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BrainPower: Critical Techniques for High Performance in the Knowledge Economy

86th Annual International Purchasing Conference & Educational Exhibit

April 2001


Julie S. Roberts

Monday, April 30
Workshop CB

Andrea E. Charman, MIPD
Executive Director
CTS Inc.

Agar P. Burton, MIPD
CTS Inc.

According to Ms. Charman, the amount of information in the world doubles every 18 months. Considering this statistic, it's obvious that new techniques for reading, encoding, and absorbing material are needed. In an information- and knowledge-driven society, "learning how to learn" is a key competence. This "learning how to learn" is how supply managers can learn to maximize the power within them to absorb and use the data available to them.

To do this, it is important to develop an accelerated learning toolkit - a suite of learning techniques anchored in an understanding of the workings of the whole brain. In short, obtaining and using information should involve more than just using the eyes to read mounds of information. An exercise in engaging the right brain when reading a passage was demonstrated to illustrate this point. After reading a passage and answering a few questions, participants were challenged to turn the passage upside down and follow their fingers as they moved left-to-right across the page. Charman joked that this part of the exercise seemed like reading jibberish, but after the exercise was completed, participants read the passage again (right side up) - this time more quickly and with better accuracy. Why were the participants able to read more quickly and more accurately? Charman maintains that because the right side of the brain was engaged by the exercise with the upside down passage, more of the brain was focused when the passage was re-read right side up.

Other techniques are available that can be used to engage a larger percentage of the brain. For example, music, particularly baroque classical music, has a positive impact on the brain. Not only does the music reduce anxiety and stress, but it also shifts the brain into a meditative state to receive and remember information rather than a strictly conscious, left-brained state.

What do these tools and exercises mean for supply managers? First, upon applying a few of these techniques, supply managers may read faster, and thus acquire more information. Second, using these tools may help supply managers to be able to store and remember more information. Third, supply managers can learn to use these different techniques to consider other options for strategic decisions. Rather than behaving tactically (even while making strategic decisions), using the tools to employ more of the right brain may provide other alternatives and options that may not have been previously considered or thought of.

By Julie S. Roberts, Writer for Purchasing Today®.

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