David A. Thomas, dean and William R. Berkley Chair at Georgetown University’s McDonough School of Business, stepped into the classroom to discuss “The Neuroscience of Managing Differences,” with 250 MBA Evening Program students. As part of the 2012 Leadership Residency, the March 8 session gave students new ways to think about how they make decisions and how they lead organizations.
“I’ve been studying the question of how do we manage across differences for about 30 years,” Thomas said.
Students completed the Implicit Attitude Test for homework prior to the session and participated in a series of exercises designed to test their selective attention and their ability to handle cognitive overload.
“We see what we expect to see, and what we are not expecting to see, we don’t see,” Thomas said.
By the end of the session, students realized how they make decisions, particularly how implicit bias manifests in real life through hiring, mentoring, and promoting.
“The more invested we are that we are not biased, the more vulnerable we are to biases,” Thomas concluded. However, through reflection and the idea of not being a prisoner to the biases, students could return to their classes and cohorts ready to engage in their differences.