Posts Tagged ‘business’

Maharishi University #MaharishiU MBA students finish in top 1% in worldwide business simulation

February 22, 2017

This is the 4th time MUM MBA students finished in the top percentile at Capsim Management Simulations since they began competing in 2011.

Fairfield, IA – A team of MBA accounting students at Maharishi University of Management in Fairfield recently finished in the 99th percentile in an online business simulation that involved 1,136 master’s-degree-level teams worldwide, competing against teams from schools such as Indiana University, Kansas State, Temple, University of Georgia, University of Northern Iowa, Ohio University, and California State.

This is the fourth time MBA students from MUM have finished in the top percentile since they began participating in the simulation in 2011.

Indicates readiness for job markets

Andy Bargerstock

Andrew Bargerstock, PhD, CPA, Director of MBA Programs at Maharishi University of Management

“We had five teams that participated in the simulation for three weeks in January, and as a group they performed better than two-thirds of participating MBA schools,” said Professor Andy Bargerstock, who taught the capstone course that involved participating in the simulation. “As faculty in the business college, we feel that the simulation results demonstrate the readiness of our students for job markets now and ultimately for executive leadership positions.”

The team’s results in this ongoing simulation were confirmed by Brianne Haustein, client relations consultant with Capsim Management Simulations in Chicago, Illinois.

How the simulation works

In the online Capsim simulation, points are earned through well-defined metrics based on the Balanced Scorecard, a concept developed by Robert Kaplan at Harvard University. It recognizes four perspectives for measuring performance: customer, financial, internal business processes, and learning/growth.

The students must manage both short-term and long-term metrics across eight rounds of decision-making, with each round representing one year. This entails using their knowledge of marketing, finance, operations, human resources, accounting, problem-solving, and data analysis.

The teams act as executives who plan strategies and implement tactics across eight years of business activities.

The basis for comparison

While not a real-time competition per se, the ongoing simulation allows MBA teams to compare their performance with all the other teams who have participated in the previous six-month period from the end date of the last round of decisions.

By the time Dr. Bargerstock’s students participate in the simulation, they have taken a variety of courses such as marketing, finance, human resource management, operations management, business law, and lean management. Then they apply everything they’ve learned by participating in the simulation.

“We began participating in the simulation for a couple reasons,” Dr. Bargerstock said. “It’s an excellent exercise for applying everything they’ve learned. But I was also really curious how our students matched up with other MBA students around the world. It’s gratifying to know that they compare favorably and are clearly ready to be high-level professionals.”

Success in the job world

As students leave campus to fill paid practicum positions, and as they have completed their degree and taken positions as alumni, they have shown remarkable success.

  • Ganesh Baniya, CPA, is the manager of financial accounting and reporting for The Washington Post in Washington, DC. He was on a student MBA team that finished in the top 1% in Capsim.
  • Charles Njoya, CPA, is the director of audit and assurance for Community CPA & Associates, Des Moines, IA. He was on a student MBA team that finished in the top 5% in Capsim.

Many of the students take online distance education courses toward becoming Certified Public Accountants or Certified Management Accountants while in the practicum phase of the program, thereby entering the job world as a CPA or CMA.

200 MBA students enrolled at MUM

rahul-kedia-india-sushil-aryal-nepal-and-ankhbayar-sukhmaa-mongoliaThe top team this year included Rahul Kedia (India), Sushil Aryal (Nepal), and Ankhbayar Sukhmaa (Mongolia).

MBA students at Maharishi University of Management come from around the world. Those participating in the simulation are students in the Accounting Professionals Program. They spend eight months on campus taking specialized courses, and then begin their practicum, in which they work as an accountant for up to two years at a U.S. corporation and complete their MBA via distance education.

Approximately 200 students are currently enrolled in various specializations in the MBA program, including those on campus, those in their practicum phase, and those in special-purpose corporate MBA programs.

Accreditations

In addition to being accredited by the Higher Learning Commission, which accredits universities in the Midwestern region of the U.S., the business program at the bachelor’s, master’s and PhD levels at Maharishi University of Management has met the stringent requirements to be accredited by the International Assembly for Collegiate Business Education.

Contributing writer: Jim Karpen

The Fairfield Ledger: MUM finishes business simulation in top percentile

Related

The Role of Business Simulation Competitions in Higher Education

See more news of previous MUM MBA Capsim wins posted here.

