The Brain and Neural Networks

Dr. José Antonio Rodríguez Piedrabuena, specialist in psychiatry and psychoanalysis, dissects the brain and neural networks in the third video of five made by PROA Comunicación.

Currently there is a crisis of creative solutions, repeated formulas of the last century can be found in the political, educational and cultural fields. Scientific advances about the brain have not influenced changes in our ideas about memory, intelligence or the emotional world. This translates into essays about creativity, on the creative fact, passing briefly and incompletely, without a multidisciplinary vision of the topic.

José Antonio Rodríguez Piedrabuena is a member of the International Society of Psychoanalysis, the Analysis Group of London, the Spanish Society of Psychiatry and the Institute of Psychosomatic Studies and Medical Psychotherapy.

Digital Media, the New “Drug” for Children

Manfred Spitzer, German professor, director of the Department of Psychiatry at the University Hospital of Ulm and the Center for Transfer of Neurosciences and Learning, argues that digital media (computers, tablets and smartphones) “do not increase academic learning capacity, but rather the opposite.” In his opinion, they can have a negative impact on the brain’s learning processes and cause both physical and psychological, pathological disorders.  “Children get used to focusing their attention on screens, outsourcing their brain processes of information gathering, reducing their retention and memorization capacity, causing them to learn less.” “It’s logical,” he says, “because if they use a pocket calculator or a translator, for example, they don’t develop the mental processes necessary to learn arithmetic or a language properly.”

According to the investigation’s results, parents, teachers and politicians are asked for a deep reflection on the pedagogical usefulness, or assitance to learning, of these resources and their risks, which are physical as well. The Spanish medical associations have defined all of this abuse as a new addiction to digital media like any other drug. These new “drugs” are a test of the fragility of the human mind. Because our eight million-year-old genetics developed within nature, with rewards coming from our environment and interrelation in small groups, but today, we have become emotionally deprogrammed from them.

In his latest work, “Cyber Disease,” Spitzer warns that abusing screens makes children “fatter and nearsighted.” It also deprives them of rest, since exposure to screens in the hours before sleep creates a decrease in melatonin secretion and resets their circadian rhythm, “which causes them to wake up tired in the morning.”

When we use them at bedtime, our screens’ blue light, is interpreted by the brain as being daylight and, in addition, corrodes the essential melatonin for tissue repair mechanisms and sleep. One teenager declares that he lost his phone for two days and had two hundred messages, an addict to a new drug genre.

As for the adverse effects on the psychological level, experts talk about attention disorders, stress and depression. A recent British study indicates that 13-year-old girls who spend more than three hours a day on Facebook are twice as likely to suffer from depression five years later. In light of these risks, it is worth asking why educational leaders continue to promote the use of digital devices. Spitzer is blunt: “because of commercial pressures, since they bombard us with messages about the benefits of their products and make us addicted.”

Real World Isolation 

In Spain, a more worrying fact is that, 22% are extreme Internet users, meaning they spend more than six hours connected on weekdays, which not only leaves them little time for other activities such as sports, outings with friends or studying and reading, but it also negatively impacts our sedentary lives. The time for reading, thinking and distractions according to our biological nature is running out!

In South Korea, the country with the greatest penetration of these devices, they know it well. According to data from the Ministry of Science, 30% of those between 10 and 19 are addicted to their smartphones. A similar phenomenon is that of Japanese hikikomoris (secluded “hermits”), who isolate themselves from the real world in their rooms, permanently connected to the internet. Quite a few of them end up being hospitalized or frequent technology detoxification camps.

The analysis has indicated that inappropriate or excessive use among adolescents “can present problems of aggressiveness, anxiety, depression, sleep disorders and, in some cases, social isolation,” according to Raquel Muñoz, principal investigator of the study. The results have been obtained from studies carried out during the 2010-2011 academic year in 28 schools in the Vallés Occidental with 5,538 students between 12 and 20 years old in participation.

