If you had complex medical symptoms 200 years ago, you may have been offered a course of leeches, and would probably have happily accepted that as a cure. Of course, today, we realise that this treatment is useless. But at the time, it was the best solution available based on the best knowledge at the time: Doctors knew that the blood transferred disease around the body, so if we remove the blood, we remove the disease. Logical. But there was so much that they didn’t know about. Decisions were based on snippets of information.
At the neurobusiness conference in Manchester today, Dr Paul Brown suggests that when we look back on the psychology of the 20th century, we will see similarities. Jung, Freud and all the fathers of psychology did pioneering work on understanding how the brain works. They weren’t wrong…as the 18th century doctors weren’t wrong about blood taking disease around the body. However, we are now realising that these views are incredibly simplistic.
We have built our organisations, performance management systems and training around these accepted models. But now, through neuroscience, we are learning how the brain REALLY works. We are at the start of a new frontier. The question is, will we as individuals and organisations be willing to accept that accepted practice is out of date? Will we be brave enough to stand up and say “that isn’t quite right”, and have the courage to rip up the rule book and introduce brain friendly ways of working?