Latest (July 2017)

These MBA in Accounting students also won, a 5th time for MUM! Maharishi University MBAs Receive Top Scores in Global Simulation.

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Fairfield, Iowa, TM and MUM make national news

June 10, 2016

Many articles have come out in praise of Fairfield, Iowa. Two and a half years ago, Rox Laird, The Des Moines Register’s editorial columnist, published an Opinion piece, Fairfield defines community action, on the city’s civic collaboration and Maharishi University’s Sustainable Living Center. The Smithsonian named Fairfield 7th out of 20 best small towns to visit that year. BuzzFeed named Fairfield one of the coolest small towns in America. And The Iowan had published an article on how Fairfield thinks inclusively creating rural success in Iowa.

I like to think the positive outcome of this latest article on Fairfield, TM and MUM, by Kevin Hardy in The Des Moines Register and the  USA TODAY NETWORK, resulted from a phone call I received on my birthday.

In April, I went to visit my son Nathanael at his new home in the Santa Barbara Riviera. For lunch he took me to The Boathouse at Hendry’s Beach, a well-known outdoor restaurant on the beach by the ocean. While waiting for our food to arrive, an unknown number called my cellphone. It was Kevin Hardy. He told me he covered business, labor and the economy for the Des Moines Register, and was researching why some towns in Iowa were thriving while many were losing population and failing economically. Then he said something that surprised me.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, Fairfield was Iowa’s fastest-growing city among cities of a similar size. Kevin wanted to know what role I thought Maharishi University of Management had played in the demographic and economic growth of Fairfield.

In addition to some of the longtime established businesses, I  gave him an historical overview how hundreds of meditators came from all over the US and Canada after MIU had moved to town from the mid-1970s onwards. Many would stay and relocate their businesses or start new ones. Also told him about today’s younger entrepreneurs, the new successful ventures they started, and gave him a list of people and companies to visit and interview.

Kevin Hardy and Register photographer/videographer Zach Boyden-Holmes really did their homework. They put together an impressive article that became a national success story! It is reproduced here with permission.  See the full article with 14 photos taken May 9, 2016 by Zach Boyden-Holmes/The Register. I added links for more information.

Why this Iowa town is thriving when so many aren’t
By Kevin Hardy, June 1, 2016

Click here or on the image below to see a short video of Fairfield entrepreneurs. (1:20)

Fairfield out-performed all of the state’s 15 micropolitan areas in terms of population growth between 2010 and 2015.

FAIRFIELD, Ia. – Take a walk around this town’s bustling square and you’ll see an array of businesses that would rival some shopping malls.

On one corner sits a coffee shop that roasts its own beans in house. Down the block is a store specializing in sustainable children’s clothing and toys. Along another strip, there’s a women’s boutique, a Verizon store and a nutrition company.

The town’s retail center also is home to a salon, a consignment store, a furniture store and an art gallery. Just off the square is a pet spa, a natural remedy store and a photography studio. And for those looking for a bite to eat: a Thai restaurant, an Indian cafe, an Italian spot and a joint peddling pizza and steak.

In fact, local officials count only one vacancy in the storefronts that line shady Central Park. It’s just one more sign of success in this town of 9,500 in a state where most small cities and rural areas are seeing residents leave.

Since 1969, census data show Iowa’s metropolitan areas have gained nearly a half million people, while smaller cities and rural places have lost more than 171,000 residents.

But Fairfield has prospered, particularly in recent years. Between 2010 and 2015, the city saw a 4 percent population gain – a rate that rivaled the growth of some of Iowa’s much larger metro areas.

This southeast Iowa city is known as a magnet for practitioners of Transcendental Meditation at Maharishi University of Management, who flocked here since the 1970’s. Fairfield was able to capitalize on that unique niche, building a surprisingly metropolitan quality of life.

While Fairfield is home to 1,000 fewer jobs than it had 15 years ago, state figures show employers have rebounded in the last five years, adding nearly 700 jobs between 2010 and 2015. During that time, Fairfield went from 714 employers to 751, according to Iowa Workforce Development.

“We have a great quality-of-life culture and an entrepreneurial culture,” said Mayor Ed Malloy. “And we see it is allowing more young people to put down roots in this community.”

