October 9, 2014 Leave a comment
World scientists are striving to map activity in the human brain. Presumably, a map of neural activity will shed light on how the brain works and how choices are made. Concurrently, there has been an upsurge in related fields seeking to understand human nature and behavior change: neuroaccounting, neuroeconomics, neurotics, neurofinance, neuroleadership, neurolinguisics, neuromanagement, neuromarketing, and now . . .neurofacilitation.
Neuroeconomics was cited by Anna Teo (The Business Times, 01/03/13) as having developed over 50 research groups around the world, “exploring the brain processes that underlie decision-making.” Economics focuses on how people make choices, especially when they cannot get everything they want. Traditional theory asserts that rational decision-making maximizes utility, satisfaction, or well being. Yet daily, people and groups generate sub-optimal decisions, so the question remains—why?
Science has advanced tremendously the past twenty years. Look no further for proof than proximity—they now know where in the brain choosing occurs, where preferences reside, and how choices happen physically. While they soon may be able to model ‘how we choose our underwear” (or how monkeys choose their juice), we professional facilitators must be held accountable to mapping how complex group decisions are made. Business meetings could be referred to as a neural net of decision-making.
Maintaining a diligent trail of challenge and documentation provides a benchmark to support neurofacilitation. Group decisions require traceability. Take any decision back to your supervisor, executive sponsor, or steering team and they will immediately respond with “Why?” Why did your groupmake the decision they made?
Data sets are making it much easier to make more informed decisions. Teo cites three relevant examples related to individual decision-making:
1) Electronic road pricing that helps predict the changing demographics, vehicle types, and density of traffic.
2) In New York City data is available on every taxicab: whether they are occupied or empty, when patrons are waiting (or not), size of the tips, etc.
3) Equity stock selections where information abounds whom, when, how much, etc.
Yet there is no comparable example offered to shed light on the most important decisions being made that affect all of humanity, not solely one individual. For example, should we go to war, fire a missile, build a new nuclear plant, construct a new highway (or conduct road repair), approve a major project, hire a key executive, etc.
Professional facilitators ought sensitize themselves to the importance of neurofacilitation; ie, challenging the underlying rationale and carefully documenting the support behind all of the options, not only the final choice. You may never want to see the term ‘neurofacilitation’ again, but you know that it oversimplifies the true nature and complexity of group decision-making, and how groups or teams define “utility.”
Let us know what you think by commenting below. For additional methodology and team-based meeting support for your change initiative, refer to “Change or Die, a Business Process Improvement Manual” for much of the support you might need.
Become Part of the Solution, Improve Your Facilitation Skills
The FAST curriculum on Professional Facilitation Skills details the responsibilities and dynamics mentioned above. Remember, nobody is smarter than everybody, so consult your FAST Facilitator Reference Manual or attend a FAST professional facilitative leadership-training workshop offered around the world (see MG Rush for a current schedule — an excellent way to earn 40 PDUs from PMI, CDUs from IIBA, or CEUs).
Do not forget to order Change or Die if you’re working on a business process improvement project. It provides detailed workshop agendas and detailed tools to make your role easier and your team’s performance a lot more effective—daring you to embrace the will, wisdom, and activities that amplify a facilitative leader.