For many years management of some of the largest companies in the world were puzzled why some people excelled at creative tasks while others were more suited to roles that required analytical skills.
What is the difference between left and right brain thinking?
Creatives are found to use the power of the right hemisphere, while those of a more analytical nature tend to use the left hemisphere of the brain.
Can you be left and right brained?
We are always using the two sides of the brain, however some prefer to look at the big picture while others would rather analyze little details. Those who can shift between the two are best suited to come up with comprehensive solutions.
The Two Sides Of The Brain Theory
The conclusion was that there were two sides of the human brain. This is true – however, the belief that became widespread was that creatives use the power of the right hemisphere of their brain, while those of a more analytical nature were using the left hemisphere of the brain.
There were some unfortunate consequences of what can only be described as an idea formulated using to pigeonhole people into certain functions and plot a career path based on whether the individual was a creative or a rational thinker.
However, research has revealed that these categorizations are not valid. Companies limit the growth of individuals and ignore the contributions of employees by sticking to the ‘two sides of the brain’ theory.
We Use Both Sides Of Our Brain
In fact, scientists have now realized that to function a human being must integrate the use of both sides of the brain.
However, there is evidence to suggest that the two sides of the brain are responsible for different functions. But to classify them as ‘creative’ and ‘analytical’ is incorrect.
The right side of the brain is responsible for remembering the ‘big picture‘ about an experience, while the left side of the brain recalls the details of the experience. In order for the brain to function both sides need to act in concert – in an integrated fashion. This allows for both divergent and convergent thinking, it allows the brain to integrate new information and use templates based on memory and experience and change those templates.
Not that there are not people who feel more comfortable at analyzing problems based on a tiny detail or people who like to look at the ‘big picture‘. However, those preferences are to a large extent dependent on factors such as education, social environment, education, and other contributing factors.
Those who can shift between the two states will be better suited to planning complex creative solutions.
New Ways Of Thinking
The key may be a new way of thinking. In a study conducted by Robert Epstein, Ph.D. of the Cambridge Center for Behavioral Studies it found that those who could develop four different ways of thinking (internalizing new ideas, handling challenging tasks, broadening knowledge, and optimizing the interaction with interesting people and places) would be far better at innovation.
Epstein the had test subjects undergo an eight-month training course to optimize this way of thinking. The results were startling. The employees of Orange County, California were responsible for an increase of 55% when it came to a new idea generated. They contributed to increasing revenue by around $600,000 and generated savings of $3,5 million – by providing innovative solutions and suggestions.
For many people making the switch between what has been called divergent (creative) and convergent thinking (linear, systematic and logical) may be a challenge.
However, with enough training and mentoring a business, by focusing on the four core areas identified by Dr. Epstein can allow employees to become more innovative and be creative – delivering greater value to the organization.
Businesses Can Help
The business needs to have tools to allow this process of change. make available information resources and give them the tools to note what they find interesting while they are both at work and during their downtime. This approach can vary depending on the resources of the company. A value for notepads to take notes or even access to an app that allows them to jot down their thoughts.
Allow discussion of ideas in a nonjudgmental environment. Provide employees with the opportunity to live on the other side of their brain for a while – let an accountant sit with marketing or creative for a while. Give them the chance to interact in the real world with people who stimulate their thinking.
It’s not a question of innate ability to be creative or analytical – it’s broadening and conditioning the mind. Using that approach a business will see an incredible return on the investment in their employees – and employees will enjoy greater job satisfaction.
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