Around town, there is no shortage of small-city staples like Casey’s General Store and Pizza Ranch, though Fairfield is better known for its funky coffee houses, shops and restaurants. Locals claim the city is home to more restaurants per capita than San Francisco.

Yet the place that Oprah Winfrey dubbed “America’s most unusual town” is more than just quirky. It’s one of the few nonmetropolitan areas in Iowa posting strong population growth, according to U.S. Census figures. And around town, evidence abounds that Fairfield has done what so many small cities in the Midwest struggle to achieve: attract and retain people.

Troy with MUM Solar Array

Troy Van Beek stands in front of a solar power array his company Ideal Energy installed at the Maharishi University in Fairfield Monday, May 9, 2016. Zach Boyden-Holmes/The Register

TM’s long effect
Maharishi Mahesh Yogi introduced Transcendental Meditation, or TM, in India in the 1950’s.

But he brought his technique and “Consciousness-Based education” to Iowa in 1974, when Maharishi International University moved from Santa Barbara, Calif., to the 1 million empty square feet vacated by Parsons College in Fairfield. (The university later changed its name to Maharishi University of Management.)

While some in the community resisted the influx of meditators, locals say most of those tensions were alleviated years ago.

“As time has gone on, everybody’s meshed seamlessly,” said local designer Linda Pettit.

Pettit, who with her husband owns Finishing Touch interior design, has watched Fairfield thrive over the last 32 years from her storefront on the town square. She ticks off quality-of-life improvements such as a new pool and new recreation center.

She boasts about the many restaurants. And she tells of all the new and unusual businesses that have opened.

“We have a very vibrant community,” she said. “I think a lot of small towns don’t have the diversity that we do.”

Pettit hears about layoffs at plants in nearby Ottumwa. She knows how Iowa farmers are struggling with low commodity prices. But she said that isn’t Fairfield’s storyline.

Her business works on residential and commercial projects. But she’s noticed a slant toward more commercial projects in recent years, as new businesses pop up and old ones invest in upgrades.

“It’s a great place to have a business,” she said.

Iowa’s ‘Silicorn Valley’
Over the years, many TM practitioners and others who visited Fairfield decided to stay.

Once here, they had to find a way to make a living. Some Fairfield residents drive to Ottumwa or Iowa City for work. But many have started small businesses in Fairfield, which has been called “Silicorn Valley” for its mixture of tech startups and entrepreneurial ventures.

“People moved here and they had to figure out how to stay here,” said David Navarrete, spokesman for Sky Factory.

The 38-employee company was founded in 2002 by Bill Witherspoon, an artist who moved to Fairfield for its TM community. A serial entrepreneur, he formed Sky Factory as a means of supporting his family. It creates window and ceiling panels that recreate outdoor views like those of a blue sky or a beachfront.

Sky Factory’s biggest clients are health care providers, as research shows even a simulated view of the outdoors can boost moods for those trapped indoors.

“I think there’s definitely an entrepreneurial spirit here, and I think a lot of that comes from the university,” said Witherspoon’s son, Skye Witherspoon, now the company’s CEO.

Fairfield is also home to a surprising array of manufacturing.
Creative Edge makes intricate flooring for some of the world’s best known hotels, casinos, hospitals and universities. Bovard Studios makes and restores stained glass windows for churches across the country. And a host of businesses manufacture agricultural parts, iron castings, polyethylene piping and laundromat washers and dryers.

So many things are made in Fairfield that the Iowa Economic Development Authority will host an export conference here in the fall.

Fairfield’s biggest employers have grown in recent years, too.

Cambridge Investment Research now employs about 700 and boasts more than $70 billion in assets under its management.

Mixed signals
Like many small cities, some employers in Fairfield report trouble recruiting and hiring, especially with Iowa’s unemployment rate remaining below 4 percent.

Lori Schaefer-Wheaton, president of the 170-employee Agri-Industrial Plastics, said hiring is a struggle. She has 20 openings, a number that has held fairly constant over the last two years, she said.

Fairfield is an anomaly among small cities in Iowa, she said, but she thinks recent population growth is largely related to the university.

“That kind of population growth might show up on our census,” she said. “But I don’t think it changes the dynamics of the workforce in our town.”

