How to Evaluate Theories@Work for Brain-Friendliness

Neuroscience experts, practitioners, research and methods for making brain-friendly organizations and healthy individuals. Listen to Mind Your Noodles!

This is the 42nd episode of the Mind Your Noodles podcast. In this episode, Tripp introduces evaluates Theories@Work using neuroscience. Two downloads on how to build a brain-friendly organization are available at and
Here are some resources mentioned in this episode:

Show Note

Mind Your Noodles Podcast – Episode 42

Neuroscience Components vs. Theories@Work

Situational vs Foundational

5 Neuroscience Components vs. Layoffs

Why Layoffs are Ineffective in the Long-Run

Financial Crisis Layoffs vs Dividend and Bonus Layoffs

Communications are Vital – Use Internal Podcasting

Theories@Work (Not a Comprehensive Look) vs. Neuroscience

The Four Methods and How the Neuroscience Components Interact

Progression of Activities to Be a Brain-Friendly Organization



Tripp: [00:00:06] Take care of the brains that take care of you with the Mind Your Noodles podcast, where we keep you up to date on the latest neuroscience research and practices to keep your brain healthy and strategies to help your organization be brain friendly.


Tripp: [00:00:26] Hi, I’m Tripp Babbitt, host of the Mind Your Noodles podcast, and this week we are doing an episode forty two in the last episode. Episode forty one. I previewed this episode that we would be talking about theories at work and develop kind of a grid versus neuroscience components. So there and there’s five of these neuroscience components that are very general in nature. But and they can cover a lot of things. But just kind of want to show you how I look at these five neuroscience components versus the way that your system is put together.


Tripp: [00:01:14] And I’d like to distinguish between.Things that happen in an organization that are situational versus foundational happenings.


Tripp: [00:01:28] So, for instance, a situational thing might be you’re getting ready to do layoffs, you might have new technology, you might have a new boss, you might have a restructure going on your organization, you might have new products or services, you might have a merger or acquisition.And I think we want to look at these in a situational setting where there are things that have already happened and where you may be reacting to them.


Tripp: [00:02:00] But let’s just kind of go through one against some of the the neuroscience components. So my five neuroscience components that I look at, an organization againts are you’re standing. What is your social and professional standing within an organization? The second thing is, is there a predictable future that employees can grasp on to in your system?Do the people that do the work have freedom and control or is everything?Basically dictated to them from either policies, procedures that come from management or do they have control over making those things happen. The fourth thing is social. We’ve talked quite a bit about social.Are we in an atmosphere where we’re very connected? Is it more competitive versus cooperative? Are we doing something for the greater good? And then there’s the even the innovation component associated with social.


Tripp: [00:03:12] And then the fifth thing is equity. Do we have justice? Is that honorable? Are we being fair with employees? And so these are the five things that I’m going to look at. Both these situational and some of the theories at work types of scenarios. So one of the things that we’ve talked about are lay offs. And that’s a big change and it’s very situational in nature. There is a lot of things probably led to layoffs. And there’s a number of things we also know from research that layoffs really don’t work. They actually have longer term negative effects than positive effects.


Tripp: [00:03:53] And I’ll put some links out about the nature of layoffs and some of the research that’s been found as things don’t miss or get better, because a lot of times what’s happening, especially as you’re losing your coworker in your department or whatever, and now you’ve got to pick up more work. And then there’s this sense when we start to look at these in that situation, we start to lose our standing both socially because we’ve lost our friend and professionally because now I may have more work I’ve got to take on because I’ve lost this coworker. So so we’ve lost something in standing. The second thing as far as a predictable future go, what’s the future of the company if we’re doing these layoffs? In my next within the next few weeks, then the third thing, freedom and control. I’ve lost my control. You’ve done something to me that in my view, is going to be negative and in nature as an employee or that organization. And then there’s the loss of the social component in losing someone within the organization. We lose our connectedness. There’s distrust associated with the management of the organization that gets into some of the things Dr. Zack called talked about in his episode. And then we get in to the equity of things. Is it fair? In other words, if we’re doing layoffs, why are we doing layoffs? Are we doing layoffs because the company is in a financial crisis? Are we doing layoffs because we want to increase the dividend or somebodies bonus? Because this gets, you know, really serious from a standpoint of if I see management going out and getting big bonuses after they do a layoff, me as a worker is going to feel that justice has not been served.


