If You Can Hold It In Your Head, You Can Hold It In Your HandBob Proctor
When working with amnesia patients, researchers discovered the same parts of the brain that recall the past are activated when we envision the future. Just as amnesia patients experienced difficulty recalling memories of the past, they struggled to imagine visions of the future.
Further research revealed this is not limited to amnesia sufferers, but is common to all of us. In essence, when we attempt to imagine a future event, we use memories of the past to visualise that event. Take for example, that you are asked to imagine the new workplace in a post-Covid world. Or how about a world of driverless cars? When we attempt this, we use memories, dreams, movies we have seen. These data points act like pieces of a jigsaw puzzle that we construct. If this is the case, then we can manipulate the information we consume to create novel versions of the future. We can use new information to create new visions of our organisations for a rapidly-evolving world.
Mental time travel (chronosthesia) is the capacity to mentally reconstruct personal events from the past (episodic memory) as well as to imagine possible scenarios in the future (episodic foresight). But, what happens when our vision of the future is limited by our experiences of the past?
Let’s focus on an organisation for the moment. When we attempt to envision the future organisation in a rapidly changing world, our brains scramble for the most relevant memories to construct the future. However, we often remain prisoners of our past. This is even more the case when we have been successful in the past.
When we find a formula for success, we can become defensive. When we are defensive we stop evolving. This is why so many organisations become crystallised in their thinking, they cannot see beyond their past. They have unearthed a killer product or a successful revenue stream and cannot escape the box in which they operate. When they are so used to incremental change, it is hard to imagine step change. They often forget that it was a step change that led to their success in the first place. This is why so many disruptions take legacy organisations by surprise. Even when they are aware of a startup competitor, they will find many excuses to dismiss them as a blip, an anomaly and certainly not a threat.
Organisational leaders can harness the knowledge of how memory works to create new visions for the future. I have termed this NeuroVisioning, a term I have not heard before, but which was inspired by this week’s guest on the Innovation Show, Lisa Wimberger, author of Neurosculpting. Using the power of vision, leaders can create new futures by scripting compelling visions of the future. Once they have done so, they must engage in storytelling, town hall meetings (virtually or otherwise), internal and external public relations activities and they must share the vision ad nauseam, at every possible occasion.
New Jigsaw Pieces = New Jigsaw
When leaders are their people with new information, the future is no longer limited by the past. Now when the organisational brain imagines the future instead of seeking for memories of the past, it uses vision statements, stories told by leadership, marketing material, mock up video of a future organisation – whatever material you can develop. All this material acts like new jigsaw pieces that form a new jigsaw. When the vision is shared many times, a neural pathway is created. When that new pathway is established over time, you have successfully scripted the future. All that remains is to do the necessary work.
The same principles apply for the individual. You can neuroscript your future by wiring it into you brain. Create a deep vinyl groove by imagining and mentally rehearsing a desired outcome over and over. And as with the organisation, all that remains is to do the necessary work and of course a lot of luck.
THANKS FOR READING
If you like this post, you may like my forthcoming book, now available for pre-order. It contains two core chapters on vision and how it is essential in life.
“Undisruptable: A Mindset of Permanent Reinvention for Individuals, Organisations and Life” is available at the following links…