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Building Future Fit Teams: Building fast fish

By Kerryn Kohl

This statement rings true, not only for organisations but for each of us on an individual basis.

We are all in the race for relevancy. Those of us who are able to change, learn, unlearn and relearn with agility will be the ones to cross the finish line.  

We are all struggling to keep pace with demands of this fast paced world we have entered into. Everything has and continues to change, and we have to learn to adapt.

We are all looking for that competitive edge, that one thing or practice that puts us a step ahead. For some this has come in the form of Microdosing for others Mindfulness.

There is recently a spate of media touting “Microdosing” as the elixir of speed, clarity and heightened productivity. It is the way most incumbents of Silicon Valley have chosen to augment themselves to stay ahead, stay relevant. Current research into microdosing (low doses of LSD) show positive results which include better focus and concentration, without the hallucinogenic effects. What we don’t know yet is how this works.

But to me this the lazy, unsustainable and expensive way out. Microdosing produces the same results achieved through practicing Mindfulness. However there is a sharp contrast in the permanency of both these practices.

Mindfulness, unlike microdosing produces long term changes in the brain. With one such study reported on in the New York Times stating that “those who meditated for about 30 minutes a day for eight weeks had measurable changes in gray-matter density in parts of the brain associated with memory, sense of self, empathy and stress.”  Another study detailed in HBR claims that “a team of scientists from the University of British Columbia and the Chemnitz University of Technology were able to pool data from more than 20 studies to determine which areas of the brain are consistently affected. They identified at least eight different regions.”  Which correspond to the parts of the brain associated with emotional regulation, complex thinking and problem solving, creativity and most importantly stress.

With this in mind, and for those of us wanting to follow a more “natural lifestyle’ that aims to stay on the right side of law, Mindfulness practice then becomes the drug of choice.

I was first inspired to write this piece after I came across this image of The Future Workplace In the image below will notice 2 things firstly a brain training area and secondly mindfulness pods. What struck me the most is the design not only for collaboration but also for isolation (which from what I can see most offices I have visited lately have forgotten about in their efforts to design Funky, Agile, and Collaboration spaces.)

Mindfulness produces a host of benefits and as leaders if we are wanting to build future fit fast and productive teams we need to encourage this practice.

But how would one even start?

Well firstly, I would say introduce a technique as simple as the “Pomodoro” which is basically teaching people to stay focused on a single task– yes that means without any distractions- for a period of time. Personally I set my Pomodoro for 90 minutes and I try to complete at least three of these sessions within a day. I am always amazed at the amount of ‘stuff’ I get done within each session.

Secondly, look around your office floor. Is there space for isolated work? Is there space for people to think? If not you need to create some, or allow people to work from home or alternative spaces occasionally to provide them some refuge from the noise of collaboration.

Thirdly, introduce some mindfulness exercises into your meetings in order for them to become part of your team’s daily practice. I have included a link here to the Positive Psychology Program which provides a list of 22 Mindfulness exercises, techniques, and activities for adults, which they refer to as a treatment plan.  But a simple additional Google search on mindfulness will yield a plethora of resources.

And finally, if none of the above appeal to you, you could always transform your coffee area to include a Microdose dispenser.

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Kerryn Kohl “big chief little ego” of The Coaching House – Talent Cultivation I am an organisational behaviourist and learning strategist, focusing on the interface between human behaviour and the digitally emergent organisation. A design thinker by nature. I have a consulting focus aimed at value creation and a passion for people development. A self –confessed blue sky thinker and keen star gazer. But most importantly I am a mother to 3 awesome children and a very blessed wife!

kerryn@test1.co.za

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