Tripp: [00:05:55] So one of the recommendations I have with companies that I work with is if you’re going to do layoffs because you’re in a financial crisis and it’s a true crisis, then what you need to do is take the hit first, take a 10 percent pay cut across the board in management before you ask employees to take a cut. But cutting salaries is a way maybe you can mitigate not having to do layoffs and keep people within the organization. But I don’t I still not seeing, especially organizations, over 150 people treating employees fairly in that manner and not realizing that, first of all, if it’s not a financial crisis, if it’s a way to raise the dividend or get a bonus for the folks in management, that’s going to have a negative impact on that organization. And it’s taking the realization that as a leader, if you’re going to truly be a leader, that you’re going to have to take the hit first if you’re in a financial crisis. I really can’t help organizations that go through for a dividend and bonuses. There’s systemic issues associated with that that are very negative in nature.


Tripp: [00:07:19] And those are things they will have to come to a conclusion on your own as far as your your particular management team. People will not want to work for your organization if it’s just to benefit you. Yeah, it’s a very selfish type of thinking. That’s associated with it. So this situational thing on lay-offs tech system, how does a tech system come in? It can affect the standing of an individual in the organization as we go through these neuroscience components. It certainly disrupts the predictable future. And is there freedom and control that you participate in coming up with the technology that’s going to be used in your work? Or is it something where a vendor came and said, oh, it’s gonna be great and wonderful? And management says, yes, it is, and go make it work and the employees have something done to them rather than participating in it. And so they have a sense of a loss of freedom and control. It may or may not affect. The social systems are interconnected, but there may be a sense of cooperative competition between people about kind of getting their say in about the technologies going in and the tech now. And be honest with you. The competition may be between a vendor and the people that are doing the work or the people that work and say, no, no, no. And the vendors are saying, yes, you’ve already paid it.


Tripp: [00:08:57] We just have to make it happen. These are really bad ways to put in technology and an organization restructures. There’s nothing wrong with a restructuring in an organization as long as the people who you’re affecting are participate in what’s happening in the restructuring.


Tripp: [00:09:17] If it’s just we’re going to need a lot of times these things come with layoffs. Then from a restructuring standpoint, the employee doesn’t get a say. They lose. They lose a sense of the equity of the change that’s happening. There is no justice in it. There’s no fairness in what’s happening. And certainly a loss of freedom and control within the organization. And there’s usually one of the biggest things and I think I have kind of put together an answer for this is there’s no communication about what’s happening. Yes, you have to get people engaged in helping make the change in order for it to really work or else you’re going to get a mess as opposed to anything else. But even just being able to communicate with people about what’s happening with the within the organization becomes important. And one of the greatest mechanisms you can use is I’m finding in organizations as a podcast, just an internal one about some of the things that are happening within organizations. What’s working? What’s not working? We’re gonna have to pivot. But when management makes that decision, a lot of those things go away because I made the decision as someone in management and you’re just going to do what I say.


Tripp: [00:10:50] Then you’re really building something that’s very brain unfriendly from that standpoint. And it’s just logical. I mean, people don’t like to have things done to them in that particular fashion. So other things, you know, we have new products and services. We got mergers and acquisitions. These are other situational types of changes that you may run into an organization. But a lot of the work that I want people to do when they’re looking at their organization and the theories at work within their organization is how are they going about things like rewards being proactive versus reactive. The politics of things, these are all baked into your organization. And by taking a look at the things that are influencing why you do the work that you do after you’ve looked at your organization customer in and seeing how the customer sees the organization and how they influence the aid, the response that you give to a customer. So it all begins with the from an assessment standpoint by looking at the organization customer in before you begin to look at the theories that you have at work that explain why you’re getting the response that you have. And the only way to have systemic change in organization is to begin to change some of these theories that work and experiment with better ways of doing it.


