What Your Brain Looks Like When You Innovate

Publicerat: november 7, 2014 | Sparat under: Aktuella frågor

During this year’s Innovation Leadership Summit, a top innovator from Converse shared insights on his team’s success with new product introductions. He remarked that “love is a big piece of it.” The Converse executive spoke about the love his team members feel for one another during the innovation process and the fact that he truly loves coming into work every day.

A recent study performed by a researcher of Positive Emotions and Psychophysiology at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill suggests that there is a new scientific definition of love.

The researcher, Barbara Fredrickson, says that love is the “micro-moment of positivity resonance” that you feel for a person with whom you feel really connected and understood. This person can be any person – your friend, parent, kid, a colleague, or even a complete stranger. The only true requirement is that you feel connected and understood. The emphasis on feeling connected to feel love made me wonder if that is one of the key emotions triggered when you innovate.

Imagine an innovator who is looking for the right technical solution all over the world and finally finds a solution provider with the answer he is looking for. That “micro-moment” of understanding, and being understood, opens up receptivity, and new opportunities for both parties and marks the beginning of a potentially exciting new business relationship, creating a win-win situation.

Fredrickson uses the presence of biochemical and physiological components to prove her theory. In her study, Fredrickson proves that all three known biochemical “markers” of love are present when a mutual understanding is established between two or more individuals and positive emotions are shared.

It would be interesting to conduct similar studies on the biochemical and neurological processes present in innovation seekers, innovation intermediaries and solution providers during technology searches at moments when everyone agrees on a solution. I’m willing to bet their feelings would be in perfect sync with each other, and there is a great deal of connection and understanding that opens up a world of possibilities for real break-throughs that never could have happened without these biomarkers aligning.

In his book “The Moral Molecule,” Paul Zak, PhD, Professor of Economic Psychology and Management at Claremont Graduate University identified ways in which the levels of oxytocin – the hormone that’s been dubbed the “love molecule” – can be increased.

Among the ways such as hugging (even a complete stranger – yes!) and sharing a thrilling experience together, he found that in-person interactions can boost oxytocin levels substantially. “We’re a connective species: The more interaction, the better,” says Dr. Zak.

A study published in Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science, found that people who make more social connections experience warmer, more upbeat emotions. This study finds that it is possible to self-generate love and other positive emotions by having positive social connections, and these connections in turn lead to enhanced positive feelings, thereby creating an “upward spiral.”

“The daily moments of connection that people feel with others emerge as the tiny engines that drive the upward spiral between positivity and health,” explains one of the co-authors of this study.

There is an “upward spiral” in the world of open innovation as well. Just as connections between the various actors in the value chain of the open innovation marketplace create feelings of “love” between them, such feelings may also drive innovation further.

When somebody comes up with a solution to a complex problem that no one was able to help with before, there is a resonance in thoughts, happiness and relief in finally finding the solution, excitement in realizing that your efforts have succeeded and the love for your work increases further by having solved a challenge (and thus the love for the person who helped you solve the challenge increases). Additionally, this boosts happiness as you come nearer to your innovation goal, and love for the people who facilitated the identification of the solution provider! In light of all this, it’s no wonder that innovation networks are so powerful.

I’ve talked about innovation being good for the brain. Now it turns out that collaborative innovation may also enhance our emotional well being.

Author: Andy Zynga


Leadership is lonely – that’s why we need coaches

Publicerat: november 1, 2014 | Sparat under: Aktuella frågor

Leading others in the quality of CEO, managing partner or team leader is not the most complicated thing in the world, but there are two key paradoxical issues : first – one can only learn to be a leader while being one, and second – the higher the top, the lonelier it is there.
Yes, they teach management at business schools and at numerous courses. This is good business, no doubt. And after all, time spent in business schools might be a good investment for developing social capital. You meet great, inspiring people, including the faculty, at best business schools. These relationships come handy later. Still, most top executives will tell you that up to 70% of their managerial competencies has been developed on the job, gaining experience from one’s own successes and failures. So to become a great leader, one has to learn by being one.
An executive spends most of his/her time with others. Often encouraging and coaching others, talking about their challenges, fears, problems and questions. At the same time he can hardly be open about his own issues with anyone. It is a lonely role.
It is common to say that one can learn from his experiences. But the experience is not the thing that teaches us. It is us who interpret the experience, tell ourselves what happened. Learning takes place only in case one understands what happened. But human mind is built in clever way to avoid unpleasant conclusions, however obvious these might be to others. That means – it is easy to avoid learning, especially if feedback is biased, like it is the case with leaders. Best way to understanding the experiences is through explaining it to someone, talking it through with someone else who is able to understand and empathies and is no part of the picture in any way. So the coach is an outsider, who is also able to get inside your skin – understand what client thinks and feel how he feels, not being part of the systems the client is involved. It is a huge benefit, if the coach is not from the client’s organization and neither of the client’s personal circles of family and friends. Coach is trained to reflect his understanding back in a way that helps client to see oneself with the eyes of other people. That’s what coach does and no peers, relatives, or friends can do.
Executive coaching is a development process for executives happening in one-to-one or group interaction with the client – either executive or a team – with a trained professional in clearly defined professional setting and time frame. It is a structured intervention that both parties recognize and perceive as such and happens regularly during an agreed period of time. Professional coach has clear understanding about his method and proved qualification for this. The client’s interests and needs are primary in the process, even if the fee is paid by the organization, usually personified in a sponsor – superior to the manager or the person who has the authority to the decision for hiring a coach. Sometimes the expectations, terms and objectives are specified in an agreement between the three parties – coach, client and sponsor.

Tõnis Arro
Executive coach and search consultant

Interesting article but I would lika to add some comments:

A god leaders whos oraganization is characterised by mutual trust and confidence has all his organizion to talk and discuss with in contrast to a boss who feels unsure, knows everything and manages his co-workers via orders, control and supervision.
Tõive Kivikas