When I was studying for my MBA one of the things that really interested me was the idea of evidence-based management and evidence-based policy. What I found particularly interesting was that it was necessary to actually suggest it as a discipline.

Like many other ideas I came across in studying management thinking it struck me as belonging in the “obvious common sense” department.

I have read quite a lot around the subject especially by Sutton and Pfeffer and it was when I came across their book “the knowing doing gap” that I realised the same fundamental problem was being addressed again and again in various different ways by different people. Argyris described an almost identical mechanism to Sutton and Pfeffer with his identification of the difference between espoused theory and theory in practice. That is the difference between what people present themselves as believing and following and what they actually do.

We should note carefully that while it may be tempting in some respects to assume that this is a function of hypocrisy I don’t think that this is actually the case in most people. There are undoubtedly those who consciously profess to be following a particular policy and set of ethics in the full knowledge that they do not actually believe them.

That is not what I am addressing here. Rather I am interested in the majority of genuinely well-intentioned people who do embrace a particular policy and set of ethics and then find themselves actually acting completely differently as a result of what seem to be unsurmountable circumstantial pressures.

In previous posts I have considered what we have learnt from neuroscience about the structure of the brain and particularly the relationship between the primitive emotional brain and the more modern intellectual brain. It is fascinating to me as a systems thinker to see how well this maps onto both Sutton and Pfeffer’s definition of the knowing doing gap and Argyris’ concept of espoused theory and theory in action. We know that when the limbic brain takes over good assessments of circumstances and innovative responses to them disappear out of the window.

We know that trance is capable of producing states very similar to REM sleep yet with directed and positive focus. These states appear to be where the two brain systems can focus collaboratively on the same thing. Trance states, then, appear to offer the possibility of enabling us to resolve the apparent unbridgeable gap between socially advantageous and appropriate decisions benefiting the greater whole and our own personal survival.

It is for this reason that I think hypnosis and hypnotherapy has a considerable amount to offer in the sphere of the development of business thinking