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4D Leadership

4D Leadership – Competitive Advantage Through Vertical Leadership Development

Twenty years ago the accumulation of skills, knowledge and experience (‘horizontal development’) was sufficient for business success. Today, it’s not. 4D Leadership – Competitive Advantage Through Vertical Leadership Development, offers a new approach of ‘vertical development’.

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From mega data to life-changing insight


Watching Dara Ó Briain’s BBC TV programme, Science Club, the other evening with the family, I was fascinated by a story about how an Australian business woman who was a “Big Data” expert in industry had been able to cut through the mountains of physiological data gathered from a premature baby and got to the nugget that could save a life.

The piece talked about the huge amounts of data gathered every millisecond from a tiny premature baby – data about heart rate, oxygen saturation, blood pressure, respiration etc. This woman had good cause to wonder about how well all this data was being used as she watched her own baby lying in an incubator. She realised that despite all the data that was being collected on the babies that very little of it was being properly collected and analysed. The data was being gathered live but no one seemed to be exploring whether something more productive could be done with it. 

Her curiosity caused her to take action. She got all the data and created some software to analyse which piece of information was the most useful in predicting the survival of these premature babies. She discovered that the real ‘nugget’ of data they needed to look at was Heart Rate Variability (HRV). This was presented as a breakthrough but it really should not have been a revelation, given the fact that a study in 1965 discovered that a loss of HRV predicted infant mortality in labour. For some reason, in the fog created by masses of data, the doctors had missed the fact that HRV is known to be a good predictor of risk and survival. This ‘nugget’ had been lost in the noise of the system.  

Such fog is something many of us face in our working lives everyday. We’re overwhelmed with so much information that we sometimes struggle to find the genuine insight in that data. Perhaps that impairs our decision-making, in a healthcare scenario it can make the difference between life and death. Once you know heart rate variability is reduced in a foetus, you know the prognosis is poor, so you can intervene.   The same can apply in our everyday lives – an analysis of our HRV gives a detailed insight into our performance levels and how we’re dealing with the stresses of work and home.

HRV is a critical piece of data we use in our work helping leaders develop and become brilliant. Interestingly, learning to manage your HRV can lead to greater clarity of thought. The clarity of thought that flows from a better quality HRV signal can help you cut through the data clutter and find the ‘nugget’ you need to focus on to make a real difference – which ironically in this case was HRV!

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Sarah Watkins

Sarah is co-founder of Complete Coherence and has been involved in the development of the business over the last 15 years.

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