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Your Operational Brain - what a stud....

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Like every competent executive, You have a crack team of top management executives vying for Your attention.

Let's take a peek inside Your Executive Suite and meet some of the members of this exclusive club, shall we?

First stop on our tour is the office of Your Operational Brain. Your Operational Brain is the Scotty of your personal Starship Enterprise. You, strangely, are Captain Kirk, and my don't you look dashing in that silly polyester outfit. You are hilarious, You are lovable, You inspire loyalty and admiration and disagreement and doubts, and my goodness, You are arrogant, egotistical and full of Yourself. You also need your Scotty very very much.

Your Operational Brain is the one responsible for screaming at You, 'I canna give her any more power Captain Kirk, the engines are gonna blow' when you give a ridiculous order like 'Warp Ten, Scotty, give her all we've got.' He tells You things like 'The main transfusers are blown, we'll be without power in less than an hour unless we get more fuel!' He's also the one that engineers ingenious solutions when your circuits are blown, your transponders are out, and you're seriously short on power. In other words, the Operational Brain oversees and allocates the resources your body runs on.

The Operational Brain is your go-to guy in good times and bad, because without him you've got no goddamn Starship Enterprise to inhabit and you're marooned in empty space without power.

Your Operational Brain is in many ways the most important and essential member of Your Management Team but he's also the least likely to get any credit. He doesn't do anything glamorous, he allocates the resources that run your body. He's responsible for overseeing a vast network of blood vessels and lymphatic systems, digestive organs, chemicals, pumping systems, heating and cooling, pressure and release. He's the Facilities Manager. More workers report to him than any of the other executives, but all the others still think they're smarter than him because he's blue collar, steady and reliable, in touch with the day-to-day grunts, concerned with the nuts and bolts.

He's the one that figures out what to do when you've skipped lunch. He's the one that somehow or another manages to get by when you don't get any sleep. He's the one that tells your body to fight off infection. He's the one that allows you to run a marathon or encourages you to spend Saturday on the couch. He's responsible for figuring out how to keep you healthy when you spend too much time stressed and worried and he's the one that screams at you when you run yourself down. He reminds you that you're hungry, shuts you down when you get tired, maintains your systems and cleans your pipes. He's responsible for relaying messages from your body to You and You ignore him at your peril. He's hopelessly dedicated to Your interests and the common enterprise, but he's suspicious of Your judgment and believes You are constantly making unreasonable demands. He has to shift gears on a dime and without a thank-you. He craves vacations on your behalf and gives you your second wind. He lets you nap and keeps you awake at night. He gets burned out and he gets jazzed up. He's put upon, overworked, underpaid, underappreciated, and tireless.

Let's take a look at him in action. You have accidentally become a soldier informed that you are going on an 8-mile march with full gear. Your Operational Brain immediately allocates resources to your muscles, plans for conversion of energy into action from your energy stores, rouses the workers and informs them of the plan, sets the rest of your brain and your body clock for an 8-mile march, tamps down immune system and digestive activity to better allocate resources to marching, controls the build-up of lactic acid in your muscles and does a whole bunch more shit nobody understands. And then! You learn you were lied to - it's a 12-mile march! You are forced to march 4 miles more but your muscles ache, your head hurts, you are tired, hungry, tense, and grumpy, you stumble, you are more prone to injuries and you hate your goddamn fucking commanding officer with a passion.

This is because your Operational Brain allocated resources for an 8-mile march not a goddamn 12-mile march. When it got wind of the extra 4 miles, it had to scramble to find reserves, call up workers it had given the day off, explain things to the digestive system, use inferior back-up energy reserves because the regular energy sources that would fuel an extra 4 miles had been given the evening off and told to turn off their pagers. Your Operational Brain is pissed at your commanding officer and boy is he letting you know it. It's goddamn hard fucking work rounding up workers for an extra goddamn 4 miles when you had deployed the correct amount for 8 miles. Fuck that commanding officer. What does he fucking think, being a goddamn Operational Brain is easy? Well, it's not. It's a precise fucking science, it's like inventory control, it makes the difference between break-even and profitability, between unused product sitting in the warehouse rotting and just-in-time delivery to satisfied customers. What does that idiot CO think, that you are just sitting around on endless fucking stores of energy that you never have to conserve? Well, you're not. It takes energy to march and energy requires food, and food requires digestion, and the utilization of stored energy requires chemicals and chemicals require energy and their utilization requires the proper environment. Fuck! Your Operational Brain gets mad just thinking about it. What does the world expect of it? Your Operational Brain oversees the proper balance between expenditure and intake, maximizing your output in line with the available resources and it doesn't fucking appreciate it when some idiot fucks up the system and requires more of you than sensible planning indicated it ought to give.

Goddamn, your Operational Brain hates it when he's given bad planning information. Fucks everything up. Makes him look bad. Forces him to deal with discontented workers, 8 major muscle groups complaining and whining and aching and bitching and moaning. Oxygen transport system compromised and you are sweating and panting. Lactic acid build-up and no convenient way to get rid of it. 4 extra fucking miles and no overtime pay. Workers promised they could go home and shower after 8 but no! they have to work an extra 4 fucking miles. They don't like it. They're 8 mile guys. If you wanted the goddamn twelve mile guys why didn't you call them in the first place. Labor unrest and calls for a sit-down strike. General Major Grumpiness all around.

