From Monday 22 July, The Space | 3FA at Broadgate is hosting a fortnight of pop-up interactive events, an experiment featuring Broadgate-based volunteers, Q&A evenings, a micro exhibition and a supper club to explore how neuroscience and nutrition can boost and hone the work and performance skills you’ll need to thrive in the next few decades. Book your spaces here.
To get an overview of this innovative and incredible series, we spoke to Katherine Lewis, creative scientist and futurist at DH READY, a cross-discipline innovation and creative consultancy, who’ll be hosting and overseeing the events and experiments.
You mention “the 3 Cs” cited by the World Economic Forum as essential skills we’ll all need in the future – what are they?
In 2016, the WEF published the top 10 work skills we'll all need by 2020. It took into account how the workplace is changing in what's known as the “fourth industrial revolution” and the skills that came out top are Critical thinking, Cognitive agility and Creativity.
Why will we need these three skills in particular?
With technology, AI and automation taking over traditional-style jobs, our jobs will be about facing challenges in a multidisciplinary way; people will have portfolio careers and, as a result, these three skills will become increasingly important.
Cognitive agility will be about looking at different perspectives and being able to make judgments about them. Given that the global workplace already brings together lots of different countries with a variety of approaches and disciplines, it's easy to see why this skill is so important. It's the ability to acknowledge different points of view, collate that information and make an informed call.
Critical thinking is about making decisions. We’re working in a much faster-paced world now so a lot of decisions are made by AI, leaving humans to deal with more complex issues. Within critical thinking you use your experiences to make decisions so it's all about accessing memory and laying down long-term memories.
Finally, creativity is a really interesting one because they’ve realised that it’s the basis of innovation. With the big issues we face – from climate change to the way we work – we'll need to think creatively outside the box. It’s why AI and robots can never truly take our jobs because they don’t have our empathy or cognitive agility.
It’s also not just creativity in terms of art. For example, how would you link an egg to a submarine? A computer could run a database to see if it’s ever been done previously whereas a human could come up with an imaginative solution in seconds. Creativity should be taught in schools!
How can we nurture and futureproof these skills?
Critical thinking and cognitive agility can be improved and increased by doing lots of thinking tests which are available online. But, how good you are depends on what state your brain is in. These skills depend on how fast your brain can send messages and that’s about molecules and chemicals in the brain whizzing round plus how fast you can access memories.
While we don’t know exactly what food can improve these, we do know that omega 3 or choline, copper and magnesium are building blocks and that if you lack them you simply can’t make the cells and chemicals needed to move things around. When you’re lacking these building blocks, your brain does become foggy and memories will become clouded.
In the future, you will be able to use nutritionists for your brain as well as your body. For creativity, it's about trying new things to eat as new experiences will open your mind to different ideas at the same time.
Are there any common food groups that crop up again and again?
Omega 3s for the speed of synapse release; kombucha as there’s a direct link between your gut and your brain; vitamin K is important for neurotransmitters (sage, kale, broccoli, cauliflower); flavonoids reduce inflammation (blueberries, kelp, pistachio, dark chocolate) and quercetin (onion, chilli pepper, parsley) and iron – not just beef but also apricots and pumpkin seeds.
Critical thinking needs things that support memory cells so choline, vitamin E, magnesium and copper. For creativity, there’s no process so it’s more to do with ingredients that make you happy and open. Tryptamine boosts dopamine levels while trying new foods will encourage openess to new situations and ideas.
So tell us how Optimal at Broadgate’s The Space | 3FA will be exploring all these areas…
At the micro exhibition, we’ll be explaining about the 3Cs but also exploring the brain and how it’s a muscle in your body that needs to be nourished. We’ll be hosting brain-training games, pulling out hero ingredients for each of the 3Cs and our chef and nutritionist Nurdin Topham has created three bespoke recipes (with veggie options) for people to try.
We’ll be running events that people can try so you can see the effects, workshops on healthy habits and mental fitness . There will be an In Conversation with Nurdin event and we'll learn how to eat to nourish our brains. We’ll also be meeting the three Broadgate volunteers to talk about their experience of our experiment and also to show people how they can start to adopt these helpful ways of eating and thinking.
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Main photo by Tachina Lee