Innovation, Diversity and Neuroscience
- Free your People to Take your Business Global


Jonathan Chalstrey December 2015
Published in 'Training' Magazine June 2016


The writing is on the wall. Unless you take your business global in the next 10 years it's more than likely going to be dead*. I'm not talking about the big corporate businesses here. They've known about the need to think and act globally for a generation. No, this is about every-day UK SME's, the sort of businesses that employ most people in this country. How can I be so confident with this assertion? There are global mega trends that are converging to make this happen. Here are just four of the biggest:

  • Industrialisation and urbanisation in emerging economies
  • Disruptive technologies
  • An ageing world
  • Greater global interconnections


These mega trends will present businesses with huge opportunities and threats at the same time. What can businesses do about them?

Leaders develop colleagues to become innovators and entrepreneurs


One of the most effective actions a business can take is to develop leaders to free employees to take a business global. The people who lead businesses at all levels need to make a major mindshift if they are to succeed in 2020 and beyond. Leaders need to develop employees to become innovators and entrepreneurs so the business can grasp the opportunities that the global mega trends are bringing. Leaders need to stop controlling and managing and start motivating and enabling people. The unsustainable businesses will be the ones where employees do no more than what they're told at work and only develop their talents outside work.


Leaders in 2020 need to:

  • Discover opportunities and how to develop and leverage business strengths
  • Inspire colleagues to make their bit of the world a better place
  • Influence, collaborate and partner to get things done


What's diversity and neuroscience got to do with developing innovators and entrepreneurs?


To answer this question we need to understand something about how innovation happens. In simple terms innovation requires:

  • Gathering large amounts of information
  • Rigorously evaluating it
  • Looking for new connections and making new meaning


What do we know about how the human brain gains insights that might also be useful here? Try this very quick test to generate an answer. Take the words pine, crab, and sauce. What is the connecting word that makes sense with each of them? The answer is at the end of the article**.


Did you logically work it out, i.e. by trying a series of different words before and after pine, crab and sauce? Or did it come to you unexpectedly in a flash of insight? Here's what we know about how the human brain gains insight***:

  • 'Aha!' moment - occurs when a solution to a problem is computed unconsciously and later emerges into awareness suddenly
  • It involves a conceptual reorganisation of the elements of a problem that results in a new, non-obvious interpretation and an innovation
  • It can be provoked by new information like the perspective of a team colleague in discussion
  • Different perspectives naturally come from people with different upbringing, education, experience, values etc.


What's the point here? It's this. If you want to generate insights on how to grasp the opportunities that the global mega trends are bringing, you need diverse perspectives. When you get people round a (virtual) table to share those diverse perspectives you potentially:

  • Increase the chance of useful information being attended to
  • Increase the generation of useful insights
  • Increase the quality of discussion and evaluation of innovative ideas


In 2020 and beyond there will be a premium on leaders who have the positive mindsets and skills to facilitate discussion that produces innovation and who motivate employees to take power, and act on their insights in the best, future interests of the business.


We invite you to collaborate with JCA to innovate your leadership development, develop your leaders and their colleagues, and grasp the opportunities that the global mega trends are bringing your business.


*Four Forces Are Upending Everything You Thought You Knew, James Manyika, Director, McKinsey Global Institute (MGI); Director, McKinsey & Company, July 2015


*What will business look like in 2020? EY 2015


*Forces for Change, Global Mega-Trends (2015), Business in the Community, The Prince's Responsible Business Network


**Answer: apple


*** Beeman and Kounios 2007



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JCA operates from Manchester and London, England and works with clients globally.


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