The Neuroscience of Wisdom - The Development and Application of Wisdom in a Business Context
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The Neuroscience of Wisdom - The Development and Application of Wisdom in a Business Context



In this February 5, 2013 webcast we explore the leadership development link between age and wisdom. In an era when an increasing number of executives assume top leadership roles at a younger age, is ...

In this February 5, 2013 webcast we explore the leadership development link between age and wisdom. In an era when an increasing number of executives assume top leadership roles at a younger age, is this an area of business risk or business opportunity? And is "wisdom" itself even a term that has cachet in a C-suite or HiPo context, or is it the elephant in the room as seasoned leaders prepare for retirement?

In this discussion, Dr Ethan Kross from the University of Michigan and Merryck CEO David Reimer review the latest research on wisdom and its implications for talent professionals. Key discussion points included:

- What does "wisdom" mean in a business and complex problem-solving context?
- What does the latest research tell us about wisdom and the brain as it ages?
- Does wisdom produce meaningful differences in approaches to problem-solving?
- Can a person's wisdom be developed earlier (younger) in their career?
- What specific strategies have been lab-tested, and how are large companies deploying similar efforts?

This webcast is part of our ongoing 2013 exploration of effective experience and knowledge transfer at the tops of organizations as a result of generational turnover.



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The Neuroscience of Wisdom - The Development and Application of Wisdom in a Business Context Presentation Transcript

