November 9, 2009

David Rock, Your Brain at Work

On Friday evening, I had the great pleasure of meeting and hearing David Rock talk about his new book, Your Brain at Work. David is a management consultant and leadership coach, and co-founder of the Neuroleadership Institute. His work is compelling, largely because of the incredible passion and fascination that drives his interest in the nexus of brain science and human behavior.

(I do admit to being somewhat taken aback by the term neuroleadership
, the first time I heard it: "Imagine leadership without brains!", I wrote to Jim. David's sincerity and depth of knowledge, however, quashed my skepticism.)

I'll write more as I delve deeper into the book, but for now, let me share my notes and thoughts from Friday's presentation:

David believes "that there are five domains of social experience that your brain treats the same as survival issues. These domains form a model, which I call the SCARF model, which stands for Status, Certainty, Autonomy, Relatedness, and Fairness."

Essentially, these are the reward realms to which humans strive. "To create change," such as having a student learn, or an employee take desired action, David advises, "go for these rewards."

For instance, "Autonomy is about giving people choices; changing from a threat state to a reward state."

Relatedness is the building of relationships and connectedness. For instance, if you are presenting to strangers, it is important to say hello to individual participants upon arrival - it creates a relationship between you and your listeners, turning people "from foe to friend."

David's prescription for successful organizational change calls for the application of the SCARF model, and advise that "whenever you threaten one, balance it out with the others."

His model derives from his belief that "our limbic systems have very strong responses to whether each and everything is evil or good. The first thing we do is minimize danger and the second is maximize reward. ...There is no such thing as neutral: if you pay attention to something your brain will decide if it is good or bad."

David is suggesting, for example, that if you are asking people to learn something, you are threatening their status (you are telling them they do not know something), so balance your request by building their certainty with information, or their autonomy by offering choices in applying the new information.

Are you familiar with David's work? I'd love to hear your thoughts.

No comments:

Post a Comment


Blog Archive