Linda Ray

How does your engagement measurement stack up?

Posted on November 28, 2014. Filed under: Human Capital, Linda Ray, Practical Strategies, Tips | Tags: , , , , , , , , , |

In this post, Linda Ray, co-founder and co-director of neuresource group,  shares our tools for building a high performing organisation with a sustainably engaged workforce.

According to Gallup’s 142 country study on the State of the Global workforce only 13% of employees worldwide are engaged at work

Whilst Australia and New Zealand are above the world average at 24% measured as engaged, there is clearly room to improve given 60% are identified as not engaged and 16% as actively disengaged.

Engagement levels Gallup

We know that when people are not engaged they lack motivation and are less likely to invest discretionary effort. Those actively disengaged negatively impact on co-workers through emotion contagion. Many organisations measure engagement via the once per year survey and then spend a couple of months analysing the data. Clearly we need to do something differently. The reality is we used to talk about morale but engagement comes largely from inside of us and is influenced by factors outside of work. Financial stress and increasing pressures to do more with less impact on engagement. We also know that leaders influence the engagement climate as do business practices.

There are recognised keys to operating as a high performing organisation with a sustainably engaged workforce. We did a lot of thinking about this and have been influenced significantly by insights from neuroscience, particularly the ideas that the key organising principle of the brain is to minimise threat and maximise reward and the notion that the brain is a social organ.

In our work with businesses we share Simon Sinek’s Golden Circle model and consistently find that, while organisations can talk about their ‘what’ and ‘how’, rarely have they clearly articulated their ‘why’.  Most organisations and businesses mistakenly believe their ‘why’ is captured by their mission statement. When your people buy the business ‘why’ and feel connected to it, they will be more motivated to put in discretionary effort. We do a lot of work with organisations to help them think through and articulate a shared ‘why’.  We use a simple model in our work called the STEAR model.

 NeuOrgA3_thought bubbles

In the STEAR model there are 5 key areas to pay attention to.

The first of these is to understand your strategy. Do you know your ‘why’ – why you do what you do – and are all the people in your organisation aligned to your’ why’? It is the purpose of the business and it is not about what you do but rather why you exist.

The second area is looking at the talent of your people. Have you got the right people doing the right things? We know when you can align people’s natural talents with things they like doing they will be more engaged. Do you have a development strategy for growing the capability of you staff?

Are your people consistently in a high state of engagement?  Do they love what they do?  Do you have practices that measure engagement regularly?

We are in a time of constant change. Times of change require us to demonstrate agility in order to prosper. How change agile are your people? What is your plan for managing change fatigue?

Finally we all need a clear roadmap. Do your people know what they have to do everyday to support your ‘why’? This links back to your purpose and your strategy. A leader/business owner needs to be mindful of all of these areas.

Focussing attention solely on the engagement, in isolation from the other key components that impact on engagement, is unlikely to change the levels of engagement.

In earlier blogs we have shared our 3 E’s model.  We are using our platform Neu360 which supports a business to do quick pulse surveys to check in with their people to determine engagement ‘hotspots’. This is much more effective than the once a year survey and may mean we can intervene in a much more timely manner to address any issues that may be resulting in low morale and low engagement. What are you doing in your business to support engagement? How are you STEARing your organisation and are you paying attention to all of the areas that support a high performing organisation?




Linda is the Managing Director of NeuroCapability and the co-founder/director of neuresource group. These organisations are playing key roles in developing a new generation of thinking leaders through delivery of the Diploma of Neuroscience of Leadership and other innovative programs informed by neuroscience. Linda is gaining recognition both in Australia and internationally as a thought leader in the neuroleadership field. She is actively contributing to the body of knowledge that supports the building of individual and organisational ‘neurocapability’.

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Leading with the Brain In Mind = Happy C.A.M.P.E.R.S.

Posted on September 25, 2014. Filed under: Linda Ray, Practical Strategies | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

In this post, Linda Ray, co-founder and co-director of neuresource group, looks at seven key influences of employee motivation, productivity and engagement.

As Sky is walking to the water cooler, her boss passes by.  He is clearly rushing to another meeting, but briefly pauses and says  “Hi Sky, I would like you to come by my office, I’ve got some feedback for you.  I will be available at 3:00pm.”   It is 11:30 a.m. 

49. Working girl stressed and exhausted

 So what does Sky do for the next few hours?  The word ‘FEEDBACK’ has elicited as great a fear response in her brain as walking down a dark ally and hearing footsteps behind her.  Sky’s brain is shouting loudly  “Danger, Danger, Danger”.

Because Sky is now pretty limbic, she will spend at least 42% of the time imagining and playing out in her mind:

·      What have I done?

·      What did I stuff up?

·      Who did I upset?

·      What have I forgotten to do?

·      What could he possibly want to give me some feedback about?

 Cortisol has begun flooding through her brain, and it impacts significantly on encoding of new information, so she probably won’t remember anything she tries to learn or pay attention to anyway.

Our brains crave certainty and this is why we spend so much time trying to predict the future…we usually get it wrong!   Sky doesn’t eat because she is sick with worry and she has a report due at 4:00 pm, but she is struggling to concentrate.  Sky’s brain has used up precious glucose trying to predict what her boss wants to meet with her about.   She even checks out Seek to see what jobs might be around.

As 3:00pm gets closer she finds her hands sweating and her heart is beating faster and faster.   When she arrives at her boss’s office, he stuns Sky by telling her he wanted to congratulate her on a piece of work she completed a few months ago and to see if he could persuade her to mentor a couple of other staff in the new ideas she had been implementing with her team.  Whilst very pleasantly surprised, Sky wishes she had been given a hint of this before she spent hours in a world of pain and now she has less than 40 minutes to finish that report and she feels exhausted!

What are your hunches about her productivity, her motivation or her engagement levels?

Generally we don’t set out to put people in a threat state, we often do this unintentionally. However, a simple phrase like “can I give you some feedback” can put us in a threat state.  “I am not sure about that idea”, “If I were you”, etc. are all well-intentioned statements, but they can unintentionally generate a threat response in your people.

Clearly this isn’t the state we want our people in, if we want them to remain productive and engaged. When people are in a threat state they become more risk adverse, their perspective narrows and creativity is inhibited as the brain seduces us to take the safest option.  In our work life our executive brain (pre-frontal cortex) helps us make decisions, prioritise, plan, inhibit and recall memories. The tricky bit is that the more limbic we get the more this part of our brain shuts down as the brain prepares us for the fight, flight or freeze response. It is a bit like a seesaw… as one goes up the other goes down.