  • 1. The Neuroscience of WisdomThe Development and Application of „Wisdom‟ in a Business Context Invitation-only Webcast February 5, 2013 © Merryck & Co 2013
  • 2. Ethan Kross, Ph.D. Assistant Professor, Social Psychology Director, Emotion and Self-Control Laboratory University of Michigan Ethan received his BA from the University of Pennsylvania and his MA and Ph.D. from Columbia University. He is an Assistant Professor in the Psychology Department at the University of Michigan and the Director of the University of Michigan Emotion and Self-Control Laboratory. He is also a Faculty Associate at the University of Michigans Research Center for Group Dynamics and Depression Research Center. The overarching goal of Ethans research is to shed light on the psychological and physiological processes that enable people to adaptively regulate impulses and emotions that undermine their goals and compromise their health. He uses a variety of tools (e.g., behavioral, diary, physiological, neuroscience-fMRI methods) to address this issue and focuses on both normal-healthy and clinical populations. © Merryck & Co 2013 2
  • 3. David Reimer CEO, Merryck &Co. David leads an organization of former topexecutives who work 1:1 with current business leaders and their high potential successors. His work over the past decade has included consulting on global M&A and restructuring projects with 30% of the Fortune 100, including through the aftermath and, during the financial crisis, the three largest financial services mergers in history. He most recently led the 3-year private equity turnaround of Drake Beam Morin‟s (DBM) North American business. Earlier, while in Asia Pacific, David juggled a mix of wholly- owned, joint venture and affiliate business units in 14 countries, which included launching wholly-owned operations in China. David is a frequent writer and speaker on how great leaders develop on-the-job, in the heat of the crucible. © Merryck & Co 2013 3
  • 4. WelcomeGuestDr. Ethan KrossAssistant Professor, Department of PsychologyUniversity of MichiganDirector, University of Michigan Emotion and Self-Control LaboratoryInterviewerDavid ReimerChief Executive Officer, Merryck & Co. © Merryck & Co 2013 4
  • 5. Discussion Framework1 The Context: Why this conversation?2 The Challenge: Wisdom in the lab and workplace3 The Conversation: Development and application4 Q&A © Merryck & Co 2013 5
  • 6. The ContextWhat is the impact of wisdom on decision-making, attitude and behavior? Defining wisdom – in the lab or in the workplace Understand Recognize Promote Demonstrate That there are limits That the world is in flux The “common good” rather The ability to take on associated with one‟s and likely to change than focusing narrowly on the perspectives of own knowledge one‟s self-interest others © Merryck & Co 2013 6
  • 7. The ContextThe scope of business leadership has increased byan order of magnitude. The pace of technologicaldisruption alone is 100X today what it was in 1980.Other changes for ExCo Executivesin the Fortune 500 and S&P 500 1990 2010Vertical promotions since entering workforce 1 11.4 7.1Years per “level” (pre-ExCo) 1 3.6 4.4Companies per career 1, 2 2.1 5.3Revenue under management 1,3 $123 MM $1.3 BCEOs promoted from within 4 62% 77%Connections/relationships to manage 1,5 ~20 ~50-701) Merryck & Co data 1998-20122) WSJ July 6 2010, Joanne S Lublin, “CEO Tenure, stock gains often go hand in hand”3) Merryck & Co data 1998-2012;, Fortune 500 Statistics4) SpencerStuart 2010 CEO Transitions, March 20115) Merryck & Co data, 1998-2012; Booz & Company 2010 10-yr CEO Succession Study Retrospective © Merryck & Co 2013 7
  • 8. The Challenge1. 2. 3.Can the impact of wisdom How does this show up Can the development ofbe measured? in the business world? wisdom be accelerated? Ethan Kross David Reimer © Merryck & Co 2013 8
  • 9. Lab Study #1: Sample questionsCan the impact of wisdom upon problem-solving be measured?Topic/Country SummaryImmigration/Tajikistan Because of the economic growth of Tajikistan, many people fromKyrgyzstan immigrate to the country. Whereas Kyrgyz people try to preservetheir customs, Tajiks want Kyrgyz people to assimilate fully and abandon their customs.Natural resources/Chuuk Huge crude oil resources have been discovered in the economicallydisadvantaged Chuuk state. Because of governmental restrictions, many interested firms cannot establish the required infrastructure for production. On the one side, government tries to preserve the ancient laws. On the other side, there are also a huge number of people in Chuuk who would like to eliminate the regulations entirely.Ethnic tensions/Djibouti Two ethnic groups in Djibouti, the Issa and the Afari, have completely different perspectives on politics. Whereasone group tries to preserve traditions, the other group wants to alter the society entirely. Both groups are very strong. © Merryck & Co 2013 9
  • 10. Merryck Pilot StudyQuestion: What if any monitoring systems (whether self-directed or gauged fromothers) do you use to ensure that you‟re performing well when under duress? Ages 30-50 Ages 51+ 54% Self-Monitored Only 20% (18.8%) 46% Social Cues 80% (75%) © Merryck & Co 2013 10
  • 11. Lab Study #2 Can other factors be substituted for the passage of time in the development of wisdom?Participants FrameworkRecent graduates and senior- Participants were first instructed to “take a few minutesyear college students who had to think about how the current economic climate willbeen unable to secure impact you personally.” They wereemployment were asked to then randomly assigned to reason aloud to anpredict how the future would interviewer about how the recession would impact theirunfold. career prospects from an “immersed” or “distanced‟ perspective.Strongly liberal and Participants were asked to think about how variousconservative voters in the three foreign and domestic issues would play out over the nextweeks before the 2008 4 years if the candidate that they did not endorse wonpresidential election. the election from either an “immersed” or “distanced” perspective. © Merryck & Co 2013 11
  • 12. The ConversationCan wisdom be developed?The complexity of upper The nature of dynamic The next generation of leaderechelon jobs increases problems development will empowerexponentially, whereas a defiespredictablepatterns of those with the most influenceleader„s development happens straightforward problem- to respond with the greatestIncrementally. solving. possible perspective.Understand Recognize Promote DemonstrateThat there are limits That the world is in flux The “common good” rather The ability to take onassociated with one‟s and likely to change than focusing narrowly on the perspectives ofown knowledge one‟s self-interest others © Merryck & Co 2013 12
  • 13. The ConversationWhat are the challenges? “Wisdom” Business Buzz Motivation language outcomes Ethan Kross David Reimer © Merryck & Co 2013 13
  • 14. The Takeaways1. 2. 3.In a wicked-problem world, As complexity and One of the surest, fastestevery organization‟s stakes have grown by ways to increasepriority must be to get top orders of magnitude, the perspective is to model andleaders ready for development of exercise methods foranything to the most perspective and the creating distance betweenrealistic extent possible. ability to transcend the decision-maker and self-interest allows for the decision. In an much better reasoning organizational context, concerning real-world such exercises work best scenarios. when grounded within the business framework. © Merryck & Co 2013 14
  • 15. Who is Merryck?Over 15 years, Merryck has become the provenglobal vehicle for fast-tracking a leader’s magnitudeMentoring 1-on-1 with a former C-level executive who:Has run a$750MM - Is trained in-depth to Is up to speed on Is chosen for ability$120B P&L within a support with the company‟s to identify strengths,messy, complex, ofte questions and to issues and the and to define andn global scale develop executive dynamics of the help develop the perspective — leader‟srole blind side not to take on the job © Merryck & Co 2013 15
  • 16. For further discussion: Robin Beckhard, Senior Vice President 1-888-MERRYCK © Merryck & Co 2013 16