learn about “Design in the Age of Biology” as Hugh Dubberly has titled his fascinating article? We will continue to pursue the theme of biology as it relates to design and management.
– Sharon VanderKaay