The word “trends” has various meanings. On the one hand, trends reflect a pattern. On the other hand, they imply a fashion. Both are highly subjective and paradoxical. They could be indicators of the future or simply a passing fad. Which brain-based trends have lasting value, and how might learning leaders draw on brain science to inform their learning strategies?
- Don’t Overhype the Rational in Order to Be Practical
Being rational can be impractical.
You read that right. More than 90% of brain function occurs outside the rational realm. For example, organizational behavior professor Richard Boyatzis and his colleagues demonstrated in 2013 that goal-based coaching has inferior outcomes compared to compassion-based coaching, because it over-activates the fight-or-flight response.
How to Implement: Design learning to embrace the unconscious. Have employees take the implicit association test to explore their unconscious biases, and create a safe environment for sharing those biases. Provide frank feedback with compassion for the individual at hand.
As I described in my book “Tinker Dabble Doodle Try,” learning to un-focus is as important as learning to focus. A quick can give you one to three hours of clarity. Why push through your day if a short break will make you more productive and help you learn more effectively?
- Hand Over the Learning Reins to the Learner
Brain research demonstrates that financial advice does not activate learners’ brains unless they are actively involved. It also indicates that the brain is more engaged as a participant than as a spectator. So, if you want engaged employees, engage them.
Engagement means developing a system to enhance self-regulated learning. On the one hand, you can’t just trust that learning will occur. On the other hand, learning and development (L&D) experts must develop environments where learning is encouraged and inspired.
How to Implement: In 2018, Adobe conducted a study that demonstrated that interactive video learning is 10 times more effective than non-interactive video learning. Make learning as interactive as possible for optimal engagement.
There is a place for passive learning, but interactivity is key. To achieve it, research the collaboration apps on the market. Incorporate interactive apps intelligently to better meet the needs of your organization.
- Stop Making Technology Exhausting
In 2014, Coca-Cola got rid of voicemail. I called a client the other day and received a message saying, “If it makes sense to contact me, please text me. I don’t check voicemails.”
This trend in distancing oneself from technology is due to the burden that it places on the brain. Current technology exhausts the brain, as it’s largely not human-centered. We behave like addicted rats ruled by dopamine in our addiction circuits. Every time you send someone an email, you are literally invading their bodies. Your message becomes part of their brain tissue.
How to Implement: Limit the number of communications you receive in a day by asking people to be sensitive to the fact that they are entering your brain tissue without permission. (There should be a hashtag for this: #braininvasion). L&D leaders need to understand that the very essence of training is occupying the brains of others.
It’s not just about less content. It’s about what L&D wants to be recognized for. Balance the serious learning with fun content. Balance the intentional content with “do what you want with this” content. Balance boring experts (who still share valuable information) with engaging ones.
Being sensitive to these nuances will move L&D from #braininvasion to #lovelearning.