The Third Brain

I’d like to continue last week’s topic and talk some more about innovation and creativity and the need for businesses and organizations to foster more of both.

A lot has been written about our two-hemisphere brain, and I’m sure you’re familiar with the scientific discoveries in right-brain-left-brain functionality and the various attributes assigned each hemisphere.

Essentially, the two sides of our brain enable us to solve problems with both logic and intuition.

While each of us tends to favor one over the other, both sides of our brain can work together to solve problems, which is called “third-brain” thinking.

Third brain thinking lies between inductive reasoning (observation) and deductive reasoning (proof). Or better yet, it flips between both at any given moment and becomes “abductive” reasoning, which falls in the realm of creativity and imagination.

In other words, third brain thinkers see what could be instead of only what is.

Third brain thinkers have the ability to zoom in and zoom out on a creative problem — zooming out to see the bigger strategic picture and then zooming in to concentrate on the details, much like an artist working on a painting.

Third-brain thinkers tend to have the following traits in large quantities: empathy, intuition, imagination and idealism.

Unfortunately, the business world tends to translate these qualities as soft-hearted, illogical, scatterbrained and obstinate.

So let’s look at why businesses and organizations need more people with these very qualities.

Empathy: In today’s customer-centric world, people who truly understand how customers and supporters think, feel and act are worth their weight in gold credit cards.

And people with empathy form strong bonds with partners, fellow employees, contractors and their own staff. Tell me how that’s a bad thing?

Intuition: People with intuition see the whole picture. While the logical mind works through a problem in a linear a-then-b-then-c-then-d fashion, the intuitive mind jumps around in a d-to-b-to-m fashion, throws in z-x-p for good measure and, oh, by the way, did I mention q?

When logic is combined with intuition, you have the makings of a great leader. And what business or organization can’t use more of those?

Imagination: Do I really need to defend this one? New ideas only come from divergent thinking, not convergent thinking. Someone once said, “You can’t dig a new hole by digging the same one deeper.”

People with imagination come with their own shovels and a penchant for virgin soil.

Idealism: If your company’s or organization’s goal is to transform an existing situation into a new one, then you need people who are often described as histrionic, headstrong and pensive.

Idealists are notorious for focusing on what’s wrong, what’s missing and what needs to be changed.

Idealists can be hard to put up with at times, but they thrive on change and know how to make it happen.

If you want change to occur in your business or organization, you need at least one idealist with policy-making clout.

If you look inside today’s leading and growing companies and organizations, I bet you’ll find most are led and managed by third-brain thinkers.

After all, three brains are better than one.


Why the Elimination of Error Should be Eliminated.

I want to talk about something that has been bothering me for a few years now.

The ruthless elimination of error in corporate America.

This quest has been one of the most sought after business management objectives throughout much of the last century.

I even worked at an ad agency that put a quality management/error reporting process in place that was meant to eliminate mistakes across the entire agency, from creative to production.

While errors were indeed reduced, innovation also died. It was murdered. In cold blood.

If your goal is to kill innovation, then all you need to do is foster an environment where the fear of failure, aversion to unpredictability and preoccupation with maintaining the status quo at all costs rule the day.

Innovation will dissolve faster than Dracula in daylight.

And it did. Along with my soul as this agency’s creative director.

Innovation doesn’t follow fixed process rules. Creativity is usually messy and ambiguous. Errors are integral to the creative process that leads to true innovation.

If you want to foster innovation in your organization, then you must embrace error, not fear it or seek to stamp out even the hint of it, as this ad agency tried to do.

I’m not saying that your organization should run on chaos and anarchy or that all the safety mechanisms on your machines be ignored. That would just be silly.

But there is a middle ground.

It lies somewhere between logic and intuition. Somewhere between algorithms and experiments.

This middle ground, where paradox is embraced, where creative tension and the freedom to fail is braved and encouraged, is where the smart, innovative organizations live and thrive.

An innovative organization that allows and encourages its people to fail and fall, will find themselves almost always falling forward.


3 Steps to Brand Building.

It’s been said that your brand is nothing more than the promises you keep, not the ones you make.

Your brand is built upon who your customers or supporters believe you to be, what you do and how you do it, not who you think you are or what you would like to do.

Communicating with your audience in a way that resonates with them is hinged on building your marketing or fundraising communications on an authentic brand platform.

With an authentic brand platform you can begin to create truly effective and powerful marketing or fundraising communications by following these three steps:

1) Redefine your brand values and make them distinctive.

Don’t make the mistake of saying the same things your competitors
are saying. Don’t rattle off the same tired, thread-bare clichés about quality, value and service, for instance.

Either define these values in more distinct ways, or find other relevant values inherent to your brand and use these to build your brand personality and messaging platform.

2) Build intelligence, surprise, and wit into the brand personality and its expression.

Don’t talk down to your audience, talk up to them.

Treat your audience as the smart, good-humored people they are and they will reward you with their attention and support.

3) Get attention by being truly different.

But don’t mistake different for irrelevant.

And don’t mistake clever for creative.

Your communications must reflect relevant brand truths.

Creativity that doesn’t reflect who you really are or that is simply creative for it’s own sake will ring hollow and feel shallow.

Done right, getting attention by being different is a license to create something that’s never been done before.

And remember, being truly different and doing something that’s never been done before takes a lot of courage.

So, if you make your brand authentic, distinctive, intelligent, witty and different, you’ll be noticed, followed, purchased and supported. Sounds simple, but it isn't easy.



Greetings and welcome to my new blog, which I'm calling, "Weekly DeVeau-tions."

Given that I'm about six or seven years behind the curve in producing this blog, I hope to make it worth the wait.

Not that I think you've been waiting for me to blog, 'cause that would be silly.

That is unless you happen to be my mom, or my wife or one of my kids. Which, now that I think of it, may very well be the entire readership of this blog.

But if you're not related to me and want to know what this blog is all about, I'll be posting here once a week or so to talk about the business of writing copy for branding, marketing and fundraising communications across all mediums.

Big surprise, huh?!

I'll be sharing some of what I've learned over the last thirty or so years as a writer and creative director with twelve advertising agencies in Boston and Chicago, working for some of the world's most prominent Fortune 500 companies, blue-chip brands and non-profit organizations.

If you were hoping for a blog covering the reasoning behind the use of Bayesian inference to measure the validity of a given physical theory, then you're in the wrong place.

And if you actually know what the Bayesian inference is, then you're definitely in the wrong place.

But if you're interested in topics such as how to build a brand platform, making valid brand promises, customer and donor retention, the use of humor, writing taglines and similar deeds of daring do, as well as an occasional rant or two, then please stop by every week or so to see what's new. (Or to see what's old and only looks like it's new.)

So bookmark this page or subscribe to the RSS feed and drop by again.

Until then, you'll find me writing copy and directing creative for my clients. (Or you'll find me chasing a little white ball around the golf course. And if you do, please tell my clients I'm working.)

You'll also find me Googling words like "Bayesian inference."