Iowa State University Economist Dave Swenson said Fairfield definitely out performs many similarly sized cities. But some signals are mixed: While some measures show recent job growth, other data actually point to employment losses, he said.

“They seem to be demonstrating both demographic and economic growth that stands out,” he said. “The big question is this a short term growth or is it sustainable?”

Natives return home
Meghan Dowd came to Fairfield as a child when her parents migrated here for the TM community.

She moved away for college, then ended up working in television in California.

From there, she visited her mom in Fairfield and realized it was going through a “renaissance,” with monthly art walks, a new events center and lots of cool coffee shops and restaurants. She moved back in 2009 and started Shaktea, a maker of kombucha, a trendy fermented drink.

In Fairfield, she says she can do just about anything she could in a metro city. Plus, it’s much cheaper to buy a home or start a business. (She also started Cado, an organic avocado-based ice cream, featured with a photo in the article and video.)

Her children attend a Waldorf-inspired preschool. And after yearning for a yoga studio, she just opened her own.

“A lot of people moved here, the kids grew up here, but then the kids wanted to go out into the world and experience different things,” Dowd said. “I think that happened and some of that is kind of boomeranging back to Fairfield.”

Jesse Narducci followed a similar path. He returned home to Fairfield a few years ago after living in Colorado and California for more than a decade. He opened Jefferson County Ciderworks just outside of town. He brews hard apple cider and runs a taproom featuring hard-to-find craft brews.

Narducci said many of Iowa’s smaller towns are undesirable places to live because they lack quality places to grab a meal or a drink out. Not Fairfield.

“You don’t have to drive to Iowa City to have a good ale or a good meal,” he said. “I don’t really leave that often. … I’m trying to create my own little paradise out here.”

(more…)

Andy Bargerstock reveals a costly disconnect in Lean companies not completely walking their talk

November 12, 2013

Standard Costing Very Costly, New Research Shows

Lean Accounting expert, Andrew Bargerstock, PhD, CPA, Director of Maharishi University’s MBA Programs, will present new research findings that show for the first time, empirical evidence of the waste inherent in Lean manufacturing companies that still use a standard costing accounting model. His talk, “The failure of standard accounting systems in Lean companies,” will be presented this week at the local chapter of the Institute for Management Accounting (IMA) during their Fall Conference in Cedar Rapids, Iowa.

Fairfield, Iowa (PRWEB) November 12, 2013

Andrew Bargerstock, PhD, CPA, Director of MBA Programs at Maharishi University of Management

Andrew Bargerstock, PhD, CPA, Director of MBA Programs at Maharishi University of Management

Lean Accounting expert, Andrew Bargerstock, PhD, CPA, Director of Maharishi University’s MBA Programs, will present new research findings that show for the first time, empirical evidence of the waste inherent in Lean manufacturing companies that still use a standard costing accounting model. Lean management principles are based on the generic elements of organizational development from companies like the Toyota Motor Corporation who build long-term customer loyalty while streamlining operational processes.

Dr. Bargerstock says, “Many mature lean manufacturers continue to use standard costing when it is no longer useful. This wasteful practice costs companies millions of dollars.” Professor Bargerstock will present his findings this Thursday, November 14 at 1pm, at the regional chapter of the Institute for Management Accounting (IMA) during their Fall Conference in the Double Tree Hotel in Cedar Rapids, IA. His presentation will include a summary of the research study and a model of a three-tiered system of organizational performance metrics that drive lean innovations.

“Companies are still attached to standard costing because it is the staple of business schools emulating General Motors operational controls from the 1950s. Lean offers a new model for operational controls. Our research is the first to show that mature Lean companies who still use standard costing accounting systems are leaving money on the table.” Professor Bargerstock says.

Lean manufacturing is a sustainable, cost-saving, adaptive and highly efficient manufacturing management process originated by Toyota Motor Company in the 1980’s, and since adopted worldwide by hundreds, even thousands of manufacturers. The Lean strategy can be applied to any type of organization profit or non-profit.

Wasted money, lost profits, weaker earnings

The new research, done at Maharishi University of Management, a 4-year Iowa college of arts and sciences that integrates practice of the Transcendental Meditation® technique into its curriculum, shows that many companies using Lean manufacturing processes are not discarding standard costing, and as a result, are missing significant additional savings, losing profits and weakening the bottom line. “Companies using Lean manufacturing, but not using Lean Accounting are losing money by clinging to an antiquated costing model.” Dr Bargerstock says.