Taking a sample of our emotional state: what motivates us and of our lack of objectives for the development of our own personalies present in the world in which we live, what causes the emotional vacuum that hinders the management of personal time in the direction of health, culture, well-being and development of a person? These are symptoms of the simplifying trend of our civilization, where new technologies do the rest. 16% of Spaniards declare themselves openly extremist, demonstrating that trash television produces, facilitates and stimulates this situation and increases the interest to have emotionally altered and exalted voters for certain political parties. Due to all of this, no author has reason to dare to write, their readers will not have the time to devote to such a book. The functions of the pre-frontal portions in the brain are to anticipate and plan for the future. When these gadgets are constantly used since childhood, is is possible for the cerebral lobes to remain completely undeveloped.


 

José Antonio Rodríguez Piedrabuena 
Specialist in Psychiatry and Psychoanalysis

Why do we Use Drugs?

Dr. José Antonio Rodríguez Piedrabuena, a specialist in psychiatry and psychoanalysis, reflects on drugs and addictions that distance human beings from their genetic programming in the second video of five made by PROA Communication.

“Our genetic programming look for simple, natural pleasures, nothing to do with what we can find in the aisles of the supermarket, nothing to do with video games, social media, or other aspects that do not represent a reward. The real reward is to be healthy, survive , live together, and be emotionally stable, mentally speaking, “he says.

‘Why do we get high?’ Intends to give us the key points to a modern and updated vision on the origin and causes of why human beings fall into infinite modalities of addictive behaviors and bonds. The work reviews and synthesizes the experience of 20 years of reflections and works on the topic, erasing misunderstandings and superficial visions. The second part is extended to give a vision of professional work with these people. His thoughts and reflections are in agreement with those who have been working on the subject for the past 90 years. José Antonio Rodríguez Piedrabuena is a member of the International Society of Psychoanalysis, the Group Analysis in London, the Spanish Society of Psychiatry and the Institute of Psychosomatic Studies and Medical Psychotherapy.

Brands and Customer Experience

Beatriz López, vice president of the Spanish Association for Quality, explains why brands are important and why it is important to develop customer experience strategies to reach audiences. “The transparency and honesty of brands reach customers very quickly,” she says.

Let’s Talk About Politics

All living creatures, and even some viruses, live, like us humans, in groups. We are able to refer to you by your individual identity and we can think. But we all have experiences that according to the group in which we exist, aspects, resources, qualities and even defects that are set in motion, which individually or in pairs do not appear. The politicians of these inauguration sessions, if we think about it, I think it is clear that they have been subjected to group dynamics, large groups or couples, with clear and latent dynamics.

When we are in a group we can enter into regression, for example, groups with messianic or righteous expectations, resorting to excite simple emotions without doubts, with saving certainty. Or we can be in groups who live in a moral superiority, which is like being healthy in a leprosarium, or formerly in a tuberculosis sanatorium, hygiene must be a priority in the danger of obvious contagion. And they launch the cordon sanitaire. I become stubborn, I defend myself with the maximum ferocity, even if I do not know very well who I am and my place is not well defined, I fear losing what little I know, I need not one but many barriers. The left must be aware that it does not have much space to be recognized with ideological presuppositions of the last century, especially now with the globalization of nonsense, of the news, of the economy, of the way of dressing. They should have talked about how our future is going to be fixed as we grow in complexity and yet they continued with their rattle, with their short vision of left and right, as insults: The rights, the right wing! The image of a degraded mother projected to her working language of demolition and activation of archaic emotions of the jungle.

