Rotman School of Management, University of Toronto

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From the Editor | Spring 2015


Your brain — just like everyone else’s — is a work in progress. From the day you are born, it is continuously adapting, rewiring itself and improving — or slowly declining — as a function of how you use it. In his best-seller The Brain That Changes Itself, University of Toronto Professor Norman Doidge introduced the concept of ‘brain plasticity’, which means that our brains can continue to develop and flourish throughout our lives.

Just imagine how your work — and life in general — would improve if you could train yourself to notice more, be more thoughtful, ask better questions, be a better learner and tackle complex problems with ease? In this issue, we present a variety of approaches for doing just that.

We kick things off on page 10 with Rotman Vice Dean Mihnea Moldoveanu and Professor Peter Pauly’s Introduction to Model-Based Problem Solving, which they argue is essential to the modern solver of business problems.

Research shows that learning to be more ‘mindful’ can not only improve your productivity, it can also enable you to replace knee-jerk reactions with more conscious — and ultimately more efficient — behaviour. On page 24, IESE’s Alberto Ribera and J.L. Guillén explain how it works, in Mindfulness: Multiply Your Productivity Through Undivided Attention.

In a world where information moves fast, those who are quick to embrace new ways of working with data will get — and stay — ahead. On page 60, Boston Consulting Group’s Rashi Agarwal et al discuss Enabling Big Data: Six Capabilities That Really Matter.

Elsewhere in this issue, Harvard Business School’s Max Bazerman explains how to become a ‘first-class noticer’ in our Thought Leader Interview on page 18. And in our Idea Exchange section, Thinkers50 member Liz Wiseman describes the value of a ‘rookie mindset’ on page 90; Ian Leslie confirms the power of curiosity on page 111; Clive Thompson describes the Internet’s positive effects on our brains on page 120; and Rotman faculty Bill McEvily, Joshua Gans and András Tilcik discuss their latest research findings.

Futurist Alvin Toffler once said that the illiterate of the 21st century “will not be those who cannot read and write, but those who cannot learn, unlearn and relearn.” In today’s world, learning is the master skill — the ability that allows us to get ahead and thrive in complex environments.

Thankfully, as Prof. Doidge has shown, intelligence isn’t set in stone — it is fluid, and this fluidity comes from all sorts of things: the extent to which we embrace life-long learning, our openness to change and differing points of view, the expertise we develop and the people we surround ourselves with, to name just a few.

In short, the way we live our lives from day to day shapes our minds. Here’s to shaping our minds — and the world around us — for the better.

Karen Christensen, Editor-in-Chief

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