2011 NeuroLeadership Summit Nov. 8–10, Hilton San Francisco Financial District, San Francisco ATTENDED BY 200 INDIVIDUALS AND ORGANIZATIONS INVOLVED IN THE NEUROSCIENCE OF LEADERSHIP
When David Rock, author and co-founder of the Neuro- Leadership Institute, began to bring neuroscientists and busi- ness leaders together six years ago, the content he offered— linking the exploding field of brain research with leadership development—was cutting-edge, Rock said, but the meetings themselves looked a lot like every other conference. But soon, Rock and his staff began to apply insights from
the meeting content into the actual design of the NeuroLeader- ship Summit. After six years of innovation, “We’ve actually got some really intriguing breakthroughs around how to run conferences,” Rock said. “The goal of the Summit is to have the most brain-friendly, large-group dia- logue in the world.” A key shift was rethinking the conference
structure and the scope of its content, in ways that gave attendees the opportunity “to actually digest ideas, not just hear them.” (Read Rock’s Psychology Today blog post on “Rethinking HowWe Confer- ence” at http://bit.ly/brainier-meetings. To read anexcerpt of Rock’s book Your Brain
GRAYMATTERS: From left—Dean Mobbs, a neuroscientist at Cambridge University; David Rock, co-founder of the NeuroLeadership Institute; and Sara Mathews, CEO of Dun and Bradstreet, talk about how the brain’s social circuitry affects organizational change at the 2011 NeuroLeadership Summit.
atWork, see p. 26.) “A traditional conference is so packed with information and sessions, you get a surface layer of too many ideas and never get to really digest them,” Rock said. “You can’t run a conference about using brain research to improve organizations and have everyone completely mentally overwhelmed.” So what does the NeuroLeadership Summit do differently?
Three major things: 1. Chunky presentations. Rock asks presenters, no matter
how experienced or eminent, to structure their presentations into three or four segments. “For the first session of the first day of a conference, you might be able to sit and digest for an hour and a half,” Rock said, “but after you’ve beenin a cou- ple of sessions, you can’t focus on all these new ideas.” Rock likens his approach to good theater, where “there’s an
act and then there’s a pause, and another act and a pause. Maybe there’s an intermission.” In the three to five pauses, attendees—who are seated in small groups at tables—use