In this four-part series I’m exploring the ways to bring powerful differentiation to market with more seamless processes: building a strong bridge of communication between R&D and Marketing, exploring and leveraging product claims, using both the left and right brain in development, and ensuring a continuous influx of fresh technology insights.
Part 3: Developing in Your Right Mind
There’s an old joke that only left handers are in their right minds. As a left-handed person I appreciate the sentiment. While it isn’t accurate to say that we only use one side of our brain, there is a tendency to lean heavily on one side or the other. The “left side” being more logical and fact driven, and the “right side” being more abstract and creative.
The corporate realm tends to push us into the left hemisphere, relying on data, formulas and standard practices, and the crafting and reporting of results that are easily measured. But as Oprah noted in a recent podcast, storytelling and design are what create connection. Connection brings meaning and unique value. People don’t do something unless they feel something. To succeed we must appeal to their emotional state. And this requires a creative approach. A “right brain” mentality.
Right Brain Advantage
Want to connect with your consumer? You need to lean into Right Brain Thinking and access your team’s design skills and empathy, starting with psychology instead of technology. Daniel Pink, in his intriguing book about this age of Conceptualism, notes that over the last 50 years we’ve increasingly lived in a materially-abundant world. The pursuit of purpose and meaning has become an integral part of our lives. Artists, designers, inventors and storytellers, those creative and holistic "right-brain" thinkers, represent the difference between who gets ahead and who doesn’t in this new age.
Let’s check out what right brain thinking looks like:
Adaptability: Exercising your right brain makes you more comfortable working outside of logic-driven processes, allowing free flowing movement across disciplines. This allows you to understand the connections between diverse topics; to bridge the technical and the emotional and get a fully layered view of the opportunities.
Empathy: With empathy your target audience becomes more than a statistic. You start to understand them better and can even anticipate their needs. You learn not to focus on what they say, but to read between the lines and interpret their intentions.
Design Sensibility: A design-led approach allows for richer innovation strategy and stronger branding. Former Pepsico CEO Indra Nooyi knows this well. She gave Designer Mauro Porcini a seat at the leadership table and put design sensibility front and center for the entire organization, driving a strong resurgence of growth for the company.
Story Telling: Stories by their nature strike relatable chords within us. By digging deeper into consumer motivations you can craft messaging that connects in a new, richer way with your target audience, pulling them into your brand story.
Exercising Your Right Brain
Looking to strengthen your right-brain propensity? This is fun stuff. You get to step off the data train and take a detour. Shake it up. Try out a hands-on creative activity like painting or playing an instrument. Doodle. Play music in the background as you work. Ask yourself, “Why Not?” instead of “Why?” There are lots of ways to help to turn on your symphonic, holistic brain.
You can immerse yourself in your target consumer’s experience. You may remember the movie where Mel Gibson’s character tried out panty hose and various female-oriented products in an effort to better understand a woman’s experience. It doesn’t have to be that uncomfortable (!) but it should take you outside your own biased perspective and free you up to be curious.
Explore the other layers of your product experience. Add in the other senses to gain insight beyond the obvious and bring your strategy to life. Get your team out of the office and into the store, the kitchen, the backyard, wherever it is that your product lives.
Right Brain StrategyDeliberately leaning into right-brain thinking will enrich your strategy. Develop this thinking in your team, and find a translator to help facilitate that culture. A translator is by nature a right brain thinker, moving easily between disciplines. They can help you find meaningful links between the concrete and the abstract to bring unique value. Leverage right-brain thinking and gain the edge in a market hungry for both content and connection.