What do we mean by savvy? Why have we used this term? And what do we mean by brain savvy, systems savvy, change savvy?
Synonyms for savvy include … shrewdness, astuteness, sharp-wittedness, sharpness, acuteness, acumen, acuity, intelligence, wit, canniness, common sense, discernment, insight, understanding, penetration, perception, perceptiveness, perspicacity, knowledge, sagacity, sageness
For us, ‘savvy’ reflects the degree to which we understand ‘things’ and can apply our knowledge and understanding to “things” and how we create, maintain and use these ‘things’.
Brain savvy reflects how well we understand our brains and how we use that understanding.
Systems savvy reflects how well we understand the systems we encounter and the systems we conceive, design, create, maintain and use.
Another way we express this is by talking about how we, as individuals and collectively, make sense of ‘things’ and how they work or how they should work.
Now, because of the way that our brains work, we face limits on what we perceive and how we make sense of ‘things’. One way of compensating for this limitation is to draw on the perceptions and ways that others make sense of the same ‘thing’.
So, collectives help individuals make sense of things, and individuals help collectives to make sense of things.
Brain Savvy Principles
The brain savvy leader of the future will be on the lookout for ways to minimise threat and promote a towards-state (reward). Neuroscience tells us that a towards-state promotes a more positive mood and better access to the pre-frontal cortex. This, in turn, helps us to think better, learn more effectively and improves our sociability.
We know that getting brain science to matter to managers and executives requires practical approaches. By asking a simple question ‘What’s the hardest thing you’ve got to be doing right now?’ we can start to show why better brain function will help them deal with what is on their plate. It’s as simple as picking just one or two things to start to better manage stress and boost cognitive health.
- Working with the brain in mind benefits individuals, teams and organisations. It leads to improved accomplishment, innovation and achievement. In today’s fast paced environment, it’s about cultivating growth mindsets, adopting an ‘always improving’ mindset and thinking agility.
- No brain is the same – experience and education are different and so are we
- If we have a brain – we are biased
- When it comes to understanding our brain – biology is vital. We are more than just our brains and our heads. We are very much bodies of interconnected systems that cannot be dissected into separate compartments. Head, heart and gut are all required for brain savvy.
- A high functioning brain is a leader’s most effective tool!
- We are much more predisposed to threat (fear) than reward (brave). We have 5 times the real estate in the brain to identify threat than we do reward
- It’s much easier to learn and re-learn than it is to unlearn. Strongly mapped neural pathways don’t disappear, they become less used as we learn and re-learn
- Memory is very flawed – the more we recall and restore – the more we change our memory
- You can’t change people’s minds, they have to do that themselves. This is achieved through insights, and insights are a process that can be driven
Not everyone’s brains are optimally healthy (addiction element/psychopathy)
System Savvy Principles
- Social systems have a number of distinctive characteristics which require different understandings and practices (as compared to inanimate systems). Key systems savvy principles include:
- Systems are figments of our imagination ie systems are perceived differently by each individual, sometimes in subtle ways, sometimes in not so subtle ways
- System outcomes emerge from the whole (not the parts) and are realised through the use of the system
- The dynamic nature of system interactions requires attention to balance between parts and wholes, whether our focus is on the system-as-part or system-as-whole
- Social systems entail dynamic interactions as part of the ‘containing’ systems or environment
- Social systems are self-organising, self-architecting, self-designing, self-adapting, self-replicating (unlike inanimate systems)
- We each bring meaning into our conception of reality which impacts on our conception and perception of systems
- We each apply purpose and intent to the systems we encounter, so any system can have multiple different purposes from different stakeholder perspectives and can be re-purposed
- Our capacity to bring purpose to parts and wholes offers us a choice – to change the means or change the ends, to change our objectives or to change our strategies.
- The act of making choices is an act of design.