Is your company reptilian, mamalian or human?

by Daniel Batten on October 5, 2009

There are 3 parts to the human brain, and which parts get used will have a big impact on the success of your company.

The reptilian brain reacts to stimulus with automatic responses. It is reliable but rigid. Organisations at the reptilian level primarily value incentivizing the right behaviours. They are like vending machines: predictable and reliable.

The mammalian brain records memories and record memories and creates value judgments (often unconsciously). Organizations at a mammalian level value experience/memory. Their staff might say “Brad’s been here 10 years – he’s the expert-you must do your time”.

The neocortex is responsible for language, abstract thought, imagination, and consciousness. It is flexible and has almost infinite learning abilities. Organisations at the neocortex level value team alignment, purpose, vision, creativity and innovation.

And organization needs all three: incentivized people, experienced people and an environment where imagination flourishes. In building a company from scratch, design the blueprint for all three, but build the reptilian structures first. Conversely if you already have a large organization but dismiss values and vision as “touchy feely” – your company performance will stay at lower-primate level.

Design an organization that values for all 3 elements of the brain, like Apple, Google and even Microsoft, and you will be modeling the most successful companies: the ones that not only earn outrageous profits, but make a difference to our lives every day.

If you want to read more, I recommend the experts: Group 8 Education. I was in a seminar with Andrew Mowat and Doug Long for 2 days recently and they are true thoughtleaders. You can buy their book from their website too.

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