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Neuronal Networks – Metaphor For 21st Century Workforce

What Are Neurons & Networks?

Neurons serve as a medium of communication (facilitated by synapses) within the human system and brain by processing signals physiologically and electrochemically. In other words, neurons are considered as the building blocks of the nervous system.

Networks can be considered as analogous to the processes and lateral links established by the neurons and synapses with other parts of the body and nerve cells to coordinate physical muscular movements, cognitive abilities, heartbeats/rhythms, learning, etc. Therefore, facilitating a synchronistic physiological and psychological functioning of the human body. 

What Are Metaphors?

Metaphors have their own charm. Academic scholars, practitioners, poets, literature specialists, and others have used metaphors to better express ideas, thoughts, models, and resemblance. 

The metaphor of gardening was used to illustrate effective management by Stephen R. Axley in his well-written article ‘How Does Your Garden Grow?’ An excerpt of this article can be found at https://www.questia.com/magazine/1P3-222373901/how-does-your-garden-grow. I read this article as a part of my school curriculum (graduated Fall 2016) and we were required to describe U.S. organization/workforce metaphorically. 

I could relate today’s 21st-century organization and workforce to neuronal networks due to my I described today’s 21st-century organization and workforce as neuronal networks due to my passion for neuroscience, especially neuroplasticity. 

Human brain consists of more than one hundred billion neurons, interconnected with each other through synapses. 

There is a vast difference between what is meant by “mental health” and how is it perceived by society.

Feeling sad from time to time does not necessarily mean one is suffering from a diagnosable, quantifiable mental illness, such as Major Depressive Disorder. Similarly, many may joke about “being OCD”, meanwhile undermining the nature of the illness as well as those who live with it. It is, therefore, of utmost importance to distinguish between “mental health” as a fashionable, trendy and hackneyed buzzword and the harsh reality of being mentally unwell. 

According to a blog written by Kathy Edens, “Awareness of our own and others’ mental health is growing around the world, but sadly still hasn’t shaken the stigma and embarrassment.” Indeed, it is a sad truth that, even with the pandemic pushing the issue of mental health into the limelight, it is still labelled as an uncomfortable, disconcerting and awkward topic to address.  

Let us now consider how “mental health” is approached in the current workplace. It seemed that – overnight – workers went from shaking each other’s hands and enjoying a lunch break together to staring at the harsh light of computer screens. Interaction became isolation and communication a click; a smile a square on that screen. All too quickly, people were having to adopt novel methods of getting the job done, existing in a cyberspace workplace

Today’s U.S. (And Global) Organizations Can Be Considered Analogous To The Nervous Systems And The Workforce Members To Neurons – Building Blocks Of Organizations.
  • Each member in the organization uses his/her cognitive abilities and brain capacities to achieve individual and organizational goals. 
  • While working towards set goals/objectives, the neurons not only interact with the rest of the body system within an individual but, high-level interconnection occurs among neurons of the workforce members thereby establishing higher-order synapse and interconnections to establish networks, processes, and links within any given department/division/organization. 
  • The above-mentioned networks recreate the team and group dynamics within the organization not only domestically but internationally considering the number of mergers and acquisitions global companies are doing. 
  • These workforce neuronal networks work engagingly if communication flows properly within the organization. Any disruption in this flow disrupts certain network connections and synapses leading to organizational paralysis in achieving goals/objectives. 
  • This paralysis can be considered analogous to Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s diseases or other nerve disorders where certain parts of the body/brain fail to function systematically thereby impacting the whole nervous system or body system. 
What Is Neuroplasticity?

Neuroplasticity can be considered as an analogy to those global organizations that are referred to as learning organizations. The brain’s plasticity nature can be attributed to the fact that the neurons and synapses keep reorganizing themselves throughout the human life span thereby forming new neural connections throughout life.  

Learning organizations that emphasize learning and development tend to keep reorganizing themselves to be in sync with technological, global, and/or other business advances. The neuroplasticity concept not only helps each member of the workforce to expand his/her knowledge (provided the person is motivated to learn) but also new neural pathways are established through new interconnections and knowledge-sharing with other members or new members of the workforce. 

What Metaphor would you use to describe today’s global organizations and workforce?

Feel free to share your insights and let us together create an enriched mutual learning platform. Thank You!

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