Root-cause of organisational and economic performance is found in the physical, emotional and social conditions created by leaders’ attitudes and beliefs, says business development practitioner David Bovis.

What we believe to be good, like indefinite growth (based on the neural worldview created by our individual experience of cultural and social norms throughout our lifetimes), directly relates to the neural responses triggered in the brain by our sensory experience of our prevailing conditions, like our automatic reactions to the physical, emotional and social (PES) conditions we find ourselves in.

The outward demonstrations of those internal responses to external stimuli judged as good or bad, right or wrong, are generically and somewhat superficially referred to as ‘behaviours’.

A ‘behaviour’ (outward physiological expression of a neural reaction) might be, for example, misplaced laughter at the prospect of the growth capabilities (by which we define ourselves and our success), as the realm of madmen or those who create mathematical models to create a culture that defines greed-driven behaviours as good.

Lighten up! Laugh it off!

‘Misplaced laughter, socially acceptable in a given moment’ is part of our defence mechanisms. Such a response allows us to ignore big issues and remain focused on our own individual perceptions of good (self-serving and immediate rather than prudent). Such human factors (psycho-socio responses in any given situation) directly influence behaviours (short-term performance) and thus outcomes (long-term socio-economic benefit/sustainability). In addition to beliefs (neural/imprinted worldview and relative reactions to PES conditions), other non-measureable factors like honesty, respect and trust; greed, envy and anger etc, all play a huge part in the financial outcomes realised from a socio-technical environment.

Over the last 200 years, we’ve been automatically responding to advances in technological capability, developing larger organisations controlled through more and more logical measures while ignoring human factors. Today it is commonplace to see computer models of a theoretical and logical organisation (ERP/MIS), designed at a distance (by others), utilised to control process, policy and product. The problem is that the same logic utilised to accommodate organisational size and logically measured efficiencies is also believed to be good when it comes to controlling people, and that’s where the wheels fall off.

Logic and the laws of physics suggest that for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. We apply this belief to people, but where the mechanics of that principle include the release of neurotransmitters, which trigger an experience relative (emotional) response, the reaction can be anything but equal and opposite, it can be disproportionate in support or objection and impossible to predict, different from one day to the next, relative to other experience from outside the immediate situation, presented as a threat trigger in the brain by imagination or memory, suggesting psychometric profiling methods developed to date are somewhat crude, incapable of understanding psychological ‘context’ (people respond in different ways in different conditions and conditions, as I’m using the term, are broader than just ‘at work’).

The problem is that the logical approach to the control of people ignores this level of complexity and inter-connectivity, which has witnessed false perceptions of efficiency evolve over time; increasing the speed of life; forcing change faster than people can neurologically discover and adapt doesn’t always lead to ‘good’ outcomes.

  • Transferring data through technology (not effective communication where we consider the design of the brain and visual cortex);
  • Being controlled by logical systems (creating conditions which trigger ‘Learned Helplessness’ responses);
  • Being judged (as good or bad) by adherence to logical targets related to forecast (triggering issues around cognitive dissonance, fear of failure / fear of rejection and deeply engrained guilt imprints established through parental approaches to control us and stop us killing ourselves when too young to have any sense).

These are but a few of the psychological and neurological factors, which have become engrained in our approach to life, accepted as business best practice at a socio-cultural level (i.e. we now don’t question the efficacy or effectiveness of our pursuit of techno-logical perceptions of efficiency – removing muda – in respect to efficient people performance – removing muri and mura).

In our ignorance of human factors leaders often create organisational conditions, which trigger defensive self-serving behaviours at a deeper level. In those conditions, our brains direct glucose energy away from executive function, consisting of rational thought/problem solving/innovation etc. while diverting that energy to the amygdala and our defence mechanisms, to ultimately undermine socio-economic performance and our capacity to engage with others or the outcomes related purpose of the organisation (be it family unit, company or political party).

Today, the pursuit of profit is driving this complexity to be loosely referred to as culture change by many with no better understanding of the neuro-psychological aspects of social development than the business leaders they advise.

You will notice that even this tentative ‘toe-dipping’ into the neuro-psycho-philosophical principles that show ‘thought as cause’ and ‘conditions as effect’, presents a lot of new language for most leaders to consider.

This is a challenge!

Why? Because it is not easy to learn a new language and it is not comfortable to challenge and reconsider everything our current world of beliefs is built upon, especially where an individual’s financial experience of those conditions confirms their beliefs and related actions to be rewarding (‘good’).

Hence it is only the public that sees a need for change in the attitudes in the square mile: bankers and stockbrokers, receiving significant personal benefit from their actions, regardless of the effect on society and the global economy, can’t conceive that their beliefs may be bad. It’s all about context and the context of those few in politics and economic positions of power that will determine the fall-out everyone else has to tolerate. It is at these leadership levels that belief must be challenged, and it may just be worth the effort.