The key element in any successful organization is that it has a defined goal to meet and the way to achieve this. In short, it has a plan of corporate objectives in which every department and person knows what to do and how to do it.
The definition of the general objectives to complement the vision and mission of the business is important, because defining the general and specific goals to be met constitutes the only way to materialize the forward projection in a feasible, realistic and effective strategic plan.
However, regardless of having a previous planning design that states the objectives in an abstract way, in many instances they cannot be materialized and the desired results are not obtained.
The purpose of this paper is to offer a different concept approach of a corporate objective by turning it into what we call a neuro-objective, aimed at generating the appropriate behavior in the workers to achieve and materialize such goals'
In the specialized literature, an objective is defined as “a result to be attained” (Byars, 1984); or as “the goals toward which the behavior of an organization is heading for” (Duncan, 1975; Glueck, 198O); or as “a measure of efficiency of the process of conversion of resources” (Ansoff, 1976).
It is interesting to find in these definitions concepts like desires, behaviors, acceptance, motivation and actions, which are all based on highly complex mechanisms and processes distinctive of the most important organ in a human being: the brain. Among these processes, we can mention attention, perception and memory.
This is so, because the human factor is determinant for any business to meet its goals, that is, its workers become the missioners of the corporate vision. However, not all businesses meet their proposed goals, mainly because they are incapable of aligning the corporate I NEED with that of its labor force, as they do not consider that the individuals have to satisfy certain needs that intertwine the corporate objectives with their personal ones.
In this paper, I want to share some strategies for turning corporate objectives into neuro-objectives in order to stimulate behaviors appropriate to the results that both, the business and the worker, want to attain, through the application of important tools derived from Neurosciences and Coaching studies of the human brain and mind.
One of the first steps in designing neuro-objectives is, no doubt, that the business must know the expectations of its workers in order to align the corporate goals with those of its workers, professional and personal ones, thus activating the first brain process involved in attaining a given goal: attention.
Although there are several theoretical models concerning Attention, the most relevant are those of Posner and Petersen (1990), Norman and Shallice (1986), Corbetta and Shulman (2002), and Sohlberg and Mateer (1987, 1989). They all agree that attention is not a unitary process, but one constituted by multiple functional elements or sub-processes such as orientation, exploration, concentration or vigilance, as well as of multiple brain locations for the attentional processes. Namely, these locations are the reticular activating system, the thalamus, the limbic system, the basal ganglions (striate), the back parietal cortex and the pre-front cortex (in fact, the neuro-anatomic basis of attention is much more complex).
Neurosciences tell us that there is nothing in our minds which we have not paid attention to before. Therefore, providing the corporate objectives with elements to distract or focus the attention of the workers to them, becomes the first step in the chain of expected behaviors to attain such objectives.
When the brain is awake, it is continually receiving stimuli from the senses reporting what they capture. Salience is the capacity to relate the integration brain functions that allow to select among the different stimuli received to focus the attention in the most important information and leave the other stimuli muffled or annulled (1).
When we talk about “salience”, we recognize the existence of a stimulus that stands out among all others at a different degree, and muffles, neutralizes or annuls all the other variables on its behalf. (2) Determining the degree or level of salience of the corporate objectives on the workers becomes a predictor marker of the incorporation of the corporate objective into their minds. We must also consider the level of continuous attention the workers pay to a given corporate objective, thus enabling a consistent response during the time it takes to reach the set goals.
On the other hand, the human being has developed a set of mental processes -known as perceptual processes- through which one can select, organize and interpret the information coming from stimuli, thoughts and feelings, and based on previous experiences, in a logical or meaningful way (3-4).
The resulting interpretation is an internal representation of the outside world which we will call content -following the principles of coaching (5), and which will be conditioned by a set of mental constructs in the form of beliefs, arguments, judgements, values and memories stored during the life of an individual, that constitute the image or concept in terms of meanings and values of that content, which we will call context (5). In other words, the content (the real world) is manifested through its context (its interpretation).
Therefore, corporate objectives, as part of the real corporate world in which the workers perform, will be interpreted through complex mechanisms based on well-differentiated structures in the human brain, from the sense organs through the amygdala, the thalamus, the hippocampus and the pre-front cortex (6). The perceptual process is responsible for assigning meanings to the stimuli captured, as these meanings are specific, unique and different in every human being, that is, one same corporate objective (content) will be interpreted as a plurality of resulting contexts.
