The “Symbiotic Brained Organization” as an effective response to VUCA World

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by - Alan Caugant, CEO SUPERHUMAIN™

Technology alters the rules for corporate success. Businesses run much differently today than in the past, largely because of technology. The rapid rise of factors like computing processing power has meant that enterprises need to be pliable rather than rigid. Consequently, yesterday’s best practices are atrophying. To be successful moving forward, I believe organizations need to embrace a new mindset: symbiotic-brained thinking.

Traditionally, corporations placed a high premium on structure and organization, which are skills some research associates with a human brain’s left hemisphere. This type of thinking emphasizes logic and favors sequential reasoning, analysis and manipulating numbers and words.

An Emphasis On Structure And Order

As a result, many organizations have created tasks that were done in set, sequential manners. Order was prioritized and repetitive tasks were emphasized. Many business processes were linear and literal. Management focused on consistent computational tasks, such as increasing revenue and decreasing expense

This emphasis could create a corporate hierarchy where those workers who stayed within the lines were rewarded. Lawyers, accountants, engineers, computer programmers and project managers, for example, tended to be highly paid.

But pay is often a shallow motivator. “Left-brained” firms sometimes create wealth but not happiness. In my experience, seeing increases in revenue and accumulating more financial wealth often did not satisfy employees.

A Changing Business Landscape

Today, such business thinking is not as effective as it once was. Digital disruption empowers organizations to leverage technology and alter market drivers immediately, dramatically and unpredictively. The set patterns of yesterday are often too slow to respond to current needs. For instance, a viral tweet can change a corporation’s fortunes in an instant, so employees need to be empowered to address such challenges.

Companies need to become more agile and fluid — traits I associate with right-brained thinking. This means they shouldn’t march in a single-file formation. They should multitask by seeing many things at once; making numerous connections; and gleaning meaning from seemingly random events.

The Growing Importance Of Symbiotic-Brained Thinking             

To me, right-brained thinking also prioritizes emotion and understanding non-verbal expressions. It represents the touchy-feely part of ourselves, and its success centers on one’s ability to forge meaningful and lasting business relationships.

People who could be considered right-brained thinkers specialize in creating context and synthesizing the big picture. This mindset helps people excel at dreaming big, innovating and empathizing. People who think this way might include designers, inventors, storytellers, teachers, philosophers, social scientists, artists, musicians and dreamers.

With this agility between two hemispheres, people can search for meaning far beyond numbers on a spreadsheet. And in my experience, these leaders want a company that’s making the world a better place to live.

Building A Successful 21st-Century Corporation

Corporations should understand and embrace any changes in business drivers in order to succeed in the future. Such transitions have occurred in the past. Some factory workers have had to master a new set of skills and learn how to manipulate pixels instead of steel. Today’s knowledge workers, likewise, now have to develop new skill sets. They should learn to draw big pictures rather than analyze single components; forge relationships rather than execute transactions; and tackle novel challenges instead of solving routine problems.

To be successful, I believe management needs to shift priorities and drive symbiotic-brained thinking throughout the organization. The left-brained company stressed competence, including an understanding about a set of procedures and the ability to follow them. The new-school corporation relies on agility, creativity, including an ability to respond to unforeseen opportunities and challenges. This change helps enable the business to react to market factors in real-time and create an adaptable enterprise.

In such enterprises, technology can deliver a positive impact on human experience and do more for the social good. Here are examples of what I’d consider symbiotic-brained organizations that are making a difference in their markets and in the world.

Some examples of symbiotic-brained organizations include hospitals that allowed custodians to create “the work they wanted to do out of the work they had been assigned” and companies like Google that have allowed employees to pursue side projects for the company.

Conclusion: What The Future Holds

History has shown that the greatest rewards often go to corporations that adapt to new market conditions the quickest. Because of rapidly evolving technology, change is now occurring at unprecedented rates, which creates both opportunities and challenges for enterprises. Those who understand and embrace the agility from left-brained to right-brained thinking could be in the best position for future success.