A WHOLE-BRAIN APPROACH
TO INCREASED INDIVIDUAL AND ORGANIZATONAL EFFECTIVENESS FOR ENGINEERS

A PROPOSED WORKSHOP OR WEBINAR SERIES

Presented by
Stu Walesh, PhD, PE

Bottom line

Engineering/technical/scientific personnel typically rely heavily on left-brain thinking
which is verbal, analytic, symbolic, abstract, temporal, and linear.

That half-brain approach is effective but can be severely limiting.

The proposed workshop/webinar series
 gives participants tools to engage in more right-brain thinking
which is nonverbal, synthetic, actual, non-temporal, and holistic.

Participants will supplement their valuable left-brain abilities
with equally valuable right-brain abilities.

As a result, the individuals and their organizations
will be better equipped to take more innovative and productive approaches,
within and outside of technical functions,
to making decisions, resolving issues, identifying and solving problems,
and seeing and pursuing opportunities.

A half brain is good, a whole brain is much better!

Introduction

We engineers and other technical/scientific personnel use many tools (e.g., simulation models, CADD, materials testing devices, BIM, social media) that help us serve our clients and the public at large. However, our most powerful aid is that amazing three-pound entity between our ears, that is, our brain. Formal education (K though college) focuses on developing our brain’s left hemisphere with its valuable verbal, analytic, logical, and linear characteristics. This workshop/webinar series complements that powerful left-brain orientation by engaging the equally-powerful right hemisphere with its nonverbal, emotional, intuitive, spatial, and holistic features.

You will benefit from a basic understanding of the mind drawing on recent neuroscience discoveries– more specifically, the very different functions of the left and right hemispheres of the brain and conscious and unconscious thinking -- and how the mind works and how to care for it. Then, given the proper practical tools, you or your team can more successfully make a decision, solve a problem, pursue an opportunity, or address an issue. Results of this whole-brain approach will almost always be better than that produced by the common hectic, hit or miss, reactive, suboptimal, left-brain-dominated approach. Valuable left-brain capabilities can be supplemented with equally-valuable right-brain capabilities. A participant in an earlier version of this material said something like this: "I now realize that I have two brains and intend to use both of them."

Stu Walesh, the workshop/webinar series leader, based on his experience in engineering education and public and private practice and on his innovation/creativity experiences, studies, writing, speaking, and workshops, has great confidence in the intelligence, knowledge, imagination, and goodwill of the kind of people – mostly technical and scientific professionals -- who typically work within engineering firms and government entities. Testimonials offered by participants in Walesh’s innovation and other workshops/presentations attest to his communication and facilitation ability.  

When engineers and technical/scientific professionals come together, are given a challenge, and provided with whole-brain collaboration tools, Walesh is confident that good things will happen. “We know where most of the creativity, the innovation, the stuff that drives productivity lies,” says Jack Welch, the former Chairman of GE, “in the minds of those closest to the work.” Most organizations are underlain by a gold mine of ideas, that is, their personnel. How much gold waits to be mined in your organization?

And we need new ideas, as succinctly stated by columnist Thomas Friedman: “Today, just about everything is a commodity, except imagination, except the ability to spark new ideas.”

Trying to address some difficult issues or solve some complex problems? Worried about difficult economic times and market challenges? Need ways to counter commoditization? Would you like to identify and pursue some new opportunities? Want to differentiate your organization? If so, this workshop/webinar series may be for you.

Benefits of a Whole-Brain Approach

The workshop/webinar series has a practical theme in that it stresses the personal and organizational benefits of more fully engaging the brain’s capabilities. Examples of whole-brain benefits for businesses and government entities, many of which will be noted and illustrated during this educational event, are:

  • Increased personal and organizational productivity
  • Improved health and welfare
  • Historic global impact
  • Reduced waste
  • Reinvigorated staff
  • New services
  • Enhanced reputation
  • Less threatened/actual litigation
  • More referrals
  • Reduced public disruption during construction
  • New clients, customers, and stakeholders
  • More project awards
  • New tools/applications
  • Growth
  • Improved recruitment and retention 
  • Greater profitability

Lecturer and writer Ralph Waldo Emerson is commonly thought to have said:
 “Build a better mousetrap and the world will beat a path to your door.”

 He didn’t. He actually said:
“If a man has good corn or wood or boards or pigs to sell, or can make better chairs or
knives or church organs, than anybody else,
you will find a broad-beaten road to his house, though it be in the woods.”

Regardless of what he said, he meant that society values new ideas/innovation!

