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NeuroPhysiology: a Master Key to Business Agility

NeuroPhysiology: a Master Key to Business Agility by Marsha Shenk

Marsha Shenk

March 15, 2018


Business Agility Conference 2018 Logo Horizontal Our brains, the processors on which we depend, developed in the Stone Age. For 150 – 300,000 generations our ancestors lived (or not) by cooperative exchanges. Over those 3 – 6 million years, larger brains and increasingly complex tools, language, and social systems evolved.

With hindsight we can see that journey, but our forebears saw little technological or economic change in their lifetimes. They knew their entire ecosystems well by puberty. After that, the living system didn’t benefit from energy allocated to employing new information. The adult brain evolved to use what it already ‘knows’.

In the last 10 generations, the speed of innovation is such that we have little visibility to what will be required of us in coming years. Our brains are not naturally suited to Business Agility: calling on us to employ new information and generate new value as the marketplace gallops along.

We can create the environments that cultivate plasticity and build ongoing skills and practices when we understand what we’re working with. Several examples we’ll discuss are based on a multi-disciplinary cocktail (Social Neuroscience, Game Theory, Philosophy of Language, Ecosystem thinking) I’ve employed to help leaders move beyond what they know.

Business Agility is an infinite game: it’s never done. Such games are not won; they just keep going. We play as finite creatures in an infinite game. The best of us invest in steadily expanding our abilities to engage each others’ wisdom and experience. A bit of NeuroPhysiology helps.

Shenk - Neurophysiology


Learning Objectives

  • Attendees will leave the session with new distinctions about what's required to spark and sustain systemic Business Agility, and what gets in the way.
  • These bits of NeuroScience will help leaders, coaches, and consultants understand what the brain requires to leverage new information in the face of modern stresses for which it is not naturally suited.

Marsha Shenk

Marsha ShenkConsultant, Coach & Founder @ 5Movez Consulting

In the trenches with leaders for almost four decades, I’m a pioneer in Business Anthropology, seasoned with clients’ struggles to go fast enough, learn enough, right- size, grow bench strength, create new products and services, out-maneuver the competition. The challenge hasn’t really changed: be fit to thrive no matter what happens in the marketplace.

Our brains do not welcome that kind of vulnerability, but we can cultivate the ability. My work has included companies of everysize and industry; successes have been informed by a view of commerce as an ancient human practice, substantially illuminated by modern Ecosystem thinking, Game Theory, Social Neuroscience, Philosophy of Language and Anthropology.

I’m in for exploring new tools, skills and mindsets to move beyond what we know. The more humility we bring to exploring our [inevitable] shared vulnerability, the richer the rewards.


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