Attack group is one of the definitions of this type of group. Attack group, dependent group, faithful group. These dynamics have something in common, their members are trapped by simple, archaic, survival emotions, attacked solely for what they project to those on the outside. Attacked by the power of others, which destroys anyone’s desire for it, with the sole purpose to impose their ideological superiority. Well, in that aspect the beloved group functions like a herds of animals, fighting for territory, imposing an alpha male etc. To summarize: it does not fit in their minds that we all have partial truths, truths limited by our beliefs or specialties, so to know, analyze and solve complex issues, we need the partial visions of everything and that would be what we call task groups, or working: democratic groups. And for this task few human beings can lead this group.

The Prefrontal Brain 

It is followed in hospitals, when two Siamese twins are being separated for eight hours, in which doctors and other staff take turns, each one focused and contributing their knowledge. That is the work group, all in a similar state of mind aware of their identity and working for those who pay them their salaries, the citizen, the citizens in this case. This is how you work in hospitals, in high science groups, because they live in the reality that without the task group, nothing complex can be undertaken. A nation is in the highest degree, and this one, ours, where politicians, like all citizens, are unable to agree to form macro-cooperatives, to understand what is happening in the countryside, which one of our diseases will afflict us, the lack of science, research, role models for youth, in short, hundreds of issues that should have been put on the table and discussed with the partial vision of each group to coordinate a global response.

Politicians may be not be conscious of these strategies, and of course I do not even think they have been trained in group work techniques, and the consequence is what we have seen in the Chamber, subgroups, each with its dynamics and in turn in a group dynamic big. It was a situation of mutual barriers that occur when our mind has been tied to a particular group dynamic, which can only see what happens here and now. What endangers my narcissistic belief, my personal and collective ego. Emotions slow the functioning of what we have in the brain, they are exclusively human, the rest, the prefrontal brain, is equal to all the bugs that fly or walk.

Those of us who have been doing group therapy for fifty years, large groups in companies, group dynamics of whole families and couples therapy perceive, feel, understand and see how intricate it is to lead one of these groups and the enormous amount of detail that escapes us. One brain alone, even as a trained therapist, I don’t think I can see too much what is happening in a group. That is why we resort to observer help with members of the group itself when there are no colleagues on hand to do co-therapy. In this case, we are the citizens, the media, which we observe the situation, in this case, to be quite desolate.

When you are in a group your vision shrinks, you stop seeing the contour and everything you feel, see and act shows that your mind is intoxicated and that you see very little of what happens outside your group. We see it every day when a reporter tells us, microphone in hand, about the terrible hail storm, but we do not see that field, in this case thousands of hectares of shattered Rioja vineyards. A new concert opens in town and the reporter, talks to a neighbor who gives his impressions of this new orchestra, but we are left wanting to listen to it, flooded in a talk in which the reporter must justify his presence at the event. We don’t want to hear from him but rather the music of this new band. The machinery fair: another reporter with the same routine, and we want to see the exhibition. These examples mean that we are very limited when we see things from our ideology, group, belonging and affiliation, from our formation, our party or our professional specialty, and the television network broadcasting.

That has to do with the debate of some gentlemen who, when sitting in the Chamber, have forgotten what they are there for, have won their position by the delegated vote of citizens and have forgotten it. Now he devotes himself to his dynamics. They no longer see what happens outside, in the villages, to the laborious civilian, in Europe, in the world, the threats of an arthritic and bureaucratic Europe, which will be surrounded by research, science, commerce, planning long term from China, India and some others. All of that disappeared from the voters when deciding their vote and now, in the seats of the Chamber that are there because we have worried for months until we limited our minds into functions that do not go beyond three years of age. For the infant, the future does not exist, and parents are still as idealized and holy gods. As the voters of those gentlemen who are dogmatically clear that society needs a deployment of social engineers, people to people, brain to brain, where they have to erase any idea or belief that competes with their messianic and dogmatic proposal.

