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How Neuroscience Can Make Your Company More Innovative

Feb 17, 2016

What if you could dramatically increase your company’s success rate with innovation? And what if you could do that quickly, without making a huge investment in new technology or training?

With advances in neuroscience, we now have insight into the “personality signature” of individuals and teams.


In the first article in this series on putting the power of neuroscience to work, I discussed Dr. Helen Fisher’s discovery of the 4 brain systems that create an individual’s “personality signature.”

As a refresher, the 4 brain systems include:

1.    The dopamine system- the “opportunity focus” neural pathways and brain regions

2.    The testosterone system - the “results focus”

3.    The estrogen/oxytocin system - the “relationship focus”

4.    The serotonin system - the “process focus”

Using knowledge of personality differences, Doug Wilde, a professor and founding faculty member of Stanford’s Design Divisionchanged the composition of student teams competing in prestigious national design competitions. He assured that each team haddiversity of thought -- that is, composing the teams of individuals who had different personality signatures from one another.  The result was that Stanford’s student team went from consistently winning 25% of the national prizes to winning nearly 80% at graduate-level design events in just a few years.

Imagine the implications in the corporate world, where studies show that managers choose people for their team who are similar to themselves. By leveraging neuroscience information to compose project teams that are more diverse and assuring that the team members know the value of the differences, the likelihood of group-think is diminished and the opportunity for truly innovative approaches emerges.

While our human tendency might be to work with those who make us comfortable because they are most similar to us, when we learn how to appreciate and leverage the differences between us, breakthrough progress awaits.

In our next article, we will examine how neuroscience can “crack the code” on improving employee engagement.



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