This is why you get the feeling you do when you were planning on going home at 5 and at 4:45 your boss announces the deadline for the annual report has been moved up and everybody's going to have to work til 10 at night. That sinking, churning, resentful feeling is your Operational Brain freaking out. Your Operational Brain plans. Experiments show that people told they're going 8 miles, but then required to do 12 perform a lot more poorly than people informed from the beginning they're going to do 12. Your Operational Brain allocates resources, it's not just sitting around doing nothing. If people are told they're going to do 12 miles and they do 8 - 8 seems easy. It doesn't seem easy if they were planning to do 4.

This is why you can get tired just thinking about going to work or thinking about all the things you have to do. The moment you make plans or think about the future, the information gets communicated to the Operational Brain which almost immediately tries to deliver you a report or an opinion. Thinking about going to work and using all those resources makes your Operational Brain vigorously encourage you to stay in bed another fifteen minutes on Monday morning, yet to bolt out of bed on Saturday when you are planning to do something fun and easy and rewarding. It's planning ahead. Your Operationa Brain is the one who will tell you to sleep in on the weekends, because it anticipates you're going to be an exhausted wreck during the work week, so for god's sake, conserve energy now. It's constantly thinking about your resources and how to manage them.

Your Operational Brain is the one that makes You angry and tense and mean in traffic when You told it your commute was fifteen minutes and really it's 24. Your Operational Brain believes You even though You are a squirrely no-good liar. Your Operational Brain planned on 15 minutes, it's now 14 and a half and the objective is compromised! It pumps extra adrenaline chemicals all around you - even though you have been telling it the stupid 15 minute lie for over 4 fucking months! Your Operational Brain relies on You as much as You rely on it and when You repeatedly fucking lie to it, it freaks the fuck out.

Your Operational Brain is also the one that will give you that extra spurt of competitive energy in a close-fought athletic contest. It wants to win as badly as You do - and it matches your effort closely to the anticipated payoff. It will encourage you to play down to weaker opponents and get furious when you fall behind and it has to kick into overdrive to get you back in the game. Your Operational Brain will try to give you a mental edge in an important interview - but it doesn't want to expend any more energy than is wise in light of the available resources. If You don't think You have a chance, it will keep you lackluster and low-energy. It keys your energy expenditure very closely to the anticipated gain. If You are happy and optimistic and confident that all the resources You need are Your disposal, it will spend freely. If You think you are facing a resource shortage, it will conserve like a motherfucker.

It's just like any large company - when top management thinks things are going well and growth is in the offing - free lunches and generous expense accounts flow, resources are joyously wasted, inefficiencies creep in, the workers enjoy free caffeine and randomly placed Foosball tables and all the rest of it. But just let the economy turn - and boom! cost-cutting measures spread like a bad rash, workers have to beg and plead for $1.39 worth of pens, it's coach-class air travel, there is a sudden moratorium on the purchase of company jets and lots of lowly and previously overpaid Foosball-loving employees get the boot. Your Operational Brain does the same fucking type of thing. If you want to waste calories and increase your metabolism - convince Your Operational Brain that calories are abundant, You are fucking untouchable and nobody gives a shit if you waste millions of them. If you want to hoard calories and slow your metabolism to a crawl, convince Your Operational Brain that you are smack in the middle of bad economy with scarce calories that you must watch and count very closely. It'll watch and count them all right - it'll make your entire body beg and plead before it'll spend an extra $1.39 worth of calories while you are busy starving yourself on some stupid diet.

For another example of the miraculous and frightening power of Your Operational Brain, if you are a new mother and overwhelmed and exhausted and feeling like You get no support from anyone and don't have the money, the time, or the physical & emotional resources to successfully rear your offspring, your Operational Brain will work to make you depressed and blue and keep you from bonding with an infant it's sure isn't going to survive anyway.

Your Operational Brain is the one You talk to, or scream at, when You are trying to force yourself to do an extra fifteen situps or climb Mount Everest or run a marathon. Your Operational Brain is also the one screaming back at You - just like Scotty at Captain Kirk.

Your Operational Brain oversees sweating, and shivering, and heat distribution and blood sugar and metabolism. It makes you fat and it trims you down. It lets your face sag and your hair turn gray when you are under stress. It keeps your skin wrinkle-free when it has the resources to devote to repair. It lets you get sick when You tell it your priority is work or the kids' carnival on Sunday instead of the bacteria invading your body and it makes you well when You tell it to devote its resources to curing your goddamn infection.

As You might figure, the management style and relationship between your Executive Brain and your Operational Brain will have a big effect on how they get along and how You experience the effects of your Operational Brain. You have an Executive Brain Management Style and your Operational Brain has one too. They may not be the same. Personality differences do arise.

Management, by and large, is relationship management and people management. Some good technical and analytical skills come in handy as a CEO, but, fortunately or unfortunately, it all comes down to people, execution, and all those other boring cliches of management. There's nothing You can do about it. Your corporate culture will determine how Your corporation gets run.

So let's talk about management style and personality types and see if we can't figure out why You and Your Operational Brain have the sick, dysfunctional relationship they have - or alternatively, why they are always slapping each other on the back like old buddies and playing golf together.

Do You and Your Operational Brain get along? Or is it a sick, vicious rivalry based on contempt and deceit? You make the call...

 

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