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The Whole-Brained Business

Diana Vollmer |

You may not be familiar with the hemispheres of the brain, but generally speaking, the left side of the brain performs certain functions and the right side performs others. Sometimes they work together, but not always.
Why is this important to managing a drycleaning operation? Because today, the challenges aren’t always easy to solve. To address them, you may require a new way of understanding the business environment.
Have you ever met a person who acts almost randomly, who looks at the world from a different perspective, who comes up with way-out ideas? You may also have met people who are highly analytical — able to take an issue and break it down into its component parts to understand and discuss it. Only then can they move forward logically.
Experimentation has shown that the two different hemispheres of the brain are responsible for these different thought patterns and ways of processing information. The left brain rules logical, sequential, rational, analytical and objective thought; the right brain specializes in intuitive, holistic, subjective and creative thought.
There are no “left-brain-only” people or “right-brain-only” people, but there are people who naturally favor one method of analysis more than another. Left-brain dominant people typically think more verbally, concentrate on the present and the past, and offer literal interpretations of their experiences. Right-brain dominance results in a person who is more imaginative and intuitive, and often has a perspective on the past, present and future.
It’s a simplification, of course, to identify left-brain types as highly analytical and orderly. At the same time, we can think of individuals who fall into a stereotype of the artistic, unpredictable and creative right-brain personality.
Each of us draws upon specific areas of the brain for all higher function, depending on age, education and life experience. Which side of the brain is in control of which situation is what marks personalities, determines character and impacts the decisions we make.CREATIVE STRATEGIES
The challenges that face drycleaners and the industry in general today aren’t necessarily easy to solve with only left-brain functions. A logical analysis of only the past and present may not offer the solutions that will help us move into the future.
The industry is bombarded with problems of increasing costs, shortages of good staffers and managers, lower piececounts and increased competition. No matter how hard you work, the solutions to these challenges don’t seem to be forthcoming.
On the other hand, we see people in the industry who succeed in spite of these and the many other challenges they face. They have increased volume, found new profitability and satisfied many other measures of success. These people tend to see the world from a different perspective — and meet challenges with innovative solutions.
Today’s challenges need to be seen with a big-picture orientation. Imagination is the rule of the day, and setting aside or ignoring historical strategy may be what’s needed for a successful future. A tumultuous world sometimes requires one to be impetuous.
If you tend to be left-brain dominant, you may not “get” what the right side is about. Indeed, you may often dismiss significant ideas from the flakier cranial twin.
Sometimes, the two sides of the brain can actually disagree — and emotional turmoil can result from the expressive protests of one hemisphere. Turmoil can also result from meeting others who have a distinct right-brain orientation. And yet, the integration of an alternate perspective may produce the best strategies for your business.
For most individuals, one side of the brain dominates and rules his or her approach to concepts. Some people are whole-brain dominant and adept at both styles of thought. But business is a numbers game that the left brain almost always wins.
In order to overcome the limitations the hemispheres of your brain impose upon your thoughts, you must listen to those who can lend a different perspective, look beyond historical practices, and see the big picture. No matter how irritating it (or they) may be, their imagination may help you solve the challenges you face.
It isn’t practical to expect a person with a right-brain orientation to suddenly shift to a left-brain strategy; it may not even be possible. It is possible, however, to open the door to more people — managers, supervisors, hourly employees and advisors — who don’t share the same orientation you do.
Ask their opinions and try not to dismiss their comments as inaccurate, uneducated, incomplete or irrelevant. Some of these people may have right-brain dominance; they’ll see the world from a different perspective. The perspectives they offer are not right or wrong, just different.
You have the harder job: understanding a different perspective and making good use of it. With the input of others who think differently than you do, you will create a company that can move forward in a new and different way.
Your left-brain functions will work to synthesize the information and build a larger, more cohesive picture of your operation. Whether you are naturally left- or right-brained, this is a task you’ll have to tackle in order to build your business and, ultimately, succeed.
 

About the author

Diana Vollmer

Methods for Management (MFM) Inc.

Managing Director

Diana Vollmer is managing director of Methods for Management (MFM) Inc., a consultancy specializing in drycleaning businesses. You may contact her at dvollmer@mfmi.com, 415-577-6544.

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