This is the first empirical study to test a prediction made by many Lean Accounting theorists, that mature lean manufacturing enterprises will discard standard costing systems. Anecdotal evidence suggested that companies may be holding onto standard costing, but no empirical study has verified the observed behavior.

Manjunath Rao, PhD and Andrew Bargerstock, PhD

Rao and Bargerstock

In 2011 and 2013, Bargerstock and one of his PhD students, Manjunath Rao, published articles in the Management Accounting Quarterly on the research conducted at MUM. The article published in Summer 2013 MAQ is entitled, “Do Lean Implementation Initiatives Have Adequate Accounting Support?”

Dr. Bargerstock was the chair of Rao’s dissertation committee. Lean accounting experts and academics at the Institute for Management Accounting collaborated on the research. The article describes the analysis of some of the data gathered during Rao’s dissertation research. The study found that in a sample of mature lean manufacturing companies, lean accounting implementation lags behind lean operations implementation, which may give rise to inadequate accounting support in lean initiatives.

A former Fortune 500 executive and national consultant for federal and state governmental agencies and private corporations, Dr. Bargerstock was selected as the 2009 Excellence in Lean Accounting Professor by the Lean Enterprise Institute (LEI), one of the leading non-profit associations dedicated to the education and promotion of Lean Management in the country. LEI, along with the co-sponsorship of the IMA, have also recognized two of Prof. Bargerstock’s PhD students during the last three years as Lean Accounting Student of the Year.

See a short video of Dr. Bargerstock outlining the main points for his talk to the IMA, and an additional segment on the success of MUM students in the MBA Lean Accounting Program.

Founded in 1971, Maharishi University of Management (MUM) offers Consciousness-Based℠ Education, a traditional academic curriculum enhanced with self-development programs like the Transcendental Meditation® technique. Students are encouraged to follow a more sustainable routine of study, socializing and rest without the typical college burnout. All aspects of campus life nourish the body and mind, including organic vegetarian meals served fresh daily. Located in Fairfield, Iowa, MUM is accredited by The Higher Learning Commission and offers bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degrees in the arts, sciences, humanities, and business. Visitors Weekends are held throughout the year. For more information, call the Admissions Office at 800-369-6480 or visit http://www.mum.edu.

PRWeb: http://www.prweb.com/releases/Lean/IMA/prweb11309348.htm or bit.ly/19Z629I

Posted on: Virtual-Strategy Magazine and other top news outlets.

In an effort to encourage more faculty to attend the The Lean Accounting Summit, organizers interviewed Andy Bargerstock on Friday, October 18, 2013 in Orlando, FL. He was asked to share what he had learned from previous summits. Of all the interviewees, they selected Andy to go in their LEAF (Lean Education Advancement Foundation) newsletter. You can see both here: A Special Letter to Lean Accounting Summit Participants from the LEAF Board of Directors.

Transcending Stress by Norman Rosenthal, M.D. for Decision Magazine

October 1, 2012

Decision Magazine, a UK business publication, featured an article on TM in the Wellness section of the Summer 2012 issue: Transcendental Meditation offers a promising remedy for workplace stress says NORMAN E ROSENTHAL M.D. You can download a PDF of Decision Summer 2012 to see the article laid out with images on pages 48-49.

Transcending Stress by Norman Rosenthal, M.D.

It’s not stress that kills us; it’s our reaction to it. – Hans Selye

It is a matter of broad consensus that stress in the workplace has reached epidemic proportions. So bad has the problem become, that stress is now a more common cause of long-term sick leave than stroke, heart attack, cancer and back problems, according to a report by the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development. Workplace stress has been labeled “The Black Death of the 21st Century.”

Common causes of workplace stress include excessive workload, poor management style, workplace restructuring, and problems at home. As the great pioneer in stress research, Hans Selye, observed, it is not the stress itself, but how we react to it that affects its impact on our bodies and minds. During economic downturns, such as we are facing at present, ordinary workplace difficulties become more stressful because workers feel insecure about their job stability and fearful of losing their job, especially because it is often difficult to find a new one.

