2018: Knowledge & research, agility and neuroscience

Already in 2016 I reviewed my digital year that passed and now I am expanding this review beyond digital resources to my most valuable resources 2018 which helped me advance professionally and personally. Don’t have much time? These are the essentials of what I write about in this blog post:

Knowledge & Research

2018 was a year where Aså Wikforss provided me with answers and strategies to stand strong against alternative facts, fake news and fact resistance. I have been fascinated by her book “Alternativa fakta: om kunskapen och dess fiender” as well as her summer speech on Swedish radio. Find Aså in English here and here.

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In my struggle to keep up with the latest research in psychology and human resource management, I found Research Digest by the British Psychological Society and the German journal Personal Quarterly Accepting that I will never be able to keep up with everything I want to read was the first step, the second one was to identify those resources which can at least support me in skimming summaries of what might be relevant.

My personal highlight from the Research Digest was an article on the psychological construct “Grit“ which introduced me to the jangle fallacy, a fallacy where you measure something new only because you call an established phenomenon something new. I came to think of how important it is to know my basics, theories and models in my field so that others can’t sell my something old for something it isn’t – new. A meta-study that was actually worth reading in the original was „Team Development Interventions: Evidence-based Approaches for Improving Teamwork by Lacerenza and others in American Psychologist Vol 73 No 4 (2018)“ It highlights the importance of knowing the purpose of team interventions, designing them in a structured way and making sure you can measure their effectiveness. This article resulted in my first VENN diagram ever (!), see for yourself below for the first (very ugly) sketch of it.

RB 2018-12-28 10.22.10

Agility

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After this shout out on LinkedIn, I met several people from the field and read a lot of resources. My lessons learned where simple. When you dive into a new concept, understand the basics first, apply them to your field and check your understanding with people who are more experience than you. Great agile coaches do not need to work in the same field as you are to support you in enhancing your understanding of an agile mindset and agile work practises. My agile start-up was marked by a wonderful breakfast seminar and then later my agile journey continued with a fantastic volume of the German personal Quarterly dedicated to agile organisations and work practises. Summarising basically everything I needed to know.

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RB 2018-12-28 11.27.57

Neuroscience

2018 was shaped by (louder) calls for evidence- and research-based practises. My perception was that there rarely was a tool or method that was NOT said to be research-based. “Based on neuroscience” was my favourite catch-phrase 2018. I set out to study neuroscience basics and understood how simple and dangerous metaphors like “neurons that wire together fire together” are but also how they undermine the complexity of the brain. George Zarkadakis‘ „In your own image“ describes (besides so much more – read it!) how this just represents just another paradigm of how we think the brain to function today.

Resources which I found particularly useful was a book from a student literature list “Brain & Behavior” by Bob Garrett and Gerald Hough. Compared to other literature, I found it not only enjoyable but unbelievable powerful in explaining the same complexity in neuroscience in easier words and link it to human behavior (as the title suggests).

I was also fascinated by the documentary “My love affair with the brain” with the inspiring Dr. Marian Diamond. The best documentary I have ever seen on the brain, neuroscience and a passion for learning. A role model in combining in-depth-knowledge with a passion for sharing it with others and make them learn. If you have the chance, watch an anatomy lesson of Marian on Youtube. When she was still teaching at Berkeley, the university decided to put her lectures online – the first one is at 1 million views today. She is my role model for integrating insights from neuroscience into her lessons and for making a point that technology is/does not always have to be the answer.

Finally, when it comes to the application of neuroscience in learning & development, I enjoyed episode 13 of the Psych Crunch podcast with concrete ideas based on research to make learning more efficient based on research findings (find a great summary of the episode here).

… and more to come in 2019

2018 was all about challenging what I thought I knew. Sometimes, it was also about confirming or altering what I already knew. Something that inspired me for 2019 was a person in my social media feed that shared dates for doctoral thesis defences in the field of leadership and talent management. I completely forgot that these defences are public and a great way to get in touch with researches who have studies a particular topic in-depth and over a longer period of time. Maybe this is something I could try in 2019? Challenge accepted.

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