Neuroscience in the Workplace - Still Taking Baby Steps Several opinion pieces in late 2012 - most notably in the New York Times newspaper and in the weekly magazine The New Yorker - have voiced warnings about mis-using neuroscience. They claim that some of the findings are misrepresented and that there are too many dabblers in the field taking information and twisting it into inaccurate conclusions. We take a look at this in the context of being able to use neuroscience in the workplace most effectively, where it is still really in its infancy. Conflicts in the World of Neuroscience Recently we talked about some of the neuro-myths that are perpetrated and which we warned leadership against using in the workplace. Most people simply do not have the scientific background to be able to interpret neuroscientific data and draw their own conclusions. So we are reliant upon commentary from those who do - and we generally demand it in a language that we can understand. The trouble is there are not too many people who can work on both sides of that bridge - so conflicts and misunderstandings start to arise. This has led to concerns that much of the actual science has been dumbed down; because so many of us are interested to know how the brain works - how our brain works - and we want it in a format that we don't need a PhD to follow. This has led to magazine articles in Newsweek and books from the likes of Naomi Wolf and Chris Mooney that have sold well, but have been roundly criticised by the neuroscience community for being overly-simplified - calling it "pop neuroscience." Simplistic explanations and attention-grabbing headlines have some of the neuroscientists squirming by their scanners when they read articles and reports on how their findings are being presented. They see their first love being sensationalised and are understandably protective over their field, having ploughed so much time into it over the years. What we are seeing is neuroscience hitting the mainstream conscience - and the conflicts are a natural consequence of when a very complicated and rapidly evolving science becomes latched on to by the sectors of the public that want to either popularise it, or use it for commercial gain. How Organisations can use Neuroscience Most Effectively The truth is that the use of neuroscience in the world of business is still in its baby stages. There are, however, professionals who are very well versed in the findings of neuroscience and how it may relate to areas such as leadership, strategic communication, change management, organisational development and teamwork. In fact, under the right guidance, it can be applied to virtually any area of an organisation, giving us a deeper understanding of how to run operations, improve sales, develop marketing, develop human resources, develop the executive leadership, improve organisational structure and so on. Why? Because people are always the key part of the equation. Understanding people better is the key to developing relationships and that is what a solid business is built upon. What motivates people, what drives them on, how they behave in solitary situations and in group situations, how they react under pressure... all the types of natural human responses which vary from person to person, have been (and are currently being) studied by neuroscientists keen to understand the workings of the brain and neural system - and how that translates into behaviour. In truth it was always a matter of time before the science would enter the workplace. As soon as Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI) technology started to be able to safely show brain activity on a wide scale, the findings were bound to be embraced and promoted by the world of business. But the equipment is rapidly changing too - and what is leading edge now will not be in the years ahead. Increasingly precise and complex measurements will tell us more, but the data still won't be understandable to most people... it will need to be translated by the rare breed of people that understand the science and can communicate it effectively to the people that use it - whether in medicine, business, law enforcement or whatever field. If your organisation needs a fresh outlook based on a sound understanding of how neuroscience relates to the functioning of organisations, then right now there are not too many to choose from!