Mark Sidney, Business Development Manager, Mindful Therapies
Improved decision making, Greater creativity and increased focus and concentration
Mindfulness training is increasingly being implemented for business development. Some of the world’s leading companies from Google and Apple to the NHS and Transport for London have invested in mindfulness training for their employees. Even Harvard Business School includes mindfulness principles in its leadership programmes.
On 20th October 2015, the United Kingdom declared its intention to become a ‘mindful nation’, with the publication of Mindful Nation UK produced by the Mindfulness All-Party Parliamentary Group. The report recommends that government departments should take a lead by training their own staff in Mindfulness.
But why all this growing interest? In this three part series we will explore some of the key benefits for businesses. We will be looking at how Mindfulness helps to directly impact on the bottom line by both reducing costs and increasing revenue.
In the second of the series we will be looking at;
Improved decision making
Increased focus and concentration
Improved decision making
Einstein defined insanity as ‘doing the same thing over again and expecting different results’. However we often over-rely on our past experience when we make decisions.
Research from INSEAD Business School found that doing just 15 minutes of mindfulness meditation such as concentrating on breathing can lead to more rational thinking when making business decisions. The study found that mindfulness meditation helps reduce what economists call call ‘sunk cost bias’ more commonly referred to as flogging a dead horse or throwing good money after bad. Participants used meditation to focus on information known in the present moment and draw attention away from past experience. Focusing and noticing the actual circumstances in the present improves confidence in decision making and the efficacy of the decision. Not only are better decisions made, but also after the decision is made there is less time wasted by worrying about whether it was the best decision.
Greater creativity for business development
Creativity is essential for business development. Mindfulness increases awareness and and helps filter out distracting thoughts and other mental processes. Having a clearer mind helps us to see problems more fully and spot solutions. Mindfulness meditation is sometimes referred to as ‘insight meditation’, mindfulness trains our mind to look inwardly with curiosity and non-judgement, consequently we notice more and see the bigger picture. This promotes divergent thinking which allows new ideas to be generated.
“The past is another country, they do things differently there” – L.P. Hartley
As discussed in the previous section, mindfulness meditation helps us to temporarily draw attention away from past experience. The tendency for people to depend on past experience leads to what psychologists refer to as ‘cognitive rigidity’. Obviously past experience is valuable and should not be discounted, however, drawing attention away from past experience frees the mind to think more creatively and generate new ideas. In today’s business world things are constantly changing, yesterdays circumstances were different, as are today’s solutions.
Focus and concentration
Regular Mindfulness practice can improve your mental focus and concentration levels.The ability to pay attention to one task at a time is increasingly undervalued as we strive to become the ultimate multi-tasker. But recent neuroscientific research has demonstrated that most of the time the brain is unable to do tasks simultaneously, it just quickly switches between tasks. Neuroscientists call this switch tasking. Switch tasking takes longer is less efficient and over time can be energy sapping. In those moments between switches we can miss important information and that leads to mistakes.
Mindfulness meditation trains your brain to be better at concentrating because each time you notice that your mind wanders off from whatever you’re focusing on, you intentionally bring your attention back to the object of your attention.
Sometimes we do more than one task without switching, when we do things out of habit without thinking about them, often referred to as being on autopilot. Autopilot can be useful, it means we don’t need to concentrate on every little thing we do, but generally we do want our staff to focus on their job when at work!
Read part one, Increased productivity, Reduce employee absence and improve staff retention and Part three, Employee satisfaction, workplace harmony and company loyalty here.