Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Beau Lotto's Vision - Neuroscience and Creativity

My company has done a lot in the past year or so to foster people whom they perceive to have leadership potential. It really helps to have someone who doesn’t come from a pure HR background administering this as well, as the energy and ideas they bring to such a programme have been truly refreshing. One of the benefits of this programme that I have been able to enjoy is my company’s membership of the London Business Forum which allows us to attend talks by renowned speakers, and not just in the traditional business sense.

One such talk was the talk by Beau Lotto, perhaps best known from his appearances as a TED speaker, on Vision held at the beautiful BAFTA space in Piccadilly. Beau is a neuroscientist whose work focuses on human perception, and the purpose of the talk was meant to show us how and what to change in order to be more creative.

I'd chosen that particular talk because it was so different from the kinds of finance/economics/tech talks I would usually go to, so I genuinely didn't know what to expect. I definitely didn’t anticipate being told right from the outset that everything we see is ultimately wrong, simply because what we see is data – no more than that. It is our brains which gives context to this data based on our experiences, which is why two people can be looking at the same situation and come out with radically different interpretations - because we all have different experiences.

Because we have different experiences, what seems incredibly different and creative to one person, could be the next most logical step for another individual, because that individual has a greater/different breadth of experience to draw from. So, in order to be more creative, we need to have a greater spatial realm of possibility in order for these small, logical steps to manifest themselves to us.

How can we draw on this in order to increase the possibility of being more creative? We should approach work the same way we approach play. We should ask questions, encourage diversity (of experiences and backgrounds) and, above all, embrace uncertainty in order to truly foster creativity and innovation.

This is where  traditional companies are going wrong. The vast majority of companies focus on efficiency while paying only lip-service to innovation. Sure, they say they foster innovation, but when push comes to shove, and the time comes to putting money on the table, most companies ultimately shy away from taking that risk.

For a company to become more innovative and entrepreneurial, according to Beau’s scientifically-backed research, while there are many qualities that are often cited by others as being crucial to leadership, only three of them are truly essential for fostering creativity and adaptability:
  • Leading by example (thereby creating trust)
  • Admitting mistakes
  • Seeing the qualities and differences in others (increasing diversity)
All in all, a 75 minute talk isn't enough to be truly life-changing, but it is enough to hook you, and get you researching more (and, in this case, reading Beau's forthcoming book, Deviate, out later this month).

No comments: