Arthur Carmazzi explains to Alan Hosking how his scientific discovery identifying the brain’s “Ambiguity Relief” process of how a person gets clarity and takes action in relationship to that clarity can support better decisions and teamwork.
What is “Ambiguity Relief”?
“Ambiguity Relief” is the brain’s process which helps in evaluating information and the world around us to relate new context to existing knowledge and simplify ideas, decisions and problem solving into actionable elements. Not only is this an essential element of communication, but any action we take is directly related to the attainment of clarity, which supports the multiple high value applications to management, marketing and relationship in getting people to take action.
This discovery is very important because all decisions, innovations, idea generation, memory retention, interactions and interpretations are filtered through the brain’s Ambiguity Relief Process. The implications of identifying and understanding the brain’s ambiguity relief process will support improved communication, cooperation, synergy and how to move people passionately to action.
What did your research reveal?
The research, which began in 2001, observed that most psychometric assessments either dealt with behaviour or personality and too many variables not only affected accuracy, but also affected the ability to practically apply them. The dissection of three existing works with opposed and varied conclusions (Sandra Seagal’s personality dynamics, Cloninger’s Temperament and Character, and Ned Herrmann’s Whole Brain Thinking) led to the discovery of process elements that were common amongst all three. Identifying and studying these processes with over 7,000 participants isolated four primary processes out of nine that are most common in mentally healthy individuals. Additional observations of children between the ages of five and six years old, revealed that these processes are visible even at early stages of development and they are genetic.
Upon further exploration of the neurochemistry of these processes relating to the assumed genetic foundations, I studied genetic brain disorders (ADHD, OCD, Asperger, and Depression) that showed the extreme symptoms of the defined processes, it was found that ambiguity relief happens in three areas of the brain: the prefrontal cortex, the hippocampus, and the cingulate cortex, and is determined by different gene alleles (same gene with different lengths) that affect the amounts and regulation of specific neurotransmitters. There are three primary active genes in these brain regions and seven supporting genes that affect neurotransmitter behaviour.
The COMT gene in the prefrontal cortex (which is responsible for planning, inhibition of behaviours, abstract thinking, emotion and problem solving) regulates norepinephrine and dopamine to affect the amounts of structure and detail required for the ambiguity relief clarity getting process as well as intuitive or abstract processes.
The SPR gene in the hippocampus (which is responsible for learning and memory) affects the connectivity of information. It affects Serotonin transporter regulation and, with the presence of almost all Serotonin (there are seven) receptors, this determines how linked or unlinked information is in the clarity getting process. Highly linked information instantly associates existing knowledge, experience you-act process, do poorly with too much structure, easily identify intricate elements and order.
What are the implications of this?
Awareness of these brain processes, and the fact that they are genetic and cannot be changed, helps team members adopt a “cooperation” attitude instead of trying to change people according to their own process … which creates frustration on both sides.
Personality is a complicated array of nurture and nature, but when we are faced with a decision, a problem, an idea or a task, the brain must first go through a unique, genetically founded clarity getting process of “Ambiguity Relief” to competently achieve, formulate or solve anything.
How would you explain your “Coloured Brain” model?
I classified each process into colours which makes it easy to understand the unique communication requirements that often create misunderstanding and prevent getting everyone speaking the same language. The Coloured Brain model supports the reduction of barriers to create easier, faster and more effective communication across any group or relationship.
According to Tansri T K Lim, Chairman of the Genting Group: “This is an area that most managers seldom dwell into and yet, it is so important for an effective organisation and management team”. The four Ambiguity Relief processes identified in the research are:
Chaotic processing (Green Brain)
People must take some kind of action to get clarity and clarity is directly related to the revelations from their actions. They shape and reshape ideas, solutions in the process of acting on issues and get others involved and ask for feedback. They have a disorganised but effective, connect-asyou- act process, do poorly with too much structure, and reasoning and idea generating is in non-linear random chunks, testing elements in the action and reasoning and idea generating is in nonlinear random chunks, testing elements in the action process to connect to the big picture. The Green Brain makes more mistakes than others but recovers faster than others. It makes and fixes mistakes in the clarity process of taking action-you-act process, do poorly with too much structure, and reasoning and idea generating is in non-linear random chunks, testing elements in the action process to connect to the big picture. The Green Brain makes more mistakes than others but recovers faster than others. It makes and fixes mistakes in the clarity process of taking action.
Linear Processing (Red Brain)
These people need structure to achieve clarity, and time to action is dependent on the available structure and the speed at which clarity is achieved. They connect tangible elements with logic, organise information into chunks and cross reference to understand. They must have clarity before being comfortable in taking action and identify and organise facts and resources before acting. The Red Brain process easily identifies discrepancies. They make fewer mistakes than others but take longer to recover from mistakes. If a mistake is made, they usually start from the beginning by relooking at the facts or resources.
Relational Processing (Purple Brain)
Purple Brains need abundant information to get clarity. Time to action is contingent upon the extraction of substantial details relating to the issue. All information and experience is related and is reinforced by the amounts of information for each reference. They take more time to collect and assimilate information compared to others. Connected Information creates options which are compared before for taking action and they are less comfortable with little information. Purple Brains tend to approach and organise information into systems and systematic processes. Reasoning and idea generating is achieved by referencing current and stored information and making comparisons. If they make mistakes, they revisit the original options and information, and tend to add a bit more information, then choose the most appropriate option.
Intuitive Processing (Blue Brain)
These brains achieve clarity through reflection and intuitive referencing of past experiences. Time to action is swift but regulated by a consistent assimilation of the surroundings and their experience. All information and experience is connected on an emotional level (it must be clarified that there was no specific pattern that showed that subjects were “emotional”) in relationship to them and their experiences. They take small actions in the process of gathering information and getting a form of sensitivity feedback from the action and its effects. Action or problem solving is based on personal (intuitive) perspective and may supersede facts and recognised procedures and reasoning and idea generating is achieved by reflection and referencing the instinctual sensitivity (intuition) from the environment around them. If they make mistakes, they reflect on their own role in the mistake.
How would one go about implementing these insights?
Simplicity is the key to implementation. By focusing only on one factor of perception – ambiguity relief – groups can easily understand, remember and apply awareness to manage their own expectations, understand each other better, and basically set others up for success instead of failure while improving relationships and areas of communication, team synergy, competency, team problem solving, cooperation, taking action and conflict minimization.
Arthur Carmazzi is the Principal Founder of Direct Communication International, headquartered in Bali, Indonesia. Arthur is a researcher and bestselling author and is currently ranked as one of the world’s top 10 thought leaders in organisational culture and leadership.
This article appeared in the February 2018 issue of HR Future magazine.