Stress takes a toll on both body and mind. It is a major contributor to cardiovascular disease, the number one killer in developed countries. In addition, it predisposes to anxiety and depression, both enormous mental health problems. For those who of us who are concerned about performance and productivity in the workplace, it is crucial to find remedies for toxic work stresses. Such remedies will also lead to healthier workers, with fewer days off sick, lower health care bills, and extra years of productivity. There are many available “stress management” programmes. In this piece, I make the case why a simple but powerful technique, Transcendental Meditation (TM), should rise to the top of the list.

Why Transcendental Meditation?
TM is a simple technique of meditation, taught in a standardized one-on-one way over the course of a week. The instructor gives the student a mantra, along with instructions as to how to use it. TM is simple to learn and easy to practise. Ideally, the practitioner should sit comfortably with eyes closed for two sessions of 20 minutes each per day.

As a researcher and physician, I have been impressed by the scope and extent of research data supporting the benefits of TM (over 330 peer-reviewed articles to date). Much of this research has a direct bearing on the damaging physical effects of stress. For example, controlled studies have shown multiple physical benefits of TM versus controlled treatments, such as: (1) Reduction in blood pressure that is both statistically and clinically meaningful; (2) Actual reversal of arterial narrowing in the carotid arteries which carry blood to the brain; (3) increased longevity over the course of years (a finding that has been replicated). From the point of physical wellbeing alone, TM is worth practising.

But there is more. A meta-analysis of 146 treatment groups found that TM reduced anxiety to a greater extent than other approaches. Likewise, five controlled studies in people not recruited specifically for depression showed that practising TM was followed by a reduction in depression symptoms to a greater extent than control treatments. Evidence suggests that the improved blood pressure seen with TM is mediated by decreased anxiety. In other words, TM seems to be acting as a shock absorber, decreasing the impact of stress on both mind and body.

No other “stress management technique” has anywhere close to this amount of hard data in support of its claims to reduce stress.

Beyond its effects on stress reduction, TM has also been shown in numerous studies to improve levels of self-actualization – a term used to describe the need for people to be the best they can be. This benefit may result from the direct effects of TM on the brain, which include increased brain coherence. Brain coherence means that the firing patterns in different parts of the brain correspond to one another. Higher levels of brain coherence have been associated with higher levels of performance, both in businessmen and athletes.

How do the benefits of TM play out in the workplace?
To begin, let us hear from two leading business people, who are regular meditators and have praised TM’s benefits: Ray Dalio, founder of Bridgewater, the largest hedge fund in the world; and Oprah Winfrey, media icon and CEO of Harpo Studios. Dalio has said that TM has helped him make up for lost sleep and has made his patterns of thinking “more centered and creative.” With TM, he says, “Life got better and everything became easier.” He reports dealing with challenges in a calm, clear-headed way, which allows him to put things in perspective – “like a ninja.” Winfrey was so pleased with her own personal experience with TM that she provided TM training free of charge to all members of her organization. Her observations: “You can’t imagine what has happened. People are sleeping better. People have better relationships. People interact with other people better. It’s been fantastic.”

Many other CEOs and business leaders have reported similar benefits in their organizations. How can we understand these extraordinary transformations?

How can TM help work-stress?
Let me count the ways. TM results in:
1. Increased brain coherence that is associated with increased levels of accomplishment
2. Reduced stress responses producing more clarity, less reactivity, and better decision-making. As Dalio put it, “I am centered – not hijacked by emotion”
3. Enhanced creativity, even with aging
4. Better physical health
5. Greater harmony

At every level of organization, TM promotes harmony. This applies within the mind of the meditator, between mind and body, and in groups. Once the meditator learns the practice and develops the habit, the 40 minutes spent per day is rapidly repaid in the form of improved performance and efficiency. How wonderful it is to think that this quiet twice-daily practice might turn out to be a remedy for “The Black Death of the 21st century!”

Norman E. Rosenthal, M.D is author of Transcendence: Healing and Transformation Through Transcendental Meditation (Hay House, 2012).

An updated reprint edition by Tarcher is available in North America on Amazon.

Click here for more posts on Norman Rosenthal on my blog, and also visit Norman Rosenthal’s website and blog: http://normanrosenthal.com.

For more information on Transcendental Meditation for business executives and companies please visit www.tmbusiness.org.

