Underrated Yet Brilliant Ways to Increase Productivity by 500% and Boost Innovation, Approved by a Psychologist

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So you’ve heard of business model innovation.

McKinsey’s award winning article Reinventing Your Business Model suggests that a business model has four key elements — value proposition, key resources, processes and profit formula. Key resources refers to people, technology, products, information, partnerships, facilities, equipment and brand of an organisation. Classic cases of business model innovation leveraging the ‘people’ component of business models might include automating procedures usually performed by humans such as helpdesk functions or mundane transactional tasks.

But we rarely, if ever, look at radically improving the productivity of existing employees by triggering flow states. What if organisations invested some budget into improving the physiological state of human beings?


Forbes included ‘flow state percentage’, the amount of time an employee spends in flow state, as one of the five new management metrics that today’s managers and leaders need to know.

As Peter Drucker famously said, “if you can measure it, you can manage it” — and today, with EEG, we can measure flow state percentage.

An EEG (or electroencephalography for those of you that want to be technical) records brain waves and today there are multiple variations of this on the consumer market such as Museand Melon. Now, we’re not advocating that employees stroll around with headbands on at all times but understanding what kind of work gets employees into a flow state, even if they self monitor at their own leisure, will provide valuable insights to help engineer the more frequent achievement of flow states.

The best selling author of the mindfulness bestseller The Power of Now, Eckhart Tolle, says of modern art that “because we live in such a mind-dominated culture, most modern art, architecture, music, and literature are devoid of beauty, of inner essence, with very few exceptions. The mind left to itself creates monstrosities, and not only in art galleries. Look at our urban landscapes and industrial wastelands. No civilization has ever produced so much ugliness.”

What he is referring to is the fact that the modern mind is often a messy mind, clouded with work, social, monetary, emotional, psychological and physical pressures, and rarely focused on one task at a time. As such, most people spend little time in flow, resulting in sub-par performance and creative endeavours.

When it comes to innovation, we can run all the hackathons, idea contests and corporate incubators we want, but unless people’s contributions are coming from a place of unperturbed flow, then chances are that those contributions may be average at best.

Most people say that they have their best ideas while in the shower, after a gym workout, whilst going for a run — this is because these activities tend to calm the mind and free it from the noise of the world, allowing us to see things clearer. It is also the very reason why time-boxed brainstorming, while generating ideas, may not serve to generate very good ones.

Clearly, getting employees into a flow state is a powerful way to not only increase productivity, but also increase creativity and innovation in an organisation and just might be the secret weapon for organizations looking to differentiate themselves from competitors.

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