Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 23 May 2019

Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed attends Dr Beau Lotto neuroscience lecture in Abu Dhabi

The Crown Prince watched the scientist speak about creativity

Businesses are too focused on getting the most out of their employees in the shortest possible amount of time, valuing efficiency over creativity — to a fault.

That is the view of Dr Beau Lotto, a renowned neuroscientist and founder of Lab of Misfits Studio, who spoke at Majlis Mohamed bin Zayed in Abu Dhabi on Monday.

He said creativity and efficiency are two sides of innovation but, for too long, society has overlooked creativity in favour of the guaranteed results of a path well-travelled.

“Companies are constantly trying to get more for less,” Dr Lotto said during a lecture titled The Science of Innovation: Becoming Naturally Adaptable.

“This would be a great idea but for the fact that the world changes. So too, then, must we. In nature, the most successful systems are the most adaptable. Thus, human systems need to be both efficient and creative.”

He said people are typically averse to uncertainty, explaining that the human brain was trained during evolution to predict and prepare for danger or risk death. But only when not knowing what lies ahead can they become creative.

"Innovation begins with not knowing — with a question, not an answer — with challenging what one assumes to be true,” he said.

As the world changes, becoming increasingly unpredictable and interconnected, creativity has become crucial for evolution, Dr Lotto said. But people are unable to see the world as it is, he said.

"Millions of years ago, man learnt to see only what he needed to see in order to survive and the brain did not evolve to see the world as it is. We think we see the world as it is but we are mistaken. What we see is subjective and everything we know is filtered by each individual’s past experience. The brain instead evolved to see the world the way it was useful to see in the past. Not seeing reality is essential to our ability to adapt,” Dr Lotto said.

"As our brains evolved towards certainty, we simultaneously evolved away from creativity, which asks us to question our assumptions. That is the only way to see differently."

Dr Lotto said uncertainty and change also encourage tolerance.

“Everything we do and see are reflexive responses grounded in assumptions. Which means the roots of creativity reside less in spontaneous inspiration, and more in the deeply human qualities of courage and humility, which is essential for tolerance.

“Using the principles by which the brain sees, we can apply these principles to enable individuals and organisations to see differently and in doing so, thrive in uncertainty."

The lecture was one of the weekly talks held throughout Ramadan and hosted by Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces, in his Al Bateen Palace. The lectures are typically attended by Sheikhs, diplomats and dignitaries.

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Updated: May 14, 2019 02:54 PM

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