Research breakthrough: High brain integration underlies winning performances

June 18, 2012

Research breakthrough: High brain integration underlies winning performances

World-class performers in management, sports and music often have uniquely high mind-brain development

Scientists trying to understand why some people excel—whether as world-class athletes, virtuoso musicians, or top CEOs—have discovered that these outstanding performers have unique brain characteristics that make them different from other people.

A study published in May in the journal Cognitive Processing found that 20 top-level managers scored higher on three measures—the Brain Integration Scale, Gibbs’s Socio-moral Reasoning questionnaire, and an inventory of peak experiences—compared to 20 low-level managers that served as matched controls. This is the fourth study in which researchers have been able to correlate the brain’s activity with top performance and peak experiences, having previously studied world-class athletes and professional classical musicians.

“What we have found,” says Fred Travis, director of the Center for Brain, Consciousness, and Cognition at Maharishi University of Management in Fairfield, Iowa, “is an astonishing integration of brain functioning in high performers compared to average-performing controls. We are the first in the world to show that there is a brain measure of effective leadership.”

“Everyone wants excellence,” says Harald Harung of the Oslo and Akershus University College of Applied Sciences in Norway. “Yet, current understanding of high performance is fragmented. What we have done in our research, is to use quantitative and neurophysiological research methods on topics that so far have been dominated by psychology.”

Dr. Travis, Dr. Harung, and colleagues have carried out a total of four empirical studies comparing world-class performers to average performers. This recent study and two others have examined top performers in management, sports, and classical music. In addition, a number of years ago Dr. Harung and colleagues published a fourth study on a variety of professions, such as public administration, management, sports, arts and education.

Measured Brain Activity

The studies carried out by the researchers include measurements of the performers’ brains by using electroencephalography, EEG. Hospitals use this equipment and method to determine possible brain injuries after traffic accidents. EEG, however, can also be used to look at the extent of integration and development of several brain processes.

The researchers looked at three different measurements that all reflect how well the brain works as a whole: 1) Coherence, which shows how well the various parts of the brain cooperate, 2) Amount of alpha waves, which reflect restful alertness, and 3) How economically or effectively the brain works.

The three measurements are then put together in an expression of brain refinement, the Brain Integration Scale.

World-class performance has so far been mostly regarded from a psychological point of view, especially speaking of management. Researchers often explain management skills as a result of special personal or psychological characteristics that some have, and others don’t.

“Our research in brain activity and brain integration is done from more of a natural science angle. By such means, we hope we are closer to an effective and comprehensive understanding of why some succeed better than others,” says Harung.

In all the groups of top performers, measurements were checked by using control groups. The controls were average performers, such as low-level managers or amateur musicians. The data gave one surprising result: Among the musicians, both the professionals and the amateurs turned out to have a high level of brain integration. In the two other studies, this measurement showed major differences between the persons with top-level performance and the control groups.

“We believe that for musicians, the explanation might be that classical music in itself contributes to such integration, regardless of your performance level,” says Dr. Harung.

Peak Experience

The researchers found it’s not just that their brains function differently; the world-class performers also had particular subjective experiences that were associated with their top performances.

Called peak experiences, these experiences are characterized by happiness, inner calm, maximum wakefulness, effortlessness and ease of functioning, absence of fear, transcendence of ordinary time and space, and a sense of perfection and even invincibility.

The first study was done on world-class athletes selected by the National Olympic Training Center in Norway and the Norwegian School of Sport Sciences. Besides screening athletes’ brains using EEG, each athlete was interviewed about their experiences while performing at their very best. The result was a wide range of peak experiences.

Former cross-country skier Thomas Alsgaard, who won 11 gold medals in Olympic Games and World Championships, said:

“The senses are so open that you have the ability to receive signals that are almost scary: In a way it is a ‘high.’ I receive an unbelievable amount of information. Much, much more—10-20 times more information—than what I manage to take in if I sit down and concentrate and try to perceive things. But I am so relaxed. And the more relaxed I am, the more information I register.”

Another athlete who participated in the research is the Norwegian handball keeper, Heidi Tjugum, who was part of the Norwegian national team that won one World Championship, one European Championship, two European Cups and a number of silver and bronze medals. She says:

“Sometimes I have felt that I am an observer—I just watch what happens. This is a good feeling. It is a very beautiful feeling; it is not that I feel I don’t have control. But it goes by itself—in reality I do not have to initiate anything at all. Extremely here and now—nothing else matters.”

