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Robin Dymond: "Your Brain and Better Product Development"
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Robin Dymond: "Your Brain and Better Product Development"



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  • 600 epilepsy surgeries1+1, 10+10, 49+287Cookies and math you can’t solve
  • Brain power is limitedBest approach is to do work requiring high concentration firstShould we start our day with email?The more depleted our brain becomes, the more noisy it becomes.


  • 1. Your Brain on Product DevelopmentRobin Dymond, CSTAgile Eastern Europe 2012 © 2012 Robin Dymond
  • 2. My Scumbag brain… meme © 2012 Robin Dymond
  • 3. My Scumbag brain… meme © 2012 Robin Dymond
  • 4. My Scumbag brain… meme © 2012 Robin Dymond
  • 5. My Scumbag brain… meme © 2012 Robin Dymond
  • 6. My Scumbag brain… meme © 2012 Robin Dymond
  • 7. My Scumbag brain… meme © 2012 Robin Dymond
  • 8. My Scumbag brain… meme © 2012 Robin Dymond
  • 9. My Scumbag brain… meme © 2012 Robin Dymond
  • 10. My Scumbag brain… meme © 2012 Robin Dymond
  • 11. My Scumbag brain… meme © 2012 Robin Dymond
  • 12. My Scumbag brain… meme © 2012 Robin Dymond
  • 13. My Scumbag brain… meme © 2012 Robin Dymond
  • 14. What we thought about the brain… Your intellect and personality are fixed The best way to learn is by rational thinking The brain is largely static in adults Emotions are not important to thinking The way the brain is wired is not that different person to person © 2012 Robin Dymond
  • 15. Recent Discoveries in Brain ScienceNeuro-plasticity has shown we can rewire ourbrain and change our thinking processesRational thinking is overratedEmotions play a powerful role in brain functionWillpower has a specific location and there is alimited amount of itDecision making uses the same circuits aswillpowerBrains are wired differently from person toperson © 2012 Robin Dymond
  • 16. The prefrontal cortex © 2012 Robin Dymond
  • 17. ExperimentsBrain mapping prior to epilepsy surgeryLet’s do some arithmeticThe cookie experimentThe Eureka! moment © 2012 Robin Dymond
  • 18. Specific Brain Functions are a limited resourceComplex higher concentration tasksAttention is limitedHow would that change how you work today? © 2012 Robin Dymond
  • 19. InsightInsights require you to stop thinking. © 2012 Robin Dymond
  • 20. InsightLab tests show more insights occur when peopleare happy, much less when anxiety is presentGoing and playing a game of foozball or poolmay improve insightControl your brain by learning when to thinkdirectly about a problem and when to not thinkdirectly about a problem © 2012 Robin Dymond
  • 21. Product DevelopersRational resources are limited, so try doing themore creative, technical, challenging work earlyin your dayOnly work on one thing at a timeCollaboration improves focus, happinessEmail can wait © 2012 Robin Dymond
  • 22. EmotionsThe Limbic systemMove away from threatsMove toward rewardsWe move much faster, stronger, and stay longerin the threat response stateMore activity in Limbic area the less effective thePFC © 2012 Robin Dymond
  • 23. Emotional RegulationSuppression creates arousal, no change to memory, makes other uncomfortableCognitive change strategiesLabel it reduces arousal, invokes stronger inhibition of threat response (ie, saying “I must be hungry, angry, etc.”)Re-appraisal Fast re-interpretation of the event to change perspective. Reduces threat response, improves cognitive ability, memoryRecognizing internal brain function helps improve re-appraisal © 2012 Robin Dymond
  • 24. Product DevelopersRecognize your threat responseAct quickly to re-appraise or label it beforecognitive ability is decreaseRealize that we use the same circuits for physicaland psychological threat, so we need a workaround. © 2012 Robin Dymond
  • 25. When you hear…“I need to give you some feedback”“I need to talk to you about your project” What is your immediate reaction? © 2012 Robin Dymond
  • 26. Social issuesBrain is deeply social, massive circuitry dedicated to socialissuesUses same threat reward circuits and pain circuits!Status Local group Large threat response from perceived reduction in positionCertaintyAutonomyRelatedness In group: share pain, see what they say, out group, don’t hear with same brain circuits, default © 2012 Robin Dymond to foe
  • 27. Social issuesStatusCertaintyAutonomyRelatednessFairnessWhat will improve these? What decreases them? © 2012 Robin Dymond
  • 28. AttentionWe can use the results from brain research tochange how we think and work.Notice what your brain is doing.Use strategies to change your responsesMinimizing the threat response will increase yourproblem solving ability and insightsYOU ARE NOT YOUR BRAIN. © 2012 Robin Dymond
  • 29. MindfulnessNeuroscience of mindfulnessNoticing internal statesFocus in incoming senses directlyThe direct experience allows much betterprocessing of inputsThe internal narrative suppresses inputs © 2012 Robin Dymond
  • 30. SummaryThe PFC has limited resources for problem solvingInsights come from engaging much larger regions of thebrain and are the result of detecting weak relationshipsThe threat response dramatically decreases our ability tothink, yet threat responses are much strongerSocial issues managed by the same threat and paincircuitryUnderstanding and attention to internal states allows oneto manage cognitive processesDirect experience of inputs suppresses internal narrativeand allows much improved processing of inputs and moreinsights © 2012 Robin Dymond
  • 31. Your brain and ScrumImproves the primary social issues that impactproblem solving:StatusCertaintyAutonomyRelatednessFairness © 2012 Robin Dymond
  • 32. Your brain and ScrumImproves focus:One team, one project at a timeCollaboration, pairingSocial © 2012 Robin Dymond
  • 33. What can you do tomorrow?How to better manage your brain’s resources?How to improve chances for insights?How to reduce your natural threat response?How to improve your attention to your internalstates? © 2012 Robin Dymond