Reason Will Not Lead Us To the Future

money-guys.jpgby Paul Colando:
When it comes to business the most talked about and apparent emotion is fear. Today, as we watch the unfolding of an economic crisis this emotion has never been more prevalent. Corporations and consumers alike are now trained to proceed in whatever they do with caution. In the past few weeks we observed top executives dressed in their buttoned up suits and stone cold faces present to authorities on the collapse and potential collapses of historic companies, driving the fear factor to record highs. We attempt to find comfort through reasoning but during these tough times it is equally important to be aware of your emotional side.

The human brain is divided into various parts but works as a whole. Logic and reason are processed in one part of the brain and emotion and feeling are processed in another part. Individuals aware of the emotional part of their brain in conjunction with their logical aspect could unleash new ideas and thoughts for a globe in need of change.
A few businesses have benefited from leaders like Steve Jobs and Richard Branson who either consciously or unconsciously challenged logical reasoning to create thriving businesses. These are undoubtedly unique individuals but business and the world are in dyer need for more people like them.
We need to discover new approaches and challenge the old ones. Would Apple or Virgin exist as we recognize them today if reason were the dominant influences in Job’s and Branson’s decision-making? Would logic tell you a computer company could become a design brand? How about a computer company as a music industry leader? On the same note how did a music store venture into the airline industry and proceed to healthcare and lending?
Reason is based heavily on past outcomes and if Jobs and Branson were guided by reason alone companies like Apple and Virgin would never have developed. Feelings have the potential to drive new ideas so it is a matter of uncovering them and using all parts of the brain to do so.
Another great example comes from the founder of the company I work for. Ray Anderson the founder of InterfaceFLOR has served as inspiration for me as a businessman. Ray is another example of a businessman whose emotions served as the catalyst for an innovative solution. Ray tells a magnificent story about the transition of his company from an industrial plunder of resources to one of the most
environmentally friendly companies in the world. After Ray realized the effects the company was having on the earth and its resources he described his feelings as “a spear in the chest.” This feeling, this emotion, drove Ray to create an innovative business model never before seen. Wall Street could not make sense of such a transition but Ray’s passion, persistence, and awareness of his feelings and emotions led to the creation of a business model that has proven successful.
It was this story that inspired me. Prior to my employment I perceived the corporate environment as a stiff environment with limited flexibility. My introduction to the corporate environment came in the form of job interviews. As I searched for employment I could feel myself harnessing my emotions to shape myself to perform well during an interview or comply with what the employer wanted. This experience
created a barrier for my expression of emotion but it was Ray’s story that opened my eyes to the importance of thinking differently.
Our personal experiences and societal influences create barriers to how how we express ourselves. Logical reasoning provides answers but let’s explore another part of our brain to expand the human potential to create new ideas and give the business world new models to provide better solutions. During this time of doom and gloom many are fearful of what lies ahead but we need to explore alternative approaches now more than ever as we make a historic shift in how everything is done.

These articles were created as part of the course work for “Live Exchange” the foundational course on communication for The MBA Design Strategy Program at California College of the Arts. Read more about the project here.

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