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Left and Right Brain Thinking

Left and Right Brain Thinking

Left and Right Brain Thinking

Use this framework to improve communications

In 1981 Roger Sperry won a Nobel Prize for his work on different hemispheres of the brain and how they affect our cognition. He determined that the right hand side of the brain is in charge of our creative functions while the left hand side controls logic and analysis. If this is true we could use the framework to sharpen our business communications.

There is much appeal about the simplicity of this framework. It is easy to understand binary choices - things that are right or wrong, things that work in one way rather than another. As might be expected, the brain is a bit more complicated.

From the many tests that have been carried out by psychologists it appears that the creative right hand side of the brain and the logical left-hand side of the brain works as a generalisation. However, it would be dangerous to think that creative people aren't influenced by logical thought and logical people lack creative juices. Just as we have inclinations to be left or right-handed, it doesn't mean that we only use one of our hands. We use both. It is the same with our brains. We use both sides of our brain although we may have relative strengths on one side rather than the other. Dr Iain McGilchrist, a psychiatrist, argues that the left hand side of the brain puts what we see into boxes. What we see stays in their boxes in a sort of sterile world. He argues that the right hand side of the brain with its creative abilities helps us see what is going on by linking these little bits of sterile information.

This being the case, what does it mean to marketers and the way we communicate with our audiences? We might argue that if our target audience is made up of logical procurement managers we should present them with facts, figures and words that back up our value propositions. Here we need to be careful because taken too literally our communications could be very boring and lack appeal. Logical procurement managers are human beings with emotions and we must appeal to these. Humour, metaphors, music and devices that appeal to the right hand side of the brain can create a narrative for the facts and figures that make more sense to the procurement managers - indeed anyone in a buying situation.

We might also want to think about how the left hand and right and brain theory works when recruiting staff for our businesses. Again the theory implies that the best managers will be strong on the left-hand side of the brain. They are likely to be logical, good at crunching numbers, detail orientated, highly focused, discerning and analytical. These are all qualities in left brainers and they are all qualities that make good managers.

But do they? Certainly business leaders of the past have been strong on command and control. They have shown an ability to make cold hard decisions. This may have worked well in the past but times are a changing. Managers and business leaders today need to be warm and gregarious. They need to show sensitivity and emotions. They need to have intuition and be expressive. They need a brain that functions just as well on the right as on the left.

In the management of growing companies, successful leadership often requires a combination of analytical, strategic thinking (associated with left-brain functions) and creative, innovative thinking (associated with right-brain functions). Effective managers in growth companies typically possess a diverse set of skills and characteristics. Here are some considerations:

Analytical Skills (Left Brain):

  • Strategic Planning: Left-brain thinkers can excel in strategic planning, analyzing data, and making informed decisions based on logical reasoning.

  • Financial Acumen: Analytical skills are crucial for financial management, budgeting, and resource allocation in growth companies.

  • Operational Efficiency: Left-brain thinking is often associated with a focus on efficiency, process optimization, and attention to detail.

Creative and Innovative Thinking (Right Brain):

  • Adaptability: Right-brain thinkers may excel in adapting to change, fostering a culture of innovation, and exploring new ideas and opportunities.

  • Problem Solving: Creativity is valuable for solving complex problems and finding novel solutions, which is often essential in dynamic growth environments.

  • Entrepreneurial Mindset: Right-brain thinking can contribute to an entrepreneurial mindset, encouraging risk-taking and the pursuit of new ventures.

Effective Leadership Skills (Both Left And Right Brain Thinking):

  • Communication: Both left and right-brain thinkers benefit from strong communication skills. Effective leaders can articulate a compelling vision (creative) and communicate strategic plans and objectives (analytical).

  • Emotional Intelligence: Successful managers need to understand and navigate the emotions of themselves and their teams, which involves a combination of analytical and empathetic thinking.

  • Integration of Skills: The most successful leaders often integrate both analytical and creative thinking, recognising that a holistic approach is necessary for managing the complexities of a growth company.

  • Learning Agility: Leaders who can adapt and learn quickly, drawing on both left and right-brain capabilities, are better equipped to navigate the dynamic nature of growth companies.

We conclude with a framework developed by B2B International which proposes a rational (left) and emotional (right) of the brain mapped against individual needs versus company needs. The framework can be used to choose messages and communications that have maximum impact.

Some things to think about:

  • Would you say the leadership team in your company is more left or right brain orientated, or does it have a good balance? Where would you say adjustments are needed?

  • How can you use the left and right brain thinking framework to better communicate with your customers? How good are you at reaching the right side of your customers' brains (ie getting to their emotions)?

  • How can you link the left and right hand side of the brain together to improve your communications with customers. The right hand side of the brain unlocks feelings and emotions that can create links with the facts stored in the left hand side of the brain. Can you use music, metaphors and stories to make your marketing communications more powerful by making more use of the right hand side of the brain?

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