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Oct
27
Rick Boersma


In a world that is defined by complexity and ambiguity, we need innovation in both the private and public spheres.  A real challenge in both is framing issues and solutions in ways that people understand.

We had a municipal election this week in my hometown of Guelph, Ontario.  The winner was our incumbent, Karen Farbridge, who could be described as an activist or progressive mayor.  Although Guelph is in Canada, we’re close enough to the U.S. geographically, and perhaps even “closer” media-wise, that the tension between progressives and conservatives is a factor in elections, and I always wonder how much individual’s innate mental preferences (or wiring) plays a role in their voting.

In Innovation in a Box we use a four quadrant model to describe thinking preferences.  People (voters) who are left brain dominant tend to be analytical and linear – organized, disciplined and procedural.  If they’re strongly left-dominant, they will see the world, problems, and solutions in black and white terms.  They will tend to vote for the candidate who mirrors these preferences.  The astute politician speaking to a Left Brain audience will want to outline black + white solutions to problems.

On the flip side, voters who are right-brain dominant will tend to take more of a strategic and creative approach to issues, and will tend to be more people-centric as well.  Again, they’ll support candidates who reflect those preferences. The astute politician speaking to a Right Brain crowd should feel comfortable speaking in big-picture, even visionary terms, and needn’t shy from complexity.  Their supporters will be comfortable with “shades of grey”and ambiguity, in fact, they may even prefer it.

A successful politician needs to speak to the concerns of all constituents in order to get elected.  If it stops there, we call it pandering.  A truly successful politician however is one who leaves a legacy of accomplishments.  This requires a “whole brain” approach beyond the election – where they identify and analyze key issues (left brain), enlist the public and brainstorm solutions (right brain) and then implement those solutions responsibly and effectively.

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Rick Boersma

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