These statements are similar to those the researchers gathered from other top-class performers, both among the musicians and the business leaders. As seen, they found a significant difference amongst the top performers and controls on several quantitative measures.

“Therefore, there must be some common inner attributes and processes that make top performers able to deliver at top level, regardless of profession or activity,” says Travis. “We found this common inner dimension to be what we called higher mind-brain development.”

Higher mind-brain development includes that various aspects and parts of the brain work together in an integrated way. Among world-class performers this integration is especially well developed.

Presenting a New Theory

The researchers have developed a new theory, a Unified Theory of Performance, which suggests that higher levels of mind-brain development form a platform for higher performance, regardless of profession or activity.

“It seems like these mind-brain variables represent a fundamental potential for being good, really good, in the particular activity one has decided to carry out,” says Harung.

For all three recent studies the researchers also found that top-level performers outscored the control groups in a test of moral development. Higher moral development implies an expanded awareness where one is able to satisfy the interests of other people and not just their own needs. Harung finds it remarkable that high levels of performance, in a wide spectrum of activities, are connected to high moral standards.

“This should give an extra push to act morally, in addition to a better self-image, fewer sleepless nights and a good reputation,” Dr. Harung says. “The key to top-level performance, therefore, seems to be that we make more use of our inherent capabilities.”

Implications of the Research

The discovery that the brains of world-class performers have similar characteristics raises some important questions, such as: 1) Is there a way one can develop one’s brain to have more of these characteristics and thereby perform at a higher level? And 2) Can measuring a person’s brain predict the potential for someone to be a world-class performer?

These and other researchers have actively explored whether meditation techniques, for example, can help to actively cultivate one’s brain. Research by Dr. Travis and others has found that Transcendental Meditation practitioners do have greater EEG coherence, greater presence of alpha waves, and, in some advanced practitioners, a very efficiently functioning brain. A coherent brain is a high-performing brain.

In addition, researchers have been exploring possible applications to predict performance ability in general and leadership ability in particular. For example, if a corporation has preliminarily selected five candidates for its CEO position, the above measures could be administered to aid in the final decision. Or these measures can be used to assess the effectiveness of training or education in increasing an individual’s performance capacity.

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Scientific Literature

1. Harung, H. S., Travis, F., (2012) Higher mind-brain development in successful leaders: testing a unified theory of performance. Cognitive Processing Vol 13, Number 2, 171-181, DOI: 10.1007/s10339-011-0432-x

2. Harung, H. S. (2012). Illustrations of Peak Experiences during Optimal Performance in World-class Performers: Integration Eastern and Western Insights. Journal of Human Values, 18(1), 33-52, doi:10.1177/097168581101800104

3. Travis, F., Harung, H. S., & Lagrosen, Y. (2011). Moral Development, Executive Functioning, Peak Experiences and Brain Patterns in Professional and Amateur Classical Musicians: Interpreted in Light of a Unified Theory of Performance. Consciousness and Cognition, 20(4), 1256-1264

4. Harung, H.S., Travis, F., Pensgaard, A. M., Boes, R., Cook-Greuter, S., Daley, K. (2011). Higher psycho-physiological refinement in world-class Norwegian athletes: brain measures of performance capacity. Scandinavian Journal of Medicine & Science in Sports, Vol 21, Issue 1, pages 32, February 2011, doi: 10.1111/j.1600-0838.2009.01007.x

5. Harung, H. S., Heaton, D. P., Graff, W. W., & Alexander, C. N. (1996). Peak performance and higher states of consciousness: A study of world-class performers. Journal of Managerial Psychology, Vol. 11, No. 4, pp. 3-23

Related Articles

New study sheds light on “peak experiences” in world-class performers | New research looks at brain integration in top athletes and in long-time meditators | ‘Brilliant minds’—New Research on the Brain State of Virtuoso Musicians and How it Relates to TM | ScienceDaily: Musicians’ Brains Highly Developed | Freakonomics: Do Musicians Have Better Brains?

Source: EurekAlert!

See the latest study: Does Practice Make Perfect Or Are Some People More Creative Than Others? Study finds brain integration correlates with greater creativity in product-development engineers. The study was discussed on TMHome: Brain integration, the key to creativity, citing Medical News Today’s report on the study.


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