The Emotion Factory and Other Components

Every living being has a genetic program: survive and repopulate. But as humans it is complicated, because development is usually not as perfect and more complicated than other species, we are half finished in many aspects, and we have to complete, plug, rebuild, repair and finish off our vital infrastructure that, in general, is not finished

Here comes what we choose. Many choose a profession that has to do with these deficiencies. Many politicians, I believe that always the dogmatists, extremists and messianic, have chosen this profession as a means of repairing, rebuilding these deficiencies and deficits of education in the very first years. Well, to the extent that someone has not finished their development, they need to join a group that ends it, or at least sustains their weaknesses, plug their doubts. If you have many, you need dogmas, wholeness. They are the membership groups that need to project and even attack those outside sets of aspects that their structural weaknesses cannot support and create attack groups for what has been externalized.

On the other hand, family and school education has ignored the need for everyone to recognize within themselves what drives them, motivates them and keeps them tied to an addiction, to an affiliation, why they have chosen a certain vital destiny. We conduct ourselves as if there is not a whole enormity of structures under the modern cortices of our brain, which, in all types of brains, are the factory of emotions, instincts, pleasure, aggression, and other components necessary for organisms to live . This could be summed up by saying that 80% of the brain is made up of processes below consciousness. This says anatomy and neuroscience, and we, as a collective culture, deny it, we do not believe that the unconscious exists. Although as seen in the inauguration debate, almost everyone tried to excite us and put us in an emotional state that tends to remain closed and decide our votes against someone. This is how we want our team to score goals, and we are “del Betis manque pierda,” the saying of the Andalusian football club, Betis, meaning we are “with Betis despite the loss.”

All the groups that have been created for something are enrolled in intra-group dynamics and have often forgotten what they were founded for. In this case, we did not appear as a nation, but as a project, there was no talk but “policies” that can excite our emotions as spectators. By the way, the Sixth closed emission to Abascal’s first sentence, a magnificent definition of his ideology.

Our representatives do not know, I believe, of the scientific existence of the unconscious, but their intuition guides them correctly to do, stop doing, say or show what fragments us, divides and festers. Very accurate to, as it is disturbing, our mental health!


 

José Antonio Rodríguez Piedrabuena 
Specialist in Psychology and Psychoanalysis

The Keys of Communication in Foundations

María Cano, communications and marketing of the Spanish Association of Foundations, highlights the importance and keys of communication in the foundational sector. The foundations and, in general, the entities of the third sector are agents of change and transformation. For a long time, they have mistakenly been perceived as unprofessional entities that practiced charity without great pretense or demands in their impact, management and obligations.

During the last few years and protected by the constitutional right to found, more than 8,000 foundations have grown extraordinarily in volume, professionalization, good governance and influence in the development of our society. They currently employ 256,000 people, invest more than 8,000 million euros annually in projects of general interest, generate 0.8% of GDP and serve more than 35 million people. Their diversity and agility allows them to reach all kinds of situations and groups, so that we can say “where there is a need there is a foundation.”

The keys to good communication are based on these three aspects:

  • To Inform
  • To Connect
  • To Invole

Each one of them is fundamental and complementary. We cannot improve the perception of the sector without informing. Today, there is still a high percentage of the population that is unaware of our abilities to make their situations better. Our mission is to reach out to citizens in their needs, shortcomings and problems. But how are we going to help them if they don’t know us. We must be informative, there is no other way. On the other hand, information generates transparency that is the greatest, most demanding and critical requirement to the sector. For a long time we have confused humility with opacity, gratuitousness with responsibility, which has generated great currents of distrust. This excess of informative zeal has brought very negative consequences to the sector.

It is necessary to connect with the emotions of citizens to create opinion and joint action. We are not simple service entities, oblivious to people’s sensitivities, motivations and concerns.

The foundational sector is full of stories that are worth telling, real stories of people who generously contribute their work, their talent and their time where they are most needed. There are few things in life that connect us as human beings more than stories. And if we can connect, they will embrace our foundation’s own values and objectives. And most importantly, the trust that validates our existence will develop.

