The ability to create value is of the acid tests of a successful entrepreneur.
Her ability to see opportunity and connect the dots is important to become creative.
Firms depend on their employees to use their mental resources to turn out innovative products.
Whether a company has a competitive advantage or not comes down to grey matter. Individually or collectively, understanding how the human mind works can make a difference in being successful in the marketplace.
How do you take control of your mental resources?
The mind question has challenged psychologists, social psychologists, and neuroscientists for many years.
How do our minds operate and how best we can use it? It turns out the mind is the genesis of being a successful entrepreneur. We all know that entrepreneurs have different mindsets and they can use it to their advantage, but they also lead organisations, which are filled with employees who have a diversity of mindsets.
Inside your mind
We know that thinking affects our performance and when we manage, we must deal with cognitive diversity; if we all think alike, this would be nice, but that is not so.
If we are to become more agile, what do we do, so we can lead employees and get them to adapt to a fast-changing world.
How do we become more practical in our problem solving and get our work comrades to become more innovative?
What can we do to evolve our thinking, so we can change our approach to the new world we operate in?
One of the tools one can use to determine how our minds are structured is the Herrmann Brain Dominance Instrument (HBDI).
This instrument was originally developed by Ned Herrmann, who worked at General Electric and he developed the whole brain approach to thinking.
When he died in 1999, his daughter, Ann Herrmann-Nehdi and grandson Karim Nehdi, expanded the research.
In their book titled, Whole Brain Business Book, they posit that the fuel of business is its employees’ thinking and improving thought processes will improve organisational performance.
They compared the impact of the whole brain thinking to what lean did for manufacturing and agile for technology.
What is whole brain thinking? According to the Herrmanns, it’s about leveraging your own preferences and pushing yourself to other styles of thinking and adapting to your employees’ style of preferences and taking advantage of this to improve business results.
The researchers say that if thinking is the gas that runs a business, then managers need to understand how the brain works, so organisations can manage change.
This change can only happen if employees and leaders understand how to develop their mental muscles and develop new ways of processing information.
Since an organisation consists of diverse thinkers, this comes with the advantage of more out-of-the-box thinking that a more homogenous group would not come up with.
The disadvantage is the challenges of dealing with all the different thinking styles.
Since most large organisations are run by business school graduates, MBAs especially, they tend to focus more on rational and logical thinking, this can sometimes be viewed as a “rough and tumble” style of management.
It is not hard to assume that this approach to managing change frequently ends in failure.
Then what does this tool, HBDI reveal about our brains?
Your four quadrants
We are probably aware of the description of people being left or right brain. Left mind means they are logical thinkers and right being emotional and imaginative.
We seem to prefer dichotomies; left and right, black and white, good and bad, etc. But is it so clear cut?
Herrmanns’ research point not a two-sided brain but one with four quadrants. While the brain is interconnected, like the internet, we tend to have some preferences in thinking, which give rise to these four quadrants.
n The A quadrant is the analyser
Logical thinking, likes to analyse the facts and quantitative in propensity.
n The B quadrant is the organiser
Likes planning, sequential and detailed.
n The C quadrant is the personaliser
Interpersonal, expressive and intuitive.
n The D quadrant is the strategiser
Conceptualiser, big picture thinker and imaginative.
I took the HBDI test and it was very revealing. It assessed me as a quadrant B dominant person, which was no surprise.
I tend to prefer to be in control, focus on details and be conservative.
I take to speaking and this would explain my preference for speaking in public and being a trainer.
It also predicts that I am a reader. I consume quite a lot of literature and never seem to be satisfied with how much I have read.
But while I am B quadrant dominant, it does not mean I only use this type of thinking preference.
I scored second highest in quadrant C and this does not surprise me.
I like to show my emotions as I frequently do in my training workshops, as I need to connect with people—no one likes a stiff facilitator.
It seems that I am bottom quadrant person; B & C quadrants.
The creators of the HBDI warns that its model measures preferences which may not predict actual behaviour.
One of the pioneers of neuroleadership and change using neuroscience is David Rock. He also coined the term.
Rock came up with a model that describes how we react to different emotional situations. He called this the SCARF model and it stands for status, certainty, autonomy, relatedness and fairness.
Rock says when our status is lowered like when an employee is severed, the worker feels threatened.
Our brains don’t like that feeling, in the animal kingdom this is like you are attacked by a predator.
When the workers at Petrotrin got severed, some moved from senior manager one day to unemployed the next.
Conversely raising someone’s status (by telling them they did a great job) is better than giving them a salary increase.
Similarly, when someone loses their job, they moved from certainty to an ambiguous situation. The brain does not like this situation.
While entrepreneurs thrive in uncertainty, they seem to have found a way to cope with it. Maybe it is their love for opportunity-seeking that keeps them looking in the fog of war (uncertainty).
Take away someone’s autonomy and replace it with micromanagement and that is one sure way to take away performance, according to the model.
To control someone is sure to backfire. If you have a controlling boss, you will find this stressful.
Relatedness in the model says people like to work with similar others. We feel threatened when we are with strangers, think about entering a party of unknown people. This could partly explain why we discriminate against other groups.
In the workplace, if you are new, your brain views the workplace in a hostile way.
One way to overcome this is through socialising and getting people to share things that would bring them together.
People when treated unfairly, will not cooperate in the workplace.
The perception of unfairness is a great demotivator, we like to know how decisions are made in the organisation.
Having employees participate in a community project is known to make people feel better about their organisation, they think it is a more caring one. This helps the brain feel less stressed and their mind fires up.
Sajjad Hamid is an SME & family business adviser. He can be contacted at entrepreneurt[email protected] • entrepreneurtnt.com