by Leilani Henry
Reprinted from the The Denver Business Journal, March 10-16, 2000.
The pace of change in our complex society requires us, as individuals and
organizations to nourish our ability to learn and create. We need to
"re-balance" our act by incorporating new moves into our everyday
business approaches. Whether your company emphasizes creating fast wealth or
creating a sustainable future it needs to successfully play with its whole brain
to get optimal results.
It is common knowledge that human beings use, at the most, 10 percent of
their brains. How does that translate into organization's ability to use its
whole brain? We can safely say that if human beings are using 10 percent or less
of the brain, there is room for improvement in most companies to access
creativity, energy and learning to obtain breakthrough solutions.
We need to allow imagination and play to permeate the way we learn, the way
we lead, and the way we build organizational systems. Imagination and play are
essential to whole brain functioning. When we are playing or using our
imagination, many times we are doing a non-business activity such as taking a
shower, a walk, doing dishes or driving.
Brain research shows that motion is essential to real change. We can talk
about action, we can read what to do, but only motion causes change. Motion is
the changing of position, posture or belief; an inner impulse that is followed
to a natural conclusion. You can only learn how to ride a bike by getting on the
bike and practicing the motion.
How do individuals and organization gain focus, energy and clarity to create
- Ensure alignment with individual and organization purpose.
stories about the lives of employees, the company history and dreams of the
- Uncover underlying assumptions and beliefs in how to get the job done
what markets to enter, how to lead.
Create opportunities for people in
all parts of the organization to talk about their perceptions and judgments
about the work.
- Use meetings to encourage venting as well as brainstorming. Make it OK
to stretch change seats, sit on the floor or demonstrate an idea by using
your body instead of words. Make human sculptures to portray a tough
issue and experiment with moving into different sculpture and look for the
- Organization transformation is also personal transformation.
people at all levels safe outlets for development and honest exchange of
feedback. Individual coaching on life and work issues is critical to the
success of the business. Everyone is a teacher and a learner in the new
economy and listening to those quiet voices produces unexpected outcomes.
- Practice radical ideas.
Use simulations, metaphors and games to
stimulate new thoughts and feelings about tough challenges. Where do we need
a "lawn mower" in this company? What about our "garden?"
Have we decided which 'plants" need to be near each other to keep the
- Acknowledge connections.
Interconnectedness is the nature of
existence. The combined effort of individuals or groups is unchallenged in
the face of adversity and opportunity Synergy is a real company asset.
Investigate systems that pit individuals or teams against one another. Do
people learn, for instance, how to treat the sales department on their first
- Find ways to encourage balance.
Companies that pay attention to
meaningful work that balances heart and mind, reflection and action,
personal and business will enhance the effectiveness of the whole person and
the whole organization.
A financial services organization used these types of approaches to transform
their internal and external relationships, reach new levels of productivity and
handle a variety of organization changes with great ease. Ninety-eight percent
of their action plan for change was accomplished in 60 days, and one year later,
they continue to achieve positive results. Another Silicon Valley company
installed a slide on the third floor of their office. Most employees travel to
the third floor at the end of the day to slide down to the lobby to de-stress
and leave with a smile.
Through imagination, play and creativity, we deepen our ability to find
solutions that were previously outside of our reach. The answers, for which we
are searching, are within us. Creative approaches that include movement and
play, tap into implicit knowledge, magnify our unique contributions and assist
with the collective discovery of unprecedented action.