Just as we have primary needs necessary for our survival, we now know that social needs are also treated by the brain as primary needs and when they are not met we can experience a strong threat response.

There are several domains of our social experience in the workplace that can activate a threat or reward response.   We build here upon the work done by David rock in his SCARF model. We also draw on the key points made by Dan Pink that motivation is served by autonomy, purpose and mastery.  The collective brain of one of our Diploma of Neuroscience of Leadership groups merged these two ideas and proposed that in order to get the best out of people we want people to be happy C.A.M.P.E.R.S™ .CAMPERS

What can we do to keep people in a reward state?

There are 7 areas we need focus attention on:

Certainty – As we saw in Sky’s story, she spent a significant amount of time trying to predict what her boss was going to say. Certainty is a challenge in a world that is constantly changing. We need to give people as much certainty as possible and be clear about expectations.  Imagine how different it might have been for Sky had her boss added another sentence to his statement, which indicated the feedback, was going to be positive.

Autonomy – Do you like to being told what to do? We feel in a reward state when we feel we have choice and influence. It can be as simple as asking a person which issue should we tackle first? What do you think is the best approach? Micro managing is a killer for autonomy and generates significant threat in the brain.

Mastery – we all want to feel that we have the competence to do what is required of us. It is great to have autonomy but unless people feel they have the competence and skills necessary to do a task we can easily move our people into a threat state. We need to make sure we match a task or project with a person’s level of competence. We also need to ensure we have pathways in place for people to build competence and skill, this is key to keeping people engaged.

Purpose – we have a desire to feel we are contributing to something meaningful. Do your people know your why and how they contribute to your business purpose? People will always be motivated to fulfil their own goals – are they aligned with the business goals?

Equity – we all want to feel we are being treated fairly and equitably. We will compare our sense of fairness with others.  Are others in the team getting the best jobs, or are they being rewarded more than us?  When we experience a threat to fairness we can lose perspective and act in ways that makes no sense to those around us.

Relatedness – we are born to connect.  We want to feel part of a social group. Do you provide opportunities for people to spend time together, to get to know one another?  The brain treats every new person we meet as foe before friend until we assess there is something about the other person that is like us.

 Status – we all care about our sense of importance and where we fit with others in a social context. Status can be threatened very easily e.g. challenging an idea, saying, “If I were you”,  or taking credit for an idea that wasn’t yours. When was the last time you showed appreciation to your people?  It is such a simple and under-done strategy that creates a reward state in people.

We need to be mindful of how easy it is to cause a threat in each of these areas. A threat in one domain can have a domino effect in the other domains. Think back to the story of Sky…what domains was she experiencing a threat state in? What did it do to her levels of engagement, motivation and productivity?

We need to be keeping an eye out for opportunities to move people into a reward state and address the needs of the brain in each of these areas. The best companies to work for (e.g Atlassian with over 80% engagement levels) have nailed this and we can see the results in their engagement levels, in their levels of discretionary effort, in their capacity for innovation, lower absenteeism rates and in their bottom line profits.

Old practices of ruling by fear, by control and command, using pay for performance don’t facilitate people to be in a reward state. The evidence from science is clear. We need to be building brain-friendly cultures and leading with the brain in mind.

Linda-RayLinda is the Managing Director of NeuroCapability and the co-founder/director of neuresource group. These organisations are playing key roles in developing a new generation of thinking leaders through delivery of the Diploma of Neuroscience of Leadership and other innovative programs informed by neuroscience. Linda is gaining recognition both in Australia and internationally as a thought leader in the neuroleadership field. She is actively contributing to the body of knowledge that supports the building of individual and organisational ‘neurocapability’.

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Are you building an intelligent enterprise?

Posted on August 25, 2014. Filed under: Interesting Articles, Linda Ray, Practical Strategies, Tara Neven | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

In this post, Tara Neven, the co-founder and co-director of neuresource group,  looks at why applying neuroscience to organisational leadership matters and what it means to be an intelligent organisation.

NeuOrgA3_thought bubbles

In today’s global economy and in an increasingly hyperkinetic business climate, an organisation’s long-term success is determined by the ability of its supervisors, managers or senior executives to lead effectively through periods of economic uncertainty and constant change. In an era of unprecedented complexity and disruptive change, organisations must respond quickly and creatively to shifting markets and fluctuating social, and political conditions—to survive and to thrive.

Aligning your people to your organisational strategy and having a clear roadmap for getting there, is one of the foundations of a balanced scorecard. A balanced scorecard supports you to build human capital value and an intelligent enterprise. We can’t fight biology but we can leverage what we know about it. As we understand more about how the human brain works, organisational leadership may become defined as the art of building ‘neurocapability’ and creating brain-friendly organisations.

Applying neuroscience to organisational leadership matters. Science is revolutionising our understanding of what it is to be human. An explosion of advances in human neuroscience is giving us a window into why people behave as they do and how we can manage our environments and behaviors with others to maximise results. These new scientific findings challenge old assumptions of what it means to lead. While intelligence is our greatest strategic asset, our way of life has become profoundly out of sync with our neurology, and we largely fail to practice brain-friendly leadership principles and practices.

So what is an intelligent organisation, and why should this be important to you as a business owner, director, decision maker or leader? Why should you give this focus and attention when there are so many other issues in your business to deal with (for some it is just about keeping the doors open)? Simply put, building a brain-friendly organisation addresses and manages the disconnect between what science knows and business does. Dan Pink showcased this disconnect in his 2009 Ted talk the puzzle of motivation. Fast forward five years and there is still a massive disconnect between what science knows and business does.

Our knowledge of neuroscience and its application to practical business practices and leadership is fast evolving. Some would even suggest we are living in a neuro-revolution. The question becomes: So what?  How can we tap into emerging insights about the brain and apply them to the everyday work environment? How can we use what we’re learning to address the engagement and leadership crisis also regularly featured in the media?

If we embrace this new lens (through what we call the ‘neuro-lens’) to review and reinvent leadership and organisational practices and frameworks, we stand to be far more effective managers, leaders, CEOs, executives, and supervisors. The best organisations and the wisest leaders intuitively know how to create ‘brain-friendly’ environments, and they are reaping the rewards in productivity, performance, staff retention, and engagement levels.

In her article about building brain friendly organisations, Janet Crawford looks at the implications of taking brain science into the workplace. Crawford argues that many “nice to have” neuroleadership practices are, in fact, critically necessary. Organisations today use the rhetoric of work life balance, diversity and that they don’t tolerate bullying but have no real idea how to overcome it. Janet states that even if an organisation acknowledges that brain-friendly work environments are desirable, most organisations don’t truly understand how to create them, or don’t believe that they are possible.

