Love what you do
Man is a fruit that you can squeeze or plant. If you squeeze him the return is going to be predictable, but in the end he’s going to die. If you plant him the return is going to be unpredictable, but in the end he will thrive.
There is one simple fact that differentiates successful companies in the world from others. Successful companies love what they do and they possess the ability to do it. As a result, these companies tend to be leaders and innovators. Think Google, Apple and Hermes. Less successful companies may have the ability to do the job, but they don’t love what they do. They focus on results and have a more linear structure, which means creativity takes a back seat. As a consequence, these companies don’t lead they follow, which contributes to their inevitable and eventual failure.
To understand the thinking behind this we need to look to the field of neuronaissance, or brain ergonomics. Like any cognitive system, the human brain has two functions, exploration and exploitation. The exploration function of our brain is non linear and unpredictable, whereas the function we use to complete most daily tasks, exploitation, is linear, predicable and uncreative. Exploitation is pretty much all we do in our regular corporate jobs, which is 99% exploitation and 1% exploration. If we go back to companies that lead and innovate, the balance is more 70% exploitation and 30% exploration. It is by achieving a better balance between these two functions that results in a healthier, happier workforce who love what they do.
So how can companies achieve a better balance and why is it now imperative to do so? The key is to understand that most of us thrive by making constant progress and feeling a sense of purpose. In the workplace this translates to being rewarded financially for repetitive tasks, but receiving praise and recognition for new solutions that tend to be more creative. This can feel counter-intuitive, particularly when most of us have been through an education system which suppresses creativity and rewards productivity and results. But by putting in place better systems that acknowledge creativity and progress, we can shift the paradigm to feed a basic human need and achieve a more balanced environment where employees can thrive.
The reasons for this become more apparent when we take into account that we are doubling our entire global knowledge system every seven to nine years. You don’t need to be a logistics expert to understand that when you are producing knowledge at such an exponential rate, yet distributing it at a linear rate you’ve got a big problem. A company’s ability to deal with this flow of knowledge will therefore be a critical success factor in a knowledge economy that now affects us all.
By tapping into more creative brain functions it allows us to find less linear ways of distributing the flow of knowledge. For example, studies show that the brain does not differentiate between whether a task is a game or work. Rather it’s about the context and reinforcement that is associated with the task. So a game can become a job and vice versa.
This is useful to know in terms of knowledge flow, where success is proportionate to time multiplied by attention. If you give all of your attention but very little of your time, then the knowledge transaction is not going to be very great. Equally, if you give a lot of your time, but very little of your attention the knowledge transaction will also be poor. It’s a simple yet elegant equation of the knowledge economy that companies can use as the foundations to explore new and more enjoyable ways to improve the flow of knowledge. Because at its most basic level if people love what they do, they will give all of their time and all of their attention. You can’t be more productive to work and society than when you do this.
See the full video of Idriss J Aberkane’s talk at TEDx Aix here.
Idriss J Aberkane is a cognitive neuroscientist and geopolitist scholar. He is the co-founder and CEO of Scanderia which develops brain ergonomic games to help corporate companies better manage knowledge.