Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Can you REALLY substantiate those extravagant claims about the transformative power of Brain Reprogramming?

If you are reading this blog, it is likely that you have already read our first blog (http://brainreprogramming.blogspot.com) that we published in May, and our paper entitled "Discovery, Innovation, and Learning in the Mining Business - New Ways Forward for an Old Industry" published by the Society of Economic Geologists in July.

The response to these two publications has been overwhelming.

Some of you ‘got it’ right away.  The beauty and simplicity of Brain Reprogramming so resonated with you that you could already see how this could literally change everything, and not just in your work environment.

Hundreds of you have replied with requests for more information on the neuroscience of Brain Reprogramming.

Some of you came back with heart wrenching ‘war stories’ of gross waste within your organization, the failure of traditional change management methods to remedy anything, the imminent closing of facilities and loss of jobs because of unexpected regulatory change, the imposition of new taxes, and so many more.

Many of you reported urgent problems that need urgent effective and novel solutions.  Your said: “Repeating the same old things and expecting different results is a mark of insanity.”

And many more have asked us how Brain Reprogramming Emulation actually works in practice.

We thought we would address these questions here.

1. How does the brain reprogram itself?

In brief, in response to sensory input, every moment of our lives, our brain’s neurons are constantly making new connections, strengthening old connections or weakening existing connections.

The pattern of firing of our neurons gives us our experience of the world.  The brain is purposeful and seeks to save energy and time, an essential survival advantage we have evolved courtesy of Darwin’s natural selection.  One expression of this efficiency is the development of unconscious or automatic skills, unconscious habits and automatic reactions.  Like many natural benefits, this automated economy and efficiency comes at a price.  Brains can get stuck running behaviour patterns for many years on ‘automatic’ long after they cease to be useful, something we have all experienced with hard to break bad habits.

Our emulation work interrupts an individual’s automatic neuronal pattern of firing, stops certain neurons from firing together, and leverages brain plasticity to encourage them instead to fire with and connect to neurons that help get the new job done.

The brain is designed to learn life long, to solve problems, achieve goals and reorganize itself.  For example, once a difficult problem has been solved, the brain releases highly pleasurable endorphins, essentially rewarding itself.  This reward system reinforces problem solving behaviour, thus strengthening the new neural connections and weakening the old ones until they disconnect altogether from lack of use.  Similarly, when our brain repeatedly fails to achieve goals, we have unpleasant feelings and prime ourselves to extinguish useless behaviour.

If you can imagine that we now know how to instantly change the connections in the brain to alter an unhelpful behaviour and install a new healthier one in its place, then you can imagine how practically unlimited are the potential applications for our Brain Reprogramming Emulation Technologies.

If you would like to know more about the science of neuroplasticity upon which our work is based, we recommend that you read “The Brain That Changes Itself” by Norman Doidge and “Kluge” by Gary Marcus, both excellent and engaging works written in layman’s terms.

2. How does a Brain Reprogramming Emulation work?

A Brain Reprogramming Emulation is a multi-part engagement.  It starts with a situation assessment to qualify and quantify the organizational systems and establish a Non-Negotiable Goal.  It culminates in a two-day emulation exercise designed to replicate the organization’s ‘problem space’.  The emulation is based on the new science of neuroplasticity which has proven that it is possible to reprogram one’s brain in the span of a sleep cycle - literally overnight.

The emulation is conducted in a miniature physical or 3D virtual environment that simulates the real world.  Time is compressed so that 20 minutes = 1 month.  The participants repeatedly go through the exercise of running the emulated organization month by month, and naturally fall back on their old mental schemas.  As a result, they invariably and repeatedly fail to achieve the new Non-Negotiable Goal at the end of Day 1.

While they sleep, their brain reorganizes itself by changing neural connections (as explained in 1. above) and it plots several proto-strategies to experiment with. 

On Day 2, the participants go through an even more challenging and accelerated exercise, they employ their new neural connections and they invariably achieve the Non-Negotiable Goal by mid-afternoon. 