Finally, if we manage to inform and connect, it will be easy to reach the third milestone, to involve. With involvement we move forward, grow and inspire society to collaborate in our projects. Together we are more and we are when we are able to involve and create a community. Today, the groups of interest, the so-called stakeholders, not only want to know where their donations contributions are going, now they want to participate. They want to be a part of the cause and that’s why you have to know how to connect.

In this context, digital transformation offers us a thousand different possibilities to communicate effectively. The Internet is the speaker of what we are and what we do. Social networks are great conversation platforms that allow us to connect with users’ emotions and provoke responses.

Pero además, somos grandes expertos de lo que acontece. Nuestro conocimiento y experiencia en los diversos ámbitos del sector, tantos como situaciones, tiene un gran valor en el análisis de la actualidad y en su transformación.

But in addition, we are great experts in what is happenning. Our knowledge and experience in the various fields of the sector, as many as the situations which they serve, has great value in the analysis of current affairs and its transformation.

With good communication we build trust, inspire, sensitize, connect, transmit, involve and transform. That is the challenge and the way.

María Cano, communication and marketing of the Spanish Association of Foundations

The Drug of Power

Our political leaders are repeating the same news. The mediated dramatism keeping us hostage daily to tighten their negotiations makes the last weeks since the elections seem years. But what happens to these figures when they come into contact with power?

This week Antonio Garrigues released his new poetry book, “Living Loves, Dead Loves.” It was an intimate and meaningful event in which several of his poems were recited. Carlos Rodríguez Brown read the last one, addressed to our political leaders, and as he read it, without realizing it, two tears slid down my cheeks. We all were shocked.

Juan Fernández-Aceytuno, director of the Appraisal Society, asked Mario Alonso Puig and me, “But what happens to these people?” And as if it was a cocktail party in which they were going to interrupt us at any time, the three of us agreed to sum it up: “they lose their way when they come to power.”

The question is why. None of us think that we will lose our way if we are suddenly given the maximum position of responsibility in our organizations, and yet it can happen to anyone. We only realize it “a posteriori,” when we look back and reflect on our own excesses.

I think the easiest way to understand the effect of power is to imagine it as an ocean current of oceanic proportions over which we must flow or surf in some direction. Those who have not had power cannot understand what it feels like to have it. It is like a boy thinking from the sand on the beach about what world surfing champions, who risk their lives at every moment on waves tens meters high, are doing badly. The rush of adrenaline and the physical effort they use are literally life or death.

Directing a country or rubbing shoulders with the global elite of the G20 generates the same effect. On one hand, so much force under our feet dislodges us physically and mentally. Our emotional reactions are so intense that they overflow, and our minds escape to some pleasant place of fantasy. The pressure of the phone, the enormous opportunities that open before us and the terrible blackmails that come to look for us like hungry sharks, burn our skin and take away so much sleep, that our minds escape to a state of self-inflated drunkenness. Same as a line of cocaine (I imagine).

That is why power is a drug, because as it saturates us or drowns us quickly, our minds create a scenario in which we are all-powerful and invincible. It makes us supermen and superwomen who can see from the heavens what is happening down there among mortals. And this, you will find very curious, is basically what victims of violent trauma do when their minds do not know how to face the sensory reality of what is happening to them. They separate from their body and watch the scene from the ceiling.

Power, therefore, pushes us to our maximum limit every moment of every day. It intoxicates us with self-elevating pleasure and enslaves us with its pressure and unpredictable movements, thus discovering, in light of everything, any defect in the form or substance of our personalities.

Learn to surf

So, for example, we have seen how Nicolás Sarkozy strives to appear taller than his super model wife in this week’s Paris Match photos. How can a man with the success and charisma he has still feel self-conscious about his height? Marrying a queen of beauty and Parisian sophistication has raised his status socially, but in doing so he subjected himself to the scrutiny of his own self-conscious gaze. Nobody cares about Sarkozy’s height more than Sarkozy.