She points out that if, as leaders, we commit ourselves to the task of cultivating environments, which optimise the human operating system, much of the rest will take care of itself. People will be excited and motivated and actually become engaged. This engagement, providing the processes are in place will last. They will think clearly and efficiently. Creativity and focus will abound. Collaboration and commitment become possible.

Neuroscience confirms something that HR and OD professionals have known for a long time: People fear change and change in the modern world is constant and is only going to get faster and more constant, change is the new norm. We need to get better at understanding change approaching change with the brain in mind.

A recent whitepaper, The Neuroscience of Leadership: Practical Applications, authored by Kimberly Schaufenbuel, program director of UNC Executive Development, examines this emerging field and provides examples of how applying neuroleadership can improve leadership practices, change management, innovation and creativity, and employee engagement.

According to Schaufenbuel, “HR professionals and leaders should try to reduce stress and anxiety by focusing on the positive aspects of the proposed change, asking questions, and listening actively to employees’ concerns. This process enhances the brain’s ability to adjust its response to the change and perceive it as non-threatening.”

If you want to get started on building your intelligent enterprise, consider these questions, can you answer or measure them?

  • Do you have a clear strategic vision?   – do your people know your “why” (watch Simon Sinek on TED Talks)
  • Have you got the right people doing the right thing and are you supporting and developing human capital?
  • Are your people consistently in a state of high engagement?
  • Can your people quickly respond to unexpected challenges?
  • Do your people know what they need to do every day to execute on strategy and have they got a forum to collaborate to discuss this?

Brain-friendly organisations are intelligent enterprises and they get a tick for each of these questions. They understand the importance of supporting people across the organisation to connect to the purpose or the why.

Brain-friendly organisations understand people are their greatest asset and tapping into their strengths and talents and having them doing the right job supports consistent high levels of motivation.

Brain-friendly organisations are committed to creating a workplace that engages the hearts and minds of people. Employees are not viewed as commodities with endless supplies of energy, rather they are viewed as a valuable resource.

In a climate of rapid change brain-friendly organisations have practices in place that support the organisation to be agile. Agile organisations are innovative and take advantage of unexpected opportunities as they arise. People in the business are supported to challenge the status quo and to think outside of the box.

Brain-friendly organisations understand people need a clear roadmap to implement the business strategy and support people to pursue business goals by creating strategies that keep people’s attention focussed on the areas that are important. This is key in the current environment where invitations to distract us and derail our focus are rife.

One of the best compliments I had recently from a senior leader in a large transport infrastructure company we are working with is ‘What have you done to my people? They are thinking for themselves and coming up with solutions’. Some small ‘tweaks’ to how an organisation is operating can reap big rewards. Is your organisation taking advantage of the neuro-revolution? Is it time to address any disconnects between what science is showing us and what your business does?

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Is time management an outdated concept?

Posted on July 28, 2014. Filed under: Linda Ray | Tags: , , , , , , , |

Linda Ray, the co-founder and co-director of neuresource group, coined the term “attentional intelligence” in 2012. In this post, she looks at how when we speak about ‘time management, what we are really talking about is ‘attention management’.


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There are a plethora of time management training programs that employees have been obliged to attend in an attempt to support them to become more efficient and ultimately more productive. The question is: do they work?

There is no doubt people walk away with a few useful tips, but do these training programs actually change employee habits around how they manage their time? From my observations and personal experience, the answer is often a resounding no. Is it, in fact, time we are managing? Or are we really managing our attention and focus in an attempt to be more productive?

The issue is really how in charge of our focus and attention we are in the increasingly hyperkinetic world we find ourselves operating within. In a recent interview, Daniel Goleman, the author of Focus: The Hidden Driver of Excellence, notes:

It has become an axiom of modern life that we’re a people under attack, assailed by a barrage of technologies and near-constant communications. Amidst this wealth of data and information, one resource is in short supply: our ability to pay attention.

Want to know my favourite joke about procrastination?  I'll tell you later.

Want to know my favourite joke about time management?  — I’ll tell you later.

As we learn more about human behaviour through our increasing understanding of the brain, we need to be ready to rethink some of our approaches to how we approach time management. How can we get back in charge of our attention and ultimately reclaim our time — or lack thereof?

In an article published in Global Association for Neurobiology Studies in 2009, by Lynda Klau  she suggests that old solutions to time management don’t work and most traditional approaches to time management only ask us to change our behaviours, as if all our conflicts with time could be solved simply by ‘establishing our priorities’, ‘sticking to a concrete schedule’, or ‘organising our files’.

These external solutions are logical, but they’re not psychological: they ignore the internal emotional conflicts and pressures that influence us on the most fundamental levels. Klau proposes that key to improving our relationship with time is to develop a ‘mindful awareness’ of ourselves at all levels.

Students in our Diploma of Neuroscience of Leadership report noticeable improvements in their productivity through being introduced to simple concepts that support them to grow their ‘attentional intelligence’. For example:

It seems so obvious, and yet we don’t do the things each day that support us to be productive. I have been amazed at the improvements in my productivity by simply prioritising prioristing, practicing mindfulness and taking charge again of my attention. I now know how mentally taxing prioristising is and why I need to do it at the beginning of my day if I am to have any hope of getting through my ever expanding to do list. There is intense satisfaction in crossing off a greater number of items each day because I am now much more mindful of where my attention is focused and whether it is where it should be or I want it to be.

Replace time management strategy with a focus management strategy

Given the importance of attention and focus we recommend you develop a focus management strategy. Try out the following tips:

  1. Do a distraction management audit. Identify all of the external and internal distractions that vie for your attention and develop strategies to minimize them (e.g., turn off the pop-up email alert and ensure you don’t start a hard thinking task when you are hungry or thirsty).
  2. Chunk your day into the areas you want to focus on that will add value and schedule them into your diary. If you notice your attention moving from your plan, gently bring your attention back to where you want it to be.
  3. Try to remain in the present moment, if you notice your thoughts turning to past events or to the future, bring your attention back to the present moment.
  4. When you run out of puff, rather than pushing yourself to the limit, take a brain break. This might sound counter intuitive, however, we know the brain works best in 20-25 minute time periods before we begin looking for a different focus for our attention. Work with your natural biology as opposed to against it.
  5. When you experience something unexpected that leads to frustration, anger, or disappointment, notice the feeling and label it. The very act of labelling your feeling or emotion will lessen the impact and dampen down arousal in your limbic brain. The limbic brain is designed to make us pay attention to perceived threats in the environment and can easily derail our best intentions to stay focused.
  6. Celebrate what you have achieved in the day rather than ruminate on what you haven’t accomplished, and reset your attention plan for the next day accordingly.

