Neuroscience in the Fourth Industrial Revolution

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There has been an increasing interest in how the brain works and how that knowledge can be applied to business and to ourselves over the past couple of years.

As a result, most of us will have heard of, or read about neuroscience by now. However, whilst few of us would admit it, to many of us ‘’neuroscience’’ means as much as ‘’the Fourth Industrial Revolution’’ (4IR) and ‘’digitalisation’’. Very little. We know the words and some of the associated concepts. We can speak some of the lingo, but the topics still feel rather remote.

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This is, however, about to change. Why is that?

Whilst technology has propelled both our personal and corporate worlds into something few of us would have thought was possible, significant advancements have also been made in neuroscience over the past 20 years. We now know much more about how our brains work than we did then. We also know there is a lot more to learn and new scientific findings are continuously being released.

In addition, from a Middle East perspective, the UAE has made it's role in the 4IR clear: https://goo.gl/QCgxzn, so we can be sure to hear a lot more about it going forward!

Interestingly only a few of the hundreds of predictions on the ‘’future of work’’ and the 4IR include references to neuroscience. If they do, they tend to merely scratch the surface. Yet, the science about our brains is highly likely to play a key role in the future, as defined by the World Economic Forum (WEF) ‘’the future will be a fusion of technologies which will blur the lines between physical, digital and biological spheres’’

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This has created a gap (which spans thousands of years) between how our brains work and the world that we have created and now live in. This gap is already causing issues in organisations, and it will continue to do so, unless we start to learn more about neuroscience and apply that to how we run our businesses.

As Klaus Schwab wrote (Founder and Executive Chairman of the WEF), ''the Fourth Industrial Revolution may indeed have the potential to “robotize” humanity and thus to deprive us of our heart and soul. But as a complement to the best parts of human nature—creativity, empathy, stewardship—it can also lift humanity into a new collective and moral consciousness based on a shared sense of destiny''. Neuroscience can help us better understand how to do this and ultimately help us shape our future.

It gives us the opportunity to reassess and understand why many things that we have applied in organisations over the past 20 years rarely work well. Neuroscience will also be fundamental to how we view the future of, and shape the human side of our organisations going forward.

It is how we take what scientists discover and apply to the business world which has the potential to fundamentally change the business operating environment of the 4IR.

This is not a simple task. Some of this has started, primarily in the areas of leadership, coaching and learning, delivered by practitioners with varying levels of knowledge of neuroscience, selling ‘’solutions’’ or ‘’methods’’ with varying degrees of scientific backing.

Another industry which has had meteoric growth, despite a lack of scientific backing is ''brain training'', where currently most leading scientists agree that there are no proven benefits to your brain from playing any ''brain training'' games available on the market. Yet, this has mushroomed into a multi-billion industry. In parallel, ''emotional technology'' is causing both excitement and fear of what it can mean to us as individuals, organisations and wider society.

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This is why we believe that we all need to know a bit more about how neuroscience can be applied within organisations. Not only can it help us change how we work, it can also help us and our organisations become more successful. And finally... it can help us separate those who know what they are doing, from those who don't!