Project management header
products page

Human capacity

The human brain

It goes without saying that it is not an easy matter to estimate the speed and storage capacity of the human brain.
If you pose the question “How fast is the human brain?” on Google Search you will get some ideas of the latest information in this area.

For example, the speed of the human brain can be considered accordingly:

Number of human brain cells = 100 billion (A)
Each neuron can fire = once every 5 milliseconds = 200 clock cycles per second (B)
Cells connected to each neuron = 1000 (C)

Speed = A x B x C = 20 million billion calculations per second!

This represents raw ‘clock speed’ and not entirely useful calculations.
The clock speed of a neuron is slow compared to a computer at for example 3 GHZ, that is, 3000 million clock cycles per second.
Divide this by 200 for a neuron (1 clock cycle every 5 milliseconds) and we get 15 million times faster for the computer processor.

The storage capacity of the brain has been estimated at 100 million megabytes which may be a low estimate.
Many people believe that the human brain has unlimited storage capacity for all practical purposes.
You can understand this view based on these sort of figures.

This information alone should improve the motivation of many.
Human beings are capable of great things, and if you as a manager can help in any way, the possibilities for success can be high.

From me to you

If you can create the right environment you can move the thinking of people from ‘me’ to ‘you’.
Instead of looking after number one people begin to look after each other.

It can be hard to encourage movement in the correct direction.
This is harder when people are challenging for promotion, trying to keep hold of their jobs and develop careers.

Without your example of good leadership (see The Complete Leadership package) a team may falter.
Be proactive when it comes to their needs.

Once people see a good example they tend to believe they can do the same and follow.
This is strong motivation.
They need that show of confidence.
When Roger Bannister broke the 4 minute mile others soon followed.

Knowing your standard

It’s hard to know where you want to be if you don’t know where you are now.

You will need to assess your own and the teams position.
When you begin to compare yourself with those known to display good standards you will be creating a ‘benchmark’.

If you do this you can choose people in a similar environment or dissimilar. Good practices are not restricted to your area.
In fact, you may learn more by going outside of the confines of your industry.
You may choose a great team within the organisation or you may choose to use an external marker, which is the usual case.

When you collect the information you will have to speak to people.
It may be an idea to organise a task force for this comprising of people with good communication skills and the ability to assess the results.

Benchmarking can improve motivation or it can be misinterpreted by people. You are not trying to clone another group but attempting to use the experiences and knowledge gained for the improvement of your own team’s efforts. It must be tailored to your own needs.

The task force will need to decide on the scope of the information gathering and exactly how it will be obtained.
It could be face to face, email, by telephone or company reports etc.

Speaking to others in different organisations is a privilege so be courteous as it takes time (see The Complete Time Management package) and can be an intrusion.
If you can, promise people that you will tell them of the results of your analysis of their data and of course it is all confidential.

Publicise all results internally. Encourage all participants to retrieve ideas from where ever they can.

Repeat the bench marking at intervals.

Beware of continually asking the same people all the time.
In turn, return the favour and submit to benchmarking approaches from others.

Continued development

Training is one method of preparing people for change, especially in technology organisations where change can be rapid.

Machines are regularly assessed for their needs to keep them running efficiently human beings can be overlooked.

It’s no good training people and then expecting them to work at peak performance for the rest of their lives.
People will not only need to revisit areas of training but be inspired by training in new areas and techniques.

Naturally, the training should either relate to the current job or be carried out as preparation for the taking on of new responsibilities.
There area always opportunities to discuss training needs.

  • You can invite suggestions from the personnel.
  • You can review needs at the annual appraisal.
  • You can review needs at interim assessments.
  • You can talk about training during a walk about chat.

A good training programme will improve business profitability, increase the motivation and performance levels of individuals.

Formal and informal

There will be many types of training both formal (fixed course with certification) and informal (visiting a conference).

  • There may be rigid training that must be done, for example, during a probationary period for a new recruit.
    This could be training in Health and Safety procedures, Orientation training for knowing where personnel and departments are, other procedures etc.
  • Others may be more flexible, for example, on the job training, attendance at conferences, spending time in another department, seminars, workshops etc.

It’s difficult to force learning on to individuals. The drive to learn must eventually come from the individual with your encouragement.
If you are finding it hard to get a person to attend particular training you might need to:

  • Review whether it is really needed and cancel if necessary.
  • Justify it by speaking of the benefits to the individual and the global view for the organisation.
  • Ask them what they really would like and see if you can match that need.
  • If training is too generic then interest and motivation can dwindle. Make sure it is tailored to their needs.
    Talk to the trainers about your situation.

Training doesn’t have to be delivered in a boring manner it should be motivational.
Look for ways that make it interesting.
Use consultants that generate real interest in the subject.
Why not go along to the first day of a new training session yourself to see directly what it is like.


Before anyone goes on a training programme arrange a time to review it.
Speak to them about what they should expect to get from it and how they might use any information gained.

When someone comes back from training don’t leave it there.

  • Talk to people and ask them how they felt about the training.
  • Was it relevant to their work and needs?
  • How are they going to adapt their training in the workplace?

Do not forget the mentoring system (see Mentors).


Like many aspects involving training you may get a better idea of its impact by assessing your situation Before and after. Creating a baseline helps you see where you are and where you go.

The act of deriving a baseline will also identify areas of training that you may not have considered.
You might want to assess the success of training over 12 to 18 months.