| Innovation Center

Innovators’ Club review: Radical Transformation – from Caveman to Agile in Less than a Decade

The first Innovators’ Club event of 2019 focused on a key 21st century challenge for humanity – how can we adapt faster to the accelerating pace of complex technological change? Renowned neuroscientist Dr. Arndt Pechstein explained how Hybrid Thinking can help.

Radical transformation in the way we work is required to adapt to the accelerating pace of technological change – that was the focus of an inspiring keynote from renowned neuroscientist and TEDx speaker Dr. Arndt Pechstein  at the first Innovators’ Club of 2019, held at the Innovation Center in Darmstadt.

Importantly, as a specialist in biomimicry (bio-inspired innovation), design thinking (user-centered innovation), agile coaching, and a serial digital business entrepreneur, Dr. Pechstein was able to frame the discussion in a human but business-relevant context.

Explaining why our brains hard-wired to resist change, he demonstrated how our attitudes and brain adapt in a linear way that makes it difficult to close the gap to technological changes that are happening at an exponential rate. And then came the crucial question: How can we create a resilient and new pattern of thinking to help us cope?

Dr. Pechstein discussed how we first have to recognize that the brain is not used to dealing with change at 21st century speed, which induces a sense of fear in many of us. Compounding this problem, is that we do not always have the urgency, motivation or confidence to try and adapt. That’s because it requires a huge amount of energy to make the required changes, and our brains are designed to follow patterns and minimize the use of energy required to complete tasks. In other words, there is a fundamental mismatch at work here. The solution to this conundrum is what Dr. Pechstein calls Hybrid Thinking.

Hybrid thinking involves constant learning and embracing uncertainty rather than fearing it. The approach is about having the courage to try or experience new things, while collaborating with others to think big and take consistent small steps towards transformation. This, explained Dr. Pechstein, is the way to eliminate the fear of failure that often accompanies change.

Specifically, the Hybrid Thinking approach constitutes four different but interconnected elements, in recognition of the fact that in the face of increasingly complex problems, no single transformation strategy can succeed on its own. These elements are:

  • The Innovation Source: Learning from Nature through Biomimicry
  • The Intelligent Actor: Tapping the Power of our Brains through Neuroscience
  • The Network Effect: Leveraging Networks through Agile Methods
  • System Integration: Creating viable Solutions through Circular and Platform Design

To foster a deeper understanding of the innovation mindset, Dr. Pechstein ran participants through exercises in behavioral change and demonstrated how the brain reacts to these changes. This interactive section of the event illustrated perfectly the collaborative mindset required to reframe reality, take a different perspective and overcome the challenges of change, rather than getting stuck in ‘fear mode’.

Dr. Peschstein ended the session by highlighting the fact that, “Changes always start with a decision: and a decision starts with two factors – conviction and passion/emotion”. With clear decision-making discipline and a collaborative approach he concluded, it becomes possible to train our brains to adapt to change much more quickly than we ever thought possible.