Target Audience

This workshop/webinar series is designed for a diverse audience of personnel within a technically-oriented public or private organization. More specifically, the following individuals are likely to benefit:

  • Engineers and other scientific/technical professionals, who are builders/change agents and desirous of finding new and better ways.
  • Executives/managers who guide overall organizational policy and are exploring or committed to establishing a more creative/innovative culture
  • Project managers who want to improve project management processes and provide even better service to clients/stakeholders
  • Project team members seeking more ways to contribute to project success and are open to learning about creative/innovative collaboration
  • Marketing/public relations personnel seeking means to distinguish their organization and its services from the competition
  • Financial/budgeting personnel searching for ways to reduce costs
  • Academics who value resources that supplement their teaching and stimulate their research
  • Anyone dissatisfied with the status quo and confident that there are much better ways

Overview of Content

This educational event, which can be delivered in a one-day or two -day classroom format or a multiple-session webinar format, begins with brain basics. Learn how the human brain works and how to care for it based on recent research. Then the presentation addresses obstacles to whole-brain thinking and how to overcome them.

The workshop/webinar moves to describing 10 or more tools that can be used by individual engineers and other technical/scientific personnel and their teams to take a whole-brain approach to making decisions, addressing issues, solving problems, and pursuing opportunities. Many and varied benefits of applying the more productive whole-brain approach to technical and nontechnical challenges are illustrated throughout the workshop. Breakouts are used so that participants can experiment with and evaluate some of the tools. Each workshop participant receives a detailed handout.

Topics

  • Introduction – Purpose, Outcomes, and Approach
  • Definitions – Getting Everyone on the Same Page
  • 7  Obstacles to Whole-Brain Thinking
  • Case Studies and Examples With Emphasis on Benefits (presented throughout)
  • The Brain – A Primer
  • Characteristics of the Innovative Individual
  • 10 Plus Whole-Brain Tools – Methods for Individual/Team Use
  • Breakouts to Apply Whole-Brain Tools (several times)
  • Wrap Up and Evaluation

Notes:  

1)  The depth and breadth of coverage of the preceding topics depends on the length of a workshop or the number of webinars in a webinar series.

2)  Individual and group participants in this workshop/webinar series are urged to bring real and pressing issues/problems/opportunities with them, perhaps disguised because of confidentiality considerations. These challenges may be technical or non-technical (e.g., marketing, financial, human resources). They can be fruitfully addressed, by individuals or groups, during the planned breakout sessions using one or more of the whole-brain tools presented during the workshop.

Outcomes

As a result of participating in this whole-brain workshop/webinar series, you and/or your business or government organization are likely to:

  • Obtain whole-brain knowledge and skills that will be immediately applicable to many problems/issues/opportunities within your organization
  • Learn at least 10 tools to stimulate individual and group whole-brain thinking
  • “See” previously “unseen” options
  • Move toward the resolution of an issue, solution of a major problem, and/or discover a way to exploit a promising opportunity
  • Find a new direction or initiative for your organization
  • Expand your understanding of the human mind
  • Appreciate further the breadth and depth of personnel resources available in your organization
  • Re-energize your groups such as project teams, departments, offices, disciplines, executive committees, and task forces
  • Enhance client/stakeholder relationships by becoming even more of a trusted, innovative advisor
  • Influence positively the decision-making culture in your organization
  • Earn Professional Development Hours (PDHs) (Depends on the license and the state of licensure)

Participants receive all slides used during the presentations and lists of articles, books, e-newsletters, websites, and other self-study materials. They also take home tools that can be applied in a variety of work, professional society, community, and personal endeavors. Furthermore, if, as suggested earlier, individuals/teams that participate bring pressing issues, problems, or opportunities to this educational event, they will also take home at least partial answers to those challenges.

Clinical neuropsychologist Paul D. Nussbaum wrote:

“The human brain is the most brilliant and magnificent system ever designed…
There is perhaps no greater untapped resource in the universe than the human brain…
The human brain is no longer the domain of academia and medicine.”

Observation: Shouldn’t engineers and other technical/scientific professionals
 make full use of what is being learned about the brain?

Credits

The rights to use the two visuals were purchased from iStockphoto.

Want to Learn More?

If you or others want to learn more about the workshop and/or webinar series, please contact Stu Walesh at stuwalesh@comcast.net or 219-464-1704.

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Do you have a question, suggestion, idea, or other concern? If so, contact me at stuwalesh@comcast.net or 219-242-1704

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