How Linky Brains Work

Linky Brains is a new topic that has taken off on LinkedIn – #linkybrains kick-started by Doug Scott.  I think I am a linkybrain and this is a contribution to the discussion.  Is it relevant to customer success?  Yes, new ideas are needed everywhere.

I am not a doctor or a brain scientist but I have long been fascinated with the brain and what it means for how I live and work.  So, in true linky-style, here are a few disconnected ramblings on what I have learned and believe.  I don’t claim them to be 100% accurate but they are grounded in what people cleverer than I have discovered.

(Side note: Pages auto-corrected linky-style to kinky-style! Is there a hidden message there?)

Linky-brains are intuitive.  I have always believed that intuition is about spotting patterns earlier than others.  We fill in the gaps between the dots of information we receive.  When a linky gets this right, we are insightful or, even better, creative.  Of course, we don’t always get it right.  We make spurious connections but that’s ok; its about the process not just the outcome.  Linky’s aren’t afraid of failing – it’s just another hypothesis tested on the road to success.

This pattern spotting thing is key to me.  In my work, I often talk about single customer view and use the analogy of the kid’s ‘dot-to-dot’ puzzles.  The more dots you have, the richer the picture you can build and the more accurate the insights you can gain.  

Many people focus their reading and study.  I love to read about things unassociated with work and often find myself seeing links with work.  The insights into business and leadership are fascinating.  For example, the similarity between how values shape companies and the structure of a Mandelbrot set drove the choice of the cover of my book.  Self managing systems in nature led me to develop an organisation development workshop which asked questions like “Which fish in the shoal decides to change direction?” and “Which termite is the architect of the mound?”  Think about it.

I once saw a presentation from Mind Mapping inventor Tony Buzan where he showed a short video of a neurone reaching out and connecting with another.  An idea in the making captured on film – albeit in a petri dish.  I think Linkys have hyper-active neurones that enjoy reaching out.  I often get frustrated when I have an idea – many of them are truly great and then the next moment it’s gone.  Try as I might, I can’t get the same neurones to make the same connection again.  Very frustrating!  I think these hyper-active neurones, coupled with my broad interests are where many of my ideas come from.  By the way, it seems nature is a very good source of random connections.  I recall some research done in Germany about work-related ideas.  The greatest source of ideas at work was when bored in meetings!  That however was dwarfed by work-related ideas that came whilst walking in nature.  If that’s not Linky, I don’t know what is.  I suspect Linky’s are very good at being productive doing nothing.  

I am a great fan of an assessment called the Herrmann Brain Dominance Instrument, which measures your thinking preferences.  Remember of course there is a relationship between preference and competence: we tend to be good at things we like, or vice-versa.  Anyway, HBDI, which is based on the structure of the brain measures your preferences in four domains:

  • A: Logical, analytical, numerate
  • B: Plans, processes, certainty
  • C: Emotional, relationships, intuitive (people)
  • D: Originality, intuitive (ideas) risk-taking

The interesting thing that Ned Herrmann points out is that success needs whole brain thinking.  Those old enough to remember the core team of the original Star trek will recognise a whole brain team:

  • A: Spock
  • B: Scotty
  • C: Bones
  • D: Captain Kirk

I am off the scale D.  I have always been an ideas person and whilst I can execute, it’s not where my strength lies because it’s not what I enjoy. That’s why I always look for a doer of detail to work with – what people call a competer-finisher.  The problem is that we think so differently, we often fall out.  

I suspect there are Linky versions of other personal assessments.  I am ENTJ in Myers Briggs.  

There are many other areas that I think are worthy of exploring: the hive mind, Linkys relationship with dopamine, the value of procrastination to name just a few.  Unfortunately, I need to do some work!  Such is life.