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World scientists are striving to map activity in the human brain. Presumably, a map of neural activity will shed light on how the brain works and how choices are made.

Concurrently, there has been an upsurge in related fields seeking to understand human nature and behavior change: neuroaccounting, neuroeconomics, neurotics, neurofinance, neuroleadership, neurolinguisics, neuromanagement, neuromarketing, and now . . .neurofacilitation.

Neuroeconomics and Neurofacilitation: Rational Decisions Maximize Utility

Neuroeconomics, cited by Anna Teo (The Business Times, 01/03/13), developed over 50 research groups around the world, “exploring the brain processes that underlie decision-making.” Economics focuses on how people make choices, especially when they cannot get everything they want. Traditional theory asserts that rational decision-making maximizes utility, satisfaction, or well being. Yet daily, people and groups generate sub-optimal decisions, so the question remains—why?

Science has advanced tremendously the past twenty years. Look no further for proof than proximity—they now know where in the brain choosing occurs, where preferences reside, and how choices happen physically. While they soon may be able to model ‘how we choose our underwear” (or how monkeys choose their juice), we professional facilitators must be held accountable to mapping how complex group decisions are made. Business meetings could be referred to as a neural net of decision-making.


Maintaining a diligent trail of challenge and documentation provides a benchmark to support neurofacilitation. Group decisions require traceability. Take any decision back to your supervisor, executive sponsor, or steering team and they will immediately respond with “Why?” Why did your group make the decision they made?


Data sets are making it much easier to make more informed decisions. Teo cites three relevant examples related to individual decision-making:

1) Electronic road pricing that helps predict the changing demographics, vehicle types, and density of traffic.

2) In New York City data is available on every taxicab: whether they are occupied or empty, when patrons are waiting (or not), size of the tips, etc.

3) Equity stock selections where information abounds whom, when, how much, etc.

Yet there is no comparable example offered to shed light on the most important decisions being made that affect all of humanity, not solely one individual. For example, should we go to war, fire a missile, build a new nuclear plant, construct a new highway (or conduct road repair), approve a major project, hire a key executive, etc.

Professional facilitators ought to sensitize themselves to the importance of neurofacilitation; ie, challenging the underlying rationale and carefully documenting the support behind all of the options, not only the final choice. You may never want to see the term ‘neurofacilitation’ again, but you know that it oversimplifies the true nature and complexity of group decision-making, and how groups or teams define “utility.”


Don’t ruin your career or reputation with bad meetings. Register for a class or forward this to someone who should. Taught by world-class instructors, MG RUSH  professional facilitation curriculum focuses on practice. Each student thoroughly practices and rehearses tools, methods, and approaches throughout the week. While some call this immersion, we call it the road to building impactful facilitation skills.

Our courses also provide an excellent way to earn up to 40 SEUs from the Scrum Alliance, 40 PDUs from PMI, and 40 CDUs from IIBA, as well as 3.2 CEUs for other professions. (See individual class descriptions for details.)

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Facilitation Expert

Terrence Metz, CSM, PSPO, CSPF, is the Managing Director of MG RUSH Facilitation Training and Coaching, the acknowledged leader in structured facilitation training. His FAST Facilitation Best Practices blog features over 300 articles on facilitation skills and tools aimed at helping others lead faster, more productive meetings and workshops that yield higher quality decisions. His clients include Agilists, Scrum teams, program and project managers, senior officers, and the business analyst community among numerous private and public companies and global corporations. As an undergraduate of Northwestern University (Evanston, IL) and MBA graduate from NWU’s Kellogg School of Management, his professional experience has focused on process improvement and product development. He continually aspires to make it easier for others to succeed.

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