Reflections on the Midterm Election

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Lessons successful brands can teach politicos.

All the posturing and partisan antics once restricted to our semi-annual election cycles now permeate everyone’s daily lives, thanks to 24/7 cable and online news coverage and social media voices by the quasi journalistic opinion setters.  State and national legislative business as usual appears to be “my way or the highway, never back down, never compromise, never listen or consider another point of view” as an increasingly accepted political norm.  One-sided belief systems drive wedges and then major gaps in families, communities and countries.  They shift us away from the roots of what a democracy is supposed to operate upon. Basic brand and business principles like listening; exchanging ideas and views to achieve thoughtful and diverse solutions get shelved when it comes to running for re-election.

The whole concept of diverse thinking gets demonized. Diversity, defined as people coming together from different races, nationalities, religions and sexes to form a group, organization or community is thinking that is universally embraced by successful businesses. For reasons I can’t explain, that perspective comes up short in this new order of political governance.

What stimulated my rant in considering our latest election?  Not any lunatic fringe politico commentators but an interview on NPR with a Syrian refugee.  The guy was a Sunni physician who fled with his family into Turkey.  He wasn’t so much in flight from Assad’s Shiite troops or even the ISIL fanatics but from an inevitable, chaotic outcome that guarantees his city and his country ends up a place where tolerance only encompasses a singular system of beliefs.

Like that physician I worry about embracing with unanimity “one way of thinking” about anything.  Diverse organizations are ones that value the differences in people. They recognize that those with different backgrounds, skills, attitudes and experiences bring fresh ideas and perceptions. In business, diverse organizations encourage and harness these differences to make their services relevant and approachable. Diverse organizations draw upon the widest possible range of views and experiences so they can listen to and meet the changing needs of customers. Encouragement of diversity benefits their brand and their bottom line.

Funny, how unpopular that same thinking and open mindedness can be for benefiting society when given a chance.

Rich Williams, SVP/Strategic Business Development