Managing for variabilityA neuroscientific approach for developing strategic agility in organizations

Mark Hill, Montclair State University
Jane Cromartie, University of New Orlean
John McGinnis, University of New Orleans


The neuroscientific literature reveals that the brain changes over time, and the type of change (plasticity) that results is not random. While the brain exhibits certain evolutionary prejudices, individual plasticity and the kind of thinking enabled can be shaped by, and can shape, organizational priorities and operations. Organizational focus on structure and procedural efficiency is shown to foster fixed thinking, while cultivation of “practiced varying” skills encourages thinking agility. Agile thinking is shown to be essential for the development of organizational plasticity, the foundation for organizational agility. Finally, suggestions for incorporating variability in the workplace are offered.