The more power, the stronger the wave we must surf. And it is easier to dislodge ourselves, lose out footing, or even fall suddenly from our brand-new Buzz Lightyear presidents table: “To infinity and beyond!” aviator glasses, Falcon pose and everything.

The challenge is, therefore, in learning to surf the wave of power without fading out, without saturating ourselves, and without letting ourselves be drowned by the intensity of the emotions from a position of maximum influence. The years of experience with all their troubles, deceptions and failures help a lot. If you do crazy things for love, you also end up doing them to stay in power.

Like a crush that is too intense, there is no bigger disappointment than to suddenly recover sobriety and realize all the stupid and/or terrible things that you have done in order to win the duel of guns at any cost. And if you suffer several disappointments, each time you lose less in your fantasies, learning over the years to accept the reality.

Giving advice to the oceanic surfers of the G20, here from the disembodied beach of executive coaching in a country very resistant to self-questioning, I can only say one thing: everything that you invest in personal growth will prepare you to surf big and complex waves. Coaching-the thing that questions us and makes us see new things; not that of praise and promise of solving the problem – practicing meditation and mindfulness to better manage our own reactions and emotions, returning regularly to spaces of reflection, are the tools that work.

Surfing is learned by surfing. If you analyze how you failed every time you get off the board, you will improve your way of catching the waves. Without miracles or magic, but with effort and time. The one who always knows how to look in the mirror and find points to improve on ends up flowing with authentic tsunamis of power without clinging or hanging onto them. And these influential surfing champions are those leaders who impact with their vision and serve their hearts.


 

Pino Bethencourt 
Coach and founder of Club Comprometidos

The Investment Priorities that Differentiate Digital Leaders

Companies that bet on expanding the capabilities of their staff and invest more in technology tend to show a higher degree of digital development than those that devote less resources to these priorities. This has been demonstrated by a study from the Boston Consulting Group (BCG), that surveyed 1,800 companies from Asia, the EU and the USA. Among the companies surveyed, financial institutions and telecommunications companies are more digitally developed, more than 25% can be considered digital leaders. The entities of the public sector and energy companies are behind, since more than 40% of them belong to the group of ‘digital stragglers’.

“Financial institutions are pioneers in digital maturity. Beyond digitizing their operations and undertaking new digital initiatives to improve the customer experience, they understand perfectly that the digitization of their organizations must be a priority,” stresses Jorge Colado, Partner & Managing Director of BCG in Spain.

“It is clear that prioritizing investments correctly is one of the surest ways to develop digitally,” says Michael Grebe, Senior Partner and technology expert at BCG. “If they want to remain competitive and not lose ground, the stragglers should look very closely at how industry leaders are distributing their investments,” says Michael Ruessmann, Senior Partner and digital transformation expert at BCG.

The digital acceleration index measures the degree of digital development

The study is based on BCG’s digital acceleration index (DAI). Managers and directors evaluated the degree of  their companies’ digital development based on a series of criteria using a scale of one to four in 35 categories. Then, those raw scores were added and values from 0 to 100 were assigned to each of the companies. Companies with a DAI between 67 and 100 were considered leaders, while those with an DAI of 43 or less were labeled as stragglers.

Where are the digital leaders?

The study was conducted across nine sectors and three regions of the world: Asia, Europe and the USA. The sector that obtained the best results was financial services in Asia, with a digital acceleration index (DAI) of approximately 60. Both in Europe and in the US, the telecommunications sector led the rankings. It should be noted that while some sectors showed excellent results in Asia, others lagged far behind. For example, consumer companies in Asia consider their level of digital development to be higher than that of their US and European counterparts. “This was the first year that we included Asia in the study and the Asian companies achieved very good results. Its degree of digital development in all sectors is high compared to similar companies in the rest of the world, “says Michael Ruessmann.

Digital leaders achieve magnificent results by activating three levers.

