There’s a misconception that imaginative thinking - anything that helps us think outside the box or color outside the lines - happens in the right hemisphere of the brain. And while there’s speculation that a lot of a person’s creative thinking happens there, it doesn’t paint the full picture of creative thinking. In fact, if someone only uses one hemisphere of their brain during their creative process - whether it’s a fine art painter or a graphic designer - science tells us they’re probably not doing a very good job.
Creative thinking also has a role in the workplace. Depending on the job, inventive thinking can be a “nice to have” or a necessity. Are there ways we can use the human brain's method for imaginative thinking and apply it to the corporate environment to get better results?
Imagination needs a cooperative brain
First, let’s take a look at how creative thinking happens in the brain.
The human brain is divided into two halves, a right and a left side. While some types of thinking humans do are exclusively handled by one side of the brain or the other - the left hemisphere takes care of linear, factual and logical thinking, where the right brain is the champion of artistic thinking - most thought processes use both sides of the brain.
When we look at the way creative, inventive thinking happens in the brain, things start to get interesting. Scientists at Dartmouth’s Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences monitored the brain activity of human test subjects while they were using their imagination. They found that when subjects undertook the assigned task - picturing a bumblebee with the head of a bull - the entire brain lit up, indicating different areas of the brain were being used. The subjects’ brains created a neural network including all of their different parts when they were asked to create something new, something that didn’t exist before.
This study shows us that the brain is a cooperative environment. It’s built to produce the best results, recognizing that it creates more value when it works together. It draws on separate, specialized sections of the brain for the most efficient and powerful way to think creatively.
If we apply this model to the workplace, is it possible to use the infrastructure of the brain to get better results?
The positive effect of working together
When it comes to certain job roles, one hemisphere of the brain might have more success than the other. If you work with numbers and spreadsheets, a lot of your day-to-day will be powered by the left hemisphere; if you’re a children’s book author, your right brain probably does the heavy lifting.
As we travel up the leadership ladder in the workplace, the brain needs to call upon more areas to accomplish tasks. People who run businesses tend to have complex jobs that require a creative approach to problem solving, so there’s no way they can just use one half of their brain. Their day-to-day activities don’t fall into a single category, but instead require a lot of cross-functional thinking. By engaging both sides of their brain, business leaders can apply a well-rounded thought process to their work for maximum impact. This kind of creative thinking no doubt lights up their brain when they’re tackling a big problem.
Teams: the real brains of the company
Businesses can - and should - take advantage of the brain’s model of creative thinking. By combining different assets and using their individual strengths, the brain does the best job of every creative task that it “sets its mind to;” companies that mirror this by creating teams to tackle big projects will see the same positive result. Whether a team consists of people from one department or different departments, they have a larger amount of knowledge simply because more than one person is involved, offering more value to a project. This produces better results for businesses: enterprise teams that mirror the creative strategy of the brain and use people with different specialties produce the best work.
But the results of collaboration in corporate environments goes further. When you get a lot of brains focused on a single task, you not only get synapses firing inside each individual brain, you also get the residual effect of being inspired from the other members of the team. As ideas ricochet off one another, an exponential number of creative angles are born. There’s no limit to the amount of invention that can happen when teams come together to tackle a problem - not to mention a number of positive side effects that working collaboratively has on business teams. When people work together, the creative process isn’t just improved - it’s supercharged.
Today’s biggest tech companies now offer collaborative software
It shouldn’t be surprising that the benefits of collaborative work environments have been noticed by some of today’s largest and fastest-growing companies, putting a generous exchange of information at the heart of many software services and companies:
Facebook has adapted its social media platform to allow teams to create collaborative spaces, making it easy to work together anywhere in the world.
Trint recently released multi-user editing for its automated transcription platform, complementing the existing collaborative tools that enable teams to get more value out of the spoken word.
Video conferencing software Zoom has multiple collaborative features to make it easy for teams to collaborate, like video for conference rooms and multi-user touch screen hardware.
In 2018 Microsoft declared its communication platform Teams the fastest growing business application in company history.
The value of collaborative software has been reflected in the market, too: it’s estimated to be worth more than $8.5 billion by 2024. And with messaging software Slack filing for an IPO this year, the business world is taking note of how collaboration can have a lot of positive effects for a business - including positive impacts on the bottom line.
Collaboration is good for business
What does all this boil down to? Teams that are structured the same way as the brain produce better results, whether it’s the next winning sales pitch or a brand design overhaul. Collaborative software gives teams the ability to create powerful, impactful results and draws on a company’s most valuable resource: its people.
Trint’s collaborative platform gives teams the ability to find the moments that matter in audio and video files. Teams of two or teams of 20 can edit a transcript together, building on each other’s ideas and unlocking more value in the spoken word. Journalist teams publish stories in minutes, video editors produce the final cut faster, marketers and user research teams uncover actionable insight and academic researchers start analysis sooner.
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Michael Nelson-Wolter, Marketing Manager
Michael worked for 8+ years as a manual transcriber in the US and UK before building an in-house transcription department for a mobile-to-web software company. He then moved to content marketing and now works in digital marketing. Michael loves to write about emerging technology, digital trends and the ways technology makes our lives easier.