In an earlier blog post, "Solving problems in a disruptive world...the challenges of a CIO," Laurie wrote about one of the common issues we are hearing about from CIOs: plenty of problems and not enough new thinking. (I'm guessing this issue is not strictly limited to the domain of CIOs.) This is such a long-standing common refrain, there is even a management-speak saying about it, "Don't just bring me problems, bring me solutions." Unfortunately, there is a small "catch" built into the thinking behind that saying.
There are two predominant ways of solving problems: linearly and non-linearly.
The linear approach is the heavily favored approach from the brain's perspective. It is our default approach. It is the PFC-dominated approach to solving problems. It's very effective for a wide range of problems: things we've seen before, things we have experience with, things with a few (as opposed to many) factors, simple (as opposed to complex) issues. There are many business practices based on this approach: lean, six sigma, trial-and-error, feedback. But it doesn't solve EVERY problem. And what is happening in today's business environment is exposing the limits of this approach. There are also times where we exhaust this approach and still have no solution.
Help build an awareness of and improve the ability for people to tap into a non-linear approach for solving problems. We all do this naturally. Most of us just haven't learned how to speed up the process.
The process of facilitating insight.
You have insights all the time. They are seemingly random, come from out of the blue and often in the most unusual places at the most unusual times. They often come when you are not prepared to do anything with them.
Fortunately, it turns out there may be some science as to how the brain creates insights. If we work with this phenomenon, we can speed it up--rather than wait on and hope for it.
The leader's role is to create the space for people to tap into their own insights. And there is the gap in the saying. People are not often bringing you answers because they've run the linear well dry. And no one is priming the pump for insight.
We've created a model that reflects some of the current state of neuroscience research on insight. We call it PRIME™.* It represents five ingredients that help facilitate the kind of brain state necessary for insight to occur. It is hard to do on your own. It is much easier when someone helps facilitate this space for you.
I would argue it's the primary role of brain-based coaches--AND leaders and managers.
You're probably tired of hearing another common saying from the renowned Albert Einstein, "We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them."
Put another way, we need to think new thoughts. We need insight.
Contact us if you want to learn more about facilitating insight as a leader, manager, teacher, or executive coach.
*PRIME is informed by the following research (as we are seeking more):
- "The Aha! Moment: The Cognitive Neuroscience of Insight," John Kounios and Mark Beeman (c) 2009 Association for Psychological Science, Volume 18 - Number 4, pp. 210-216
- "A Brain Mechanism for Facilitation of Insight by Positive Affect," Karuna Subramaniam, John Kounios, Todd B. Parrish, and Mark Jung-Beeman (c) 2008 Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience 21:3, pp. 415–432
- "New approaches to demystifying insight," Bowden, Jung-Beeman, Fleck and Kounios (c) July 2005, TRENDS in Cognitive Sciences, Vol.9 No.7
- "Neural Activity When People Solve Verbal Problems with Insight," Jung-Beeman et al, (c) April 2004, PLoS Biology, Volume 2, Issue 4, pp. 500-510