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Create a better workplace by experimenting with ‘Inductive Flow’

by Manjunath Bhat  |  October 1, 2017  |  Submit a Comment



I propose the idea of “Inductive Flow” as an extension (corollary) to the original idea proposed by Mihály Csíkszentmihályi in his seminal work – The Psychology of Optimal Experience.

As described here, “flow – a state of concentration so focused that it amounts to absolute absorption in an activity. Everyone experiences flow from time to time and will recognize its characteristics: people typically feel strong, alert, in effortless control, unselfconscious, and at the peak of their abilities. Both a sense of time and emotional problems seem to disappear, and there is an exhilarating feeling of transcendence. 

The hypothesis is –  like electromagnetic induction creates a voltage across an electrical conductor in the presence of a changing magnetic field, is it possible that the state of Flow is also similarly induced? Flow is induced in the observer in the presence of a doer experiencing it. For if not, how can we explain a feeling of intense bliss watching an artist performing art or a musician performing music when they are each in a state of flow?

I conclude rather naively (or maybe not!) that Flow need not be limited to the doer, but is induced in the observer observing a person in a state of Flow. I am not an expert in neuroscience, but can ascertain through circumstantial evidence.

I use ‘Inductive Flow’ to explain certain phenomena that I regularly observe happening around us in the workplace and outside:

  1. Productivity can be exponentially amplified  when you put an extremely productive person in a group of otherwise average performers. The flow induced causes them to perform better.
  2. You experience Flow (a state of bliss) even when you are simply watching a magician at his best or a passionate speaker. Isn’t it true that you cannot engage the audience on a topic unless you feel the passion in the topic yourself. So, here we are again seeing a state of Flow induced in the listener merely through an act of observing a doer experiencing FLOW.

What’s next? Sit next to a person in a state of Flow. I bet you will end the day on a better note.

Leave a comment below if you do and thank the person beside you.



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Manjunath Bhat
Research Director
1 years at Gartner
16 years IT Industry

Manjunath (Manju) Bhat is a Research Director within Gartner's Mobile and Client Computing group, where he advises clients on all aspects of enterprise mobility. Read Full Bio

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