We’ve just spent a remarkable 2.5 days in Assisi, Italy for the 2015 Emergenetics Brain Summit learning from some of the best and brightest Emergenetics practitioners out there. I’ll be writing another blog on the great tips and ideas I learned during the Summit’s breakout sessions, but today I am reflecting on the opening kick-off by our founder Dr. Geil Browning, and the two closing keynotes by Andre Wiringa and Scott Halford, respectively.
Individually, each of the three speakers were quite impactful, and I’ll be honest, my reflections here only share a fraction of the knowledge they imparted. Because while each presentation can stand on its own, when combined they share a powerful message.
Dr. Geil Browning’s Opening Kick-Off:
We’re living in a time of blur, but it’s nothing compared to what we’ll experience over the next several years. There’s nothing we can do to stop it, and rather than trying to fight it we need to embrace it and develop strategies for making the blur work in our favor. After a quick review of human history (the agricultural age, industrial age, information age, etc.), we see how our focus has shifted from production to productivity to information, and it is becoming apparent that we’re likely on the cusp of a new age, one Geil is calling “The Social Age“.
Civilization used to prize what is commonly thought of as “left-brained” characteristics: order, logic, systems, efficiency… and repeat. Society is evolving and the workplace is becoming much more collaborative, innovative, empathic, and imaginative. But as Geil points out, while many people want to call this “The Conceptual Age”, that term only shows one side of the picture. As important as the above-listed “conceptual” characteristics are, we still need the order, logic, systems, and efficiency favored in the past. Holistic, balanced teams are more successful than those comprised only of individuals who favor one way of thinking. I am reminded of the famous quote, “When all men think alike, no one thinks very much.” The takeaway here is simple: we need to learn how to connect with others, gain and share knowledge, and work together as a balanced team in order to not let the blur overpower us.
Andre Wiringa’s Closing Day 1 Keynote:
We no longer own our own brands- consumers, and more accurately what they experience and tell others, is truly what defines a brand. Organizations looking to improve their brand perception can do so through Reverse Thinking and Reverse Engineering: have a clear picture of what the consumer experience should be, and then establish a “why” around that. He quoted Simon Sinek saying, that people don’t care what you do, they care why you do what you do.
But just having a “why” statement is a bit too simplistic. Your “why” should be a common north within your organization. It is the reason people get out of bed in the morning and the reason they care about what they do during their hours in the office. It is a compass that steers behavior in the same direction. Which is why the “why” needs to also include a “who”. WHO is impacted by your why? Who are you working for? The takeaway: reverse thinking starts by defining a compelling and differential “why” and an appealing “who”, and then having a clear “how” and “what”.
Scott Halford’s Closing Day 2 Keynote:
Your brain is the one thing that defines you as uniquely human. It is what separates our species from the rest of the animal kingdom. The brain is a powerfully complex thing that can produce far beyond anything we can imagine, but that is only if we pay attention to and know how to use it! In looking at human beings versus the rest of the animal kingdom, we are not the fastest, we can’t swim, we can’t fly, we’re not the strongest, etc. And yet… when we come together 1+1 does not equal 2. When two or more human beings come together, there is a chemical creation that results in our ability to become the fastest (think the development of a rocket ship), or fly (airplane), swim (submarine), and be the strongest (think a tank).
Scott highlights another crucial factor, though, saying, “When we flip people on and get them excited about not only themselves but working with others, then magical things happen.” When we look at the world and all that we do- we try to make it complex. We get buried in technology. We have convinced ourselves the answer is buried in our machines, and more often than not, we do not connect with others. We do not take time to think about the talents other people have or let human math be 1+1 = 3. The takeaway: when we look up and can be in awe of each other, recognizing each other’s’ gifts- that’s when life is amazing and when great things can be created.
So in conclusion– Geil reminded us why now more than ever we need a balanced team. Andre reminded us that just because we have an awesome team, if we don’t have a common “why” guiding us, then we will work for disparate reasons and produce varying results. And Scott reminded us that an awesome team and a solid why can only get us so far. Because at the end of the day we have to figure out how to work together. We need to recognize and embrace differences in order to make them work for us.
I think that’s why the work that we do, the industry we’re in, is so incredibly important. I am honored to work for a company like Emergenetics where we create holistic teams, help them to find their why, and appreciate (and know how to use) individual differences. As Geil said to close her speech, “Let us not focus on the blur, but what it is that we can do to help people reveal their preferences and realize their potential. In the words of Saint Francis, we are joyful instruments of love, peace, healing, for ourselves, our significant others, our clients, our countries, and our planet.”