News story

Developing the organizational brain

London, UKLearning Ltd

Webinar explores how organizations can build and share the knowledge they need to thrive


Leadership and organizational learning expert Dr Nigel Paine says organizations need to model themselves on the human brain. The human brain is fired up, informed and sustained by a myriad of connections, all whirring away in the background. Organizations need to be the same – fired up, informed and sustained by a myriad of connections, enabling learning, ideas and knowledge to flow constantly and organically. Paine talks about this and more in his upcoming webinar, Developing the Organizational Brain, the second in a series of four on organizational learning taking place on 25 January.

The human brain has between 80 and 100 billion neurons, with each neuron sustaining up to 1000 connections. Those connections are called synapses and they enable signals to pass from one neuron to the next, transmitting messages around the brain (and body). It’s a massive, hugely important neural network and the connections (the synapses) play a critical role in the healthy working of the brain. 

Similarly, in order for organizations to operate effectively and healthily, they too need connections and networks that transmit messages around constantly, all day, every day. It’s no good having one person (neuron) possessing knowledge and skills if it all stays in one place, with that person. And it’s no good information being shared intermittently – it needs to be all the time, if organizations are to stand a chance of keeping abreast of the current pace of change. 

Paine explains: “Just as connections (synapses) facilitate the healthy working of the brain, so do connections between people facilitate the healthy working of organizations. Organizational intelligence is directly related to the connections between people, not to individual knowledge.” 

In recent years, the focus has been on individual knowledge and individual learning, to the detriment of collective talent and collective learning. There is so much knowledge and learning, so many insights and ideas, that are hoarded and lost when the culture is one of individual talent. It’s what Lew Platt, the former CEO at HP, was talking about when he famously said: “If HP knew what HP knows, we would be three times more productive.” He wanted knowledge to be brought out and shared, to make the organization smarter and more agile. 

Webinar guest speaker Garry Ridge, Chairman Emeritus at American manufacturers WD-40 Company, culture coach and founder of The Learning Moment, expressed the same sentiment: "I believe that if we dedicate ourselves to bringing out the best in others, we will bring out the best in ourselves. This is because we are connected in organizations and we work best when we protect and feed each other. If you feel empowered to share what you know and communicate that learning and insight to a group of people around the organization, the organization gets stronger and more resilient and you strengthen that sense of community. Improved performance inevitably follows."

The webinar will cover topics such as: 

  • What stops connections occurring
  • How you tap into your organizational brain
  • How you stimulate those connections and make use of them
  • The first steps you should take


Register for the webinar on 25 January.