Home
Deutsch space Search  Search
IMP THINKTANK    CONSULTING    IMPULSES    NETWORK   
IMP
space
space
space
 
space
 
space
 
space
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
space
 
space    
space
space
   
space
space
space
SEPTEMBER / OCTOBER 2014
 
Employee in Focus
 

ALEXANDER ETTINGER ON

BRAIN RESEARCH, JUDOKA

AND HUSKIES

__________________________________________________________________

Alexander Ettinger is a man of many interests and talents. In addition to a fascination with brain research and a passion for dogs, in particular huskies, Ettinger also a martial arts enthusiast (Judoka), which he has been practicing for years as well as teaching and training to children and teens. But what interests US – and hopefully YOU too – is the subject of brain research in the context of management and innovation work. Johann Wiespointer did the interview…
__________________________________________________________________

Johann: Alexander, you're a man of many interests and hobbies. But I'd like to talk primarily about brain research. You obviously know your way around the topic and even regularly read books by Gerald Hüther, Martin Korte, Wolf Singer, Martin Spitzer and other renowned authors in that field. What is it that fascinates you about the subject?

Alexander: I feel that we can not only learn loads about people by studying the brain and its functions, but also draw numerous parallels with companies, in particular when it comes to management and innovation.

Johann: In this context we quickly come to the topic of "innovative spirit". What can you tell us about that? Why do so many managers and leaders complain that the innovative zeal at their companies has gone by the wayside?

How to "unleash" the innovative spirit at a company

Alexander: In his book "What we are and what we could be", brain researcher Gerald Hüther describes in impressive terms that the brain develops correspondingly to the enthusiasm with which we use it. The emphasis here is on the ENTHUSIASM. According to Hüther, however, people tend to lose their sense of enthusiasm over time. Our brains still work, of course, but they stop developing as such. Our own creative potential lies fallow. I would say, as a first step, that these companies don't need to encourage innovation per say as much as they need to make sure they can (once again) INSPIRE their employees in general.

Johann: Sounds simple but it obviously isn't! All of us in our work here have experienced a feeling of resignation among employees at other companies that basically expresses a lack of motivation for the cause, for the company, for their own work. How can managers combat that?

Alexander: Hüther addresses this in the context of FREEDOM on the one hand and of CONNECTION on the other, which at first glance would appear to be a contradiction in terms. He explained it further in an interview: "Actually a company has to be organized such that its employees EXPERIENCE a sense of being able to contribute their own creative powers to the cause." Companies must therefore focus on nursing that longing for freedom, autonomy and creativity while keeping a sense of connection between employees and company. He always emphasized THREE things with regard to doing this:

  1. The place where people live and move must be understandable to them
  2. They must be able to shape that world
  3. And it has to make sense. It has to have meaning for people in their personal experiences

The way he explains that is: "An employee has to be nestled within a company and know what the company stands for. Otherwise he is just another ant on the march who doesn't know where he's going. The company must stand for something that connects with its employees." I really like the comparison with the ants!

Johann: All of these aspects you mention seem to be just a framework. Is that really enough to inspire enthusiasm and innovation for ALL employees? Surely there must be more individual differentiation?

What subconscious motivators play a role in innovation potential?

Alexander: Of course the powers of innovation are different for everyone. What certainly play a large role here are the SUBCONSCIOUS motivators. We know at this point that certain personality types are more drawn to NEW things than others. These people are always coming up with innovative ideas and changing things that already exist. That quest for the new is thus an important driver for the overall innovative strength of a company. But that doesn't mean those employees will produce BETTER innovations than employees who are more interested in security and balance. Those employees aren't active like the ones we first described, but they provide OTHER types of innovation. These people, for example, are highly motivated to develop products and services that provide comfort and security.

Johann: So you could say that to produce the right innovation you have to have the right people on the task. If that is the case, then human resources staff should possibly look further into this type of brain research?

Alexander:
Yes. I think the findings in brain research could be helpful in both the selection of individual people as well as in the selection of members of teams. In the context of innovator types, however, the subject of "motivators" shouldn't just be helpful for the SELECTION of EMPLOYEES. It should also play a role in STRUCTURING the various INNOVATION FIELDS of a company. That means: You have to ask what value or advantage a given innovation brings to what target group and for which potential customers. For people looking for more SECURITY and BALANCE? Or for people looking for CHANGE and STIMULATION?

Johann: Thank you for your time! Perhaps we've even been able to inspire a few of our readers to look further into the subject.

 
space
space
space

 

 

 


Have you ever "racked your brain" trying to figure out what companies could possibly learn from brain research? Why that spark of innovation sometimes just doesn't come? Or what subconscious motivators play a role in innovation, for producers as well as for consumers? No? Well it's about time you did!

Alexander Ettinger about Innovation & Brain

ALEXANDER ETTINGER

Johann Wiespointner did the interview with Alexander Ettinger.

space
space
spaceHomespaceContactspaceTerms & conditions