The study identified three levers that leaders use to develop digitally. First, they invest more than 5% of their OPEX in digital projects. In particular, the percentage of US leaders that allocate this amount (90%) is much higher than those of Asia (75%) and Europe (65%). Likewise, leaders around the world tend to assign more than 10% of their staff to digital positions and projects. In this case, Asian leaders (54%) are slightly ahead of their American counterparts (51%) and clearly ahead of those in Europe (44%). Focusing on their staff allows Asian companies to reach the highest scores in “new ways of working”. Finally, leaders also implement digital solutions on a larger scale than stragglers and are less likely to stall solutions relegating them to a single case. “After conducting the study for three years, we can say that these digital levers remain in force and allow us to distinguish the digital leaders,” says Michael Grebe.

Digital leaders are very clear about their investment priorities

The digital leaders increase their digital profiles and invest more than the stragglers in developing their staff. The study revealed that three out of four leaders plan to expand their digital workforce by more than 20%. By region, more than 90% of Asia’s leaders plan to increase their workforce at this rate, while those in the US and Europe are less ambitious and contemplate increases of 70% and 65% respectively.

However, digital leaders do not only look outside, but worry about what they already have within their companies. Half of them plan to develop the digital capabilities of more than 20% of their staff, something that less than a third of the stragglers are doing. It should be noted that the leaders spend 22% of their total digital investment on technology, unlike the stragglers, who invest 16%. However, by increasing investments, the digital acceleration index (DAI) in technology is much higher among the leaders than among the stragglers (78 vs. 29) and, it indicates that the difference between the two groups is likely to grow.

Asian leaders are at the forefront of artificial intelligence (AI)

Approximately 50% of leaders around the world devote more than 10% of their digital profiles to AI projects, while only 29% of the stragglers are betting on this policy. Asian companies are the ones with the most people working on AI solutions. The study revealed that the number of Asian companies that dedicate more than 10% of their digital workforce to AI projects is double what was recorded in the EU and US. Asian companies are also ahead in the adoption of AI: 87% compared to 78% in Europe and 74% in the US.

How to communicate in a VUCA environment

How do we categorize VUCA environments? They are spaces dominated by four basic characteristics: volatility, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity. These four terms, originally from the English expression, mark the business communication activites that we have today to develop professional communication. This communicaction is sometimes surprising due the speed of its changes, especially those related to technology and the digital ecosystem.

It is true that when developing in these environments it is more than necessary to build a strong communication strategy, which empowers organizations through what we call intangible assets, which ultimately translates to a good reputation.

This environment of constant transformation and information saturation requires strategies based on trust and credibility, two assets which communication professionals must work with that are largely achieved by generating knowledge and commitment. But not only that. It is essential that those of us who dedicate ourselves to this profession must manage safe spaces for dialogue with stakeholders and the company’s different groups of interest, putting users at the center of all actions and knowing that digitalisation has empowered them.

The uncertainty that dominates the current ecosystem forces professionals, agencies and companies to develop innovative communication strategies based on a series of aspects and crucial values to achieve their set objectives. Some of those factors are:

A strong, clear approach, which can serve as an attempt to stop the volatility. If we can predict what is coming, organizations and their leaders can anticipate any challenge or unexpected incident. In many occasions, and given the speed of the technological changes to which we are accustomed, it is very complicated to “stop the ball from rolling” and look with a different perspective.

Understanding the world. It may seem a righteous-sounding phrase, but it is the reality. In a changing world full of complexities, the most appropriate attitude is to face anything comes from understanding and knowledge. Understanding always requires observing and listening to others in the search for different solutions. A communication strategy in VUCA environments must be the result of an active listening process, mainly within the organization, and with creative and innovative proposals.

Trust. Today more than ever and, above all, in an ecosystem like the one we live in, it is necessary to have the confidence of your stakeholders or interest groups, from employees to customers, through suppliers and media.

