leadership 5|18
Ein Plädoyer für 3D
Spreng Executive Business Coaching GmbH | Hans-Joachim Spreng
Humans have done it all –we have settled in every climate zone and feel confi­dent in all the ele­ments. Loud noise, terrible smells, horrid places ... we can adapt to every­thing, and in record time. We are, in fact, true champions of adaptation, but is that always a good thing?
“Adaptability” sounds positive, “leth­ar­gy” less so. Yet both terms have a sur­prising over­lap. Allow me to il­lus­trate this with the phe­no­me­na of frog beha­viour. If you throw a frog into a glass of boi­ling wa­ter, it will jump straight out again. Sounds pretty smart. If, how­ever, the frog is al­ready sitting in a bucket of water which some­one then heats up, it will passively allow itself to be boiled to death. Not so smart this time round…
Unfortunately, humans often display similar be­havioural traits. Say, for in­stance, you’ve applied for a job at an or­gani­sation, but dur­ing the in­terview realise it’s the last place you want to work. You would walk away from the inter­view with­out a second thought and look for some­thing else. But if you’re al­ready settled in a working en­vi­ron­ment that then turns sour on you, more likely than not you’ll tend to stick it out and hope for better times. In such cases, our deeply in­grained power of a­dapt­ability works against us.

Craftwork of 2017

Chart of
the week

A sculpture by Josef Beuys. As ob­scure as it in­i­tially seems, the sculp­ture con­tains suf­fi­cient in­di­ca­tors for us not to be sur­prised by its name, Mountain King. Why, then, are we less capable of perceiving, judging and inter­preting signals in other sit­ua­tions?

inspiring & vernetzen
Sooner than we think, the day when ma­chines can “comprehend” us hu­mans faster and better than we can under­stand our­selves will be upon us. While AI is im­proving, our brains are be­coming more simplistic.

inspiring & vernetzen

Crocodile brain
If you were a frog, you could put this reaction down to your mini brain, which consists al­most only of a small limbic system (aka ‘crocodile brain’) that produces “fright, fight or fight” re­flexes. Coura­geous, con­struc­tive cog­ni­tion or intuition is not the forte of this evo­lutionary oldest part of the brain. If the environ­ment turns hostile too slowly, no alarm is trig­gered – the delta (Δ, or variation of variables) per time unit is too small.

Prefrontal Cortex
Human brains are much better equipped. We possess a pre­frontal cortex – or temporal lobe, the youn­gest cerebral evo­lution – which can re­gu­late, thwart, risk, inno­vate and a­na­lyse in­tui­tive pro­cesses. The pre­frontal cortex has all the prerequi­sites for leadership, al­though the croco­dile brain reacts much faster. Whereas the latter will warn the fire­fighter standing in front of the burning shack: “Don’t go in there, you’ll only get killed!”, the pre­fron­tal cortex will confi­dently over­rule with: “This is your job – who else is going do it? That's what you’ve been trained for. Get in there now and save that child!”

Delta per time unit
The prefrontal cortex tends to be cheer­ful, opti­mistic, hope­ful. The limbic system only ad­vises interven­tion in the event of hard, fast chang­es for the worse – i.e. with a large delta (Δ) per time unit. We must be able to react to insidious deteriora­tions without receiving alarm signals from the brain stem. All too often we’re in denial, though, and we hang on in there to the point of exhaus­tion, until we’re burned out or thrown out. What to do?
Writing things down, taking notes, keeping a diary is a good idea. If you notice that things are slowly getting worse, write down what you need and where you want to go. You will pro­bably still toler­ate the occasional pit­fall, but when re-reading your diary after a while – maybe a few weeks or a few months – the alarm bells will ring loud and clear and you will wake up.

The more we main­tain con­trol of our in­di­vidual needs, values and priori­ties, the more we muster the cour­age to ex­press them, the more alert, mindful and flexible we become as regards change. People with an in­grained sense of discipline, who re­main productive despite ex­pe­ri­enc­ing pain, have it easier. Cultivate a sense of your own needs –without slipping into self­ish­ness. Start gen­erating alternatives; avoid existen­tial dependencies. Develop a second career idea. Be the creator of your own biography. Reflect cyclically. Reclaim your lost auto­nomy. Noth­ing saves as much time as the truth.

As always, this text has been in­spired by a number of forward­thinkers and the world we live in – ob­served by Chema Madoz and Josef Beuys, and adopted and compiled by Hans-Joachim Spreng. Have we spiked your curio­sity? Then call us to find out more.