Letting our brains out to play

There is a view that our brains have reached the limits of the capability to increase intelligence. The logic is robust (though logic is often confounded).

But let’s for a moment assume it’s true. This says nothing about the abilities we have for collective intelligence. Even in something like the workplace, the evidence is that more of us are actively disengaged than engaged (about 28% vs 25%. McLeod report) – which presumably means the jury’s out for about half of us.

We allow our education and workplace systems to actively hamper our ability to express our intelligence, for a range of reasons from peer pressure, to fear, to “pay grades” despite all the evidence of the potential of the social brain. There is some great work being done, and one of my favourites is the RSA’s social brain project.

It’s curious that when we can organise manufacturing processes to six sigma standards of quality (3.4 errors per million) we quite happily accept enormous levels of “waste” in the way we apply our brains. I think that for the most part organisation only want the bit of the brain that fulfills assigned tasks as cheaply as possible – reminiscent of Ken Robinson’s quote that “we strip mine our brains as we strip mine for minerals – in search of only a small part of what is there”

There’s a lesson for us all here. Our futures – financial and well being – will be determined by who we associate with and how. A hundred years ago, Karl Marx urged that we take into common ownership the means of production. Today, with around 90% of GDP residing in knowledge based work, our brains are the means of production.

If you are happy that your employer wil provide you with a job for life, and is the best means for you to achieve your potential, then I congratulate you. if however you are not, time to make choices. Remember that psychologists will tell you that you become the average of what and who you most associate with – people, learning etc. Reflect on with who and on what you spend your time and remember it’s a choice.

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