Tripp: [00:12:28] Let’s look at these theories at work that we’ve talked about. Now, again, it’s not a comprehensive list because as I go into an organization, different organizations have. Different things going on. And basically, you’re informing the theories at work by the reaction that you have by looking at your your organization customer in and by virtual looking at things customer in, what’s influencing your response to it. So we’ve talked about the system versus the individual and that we’re focused on the system that you’ve put together. So the organizational structure is going to be influenced by thinking that we’ve had since the early nineteen hundreds that has been put in place by the Industrial Revolution and the work of people like Frederick Taylor. And we’ve talked about this and then also the size of the organization. As you start to get over 150 people, your social structures start to fall apart within your organization because not everybody can know everybody when you get beyond 150 or so people in the organization. And so you have to put in rules and procedures and processes and everything becomes more informal or more formalized in an organization. And this by itself creates friction with trying to be brain friendly and organization. So knowing that our structure in the way that we look at things is old. This is one of the reasons why we go through and do the system assessment as understanding that structure and how your customers are interacting with that structure.


Tripp: [00:14:23] Then we also look at the incentives, we look at the goals and targets and objectives and organizational drive behavior within it. And what did they do to this relationship between the customer and your organization and more specifically, as we start to look at these incentives and the structure? How is this affecting your social and professional standing? Is it helping, enabling you looking at a predictable future? The freedom and control that a person has in the organization? We’ve as we just talked about, that the structure and the size can be an an inhibitor to having freedom and control in the organization. Because we’ve lost the structure that’s become more bureaucratic. What about the social component? You may have your immediate group of people that you work with in your team. But what about the connectedness to the larger organization and other people from other departments and those types of things? And these are all become huge barriers to having a brain friendly organization. We’ve talked about being proactive versus re a reactive organization, and for always reactive, the cortisol kicks in and stress goes up that we have to have some proactivity about the things that are happening. You can do this through a sense of the greater good, a sense of innovation, a sense of knowing that we’re completing things with a customer and just social interactions that lead to more proactive types of activities.


Tripp: [00:16:12] We also talked about the psycho politics of things that politics play a huge role and an organization. And the more brain unfriendly organization is, the more politics there’s going to be in your organization.


Tripp: [00:16:32] And how do we mitigate that in order to come up with something and design something that’s better than what we talked about last week was the four methods that help you become brain friendly and it becomes an exercise of just going through. So let’s just look at this innovation. If we’re if we’re being able to participate with new ideas for products and services or new ideas for improving a process within an organization, our standing goes up both socially and professionally because we’re interacting with other people about what their ideas are. Also, with innovation, can we predict the future? We may not know what the future is going to look. I put because we’re involved in it. We kind of know what’s happening in the system with our innovation process. And that’s why it’s so important for organizations have an innovation system so they can have people within their organization, PCs.


Tripp: [00:17:38] Participate and not only share what their ideas are, which increases, as I mentioned, the standing that you have, but it also helps you shape what the future might look like. Or at least you are going to know what’s going on with within the organization. You have a sense of freedom and some control because your ideas are being shared. So innovation, having a method for it is something you’re going to need to say I’m doing it or I’m not doing it. Ah, I’m somewhere in between. And are we being intentional about our innovation? Are we being intentional? Intentional about getting the whole organization involved and in coming up with ideas? Or is it just a small group of people or is it one person within the organization? And then it becomes kind of this exercise of I made that decision and we’re going to move forward with it. We talked it as far as method goes. And this is in decision making also, which is is are the people that doing the work involved in the decision making or is it all done from one person or just the leaders in the organization or management in the organization? Or are we having people all help and participate in the decision making and understanding that?


Tripp: [00:19:08] We limit ourselves with our decision making when we don’t have multiple choices to make. If it’s just we’re either going to do this or this or not, then that’s not much of a choice. There’s always an infinite amount of. Ideas that an organization can get from engaging the people that are going to be affected, especially in the decision making process, because they know they’re going to help, you know what, they need to pivot on the idea. Scrap the idea. Continue with the idea as opposed to kind of the mentality of most organizations have, which is we’re just going to make a decision. We’re gonna we’re gonna grind it in even if it doesn’t work.


Tripp: [00:19:55] Then we get into having a method for taking data to knowledge.Do we have the skill set associated with understanding how we can take the data that we have and use it effectively? And is it done with the knowledge by most of the people? There’s there’s a certain standing near you. You do get within an organization professionally just by having an understanding of how to take and use data in an effective way within the organization. It can help you predict the future if you know how to use statistical process control charts within your organization. You’ll know what’s problems of the system versus outside the system. And we’ll talk about more about this in future episodes. And then we get a sense o Freedom and control.


