How game intelligence redefines the future of talent management
Originated at the sidelines of Real Madrid’s training ground, developed into the new standards of talent identification in elite sports & talent management in HRM.
Madrid, September 2009
Location: Real Madrid’s Ciudad Esportiva. Famous training ground where world-class football legends like Zinedine Zidane, Luis Figo, Ronaldo and Spanish maestro Raúl shaped their incredible skills. Day in day out they sweat off their white pants to improve their game. Good is never good enough.
Today 22 professional players are participating in a tactical game. Portuguese superstar Cristiano Ronaldo is the new kid in town. He surprises both his team mates and Real Madrid’s technical staff by his unstoppable desire to up his game. We all know now, that the combination of his very rare talent and his willpower to succeed enabled him to become one of the all-time greats in football history.
Creating a new concept of Human Intelligence
For every attendee, except one, this training session in September 2009 is just another football training. The exception here is Dutch performance researcher and writer Eric Castien.
While everyone looking at these Real Madrid superstars is amazed by their technical and physical skills, Castien feels like he just solved a very complex puzzle. Looking at the players in full motion, he becomes aware of the answer to the question:
“What makes the difference
between a very good player and a
world-class football pro?”
Johan Cruijff has been quoted saying that “football is a game played with the head”. It’s exactly what Castien is looking at. Cristiano Ronaldo is reacting faster, making use of spaces smarter, taking decisions quicker and anticipating even better than his already great team mates. (check the video!) All of these crucial skills are fundamental brain functions. So, differences in human performance have its origins in the brain. To unlock the secrets behind the concept of Game Intelligence, he now knows what he needs to study: grey matter.
At the same moment, about 1700 kilometres up north in Amsterdam, a neuroscientist is finishing his PhD-thesis. Fascinated by the concept of working memory, he is making some notes for a future research the plans to conduct. This brainiac, Dr. Ilja Sligte, writes down questions like: “Are scores on cognitive functions helpful to predict someone’s ability to perform on a certain level?” He doesn’t limit his question to elite sports only.
Meanwhile, Sligte’s scientific friend Andries van der Leij is writing his PhD-thesis proposal. He is deeply interested in differences in psycho-biological building blocks that determine individual performance potential. The psychologist considers fMRI-research of much help to get valid answers. Sligte and Van der Leij share a passion for various computing & machine learning techniques.
Elite performance insights available for your Club or Company
Until 2012 the 3 pioneers followed their individual path to answer related questions on human performance. That year, introduced by University of Amsterdam Professor Victor Lamme, Castien met with scientists Sligte and Van der Leij. Their deep knowledge of and boundless fascination for the human brain in relation to performance, laid a strong foundation under their mission: together they decided to rewrite the rules of human performance, based on biological building blocks of the brain rather than on psychological constructs. Not only applicable to sports, but valuable for HR too. In both fields of expertise, the urgent need to rethink human intelligence is evident. Fuelled by their inspiring vision to improve matching cognitive demand & supply, their company BrainsFirst is ready to disrupt talent identification at large.
After 6 years of scientific research, BrainsFirst has proven that brain functions distinguish the best from the rest. The Amsterdam-based company developed their NeurOlympics talent assessment games and is now able to make the complex simple. By launching reliable, science-based Talent identification tools for Business & Sports, the company is changing the expert hiring game. Today clients like AZ Alkmaar, PSV Eindhoven, and clubs in Premier League, Bundesliga and Primera Division rely on BrainsFirst in their constant aim to improve talent recognition. At the same time companies such as McKinsey, ABN Amro, Deloitte and Air Traffic Control Schiphol benefit the same way. This is what happens when elite sports, cutting-edge neuroscience & machine learning (AI) are combined by professionals.