Here is proof that meetings make you brain-dead and that un-engagement and un-creativity, as practiced in so many organizations today, is actually working to decrease corporate intelligence and impact performance for the future.

Scientists at Cal Tech and four other institutions studied brain function using functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI) and paper and pencil tests to show that how one is treated in a workgroup directly affects oxygenated blood flow in certain areas of the brain as well as in their demonstrated intelligence.

Your status in meetings or in the workplace can be dramatically hindering your intelligence and the smarts of others in your organization. Intelligence (as measured by IQ) is NOT a stable, predictive measure of mental horsepower and that situations will affect it. The research shows that social status and cognitive processing of information are related and interact directly. (Guess that is why some of us consultants appear so smart, right?)

Actually, this is GREAT information that confirms that using strategies and tools to generate interactive, collaborative and engaged teams of people actually can improve Corporate Intelligence by raising their self-perceptions of their effectiveness in generating ideas and being creative – the data by Cal Tech and other scientists sort of proves this.

Sometimes we just feel like we are working and working and not making progress

The research also shows that people will perform below expectations if we expect them to perform that way. Scores of low performers dropped 17 points during the course of the experiment when they were told that they were low performers. The work made them less intelligent, measurably!

(And the measured activity in the brain supported the fact that fear is an inhibitor — there are lots of research studies that support that conclusion (see Seligman’s work on conditioned helplessness, for example) ).

“The sensitivity to the social feedback of the rankings profoundly altered some people’s ability to express their cognitive capacity,” said one of the researchers. This negative social feedback generated “quick downward spiraling” of intelligence.

We need to look for better ways to improve performance and this data is so straightforward. It seems to say that treating people with more status improves their intelligence, so DO it!

It is not hard to show appreciation for ideas that will make impacts on how things work. And it is not hard to structure activities that involve and engage people in sharing their ideas about how things work and how things can be improved. And doing this as teams can and will affect that team’s intelligence, if they feel mutual support and appreciation from others. Peer support is a very powerful motivator of performance.

There are no dumb guys when it comes to ideas for innovation and improvement

Intrinsic motivation comes from a variety of internal processes. Extrinsic rewards often drive incompatible behaviors and can be something that creates winners and losers. So, look for practices that envolve and engage groups.

I bet that I can replicate this finding by using some of our team building and performance improvement tools (like my Square Wheels and Lost Dutchman’s Gold Mine activities) but there are a lot of tools out there that accomplish similar things. By involving and engaging people in the generation of list of workplace performance issues and then engaging them in designing and implementing solutions for those ideas, we can have ALL sorts of positive impacts.

And we NEED to raise functional corporate intelligence!

See more about this at in an article entitled, Neuroscientists Find That Status within Groups Can Affect IQ.

I have not looked at the original research, just the detailed press release above.