Tripp: [00:20:53] When we’re when we know how to use some of the tools that take data to knowledge, and then we can make changes to our work or change broader changes to the system or make management aware of what is happening. But ultimately you want your organization, brain friendly organization also means being able to have a structure that allows people to make changes very quickly. And this is connected to how we have such a rapid way that change is happening within our environment today. And we need to have employees. They can react very quickly to changes. And when you have lots of procedures and management structure and people telling you what to do in a dictatorship within your organization, you’re not going to be very flexible. And it’s going to take a long time for you to get the information that you need in order to make good decisions. So having smart mean up people so they know how how to do these things about innovation and participating in the decision making and being able take data knowledge very important as well as the structure. And we’ve talked about a customer in design. Do we have a customer in design? And part of these system assessment is does help tell you how well your organization has been put together from a customer in perspective? What does the customer think when they have to interact with what you’ve put together in your organization? And by virtue of being able to study that, you’ll start to see some of the flaws associated with your system or not the even flaws that there is a better way to go about doing it, or you want to try something different than the way it’s setup today.


Tripp: [00:22:50] But it’s it’s very eye opening. So those are the ways that I use these five, the standing predictable future that you have for freedom and control. As a worker, that we have the social component and that things are equitable within the organization. Things are fair. Well, within your organization. And looking at these series at work. And do they help make these things happen? So we also talked about the situational versus the foundational. So theories of work are typically foundational things. Situationally, I may have to put in a tech system. It’s being thrust upon me. It’s not the best way to go about it, but we want to be able to understand the difference between something that’s situational versus foundational and understand that if the foundation doesn’t what doesn’t change, if the system doesn’t change, then you’re going to get the same results even if you do layoffs.


Tripp: [00:23:56] Oh, we’re still going to manage the same way. We’re just, you know, and do all the same things that we’ve done before. These are things that Albert Einstein warned us about, that you can’t change the system with the current thinking that you have, that something has to change.


Tripp: [00:24:12] So we want to be able to look critically at the organization, doing the system assessment, looking at some case studies of how we perform for customer end to end and what’s were grounded in the customer perspective. Then we can move on to the theories at work that make us do the things that we do in our organization and look at change. He knows those are the systemic changes those offer you, the leverage points within the organization to me, able to make counterintuitive and large scale types of improvements. And they may not necessarily be big things, but they’re they’re pivotal and nature and they’re the leverage points that have that that influence, big change. So maybe a small change in what I have to do, but a big change in the way that we perform as an organization and a better way. And you have to my belief is you have to experiment with these things.


Tripp: [00:25:16] Look at them with knowledge and then be able to make changes. And and you’re able to then move the organization forward.And you’ll be informed enough at that point to be able to write an aim that is meaningful to the people at the work that it has, the greater good that it has the customer in it, that it has innovation in it, that it has some social component because we know how brain friendly the social component is with. Then an organization. Any of those things can help make your organization not only perform better, but have more energized employees and customers.


Tripp: [00:26:04] When you have things in place that are going to get them excited about working for the organization. So that’s this week. I wanted to go through. I am putting together a kind of a grid document that I do with each company will be part of the training that I have. You can put together your own grid and looking at it, it’s just looking at the theories at work. What is influencing the way that you perform in the eyes of the customer from a customer perspective? And how do they affect the standing, whether it’s a predictable future or the freedom and control, the social or connectedness of things and the equity. The equity of it. The fairness of it. How well are these theories at work helping to enable those or are they disabling them? And those are the things that you need to assess. I hope this week will be useful to you kind of taken to the next level of the system assessment. And again, the system assessment is primarily looking at at customer in and looking at it from that perspective, looking at an NDA in case study to help you tell your story. And then the third thing are the theories at work.


Tripp: [00:27:32] Thank you for listening to the Mind Your Noodles podcast. To participate in this podcast, you can download currently to p.d.’s. One is at Mind Your Noodles dot com forward slash overview. This is a overview document of how you can begin to build a brain friendly organization. And also there is a document at Mind Your Noodles dot com forward slash system assessment and this document is the first step discussed in the overview document that will take you through how to build a brain friendly organization by looking at your organization customer in.


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