Developing your attentional intelligence and becoming the CEO of your attention is key to reclaiming time. Implementing simple strategies to notice where your attention is focused and to bring it back to where you want it to be will improve your productivity and maybe even give you some extra time to do the things you enjoy.


linda-ray-copy1Linda is the Managing Director of NeuroCapability and the co-founder/director of neuresource groupThese organisations are playing key roles in developing a new generation of thinking leaders through delivery of the Diploma of Neuroscience of Leadership and other innovative programs informed by neuroscience.  Linda is gaining recognition both in Australia and internationally as a thought leader in the neuroleadership field.  She is actively contributing to the body of knowledge that supports the building of individual and organisational ‘neurocapability’.



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This is your brain on long meetings…

Posted on June 26, 2014. Filed under: Attention Matters, Linda Ray | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , |

Linda Ray, the co-founder and co-director of neuresource group, coined the term “attentional intelligence” in 2012. In this post, she looks at the reasons long meetings get in the way of productivity and what can be done about it.



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On a good day, you wake up rested and raring to go. You make a mental list of things to do during your commute and, by the time you walk through the door of the office, you are clear about what needs to get accomplished and in what order.  There’s only one problem: the early morning meeting that usually runs overtime. Your mood deflates and your momentum screeches to a halt. Not only that, you may not regain momentum for some time after the meeting has ended – if you regain it all all.

Your brain on long meetings

The brain is easily exhausted. Our brains frequently shift its focus between external events and internal memories and interests. It’s designed this way in order to consolidate learning and long-term memory. However, every time you focus your attention you use a measurable amount of glucose and other metablic resources. This makes attention a limited resource.  Long meetings have the effect of exhausting cognitive reserves. Focus decreases as the meeting drags on. Unfortunately, the brain requires regular replenishment to retain attention and to remain engaged.

Crammed agendas are overwhelming. When faced with a daunting agenda, the default is for people to look at their watches. Attention is on the time rather than on the discussion at hand. Eyes glaze over. People stop listening, begin to doodle, think of the weekend. All of this hampers productivity.

The brain wants assignments that are achievable. Too often, meetings are used as a way of generating ideas rather than actions. But the brain wants certainty and is always looking for the reward of breaking down tasks into manageable chunks – a to-do list that can be completed to a schedule and in good order.

Emotions are contagious. The recent discovery of mirror neurones explains the phenomenon we’ve all experienced: when one person begins to yawn, people nearby begin yawning too. All it takes is one sleepy or fidgety person in a meeting to affect everyone around the table.

Efficiency can hinder productivity. When brains come together, they can accomplish great things – but trying to silo a group’s efforts into agenda chunks isn’t the best way to realise that greatness.  People need time to coalesce around an idea, to work it like clay, and to test different ways of making it happen.

Focusing on numbers saps creativity. If everyone believes that the real reason for the meeting is to figure out how to ‘make the numbers’, creativity is sapped before the meeting even begins. Structuring meetings around financial performance metrics is not a good way to motivate people. Ideas are motivating. Developing and nurturing ideas will ultimately lead to making the numbers. Sadly, conventional meetings almost always have this backwards.

Meeting to prepare for the next meeting is not rewarding. Since our brains are reward-driven organs, knowing that the follow-on reward for spending all this time in a meeting is simply to have another meeting is not at all motivating.

7 things you can do about it

half-time-meetingsImplement a block on early meetings. Take the first hour of the day and throw it out the window – for meetings, at least. By refusing early meetings, you can spend time prioritising your to-do lists, including prioritising which meetings are actually necessary. You might be amazed at how much you can accomplish when you free your mornings for planning.

Take breaks. Focusing for an hour to an hour and a half can be exhausting for our brains.  Our brains gets depleted, start making errors, and we may grow irritable – not the best formula for planning and making decisions. Short breaks, even if they’re only a couple minutes, offer some much needed rejuvenation.

There’s a catch to making those breaks effective, however. Don’t use break time to email your boss or sign off on a report or discuss team goals with a colleague. To help your brain recover from absorbing an hour of PowerPoint slides, try to forget about work during your break.

Look for novelty. If you find yourself bored in a meeting, try – really try – to find something interesting going on in the room. You can train your brain to look for novelty in what’s happening around you, something that both lengthens your  attention span and gives you better control over it. Look at the people around the table and try to imagine something interesting and positive about them.

Remember the purpose of the meeting. As you fixate on details, wade through different viewpoints and perhaps lament over that to-do list, it may be easy to forget the point of the meeting. Think back to the meaning of the meeting, and ask, ‘Why are we doing this?’. Whenever you find your attention is wavering, remember why you’re there. Write it down in your notepad. By examining the cause of the meeting, you may find yourself “considering it a privilege rather than a duty.”

Go back to the basics. Engage in the meeting, whether it’s asking questions, proposing ideas, or at the very least, taking notes. It’s also a good idea to leave phones at desks in in handbags in order to avoid distraction. Bouncing back from a single distraction can take several minutes.  It’s also useful to practice active listening skills.

Snack and hydrate. Bring water to meetings and snack wisely beforehand. Say no to high-carbohydrate, high-energy density foods that will tempt you to rest your eyes (just for a second!) a few minutes into the meeting. Opt instead for healthy fruits, vegetables, and trail mix.

Make them shorter and more frequent. Incorporate daily or twice weekly 10-minute standing meetings into your workplace. Ideally, the 10-minute standing meeting has an agenda of no more than four items. This works nicely with our brains preference for chunking information. Also, the fact that people are standing rather than sitting helps. Your blood circulation increases. Standing is also mentally revitalising, making you sharper and more aware. What seems like an insurmountable pile of paperwork when you’re sitting down appears suddenly manageable while standing. Standing can even improve motivation, morale, and mood.


Linda is the Managing Director of NeuroCapability and the co-founder/director of neuresource groupThese organisations are playing key roles in developing a new generation of thinking leaders through delivery of the Diploma of Neuroscience of Leadership and other innovative programs informed by neuroscience.  Linda is gaining recognition both in Australia and internationally as a thought leader in the neuroleadership field.  She is actively contributing to the body of knowledge that supports the building of individual and organisational ‘neurocapability’





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Attention and the brain’s anti-distraction mechanism

Posted on May 15, 2014. Filed under: Attention Matters, Linda Ray | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

Linda Ray, the co-founder and co-director of neuresource group, coined the term “attentional intelligence” in 2012. In this post, she looks at a recent study that shows the brain has a built-in anti-distraction mechanism, which assists us in maintaining focus.


