Home > Kadri > Adam Waltz and Malia Mason: Your Brain at Work – published in Harward Business Review

Adam Waltz and Malia Mason: Your Brain at Work – published in Harward Business Review

Authors present in their article:

Article-Your Brain at Work

how new technologies and development of iFMR are shifting the focus of studying in neuroscience from studying activation in brain to learning how networks of brain region activates in concurrent patterns. Scientist have identified 15 networks and subnetworks. Main four ones are:

  • The Default Network or “task negative” network, it is engaged in background, when people are not focusing on a task. It is also responsible for transcendence. Brain is processing internal information without influence of external sensing. This detachment from external environment is a tool for improved creativity some companies are trying to use.
  • The Reward Network – sort of “hedonometer,” that that reacts to things that evoke enjoyment. People are reacting not only on things needed for survival, but also to some secondary impulses, like money. Some researches indicate that non material rewards have stronger effects than material. That sometimes learning something or working on it, can already activate reward network. Some companies are using this findings to set proper incentive programs with non-material rewards included and for goal setting activities that enable not only narrow goals, but also some broader directions.
  • The Affect Network – when people experience emotions. As reaction to external triggers, this network activates autonomic and endocrine response, that the brain interprets as feelings. Sometimes responses are created with association to some known patterns. Feelings can be by-products of thoughts. The affect network fast-track decision making process is important and can help us process information that may include too many variables.
  • The Control Network – aligns our brain activity and our behavior with our goals. Control network is tasked with policing all the brain’s other networks. It also helps us deal with our many competing goals. But it has limited abilities, so focusing on few goals is more efficient that juggling with many.

Authors nicely explains limitation of control network and proper handling of complex environments:

“E-mail, meetings, texts, tweets, phone calls, news – the unstructured, continuous, fractured, nature of modern work is a tremendous burden on the control network and consumes a huge amount of the brain’s energy. The resulting mental fatigue takes its toll in the form of mistakes, shallow thinking, and impaired self-regulation. When overwhelmed, the control network loses the proverbial reins, and our behavior is driven by immediate, situational cues instead of shaped with our priorities in mind. We go on autopilot, and our brains fall back to simply responding to whatever is in front of us, regardless of its importance.

Success as a leader requires, first and foremost, creating just a few clear priorities and gathering the courage to eliminate or outsource less important tasks and goals. Executives must also reset their expectations for what constitutes a viable workload, basing them on realistic understanding of what brains can handle. It’s less that what most of us try to accomplish.”

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