Since the results are immediate and permanent, the participants change the way they approach and perform their tasks as soon as they return to work.  There is no need for further learning, practicing, coaching or coaxing of any kind.  The organization begins immediately and consistently to realize the desired outcomes, improvements and gains, typically in the 200%-400% range year after year.

In the Mining Industry, for instance, a Brain Reprogramming Emulation will provide ‘twice the throughput at half the cost’ (a 400% improvement) reliably and predictably, without changing headcount.  Typically, such projects deliver hundreds of millions of dollars in additional profit and the investment pays for itself more than 100 times over in the first 1-3 years.

We have developed a comprehensive PowerPoint Presentation that illustrates how an emulation project works in practice.  It covers four different case studies, shows the financial performance improvement in each case, explains the main psychological and neurological mechanisms that make Brain Reprogramming work, and provides a road map of a typical Brain Reprogramming Emulation engagement.  Use the contact details at the end of this article to request to see the presentation.

3. What is the difference between a ‘simulation’ and an ‘emulation’?

There is an important difference between a simulation and an emulation.

Simulators usually train a very specific skill, like how to drive a truck or a shovel safely and productively.  In a simulator, accuracy and detail are very important.  The unit of analysis is the truck or shovel, and there is a prescribed right way of operating.  The simulator trains and adds to the skill base of the individual.  But it does not change how the individual relates to the business that they are an important part of, nor their role in it.  

By contrast, an emulation is more like a broad sketch of the business as a whole, and it takes the perspective up a level from a pure simulation.  Here, the unit of analysis is the business.  Accuracy and detail are less important in the representation of the emulation elements.  Rather, the emulation focuses on the mechanics and choreography of how the moving parts of the business and the data stream fit together.   

The emulation does not add new skills.  It enlarges the decision-making framework in which existing expertise can be redeployed.  

Perhaps most importantly, in the emulation there is no prescribed right way of operating, no predefined path for the participants to follow or find.  There are potentially many paths that will result in the successful achievement of the new Non-Negotiable Goal.  As a result, the organization learns how to solve novel problems on its own without having them prescribed from outside.  Many senior leaders consider this a significant additional benefit.  

What does that mean in practice?  Our 'emulations' do not 'teach' in the additive sense; instead, they allow you to leverage your existing expertise and to see and do things that had never occurred to you and your teammates before.

Once participants have been through the two-day emulation exercise, their brains are 'rewired'. They see the business as a whole, and align how they operate in it with the wider business goals.  And they begin to apply the new culture of practice as soon as they go back to work.  This new culture is the famous and elusive “everyone rowing in the same direction”.

4. Can I use your Brain Reprogramming Emulation Technologies on multiple mine sites to achieve the same performance improvement at each site?

Yes you can.  We have designed our Brain Reprogramming Emulation Technologies for scalability:

  • We develop a replicable model of the first emulation exercise to be used over and over again throughout the organization.
  • We conduct these emulation exercises in a physical or virtual 3D environment to ensure they map to the real world.
  • We cascade implementation through the organizational hierarchy and enable you to train all new hires in the new culture of practice to ensure integration through the organization.
  • We develop and provide e-training tools and documentation, ‘train the trainer’ programs, work process software, data and analytics engines and new planning frameworks so you can become self-sufficient with the technology.
  • We develop further applications to address other problem areas within the organization.

This means that once a model of the emulation has been built for one mine, it can be adapted to other mines with modest modifications of operating parameters like grade, production, recoveries and so on.  The emulation can also be replicated and run over and over again for more employees, divisions, subsidiaries, etc. to solve specific problems within the organization.  New applications to address other problems or optimize new business opportunities can be developed and replicated in the same manner, cascaded, integrated and supported as needed.

5. My company is a systems/services provider to the Mining Industry.  Can I use your Brain Reprogramming Emulation Technologies to improve the results that my clients derive from my systems/services?