Where's Waldo?

Where’s Waldo?



New research

Something as simple as picking out a face in the crowd is actually quite a complicated task: Your brain has to retrieve the memory of the face you’re seeking, then hold it in place while scanning the crowd, paying special attention to finding a match.

This type of attention is known as object-based attention, something scientists know much less about than spatial attention, which involves focusing on what’s happening in a particular location. However, new findings suggest that these two types of attention have similar mechanisms involving related brain regions, says Robert Desimone, the director of MIT’s McGovern Institute for Brain Research, and senior author of the paper.

“The interactions are surprisingly similar to those seen in spatial attention,” Desimone says. “It seems like it’s a parallel process involving different areas.”

In both cases, the prefrontal cortex — the control center for most cognitive functions — appears to take charge of the brain’s attention and control relevant parts of the visual cortex, which receives sensory input. For spatial attention, that involves regions of the visual cortex that map to a particular area within the visual field.

Another study, undertaken by John Gaspar and John McDonald from the Department of Psychology at Simon Fraser University in British Columbia, learned that to find objects of interest in a cluttered and continually changing visual environment, humans must often ignore salient stimuli that are not currently relevant to the task at hand.

“This is an important discovery for neuroscientists and psychologists because most contemporary ideas of attention highlight brain processes that are involved in picking out relevant objects from the visual field. It’s like finding Waldo in a Where’s Waldo illustration.” said Gaspar.

Gaspar continued: “Our results show clearly that this is only one part of the equation and that active suppression of the irrelevant objects is another important part.”

The study, published in the Journal of Neuroscience, involved 47 students carrying out a visual search task while their brain signals were monitored.


Why this is relevant

Because of the increase in distracting consumer devices in our technology-driven, fast-paced society, the psychologists say their discovery could help scientists and clinicians better treat patients with distraction-related attention deficits.

“Distraction is a leading cause of injury and death in driving and other high-stakes environments,” notes senior author McDonald. “There are individual differences in the ability to deal with distraction. New electronic products are designed to grab attention. Suppressing such signals takes effort, and sometimes people can’t seem to do it.”

The researchers are now studying how we deal with distraction. They’re looking at when and why we can’t suppress potentially distracting objects, and why some of us are better at this than others.

Ultimately, the goal is to find ways of sustaining attention longer. By accepting that distractions are a part of everyday working life and trusting in the brain’s built-in system to focus selectively by ignoring irrelevant details, we can become skilled in brushing away interruptions when they intrude. By developing attentional intelligence – paying attention on purpose – we can generate brain wave patterns that strengthen the sustained concentration involved in focused attention.

As Jeffrey Schwartz, one of the world’s leading experts in neuroplasticity and co-founder of the neuroleadership field, says in The Mind and the Brain:

Control of attention is the ultimate individual power. People who can do that are not prisoners of the stimuli around them. They can choose from the patterns in the world and lengthen their time horizons. This individual power leads to others. It leads to self-control, the ability to formulate strategies in order to resist impulses. If forced to choose, we would all rather our children be poor with self-control than rich without it.





Linda is the Managing Director of NeuroCapability and the co-founder/director of neuresource groupThese organisations are playing key roles in developing a new generation of thinking leaders through delivery of the Diploma of Neuroscience of Leadership and other innovative programs informed by neuroscience.  Linda is gaining recognition both in Australia and internationally as a thought leader in the neuroleadership field.  She is actively contributing to the body of knowledge that supports the building of individual and organisational ‘neurocapability’.



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Re-wiring change: how neuroscience can help

Posted on May 1, 2014. Filed under: Linda Ray, Practical Strategies | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

Linda Ray, the co-founder and co-director of neuresource group, lectures frequently on change management. In this post, she looks at how an understanding of the brain can help to facilitate sustainable change, and she offers some tips on how to get started.





It’s important to understand the context within which we’re operating if we are to facilitate lasting and sustainable change and if we want to support environments where innovation is valued and encouraged. We need a new view of change that sees change as an opportunity rather than something to be managed in prescriptive ways.

Many of our current change efforts are failing because we haven’t factored in this increasing complexity. Just think about it: the human brain is required to deal with far greater levels of complexity on a daily basis than the even 30 years ago. As we make the transition to this new world, there are bound to be some bumps along the way. And it’s not just ordinary people who are affected by job losses or people being asked to do more with less. The CEOs of the world’s biggest corporations are also caught up in the whirlwind. In 2009, the IBM CEO Global Survey identified rapid change as the number one problem facing business leaders. It’s complexity that most CEOs are struggling with.

Perhaps an important first step is to replace the language we use when we speak about change. The words innovating and rewiring better encompass what we mean when we describe change in today’s increasingly complex world.

According to Jeffrey Schwartz, Pablo Gaito, and Doug Lennick, in an article they wrote for strategy + business, habits are hard to change because of the way the brain manages them. They assert that this is because many conventional patterns of thinking are held in circuits associated with deep, primal parts of the brain that evolved relatively early. Primary among these is the basal ganglia, or the brain’s “habit centre,” which normally manages such semiautomatic activities as driving and walking; the amygdala, a small, deep source of strong emotions such as fear and anger; and the hypothalamus, which manages instinctive drives such as hunger, thirst, and sexual desire.

HabitsInformation processed in these parts of the brain is often not brought to conscious attention. The basal ganglia’s processing, in particular, is so rapid compared to other brain activity that it can feel physically rewarding; people tend to revert to this type of processing whenever possible. Moreover, every time the neuronal patterns in the basal ganglia are invoked, they become further entrenched; they forge connections with one another and with other functionally related brain areas, and these neural links (sometimes called “action repertoires”) become stronger and more compelling. Schwartz et al. say this helps explain why when people in a workplace talk about the way to do things, they often reinforce the link between their own neural patterns and the culture of the company. If an organisational practice triggers their basal ganglia, it can become collectively ingrained and extremely difficult to dislodge.

The brain is an energy-conserving organ that resists change because it takes cognitive effort and uses up valuable sources of oxygen and glucose. Combine this resistance with the way the basal ganglia functions to reinforce habits and it becomes clear why change is so difficult.

