STRATEGY AND NEUROSCIENCE
Carlos Herreros de las Cuevas
The human brain and business strategy have similar, if not identical, goals. Protect us,
make us sustainable first individuals and then by the inheritance of our genes. In my
view, the business strategy should pursue the same goal: the durability, sustainability.
Peter Drucker was asked if the goal was only to companies making profits and
masterfully answered that the relationship between the benefits and sustainability of
business was the same as that between breathe and live: we did not come to life
breathing but breathing is essential to life, the benefits are not the target but are essential
to ensure the survival of the company.
We know that companies have relatively short lives. Years ago demonstrated Arie de
Geus in his "The living company," and we also know that the concept of sustainability,
which until recently was related to environmental issues, now includes social,
organizational. So says Simon Zadek in his latest book: "The civil corporation"
(Earthscan, 2007): "Nobel laureate Milton Friedman encouraged companies to" be
responsible "earning as much money as planned economies, controlled by governments ,
which, in turn, were more or less accountable to their constituents. "The civil corporation"
argues that this separation of roles is not a sustainable lens with which to understand the
world around us. "
Traditional tools of the strategy have been of little use as many studies show solvents. To
cite only one, but very significant, cite the disappearance of the consultancy Monitor
Porter created almost 30 years ago, as told by Forbes magazine. Quote Peter Gorski
publication: "even a blindfolded chimpanzee throwing darts at the five forces framework
of Porter, you can select a strategy that has the same good performance than prescribed
by Dr. Porter and other great strategic consultants paid. They are condemned consulting
There is a need for tools that facilitate the companies to be civil in all fields, such as
information and knowledge management, leadership, involvement, dialogue and
communication, decision making, etc.. In short, a different strategic thought and action.
The brain has three basic nutrients: oxygen, glucose and attachment. Attachment is that
quality that links us to others that involves us, makes us interdependent, which ensures
our survival and provides optimal conditions for the transmission of our genes, the
attachment is crucial element of sustainability.
It is fascinating to discover what happens in our brains when we are accepted or rejected
by people close or important to us. What is produced in our brains when we experience a
sense of connection and belonging, or disconnection and isolation.
While we hope that love moves the world, what really moves us humans relacionándonos
each other, either keeping it healthy and viable for generations, or threatened
The relations between us, companies, families, couples, is the most complex thing that
humans do, much more than composing a symphony, administer a government, solve
global warming, etc., and the need to relate, if socially and emotionally intelligent is what
has driven the evolution of the human brain is the most complex of all that exists.
Our earliest relationships actually build brain structures use the rest of our life, the
experiences of these relationships are encoded in our brain circuit between 12 and 18
months of age, all in implicit memory without our consciousness come to them;
attachment patterns become rules, templates, diagrams to relate to others that operate
throughout our lives: our lives relational data "known but not remembered." When these
experiences have not been optimal, unconscious patterns of attachment may continue
shaping the perceptions and responses of the brain to new relational experiences using
old forms that have solidified, they can not understand the new experience and new
information and so can not adapt or developed based on it. It's what, looking to the brain
from the outside of it, we call defensive patterns or personality disorders. What a
professional called "tragic recursive patterns are neuronal formwork in concrete."
It is said that the sustainability of a company depends on having sustainable competitive
advantages, unique and difficult to imitate resources, products attractive to potential
customers. From my point of view, these and other requirements are now required to
build the company without them can not be born. But the requirement of sustainability is
the attachment to these customers and with other "stakeholders"
Attachment and sustainability, neuroscience and strategy. The relationship is very clear
and is clear: we need attachment as individuals and as groups (and so need all the
"stakeholders" of the firm: And this requires a strategy that seeks sustainability, its
In these two pillars strategic base my proposal is also fed by design thinking, ie is
inductive rather than deductive.
A good strategy is one that is able to identify problems or disturbances or abnormalities
and to analyze them with two criteria:
a) Are they important to the survival of the organization?
b) How can we address them from the attachment with all the "stakeholders"?
I do not hide that look simple but the answers are complex and require many efforts, not
the least choice, ie stay with few alternatives and having to discard many others.
The good strategy culminates with action. Without it there is no strategy.
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