Go out of your mind.

Two recent studies on depression made me think about organizations.
One found that young adults diagnosed with major depressive disorder have hyper-connected brain networks.
Especially in the areas associated with rumination.
They run problems over and over in their minds.
Never arriving at a solution.
The other found that depression is alleviated by feeling like part of a group.
Not just socializing with people, but strongly identifying with them.
Over the years, I’ve discovered those same insights.
With organizations.
Depressed, dysfunctional ones ruminate.
The classic symptom being reports and meetings.
Meetings to discuss performance.
Meetings to discuss problems.
Meetings to discuss meetings.
All of those meetings are really nothing more than collective rumination.
And, as the author of the first study made clear, “As rumination goes up, cognitive control goes down.”
Strategy and execution become muddied, disconnected.
Thriving, healthy organizations are also hyper-connected.
But not in their minds.
To the outside world and to each other, in purpose and vision.
They strongly identify with their audience, and focus relentlessly on improving their lives.
So if you find yourself and your organization ruminating, stop and engage with the outside world.
You’ll go out of your mind.
And, eventually, come to your senses.

Tom Asacker