When we face a change, our brains automatically calculates the reward and the risk involved in order to determine whether or not it is worth doing. In other words, as we weigh risk and reward, the sum of risk value plus reward value will result in taking action or not taking action, making the change or resisting it. If we perceive the reward to be less than that of the risk, we are unlikely to engage in change. This is why it is so critical to share the purpose of the proposed change, to explain why it’s needed, and to support people to see the benefits of expending large amounts of their precious cognitive resources to engage in a particular change process.

Change often is perceived as a threat because it can activate threat circuitry associated with uncertainty. Therefore, dealing with uncertainty in a change process is absolutely critical to success. Unfortunately, it’s frequently overlooked. Think about your experiences of change efforts. How have you managed change in the past?

Chip and Dan Heath, authors of Switch:How to Change Things When Change Is Hard, discuss the effort and self-control it takes to bring about change. As Heath suggests, we need self-control in order to resist going back to old patterns, something that’s extremely exhausting. His metaphor for this dynamic is a human riding atop an elephant:

elephant-and-riderThe Rider represents our analytical, planning side. The Rider decides, “I need to go somewhere, here’s the direction I want to go,” and sets off. But it’s the Elephant, the emotional side, that’s providing the power. The Rider can try to lead the Elephant, but in any direct contest of wills the Elephant is going to win—it has a six-ton advantage. So part of achieving change, in either our lives or in organizations, is aligning both sides of the brain by pointing out the direction for the Rider but also motivating the Elephant to undertake the journey. Of course, the Path the Elephant walks down matters too. High-ranking executives can shape that Path, that environment, and make the journey easier even when the Elephant is less motivated.

This dynamic explains why many large scale change efforts fail. There is an expectation it can happen quickly, but too much change too quickly will generally fail in the long-term. It’s important to start small and build momentum from there.

Challenges to Facilitating Change

There are a number of challenges to facilitating change. Clearly, in any change process, we are called on to decide whether to undertake the change in full or in part. A vast array of cognitive biases can affect any decision. Such cognitive biases significantly influence the decisions we make and can impact on the degree to which people embrace a change process. It’s important to be aware of potential biases and to question whether they are getting in the way of change.

Biased choice value can also pose a challenge to change. Choices are likely to be biased by past experiences and choices are influenced by the values we place on alternative choice options. For example, if we have made changes in the past that led to a good outcome, we will be biased to make that choice again because a positive value has been attached to it. It doesn’t necessarily matter that in the current context there might be a lot of evidence to suggest a different choice will be a better option. We tend to resist the new option based on a biased choice value and our brain’s need for certainty.

Ironic process theory suggests that under situations of mental load or stress, we will often do precisely what we are trying to avoid. When you are trying to support action towards a change, understanding previous actions or memories of past events is important to identify their reemergence at times of stress or mental load. At such times, our brains don’t have the energy to suppress unwanted memories and they come flooding back.

Focusing on solutions instead of problems

In change processes, we often focus too much attention on the problem.

One of the most important factors in facilitating change is to move away from focusing attention on the problem and instead focus on the solutions. Why is this so critical?
problemsSimply put, the more attention we pay to a problem the more we strengthen the circuitry and neuronal connections around the problem. We are drawn towards thinking about and wanting to explore the dimensions of what’s wrong rather than work towards a solution because it takes much less cognitive effort to do so. This is because when we consider a problem we have many maps to draw on from past experience. On the other hand, thinking through solutions takes more energy and creates a greater sense of uncertainty.

As leaders, we need to be ‘thinking about our thinking’ and noticing when we, or others, are paying too much attention to a problem rather than focusing on a solution. We strengthen what we focus on. By being solutions-focused, we develop and strengthen new neural pathways associated with a goal or an intention.

Tips for facilitating sustainable change

  • Try using different language. Many people are ‘change weary’. Replace change with innovation or rewiring. Think about change as being agile or frame it up as an experiment.
  • Start small rather than overwhelming people with a big change agenda.
  • Celebrate the ‘small wins’ along the way.
  • Be clear about the potential rewards of a change and demonstrate you also are aware of the risks and have planned for them.
  • Do an audit of any potential cognitive biases that might sabotage a change effort and declare these as potential conflicts of interest.
  • Identify when a biased choice value might be enticing you to do more of the same rather than to try something new.
  • Notice if ironic process theory might be taking you back to old ways of doing things and name when this is happening to guard against it.
  • Remain solution focused. Notice when you get stuck in the problem and when it’s time to move on.




Linda is the Managing Director of NeuroCapability and the co-founder/director ofneuresource groupThese organisations are playing key roles in developing a new generation of thinking leaders through delivery of the Diploma of Neuroscience of Leadership and other innovative programs informed by neuroscience.  Linda has gained recognition both in Australia and internationally as a thought leader in the neuroleadership field.  She is actively contributing to the body of knowledge that supports the building of individual and organisational ‘neurocapability’.















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Is your mind in the game?

Posted on March 20, 2014. Filed under: Attention Matters, Linda Ray | Tags: , , , , , , , , , |

Linda Ray, the co-founder and co-director of neuresource group, coined the term “attentional intelligence” in 2012. In this post, she looks at the ways our brains can get in the way of staying alert to risks and offers a simple tool for taking charge.



Are you in charge of your attention? Or is your brain?

How in charge are we of our focus and attention? Does our biology lead to our attention being placed in a manner that invites us to lose focus on the areas we should be paying attention to? As we learn more about human behaviour through our increasing understanding of the brain, we need to be ready to rethink some of our approaches to how we operate, how we organise our workplaces and how we structure our organisations.

In this post, I explore why we need to rethink our working practice at the individual level with a case study and a new tool we’ve developed at neuresource group, which we’ve named PAPA and which can assist you in staying ‘switched on’.

Switched on or switched off?

How many of us notice where our attention is moment by moment? One of the most important areas we can all pay more attention to is improving our attentional intelligence. Attentional intelligence supports us to be more mindful of what is happening in our domains of attention, including feeling, thinking, and focusing.

Asking questions in each of these domains supports us to be more in charge of our attention. We need to be mindful of when we have unintentionally switched off our attention in one or more of these domains.

Screen Shot 2014-03-20 at 10.15.59 AM

Getting your mind on the game

In a recent post we looked at the neuroscience of risk awareness. During some of our recent work in a large infrastructure transport organisation, we discovered a problem with their current approach to risk and safety awareness. The key issue happened to be that the very processes, policies, and procedures that were developed to support a focus on risk and hazard identification were, in fact,  getting in the way of their people staying switched on to safety.

