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Tara Swart suggests increasing "myelination" in your organization

Swart myelination

What do the human brain and a large business have in common? A lot, according to neuroscientist, author, and MIT Sloan Senior Lecturer Tara Swart. Both a brain and a company contain disparate parts connected by networks that allow a free flow of information, ideas, and operations. Without connection, everything breaks down.

In a recent Forbes article, Swart further explores this metaphor. A critical component of connection in the brain is myelin, a fatty coating that insulates the neural connections, thus strengthening and protecting them and allowing for fast, effective communication. Myelination is the process of building this coating, which happens when particular pathways are used more often.

By her definition, a “myelinated” business has frequently-used, efficient lines of communication that are insulated from distractions. This allows for the formation of strong interpersonal relationships, which in turn promotes clarity of goals, vision, and mission. In short, a myelinated business is an efficient one.

She suggests several ways leaders can improve myelination within their company:

  • Rapid prototyping: the process of generating as many ideas as possible until you come up with one that works perfectly for right now. Any idea that doesn’t fit the bill must be quickly discarded.
  • Active listening and open-ended questions: most leaders focus on messaging and forget about listening. By asking open-ended questions and really hearing what your employees have to say, you can improve your business a surprising amount.
  • Diversity of thinking: seek opinions outside your immediate circle of colleagues and friends. We all have internal biases and blind spots, and talking to those different from us will help challenge our views and expand our thinking.

Read the entire article here.

Neuroscience for Leadership - This program will provide hands-on application of concepts and techniques deriving from brain research and psychology that can improve your individual leadership performance, as well as that of your team and organization.

Applied Neuroscience: Unleashing Brain Power for You and Your People - This highly experiential course explores neuroscience concepts and techniques to help leaders motivate and inspire their peers and employees in ways that catalyze innovation and increase business success.

You may also be interested in Tara's forthcoming book, The Source: Open Your Mind, Change Your Life.


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