Yes you can.  Our technologies can be designed and developed to your specifications as enabling technologies to facilitate the delivery, implementation and deployment of your systems/services, and to vastly improve your clients’ experience, results and satisfaction.

Typically, we work with your staff to design and deliver your first client emulation, training them every step of the way in the process, while we adapt our technologies to your specifications.  Using the tools and frameworks from the first emulation, your staff design, develop and deliver the second emulation with our help, and by the third emulation, we stand by and monitor while they do it on their own using your customized emulation enabling technology.

For example, in one project Brain Reprogramming Emulation was used to help deploy a Computer Maintenance Management System (CMMS) and move a large urban transit authority from reactive maintenance to a preventative maintenance paradigm.  The project was a great success.

A comparison between 17 ‘test’ sites that were trained using the emulation and one ‘control’ site that received standard software user training showed:

  • Every test depot was able to become fully independent within 6 weeks of implementation.  After 8 months, the control site implementation was declared a failure.  (Industry norms were 12-18 months per site and 30% success rate.
  • The test sites were coding at the greatest level of detail in the bill of material (an unprecedented result in the transit industry).  This indicated that the mechanics understood the uses the CMMS made of the data and were coding appropriately.
  • The test sites had high and continually improving performance measured by Mean Distance Between Failure (MDBF) while control sites had decreasing performance.
  • The test sites had a concurrent increase in first pass success on repairs.

6. What guarantees do I have that your technologies will deliver on their promise?

Our track record speaks for itself.  More than 8000 people have been through these exercises in more than 30 companies and there has never been a group who did not exhibit marked performance improvements along targeted goals.

We also offer you two ways to de-risk your investment:

1.    We conduct a situation assessment to determine the feasibility and value of the emulation.

A situation assessment is an intensive research activity which is designed to successfully identify and evaluate constraints in your internal and external business environment, calculate the impact on the value proposition when the constraints are removed, and highlight the main strategic decisions that have to be addressed in the emulation.

We then meet with you to review our results and recommendations, and give you the opportunity to decide whether or not to proceed with the emulation based on the value and feasibility of the Non-Negotiable Goal you wish to achieve.

2.    We get paid according to the results we deliver.

In a performance improvement project, we engage with you in a joint exercise to achieve agreed measurable results.  We become your “business partner” to ensure that you accomplish the promised improvement and your investment is directly linked to the agreed measurable results of your project.

The investment is split into two parts.  A portion is paid up front or in progress payments during the project.  The balance is linked to the achievement of an agreed result on successful project completion.

Your investment is also linked to the financial value of the project for you.  This approach ensures you can forecast and guarantee the project return on investment and payback period.

Clearly, in order to work this way, we are fully confident that we can deliver on our promise.  Once our clients understand the details of how this pricing model works, they typically say to us: “We should have contracts like this with all our suppliers where they get paid according to the value of the results they deliver.”

In Closing

While the foregoing information represents but a sampling of the questions we have received, we hope that it has been helpful to you.  We highly value your comments as they help guide the evolution of our technologies to best respond to the demand for effective business solutions, and we look forward to continuing the conversation with all of you.

For more information on this promising business science breakthrough and how it can help you or your organization, please email the author at Cliff@TooSerious.com.

If you would like to know how Brain Reprogramming can help you as a Professional to improve your performance and results by a staggering 500%, please click here: http//:brainreprogrammingforprofessionals.blogspot.ca.

About the Author:
Dr. Clifford Saunders is a dedicated innovator in the art of Organizational Effectiveness.  With 30+ years of experience working at the CEO, Board and Senior Executive levels with Fortune 500 and Blue Chip Corporations, he has seen failures of astronomical proportions in organizations bent on perpetuating the proverbial “way we’ve always done it around here”.  This has led him on an ongoing quest to understand what keeps corporate cultures stuck in the same old destructive rut and how to pull them out of the box and change the way they plan their next big strategic moves.