Like many organisations that are taking the issue of safety seriously, this company begins new shifts with  meeting that invites people to identify any potential risks or hazards that might be at play on that day. While this focuses attention on predicting the potential risks that might be encountered during their shift, it may have had an unintended effect. By discussing it ahead of the work day, staff members began to operate as though the issue of safety had been covered, and they paid less attention to potential risks, not more.

Neuroscience sheds light on why this happens. The brain is an energy conserving organ and seeks to itemise, categorise, rely on past experiences, and interpret the world according to mental maps that have been formed over a lifetime — all with the goal of preserving precious cognitive resources. It also likes certainty — knowing that something’s been handled, for example. And it’s reward-driven. Motivated and productive workers gain satisfaction moving through their ‘to-do’ lists.

In this particular organisation, savvy managers sought to create more safety awareness without considering how the brain actually works. Instead of placing risks at the forefront of employees minds, by discussing safety matters at the start of a shift, the brains of their employees tended to switch off.  This happened because the need for certainty about predicting possible risks was met early on in the workday at the beginning-of-shift meeting. Without recognising it, many staff members were ticking safety off of their to-do lists.

Further investigations to determine the causes of incidents in this organisation revealed that 96% were the result of human factors rather than technical or mechanical failure. In other words, they were largely preventable. Just how, then, can we stay switched on so we notice risks that may not be predictable but, if noticed, could prevent an incident?

From our experience, the key is in having the tools and the cues that keep us switched on. We need to work with the brain in mind when we develop our practices and policies. Simple tools can provide a cognitive shortcut for the brain that can assist in staying switched on. From neuroscience, we know the importance of the priming effect. When we tune our attention into being on the lookout for something, we are much more likely to notice the areas we want to focus on. We’ve all experienced this. For example, when we decide to buy a new car, we suddenly see that car on every highway and road. There aren’t really any more of them around, we are just more attuned to seeing them.

41NcnRvocWL._SX342_In this particular infrastructure transport organisation, we developed a framework called PAPA (prime, assess, predict, and act). PAPA is a simple framework that can support continued attention to noticing risk. We instituted what we refer to as a  ‘PAPA’ pause — stopping through the day to consider anything that might be a potential risk.

We gave each person a two-sided card with key priming, assessing, predicting and acting questions. As an additional cue to keep attention, we distributed purple shoelaces or a purple bracelet for the workers in order to support priming of focus. Each time they noticed their band or coloured shoelaces, it operated as a further cue to keep attention focused on noticing risk and taking appropriate action.

PAPAUsing PAPA to develop attentional intelligence

We know attention and focus change the brain. In order to grow your attentional intelligence, it may be worth including some PAPA pauses in your everyday work day. Prime yourself to notice where your attention is moment by moment. Assess whether your attention is where you want it to be. Predict the extent to which your focus supports your goals. Act to change the focus of your attention if it’s not serving you well!



Linda is the Managing Director of NeuroCapability and the co-founder/director of neuresource groupThese organisations are playing key roles in developing a new generation of thinking leaders through delivery of the Diploma of Neuroscience of Leadership and other innovative programs informed by neuroscience.  Linda is gaining recognition both in Australia and internationally as a thought leader in the neuroleadership field.  She is actively contributing to the body of knowledge that supports the building of individual and organisational ‘neurocapability’.


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“The Happiness Advantage”: Linking Positive Brains to Performance

Posted on January 16, 2014. Filed under: Attention Matters, Linda Ray | Tags: , , , , , , , , |

It’s always good to begin a new year with a positive outlook and clear resolutions, but it’s not so easy to maintain these as work piles up, deadlines loom, and the day-to-day grind wears away our best intentions.

With this in mind, we wanted to start the year right by presenting a roundup of psychologist Shawn Achor’s research findings on the correlation between happiness and success. He offers some simple tips on things we can do to become happier in the moment, thereby increasing success and satisfaction at work.


happy business people

Most companies and schools follow this formula: if you work harder, you will be more successful, and then you will be happy. According to psychologist Shawn Achor, this formula is scientifically backward. A decade of research shows that training your brain to be positive at work first actually fuels greater success second. In fact, 75% of our job success is predicted not by intelligence, but by our optimism, social support network and the ability to manage energy and stress in a positive way.

By researching top performers at Harvard, the world’s largest banks, and Fortune 500 companies, Achor discovered patterns, which create a happiness advantage for positive outliers—the highest performers at the company. In his book, The Happiness Advantage (2010 Random House), Achor writes about what positive psychology is, explores how much we can change, and offers practical applications for reaping the ‘Happiness Advantage’ in the midst of change and challenge.

Briefly, positive psychology is the study of what makes people thrive.  There’s a strong connection between an individual’s mindset, social support system and well-being. By simply adopting a positive outlook on life, it’s possible to set the course for a better future.

Achor’s happiness tips

There are simple things we can practice each day to feel happier in the moment. Try these and test the results:

Screen Shot 2014-01-16 at 12.29.13 PMSend an Appreciative Email  
When you open your inbox for the first time each day, take two minutes to send an email to someone in your social support network (family member, friend, teacher, coach, coworker) praising him/her or thanking that person. Studies from Harvard show this is so powerful that there is actually a correlation between happiness and social connection of 0.7, significantly higher than the correlation between smoking and cancer. Social connection can be as predictive of your longevity as high blood pressure, obesity and smoking.

Screen Shot 2014-01-16 at 12.19.23 PMSmiling Is Contagious  
Through a study involving 11,000 hospital employees over six months, it was found that smiling, making eye contact and simply saying hello within 10 feet of another person increased the hospital’s patient satisfaction, the doctors’ job satisfaction, and the likelihood to refer the hospital to others. This is because of the way neurons function in our body, lighting up at the receipt of a friendly gesture, telling our brains to smile when someone smiles at us and spreading the joy all around.


Screen Shot 2014-01-16 at 12.18.01 PMGive Thanks  For the next 21 days, think of three things you are grateful for before you go to sleep. We did a study on this, and at the end of the study, participants were significantly more optimistic, and further, the change wasn’t temporary—the positive mindset lasted even six months later. An added effect: Increasing your optimism can improve your productive energy by 31 percent!