If the resulting interpretation of a corporate objective (context) by the worker implies a gain, for it brings him/her closer to the ideal desired state, then the objective will become an inspiration for the worker and will generate emotional responses to activate behaviors appropriate to the results to be drawn. If, on the contrary, the resulting context is classified as prejudicial to the worker in terms of losses, deviations or delays in reaching the ideal desired state, then it will create behaviors of rejection, reflected in apathy, procrastination or discouragement towards the corporate objective.
All this indicates that one of the greatest challenges for any business is to make its objectives be perceived by every worker as satisfiers of their needs and generators of rewards. This will reinforce the activation of the expected behaviors in the workers to fulfill the objectives, namely, commitment, motivation and creativity.
The brain’s reward system is mainly integrated by the accumbens nucleus and the hypothalamus, and it is part of the limbic system, related to the processing of emotions (7). When the reward system is activated, the brain releases dopamine, thus creating a warm feeling and the emotional structures work faster and activate a micro-representation of the reward which, in turn, stimulate volitional behaviors toward the fulfillment of the corporate objective. In other words, the brain of the worker thinks as follows:
¨I want to do what needs to be done to achieve the objective, because by doing so, I will get what I need and consequently I will be happy”.
When designing a neuro-objective, special attention is paid to the factors that will enable the workers to make risk assessments of the corporate objectives, namely:
a) Moving out of the comfort zone.
b) Change of habits or behavior.
c) Work overtime.
d) Extra-consumption of energy.
A neuro-objective is also designed to generate short-term benefits which will activate the above-mentioned reward circuit of the brain, and reinforce the motivation for a sustained behavior toward the objective.
The follow-up of the interpretation of the corporate objective by every worker as an individual observer will enable the assessment of approximation or separation behaviors in terms of willingness and commitment.
The transformation of corporate objectives into neuro-objectives is not done all at once, but through successive approximations that consider the thoughts of the workers about the goals to be met through the creation of discussion groups where they can present their interpretations of the objectives.
DIAGRAM OF THE DESIGN PHASES OF CORPORATE NEURO-OBJECTVES
In this paper, I have presented the advantages of designing neuro-objectives to businesses, namely:
1 - A neuro-objective is a source of emotionally competent stimuli for generating behaviors appropriate to the fulfillment of the objective.
2 - When a neuro-objective is presented to the workers, it will stimulate positive thinking based on the benefits workers will obtain when fulfilling it, thus guaranteeing the creation of inner states of behavioral motivation.
3 - A neuro-objective will reinforce acceptance and commitment behaviors towards the proposed tasks as a way to achieve it, thus encouraging workers to do what needs to be done in carrying it out.
4 - A neuro-objective will enhance the use and development of the inner resources of the workers after being assessed by their brains as a positive stimulus
5 - A neuro-objective will allow a more effective guiding and coordination in making decisions and taking actions in the business.
Finally, the design of neuro-objectives will strengthen the loyalty behavior of the workers toward the business by considering it the means through which they can meet their goals in terms of personal and professional growth, thus allowing the business to be well-positioned in the market to which it offers its products and services.
Osvaldo Torres Cruz
1- Enric Buisán (2012). Delirios y alucinaciones: la saliencia aberrante. Forumclinic. http://www.forumclinic.org/es/esquizofrenia/reportajes/delirios-y-alucinaciones-la-saliencia-aberrante
2- Bonet José (2014). Cerebro, emociones y estrés. Ediciones B. ISBN: 9789876274937.
3- Collins Discovery Encyclopedia. HarperCollins Publishers. 2005. Consulted on September 20th, 2015. «The process by which an organism detects and interprets information from the external world by means of the sensory receptors».
4- Segen's Medical Dictionary. Farlex. 2012. Consulted on September 20th, 2015. «The constellation of mental processes by which a person recognises, organises and interprets intellectual, sensory and emotional data in a logical or meaningful fashion».
5- Dominios de Congruencia en el Coaching Personal y Organizacional. Alberto Beuchot y González de la Vega. Editorial San Roque. 1ra Edición. 2017
6-7 Neuromanagement, cómo utilizar a pleno el cerebro en la conducción exitosa de las organizaciones. Nestor Braidot, Editorial Granica.