Agility and reaction capacity. How can we combat ambiguity? Obviously, with speed and ability to moving inside and outside of your organization to implement solutions. Faced with unforeseeable environments, the response of companies marks the communication strategy, much more than planning.



Bárbara Yuste
Director of Digital Communication at Proa Comunicación

Catherine Barba: “We are Living in a World in Rupture”

“The world is changing faster than ever.” With this categorical phrase, Catherine Barba, Internet pioneer, entrepreneur and angel investor, talks about the world in which we find ourselves, a world that, in her opinion, “is in rupture or breaking down”.

In her opinion, the changes we are experiencing today force us to better understand the world around us to make the right decisions. The most traditional companies have to be aware that “all current revolutions can be represented in exponential curves,” she points out. And that is why within these organizations you need leaders and professionals who are able to adapt to new environments, to a new way of thinking, or a change in mentality. “We are used to thinking linearly and we can no longer do that,” says Barba.

Barba radiates enthusiasm describing the world we live in. “Today all technological innovations are possible: we can build houses in three hours thanks to 3D printing or we have autonomous cars,” she says. But, in addition, what is more important and historical is that at present several revolutions overlapping at the same time: artificial intelligence and robotics… There are so many changes at happening the same time and this makes it difficult, according to some comments, to be able to anticipate or predict the world of the future. Barba exemplifies this situation alluding to the incontestable fact that today companies with such great economic values did not exist ten years ago. In other words, they are companies that have not seen this exponential evolution, which were born with digital DNA.

Barba, also a member of the Renault Council, is very reluctant to talk about digital transformation. She is convinced that the adjective “digital” does not contribute anything. It does not make sense because we are facing processes of cultural and organizational changes in companies. Technology is a “driver,” it is a tool, but what is really relevant is the transformation of mentality that human teams have to develop, the leaders of these companies.

Referring to the challenges in the field of organizational transformation, Catherine Barba believes that one of the biggest challenges these companies will have is being able to attract talent, but not only capturing it, but more importantly retaining it. And look at the explanation in a crucial aspect: young people today want to work on their own or in companies such as Google or Facebook. It is increasingly difficult for traditional companies to attract this group. For this reason, that they have to adapt to new circumstances and the new language spoken by this current generation. This is where, in her opinion, the process of cultural transformation is embedded.

But, it goes much further in terms of challenges. For this entrepreneur, “thinking about the future” is key. “You can not think about today’s business, you have to think about tomorrow, about what the business will look like in the future,” she insists.

The formation of teams is key

Her journey through the United States for four years has served Barba to see that the so-called country of opportunities is not as advanced as it seems. Entrepreneurship in the United States is located in very specific places, according to reports. In recent years, she says “I have seen few companies that are prepared to face the process” of transformation, among other factors because the CEOs or company management do not have the necessary vision to lead it. This is a fundamental element for the cultural and organizational transformation of a company to come to fruition. As it is also fundamental to have a diverse board of directors. Diversity, not only of gender, is a central point to develop the sensitivity that will help face the necessary changes.

And another very important element is collaboration with the startup ecosystem. According to Barba, it is not only about talking to them, but about exchanging experiences and ideas, trying to take advantage of the best that these projects can offer and arriving later to enage with and invest in those companies.

Likewise, in order for a successful transformation process, the formation of the teams is essential. A training that, in the opinion of the investor, should focus on three pillars: digital culture, specifically focusing on new business models that are appearing in the market, the current meaning of the client (who is not only the person who buys a product or service) and entrepreneurial spirit.

Concluding our conversation, Barba emphasizes on the need to incorporate failure as an essential factor for any company or entrepreneur to advance and improve. Failure is not bad. It is quite the opposite. And it is something that has been incorporated into the process of change. A similar instance occurs with two values that are sometimes forgotten: humility and authenticity.

 


Bárbara Yuste
Directora of Digital Communication at Proa Comunicación