Screen Shot 2014-01-16 at 12.26.40 PMNever Give Up On the Good Times  
Take two minutes every day to write down every detail you can remember about one positive experience that occurred over the past 24 hours. As our brains can’t tell much difference between visualization and actual experience, by rehashing a high point in the day you double the effect of that positive experience. Overall, this leads to greater life satisfaction and meaning. Studies have shown that women who wrote about positive experiences were 40 percent more likely to live to age 94 than their negative peers.

imagesHave Fun  By adding 15 minutes of a fun, mindful activity to your day, like gardening, going on a walk or working out, your brain learns to believe that behaviors matter—the core of optimism. In  fact, in one study, researchers took people suffering from depressions and had half take an antidepressant and half do light aerobic exercise in order to train their brain to believe that their behavior matters. While there were equal drops in depression for the first few months, the group that added a habit of exercise had significantly lower chance of relapse back into depression 10 months later. Habits like the “Fun 15” help your brain record a victory, which creates a “cascade of success,” where individuals start creating a constellation of positive habits around them, decreasing the likelihood for depression and despair..

Screen Shot 2014-01-16 at 12.17.06 PMMeditate  
Take two minutes each day to stop what you’re doing and watch your breath go in and out. This exercise trains your brain to do one thing at a time. Research suggests that a multitasking brain has a harder time falling asleep, is more stressed, and has lower energy. By taking time to relax the brain has a chance to undo the negative effects of trying to manage everything at once.




 In this fast-moving and entertaining talk, psychologist Shawn Achor argues that happiness actually inspires productivity.


Shawn-Achor-author-pic-888x1024Shawn Achor is the winner of over a dozen distinguished teaching awards at Harvard University, where he delivered lectures on positive psychology in the most popular class at Harvard. Shawn has become one of the world’s leading experts on the connection between happiness and success.   Shawn teaches for the Advanced Management Program at Wharton Business School, and collaborates on research with Yale and Columbia University.

In 2007, Shawn founded GoodThinkInc to share his research with the world. Subsequently, Shawn has lectured or researched in more than 50 countriesShawn is the author of New York Times best-selling books The Happiness Advantage (2010) and Before Happiness (2013) as well as Ripple’s Effect and The Orange Frog.

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Ditching the boss: How the collective brain empowers organisations

Posted on January 10, 2014. Filed under: Human Capital, Linda Ray, Tara Neven | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

We’ve made it our mission at neuresource group to transform the workplace by helping to build brain-friendly organisations — starting with our own.

We’ve given a lot of thought to just what it is that makes an organisation brain-friendly. Over the next few months, we plan to explore the subject in more depth by looking at various organisational models to see what works and why. We welcome your comments and hope you will take the time to share your experiences and perspectives.



A lab for innovation

Because we were merging two unique and independent organisations, each of which was already functioning well, we were especially sensitive to setting up an organisational structure that would complement — and not quash — existing strengths. We also recognised that we had an unparalleled opportunity to try something new.

We both knew instinctively that a control-and-command governance structure was out. Not only was it something neither of us practiced for a long time, but we also saw that it wasn’t really working anywhere. Imposing ‘productivity’ never works in the long term. It was important to us to find a system that gave employees the freedom to develop intrinsic motivation, to draw on and extend their talents, and to follow their hearts.

We established a portfolio structure from the start. Because we are a small organisation, team members often sit across one or two portfolios, which allows for interesting insights and the cross-pollination of ideas. Because we are new, enthusiasm is high; because we emphasise democracy, our team is invested, but also open to different views and perspectives.

We began to notice something interesting. When one person generated an idea, the team would embrace it. However, the idea often underwent a series of subtle tweaks and changes that invariably improved it. No one actually said, “Improve on this”. It just happened. Sometimes just having a different person articulate the basic idea led to a new dimension that made it better, richer, and more powerful.

We realised that by setting up an environment that was open to new ideas and new ways of doing things, we were encouraging innovation. This is something that all organisations are after, often paying consultants high fees to come in and institute the changes that lead to a more innovative workforce.  And for us, it just seemed to happen.

The collective brain

img_3461We know from neuroscience research that emotions and attitudes are contagious. Being open to ideas leads others to be open to ideas and it also leads to more ideas. We now refer to our team as “the collective brain” and, trusting that throwing an idea out to others and knowing they will listen in an open and nonjudgmental manner, we can be confident the idea will blossom. Each team member has different talents, individual experiences and unique ways of looking at the world. This means that an idea that has passed through the collective brain of the organisation is going to be more robust right from the start.

Importantly, since everyone has a chance to contribute, there is more personal investment in all the stages of bringing an idea into fruition. By making our workplace a lab for innovation, we also set up a structure for real collaboration, something else organisations pay top dollar for.


In a recent energetic online discussion, we were introduced to the holocracy model. At first glance, it seemed like maybe we were practicing holacracy without even knowing it. It has many of the same elements as our collective brain model.

The creators of holacracy define it as “a comprehensive practice for structuring, governing, and running an organisation. It replaces today’s top-down predict-and-control paradigm with a new way of achieving control by distributing power. It is a new ‘operating system’ that instills rapid evolution in the core processes of an organisation.”

Holacracy is purpose- and process-driven, not manager-driven. In the words of the founder Brian Robertson, “It places the seat of organisational power in an explicit process, one which organises around an explicit purpose. This allows emergent behavior of the whole system, without being controlled by a single heroic leader…”

How holacracy is brain-friendly

istock_000017297060mediumWe know from neuroscience that no two brains are alike, and the holacracy model allows an organisation to tap into diversity among employees. We also know from direct experience that tapping into the collective brain really does work.

Additionally, in the hyperkinetic world we live in, organisational agility is paramount. Because governance and the bounds of individual authority are clearly defined in the holacracy model, employees are empowered to exercise autonomy and embrace change. By giving a clear direction rather than a defined path forward, quick ‘re-wiring’ and innovative responses are possible.

Some other brain-friendly features:

Overall, we are pleased to have learned about holacracy. We know first-hand the importance of encouraging autonomy as a way to support engagement, innovation, and collaboration. Tapping into the collective brain has empowered our organisation, and we believe it will do the same for yours.

Watch Brian Robertson on holocracy in this TEDTalk:




Screen Shot 2013-04-22 at 9.23.30 AM


Tara Neven is the co-founder/director of neuresource group.  As an entrepreneur, business strategist, facilitator, learning and development, and collective leadership specialist, Tara has over 15 years experience in corporate learning and development, education, business growth and organisational development. The last 10 years of this experience has been in remote and regional areas of Australia. Tara’s primary industry experience has been in the mining and resource sector, construction, local government and medium to large organisations.





Linda Ray co-founded neuresource group with Tara. Through  the delivery of the Diploma of Neuroscience of Leadership and other innovative programs informed by neuroscience.  this organisation is playing a key role in developing a new generation of thinking leaders. Linda is recognised both in Australia and internationally as one of the foremost thought leaders in the neuroleadership field. She actively contributes to the body of knowledge that supports the building of individual and organisational ‘neurocapability’.






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