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Neuroscience – Creating the Innovation Organisation

22 September 2016

Odgers Interim and Odgers Berndtson regularly hold events providing opportunities for thought leaders to communicate. Since Odgers Interim’s Australian launch in 2015 we have held Board Breakfasts with the aim of bringing together leaders from across industries and government to engage with a keynote speaker and share ideas with their counterparts.

Our third Board Breakfast titled Neuroscience – Creating the Innovation Organisation, took place in Sydney on August 9th 2016. Malcolm Turnball put innovation at the top of the political and commercial agenda with his first statement in office. “The Australia of the future has to be a nation that is agile, that is innovative, that is creative. We can’t be defensive, we can’t future-proof ourselves.”

A few facts from the book No Ordinary Disruption further highlight how critically important developing an innovation led working environment is:

  • The speed of technological adoption by 50 million users has accelerated from 38 years (radio) to nine months (Twitter)
  • By 2025 the world’s economic centre of gravity is expected to be central Asia, just north of where it was in Year 1
  • Food prices, which fell by an average of 0.7 per cent during the 20th century, have risen by almost 120 per cent since 2000

We were fortunate to have Sue Langley from The Langley Group join us to help demystify the challenge of creating the innovation organisation and how boards and senior management can engage their people to nurture and develop this highly sought after organisational state. 

Contextualising innovation, Sue pointed out that it isn’t a new concept with many of the organisations and businesses unrecognisable from how they looked and operated 15 years ago. But the speed of change now puts different demands on our people and teams. We’re expecting them to not only solve the challenges of today and tomorrow but to work under greater pressure and launch new products and services to remain ahead of competitors.

Creating innovation cultures and working teams starts  with understanding how the brain works. Given Sue’s background in neuroscience, she has developed an innovation framework. Developing a working culture that fosters imagination, curiosity, drive and a positive attitude are core to enhancing imagination. But these 4 pillars often run counter to a working environment. How many organisations are actively promoting day dreaming, a critical part of imagination?

The brain also requires fuel to function effectively. A brief overview of neurochemicals shed light on how important the right fuel is to enhance creativity and new ideas. When people feel threatened or exhausted, thinking processes are reduced. When we feel upbeat and part of a team our brains release energy allowing us to make good decisions.

Cultivating a positive climate at work creates positive emotions. These in turn create the best conditions for creativity. Positive emotions allow our brains to function at their best, giving those teams a real edge in the innovation challenge. As always, leaders have the opportunity to set-up their businesses for success.

Positive leaders emphasise what lifts people, what they do well. They focus on cultivating positive climate, facilitating positive communication and connecting people to positive meaning and values. They focus on others’ strengths as well as their own.

Sue is a recognised global leader in the field of neuroscience, emotional intelligence and positive psychology and was the first person to hold a Masters in Neuroscience of Leadership. She is CEO and founder of the Langley Group and has worked internationally with global companies including Oracle, Schneider Electric and Camp Quality developing leadership, capability and culture. She is well known in the media and worked on the ABC TC series Redesign your Brain.

We’ve included a link to her ebook and please contact Odgers Interim to be put in contact with Sue directly.


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