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Bruce Holland

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In business to day, brainpower is what matters. In many organisations, that's all there is. Many of our larger organisations seem unable to be fast, flexible and innovative. They are losing ground to smaller more entrepreneurial organisations. The government seems to have given up on them, but they are too important to ignore.

I am an expert in releasing brainpower in large organisations. This is my life challenge. Amongst many of my clients I am known as Mr Brainpower - probably because I keep harping on about how important it is. In my experience most large organisations are utilising only a tiny fraction (less than 5%) of their potential brainpower. There are four reasons for this.

  1. We use only part of our brain

  2. Organisations use only part of each person

  3. Organisations use only some of the people

  4. We don't use the power of joining minds together.

It's the same wherever we do business, in the private sector, in the public sector, in local bodies and not-for-profit. It's an organisational problem, not a sector problem. So how are you doing? As a leader in big business your success depends on your answer.

Lets expand on this for a minute before we get into some of the solutions.

We only use part of our brain

When I say that we use only part of our brain, I am referring to the way our society favours left brain thinking and in the process devalues about 50% of human potential. At school, by the time we are 6 years old most of the creativity has been trained out of us. We need to learn how to look for alternatives and both/and solutions but we are taught only analysis and either/or thinking. In a recent study of American 18 year old students it was found that on average they had completed over 2000 examinations requiring a right or wrong answer. Creativity is a great untapped potential for organisations. The brain has awesome power, unfortunately it doesn't come with an operating manual and most people don't know how to use it most effectively. Creativity will not just happen, it has to be managed and people have to be given the tools and shown how. When I started out consulting, creativity was the focus of my practice, today it is still one of the cornerstones of releasing brainpower.

Organisations only use part of each person

When I say we use only part of each person I am thinking primarily about two things. Firstly, organisations tend to think only about how they can maximise the use of physical work and thinking work; they hardly ever try to maximise the power of feeling/caring or the power of wanting to leave a legacy. And yet most of the power of humans is tied up in these two. In my consulting work I encourage managers to think about their people as body (physical work), head (thinking work), heart (caring) and soul (legacy). The other problem is that we are pushing people into boxes (jobs) that have little or no relationship to the inherent talents of the person. In my consulting work I teach managers that every person has a unique talent and if the organisation is to become great then they must find that talent and put it to work. I use Herrmann's Thinking Preferences to help managers identify and measure these talents.

Organisations only use some of the people

When I say we only use part of the people I am thinking most about the arrogance of many senior managers who think that they are the only people in the organisation with ideas worth tapping in to. In this single assumption top managers often write off 99% of the potential brainpower in their organisation.

We don't use the power of joining minds together

Finally when I say we don't sufficiently use the power of joining minds together, I am referring to the incredible power of teams of people sharing ideas in a creative and trusting environment. Sure people work in teams but in my experience it is not the primary form of organising work in most organisations. The controversial biologist, Rupert Sheldrake says that brains are more like radios than computers, they have the ability to pick up thinking energy from other people and also to transmit it. Most traditional biologists think he is nuts but whether or not he''s right my own experience shows the power of project teams to come up with original solutions which often did not exist in anyone's head at the start. Research has shown that the decision made by a group is consistently better than the decision made by any of the individuals within the group. On average 67% of the time the group decision is better than the decision which would have been made by any of the individuals within the group, and on 76% of the times the group decision is better than the average decision of the individuals within the group. Project teams are the new way of working, I predict that in 20 years time no one will work in a 'job' as we currently define them. They are simply too inefficient and wasteful of our most precious resource ... brainpower.

So what can we do about it?

When it comes to major organisational change like this, I am one of the most experienced change agents and facilitators in New Zealand. My experience includes being the Group Strategy Manager at the Bank of New Zealand (1988 - 1992) during New Zealand's largest and most successful change process (6500 staff involved) and my work as an independent consultant in many large organisations since 1992. I think there are five key areas to work on:

  1. Increase creativity

  2. Improve the ability of managers to manage

  3. Provide people with vision and meaning

  4. Change our world view

  5. Improve systems and processes.

To make changes in these five areas, each area needs to be planned and staged over time because we are usually talking about changing life-long habits in managers and staff. We need to work on knowledge, skills and attitude. Habits will only change when all three are aligned and sufficient time has been allowed. My skill is knowing which areas need the most attention, what order to make the changes in and how to do it so that everyone understands, buys-in and stays-in the process.

The next few Snippets will address these five areas in more detail.

If it all seems too hard and you want professional advice from someone who knows how to manage in accordance with the laws of life, give me a call on Phone +6421620456 or Skype Bruce.Holland or email

Best wishes


Bruce Holland

Helps large organisations be focussed, fast and flexible. Places where people have more meaning, depth and connection.

Expert in Strategy, Structure, Culture and Leadership Development.

One of NZs most experienced change agents.

Liberating the Human Spirit at Work
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